What would you do if you were out buying food and suddenly found yourself in an entirely different world? How would you react?
This is the basic premise of Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World, a twenty-five episode anime based on the light novel and manga by the same name. The anime was produced by Japanese animation studio White Fox. a studio known for such series as Steins;Gate and Akame ga Kill! In the series, Natsuki Subaru, a normal everyday shut-in is suddenly, and without warning, dragged by a still mysterious force into an entirely alien world. At first he doesn’t know what to think. The world seems to be a fantasy style world. With anthropomorphic animals walking around like it’s perfectly normal! Subaru is blown away by all this and spends his first day stumbling around this new environment. It isn’t until he’s confronted by a few thugs in an alleyway when the story really picks up and things start to move quite fast.
One of the things that really makes this series interesting is Return from Death. A power that essentially gives Subaru infinite lives. When he dies he is revived at a previous point. A previous “Save Point” as he refers to them. The save points change throughout the series. It’s around the first time he dies that Subaru realizes he may not be in a video game like he originally thought. This is something he comes to grips with as he’s traumatized after every instance he dies. It’s something that progressively wears him down throughout the series. Every time he makes the wrong choice he’s greeted either with a horrible death or the death(s) of characters he cares about. A significant trait that it’s clear Subaru possesses as the series goes on is his simultaneous want to avoid suffering and just give up and his inability to do so. He’s consistently able to come out of his darkest times and make things right, at least until the next save point.
The show has a very rich story and the multiple save points gives the audience a lot to think about in terms of outcomes in different scenarios. It’s fascinating to think about how all the different situations that pop up in the series could have turned out if things had been even slightly different. It shows a lot of these outcomes and, more often than not, they turn out negatively. These negative outcomes can be very heartbreaking as you see characters you’ve been watching and care about slaughtered mercilessly or in extreme emotional distress because Subaru made a mistake somewhere. Subaru remembers all these outcomes after he comes back from death and is able to change the outcomes. Seeing all these scenarios play out also gives the viewer a great sense of gratification when Subaru is able to fix things. Things won’t always turn out the way you hope they will. A lesson both Subaru and the viewer learn throughout. Making the times when things do work out all the more satisfying.
Subaru’s interactions with the various characters changes greatly throughout the story. He starts off believing he’s in some sort of fantasy video game and he’s the main hero. This belief colours his interactions with the other characters at first. After he dies a few times and begins to learn that maybe he isn’t the hero. Maybe he’s just a nobody. He goes from treating the other characters as NPCs in a video game to real flesh and blood people that he cares about and would die for.
Overall, Re:Zero is a great series that is sure to entertain. If you watch this you may weep, cheer, and tremble all in one episode. It’s storytelling is superb and the characters are engaging, vibrant, and, above all, entertaining.