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Anime recommendation episode 4: RE:ZERO

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Re Zero

The great thing about anime in general is the variety. Of course you get very similar story lines that correlate with the genre- Isekai’s for example. But there is a lot out there and it is certainly exciting when you find a show that exceeds your expectation. For me, that was Re:Zero.

Re:Zero- Starting Life in Another World was a very early Isekai for me. For those who don’t know, an Isekai is a genre that involves the character or characters being transported to a parallel, fictional or even a virtual world. Spirited Away, Sworld Art Online, and No Game No Life are prime examples from the Isekai genre.

In Re:Zero, Subaru, who is an avid gamer, is suddenly transported to a fantasy fictional world on his way home from a convenience store. In this new world of magic, swords, and beasts, he befriends a half-elf called Emilia. Subaru adjusts quickly and even begins developing feelings for Emilia… but things suddenly take a very strange turn.

After a tragic incident that involves not only his death but many others, Subaru wakes up at the start of his journey. Somehow, he was granted the ability to rewind time by dying. As he comes to grips with his new ability, his journey becomes more perilous and complicated as the number of threats he faces increase. With the ability to remember the events before his death, only he can save his new friends from the looming threats.

Without a doubt, this was one of the most stressful shows I have ever watched in a long time. That’s not a criticism, it’s the best sort of praise I could give this show. I want to ensure that I articulate this without spoiling it so I can move onto some of the other aspects.

I’ll keep it short.

The ability to go back in time through dying is the best… and worst superpower someone can own. You’ll watch Subaru make great progress, never sure when it could be taken away. Or you’ll watch as Subaru’s world burns around him, begging him to die so that he can restart. That is Re:Zero in a nutshell. Despite the stress, punches to the gut and the tugging of heart strings, it’s such a great unraveling story.

I typically like stories that involve characters that I can really get attached to. There are indeed characters that you’ll fall in love with- Rem being one of them. However, for Subaru’s case… he’s a character that blurs the border between good and bad. He’s not a bad character, but he does a lot of questionable things with good intent. What makes Subaru a really compelling character is that you see the burden of his new found ability consume him. Much like Frodo and the Ring in Lord of the Rings, Subaru is severely impacted by this ability to relive events and his constant struggle to change particular outcomes. It weighs him down and changes him drastically. Physically and Mentally.

It’s heartbreaking watching Subaru navigate this world in this way. But what makes it more intriguing is that there are still so many questions that need answering. Readers of the light novel may have an advantage but for those watching the anime… there is so much more to learn about this world. Why was Subaru given these powers? Who are the Witches? What role does Satella play in all of this?

Rem and Subaru
RE:Zero

One of the trickiest things about this anime is the sheer amount of characters. There are a lot. Subaru, Emilia, Rem, Ram, Puck, Felix, Wilhelm, Roswaal, Felt, Crusch, Beatrice, Reinhard and Petelgeuse. This is just the tip of the iceberg. In one way, this can make it ever so slightly confusing. There are a lot of characters to bare in mind and a large majority of them have some sort of impact on Subaru’s quest. On the other hand, having a lot of characters allows for a deeper exploration of the world. You’ll be introduced to different hierarchies, classes, regions, species, and different personalities. Some of them clash, while others flourish. However, even as someone who has watched Re:Zero three times, I still can’t remember everyone’s name- so I actually tend to lean on visuals to differentiate the characters.

I’ve had many conversations with people about my favourite anime shows and films. With every conversation, my selection alters. However, Re:Zero is always on my list. It’s hard to pinpoint what made it so special in my eyes, but I think it boils down to the overall shocking nature. This show has a lot of fun elements and some very sweet moments. But, the way it executes those twists and turns really made it stand out. Re:Zero is a fantastic show that excels in building hope before stripping it away. It makes use of fun and quirky characters and Subaru’s happy-go-lucky attitude to lure you into a false sense of security. Like a venomous snake waiting for prey, the show will quickly turn on the audience.

What’s interesting about this show is that I haven’t mentioned the visuals. Now, the animation is great. It’s not spectacular like the epic scenes in Attack on Titan, and it’s not bad animation. It’s animation that gets the job done. The reason I’m saying this is because I believe it shows just what sort of story we’re dealing with. Bad animation can break an anime. But, when you’re so deeply invested in an immersive narrative, the animation becomes secondary. There are some fantastic action scenes. There are also many scenes where nothing happens and they rely purely on the eerie music and the voice acting. Some of the best moments appear when there isn’t a lot happening visually. That’s a testament to the story and the characters.

If you like a show that can make you laugh, cry, and visibly angry then this is the show for you. You can check out the trailer for Season 2 which is set to air soon! Season 1 can be enjoyed on Crunchyroll.


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