What’s it about? In two sentences: Natsuki Subaru, an average teenager, is summoned to a fantasy world facing a crisis. Moreover, he has acquired an ability that allows him to “respawn” at certain checkpoints if he is killed, which comes in handy as he is slowly learns about the world, its people, and of course, his role in it all.
There’s been a significant amount of excitement over the show, and indeed, it has an interesting premise and a relatively strong plot.
But of course, the question is, is it worth the hype? (Or really, should you watch it?)
Well, if you continue reading, I’ll discuss that. In the meantime, SPOILER ALERT.
To clear up any confusion: the world of Re:Zero is facing a crisis when Subaru, the main character, enters the scene. The entire royal dynasty of Lugunica, the country Subaru finds himself in, has just been wiped out, and as such, is lacking any possible heirs. Not only that, the process for picking a new ruler is complicated and arduous. Subaru finds himself getting wrapped up in all the intricate politics almost immediately, and in this backdrop, the story begins.
On to my thoughts.
The show begins with a simple idea, really. What would it be like if people actually died and respawned like they do in video games? And the show illustrates what would happen rather well, with the protagonist actually suffering trauma from his multiple deaths, quite unlike the mundane reaction from a computer game death.
The world of Re:Zero is vast and rich and although the plot only provides a smattering of its history and culture here and there, it is enough to suggest that the world, and its global problems, are far from mundane. And no matter how Subaru tries, he will be dragged through every possible problem as the story plays out.
While the story mainly focuses on Subaru and his immediate circle of allies, the show managed to develop minor characters too, which made the plot richer. Given that there have only been 20 episodes (at the time of this writing), I think that the studio managed to pull off a feat in depicting such a vast world, both in history and social structure, in such a short amount of time.
On the subject of art, music and animation, White Fox has no major problems. The animation was smooth, the everything was drawn well and the music was well done. The camera angles, too, helped with conveying emotion.
Now on to some problems I found with the show.
In general, Re:Zero focuses a lot on characters and their development.
And boy, do some of those characters need some development.
I’m not saying that the writers slacked off in their development. What I am saying, however, is that some of those characters need to grow up.
Let’s begin with the main character: Subaru. To be blunt: he’s an idiot. Throughout the plot, he bumbles around, acting the fool. From being a self-absorbed narcissist to a gleeful idiot and then a PTSD patient in the course of three episodes, watching Re:Zero is a roller coaster ride in emotions. And honestly, after all the childish and idiotic displays episode after episode, I found it hard to sympathise with him when the show finally came around to portraying his serious side. By then, it seemed like his outpouring of tears was more a result of a bipolar disorder than an actual cry for help, seeing that right after his outpouring, he went straight back to being lighthearted and jovial.
And then there’s his sidekick, Rem. For a person claiming to have given up her inferiority complex mentality, she really doesn’t show it. Initially, her sole purpose was to aid her prodigious older sister, but after Subaru intervened and told her to stop looking down on herself, she decides to stop obsessing over her sister—instead, she begins to obsess over Subaru. And really, when I say obsession, I mean slavish devotion—but hey, he did save her life that one time, right? Never mind that it was he who got her in that bind in the first place, since the end justifies the means. Right?
But if you don’t mind protagonists with screws loose, you’ll survive to enjoy the show’s better points.
Some more good (because who wants to end on a bad note?)
Even idiots get redeemed at some point, and eventually, Subaru gets there too. I mean, he still acts like an idiot, but there’s a method to his madness after he gets over himself and realises that this fantasy world wasn’t created for his entertainment, like all those video games he played. He becomes more bearable after that, and even, at some points, intelligent.
At the time of this writing, 80% of the show has been completed. There are only five episodes left. And the show did not feel like it was anywhere near completion at 80%. So unless there’s some amazing ending that makes one sit in stunned silence for ten minutes after the show is over, I’d hazard to say that there’s a second season planned. Just a heads up. Or more like a hunch.
I don’t think that I can give a complete, evaluation of the show until it’s completely done, so I think that I’ll have to sort of sit on a fence with my verdict. In all, I would recommend the show, but if you can’t stand watching idiotic characters, then maybe not. Main cast aside, the entire setting is fascinating enough that I plan on finishing the show.
So here’s the verdict on the unfinished show: 7/10.