After just a few minutes of watching Re:Zero I had the impression that it was a lot like Kono Subarashii Sekai Ni Shukufuku Wo! Both are about a shut-in boy in a track suit that’s whisked away to a fantasy land and both are under the impression that it will somehow be like a video game. Where Re:Zero differences itself is in its tone… and production. KonoSuba made it clear early on that it was a comedy through and through and while not the most amazing it was enjoyable. With Re:Zero, it had lighthearted moments and some comedy, but it was clearly a darker story.
The main character Subaru finds himself in this new world and follows the rules of MMORPG’s and begins to find information about where he is. This goes worse than expected and he soon finds himself drying in an alleyway. Three thugs come his way and he decides to test his skills and actually makes short work of two of them. He apparently works out. The third dude has knives and this sends Subaru cowering which leads to a boot party that only he’s invited to. At this point we meet Felt, a thief, as she’s fleeing from a victim and instead of asking the thugs to stop, she asks them to move out of her way. This leads to the victim arriving and helping Subaru because she can’t just let it go.
After the rescue she and her spirit creature, a cat, stay behind to make sure he wakes up and such. After a lot of talking he finally convinces the girl to let him help her find her stolen goods. Everything seems typical right? Sure we had a real world element of the city and the thugs, but we’ve introduced magic and had our meet-cute moment. Hold on to that feeling for a moment because that's what the story is counting on, you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
Eventually our main characters, through their good deeds, find the thief and head towards her neck of the city. Subaru decides to go inside the place where she’ll be and finds a dead body. He hears a woman’s voice and suddenly his stomach is cut up and he’s bleeding out. Our silver haired half-elf is quick to follow. You are no longer warm and fuzzy.
But Subaru doesn’t die. He doesn’t know what’s happened, but he finds himself in the same spot he started at… a little like a video game. He failed the level and must start over, but he doesn’t know that. The second episode then shows him going directly to the house that he was killed at. He for some reason, after being portrayed as smart, thinks he’s somehow survived the day and doesn’t piece together what’s happening… even after he dies again.
Now… this show has nothing on Erased from last season, but the Groundhog Day element to the story is interesting. Especially since Subaru’s not even remotely grasping the concept of what’s happening to him. This is very clear when on his third day he tackles the situation differently and things go completely awry again.
The ignorance of the characters is what works for this story. Subaru doesn’t know the world and so he makes simple mistakes that others take for common knowledge. After all, how are they to know he’s from another world when he doesn’t even know where or why he’s there. When the silver hair girl shares her name in the first episode it seems innocent enough with the exception of Puck’s response (that’s her spirit cat animal). In the second episode, the reason for the response becomes clear and it complicates the story even more. Subaru’s knowledge and yet ignorance is constantly shifting the story because he doesn’t have a clue how to keep everything in order and what can and can’t be said and done. More importantly he's trying to shortcut story and the story is making him pay. You can't just rush to the end because you know the end, it'll change you'll end up dead a different way.
The animation is by far the best I’ve seen this season. I’m sure there will be others that rival it or surpass it, but for now, it’s really good looking. The city is alive and not some empty area that’s only presented as being alive when its relevant to the story. There’s always someone or something going on which is perhaps the biggest difference between it and KonoSuba. There’s nothing particularly new about the style, but it’s an aesthetically pleasing anime to view with character designs that are familiar and yet really sharp to look at. The coloring for the anime is vibrant and gives it a movie feel. I hope that this doesn’t change or fade and that the high level of colors maintains throughout the series.
I’m curious to see what happens in the next episode which I guess will technically be the second episode even though there were two episodes for the premiere. None of these elements are that original as I’ve pointed out other properties that have used them, but it’s the combination of the elements, the characters and the presentation that have caught my attention. This one is definitely worth checking out and we can only hope that it will continue to balance the humor, light-hearted moments and the gore as it goes on.
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Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World E.1A-1B Official Website