Anime Review | Re: Zero Season 1

A short review of Re Zero season 1.

Emilia(left) is voiced by Takahashi Rie, a famous Japanese singer, and voice actress.
Emilia(left) is voiced by Takahashi Rie, a famous Japanese singer, and voice actress.

Re: Zero − Starting Life in Another World is a 2016 isekai/psychological anime series. It’s about a young shut-in named Natsuki Subaru who gets teleported to the fantasy world of Lugunica.

Natsuki Subaru is disoriented, weak, and ill-equipped, but with his unique ability of "Return By Death", he and the vibrant cast of allies and enemies will certainly keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

The viewers are pulled in by the shock and gore served in plenty, kept there by the mysterious deaths and enigmatic characters. The audience is bound to leave the series satisfied by the masterful exposition and storytelling.

Plot

Subaru is lonely and confused in Lugunica

Re Zero’s plot starts slow, with Subaru being a fish out of water in Lugunica. He is unfamiliar with the written word of Lugunica and much frailer than the inhabitants.

This serves as a perfect foil to his “immortal” ability- so Subaru's character strengths remain firmly rooted in the ground.

Soon after Subaru meets Emilia, however, the plot starts moving and picks up pace. In search of Emilia's insignia, they clash with the assassin Elsa.

This conflict is resolved beautifully and is tense throughout. The characters escape to Emilia's residence-the Roswald Manor. The seemingly idyllic Roswald Manor sets a sinister tone with the imposing hallways and its mysterious members.

Spoilers

The build-up to the fight with the Witch Cult is awesome, tense, and overall unputdownable.

The ending is as satisfying as it is frustrating. The viewers learn little about why the Betelgeuse and the Witch Cult attacked them the way they did, but they do see Subaru growing as a person, friend, and potential lover to Emilia.

The plot never shows the finish line straight ahead, but instead, gets there through many twists and turns, overcoming obstacles along with Subaru and reaching the final checkpoint.

Character Development

1.  Natsuki Subaru

Natsuki Subaru

Every time Subaru has an opportunity to prove himself, his laziness and fear of rejection mess him up. Eventually, the creator paints a wonderfully horrifying picture of the self-sabotaging mindset Subaru has, which fails him repeatedly.

Minor Spoilers

Subaru’s near sacrifice and repeated death at the hands of the Witch Cult and Puck serve as good shock material. They also show his vulnerability, and how far he is willing to go for Emilia.

However, it takes him being forced into terrible and traumatic situations to learn and finally improve himself.

Many popular writers say that Subaru is a representation of the average Japanese otaku, who lives in a world of fiction and never accomplishes anything in real life.

2.  Emilia

Emilia

The empathetic, kind soul who accepts Subaru as a friend. Emilia is not only strong but also serves as a competent, cool foil to Subaru. However, her character flaws do show adequately, indicating she was not written as one-dimensional.

She slowly grows more and more assertive throughout the series, and her affection for Subaru grows along with it.

3. Rem

Rem
Rem, the Roswald Manor maid.

Rem is the fan's favourite maid, who loves and accepts Subaru for who he is. Fiercely loyal to her sister, she considers Subaru a threat right off the bat but warms up to him later. The author makes the audience love her and her attitude.

Minor Spoilers

Rem’s exposition at the Roswald Manor is a great example of a shocking revelation done well. The audience is as shocked as Subaru to find out she is responsible for his last few deaths.

Animation and Music

The animation is well done, although awkward at times. The fight scenes are beautiful; watching so many characters on screen fighting portrayed so well is a treat. The White Whale arc arguably has the best fight scenes.

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Did you know? Rem's voice actress is Inori Minase, who also voices Itsuki Nakano in The Quintessential Quintuplets.

The music is another one of Re Zero’s strong points. Inducing a feeling of hope with OP 1 Redo, and setting a melancholic, frightening atmosphere with Styx: Helix, Re Zero’s music is perfect for the series.

The second opening, Paradisum Paradoxum perfectly portrays Subaru’s extreme despair and loneliness. The opening is so well done, it is a shame they are not used for the episodes often.

Theatre d, used in the scene of the Witch Cult attack, also aligns with the chaotic and shocking nature of the moment.

The final ED is sad, and calm and relaxes the viewer after all the gore and violence, without letting up on the depressing and lonely themes. Loneliness is a common theme in the music throughout.

💡
The second ending theme song, titled "Stay Alive", is performed by Rie Takahashi, who is also the voice actress for Emilia

Few isekai anime carry themselves as well as Re Zero does. The scenes have tension, and the character development is realistic: slow, and awkward, but conspicuous.

Rewatch value is certainly improved by the masterful use of the songs and music for the appropriate scenes and moods.

The anime certainly deserves its MAL score of 8.24. It is not only a great watch overall, but forces the viewer to dwell on its moments long after they have stopped watching.

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