Animated by the studio White Fox, Re:Zero or Re:Zero: Starting Life in Another World, is based off the continuing web and light novel of the same name written by Tappei Nagatsuki. It follows the adventure of Natsuki Subaru as he tries to survive in an unfamiliar world. One of the first things viewers will notice in the first several minutes of episode one is the sudden change of setting. Subaru lives in a modern day Japan, and as he walks out of a convenient store he unexpectedly walks into a medieval fantasy world, filled with magic and other strange things, such as animal-human hybrids.
This proves to be the first real issue I had with the series. Having a main character mysteriously transported to a different world is nothing groundbreaking. This type of setting has been done before in similar series such as Sword Art Online and No Game No Life, and Re:Zero doesn’t really do much to change up the formula in that regard. There is also the issue of how well Subaru adapted to the sudden change. In the first minute of realizing that he is no longer in his own world, Subaru doesn’t seem at all that worried and quickly adapts. He even quickly realizes that this world has magic and almost immediately tries to use it. I realize this is a fictional show set in the most fictional setting ever, but having the character seemingly not be affected by the sudden shift in environments makes the viewer lose interest. Because of that lack of caring there really is no urgency in figuring out what caused Subaru to jump worlds.
Later, Subaru ends up meeting a girl by the name of Emilia, who serves as both a supporting character and love interest for Subaru. Emilia, while on screen, comes off as a charming and nice girl, but she doesn’t really do much in the series other than serve as Subaru’s drive to continue to survive. They end up going to a store to find a stolen item and in the next minute both Subaru and Emilia are killed.
After this sudden and drastic event, Subaru ends up back to where he was before meeting Emilia. This is when Re:Zero introduces its other genre, time travel. Subaru apparently has the power to end up in a past position before a death — or the way he describes it — a checkpoint. After Subaru learns of this, the next couple of episodes are spent figuring what went wrong in that shop and figuring out how to prevent both his and Emilia’s deaths.
Along with the fantasy world setting, time travel is another concept commonly used in anime that has been done before. An Example of a such show is Steins;Gate which covers time travel as well. However, the way Re:Zero uses the time travel element makes for a good watch. With each despairing incident that occurs, Subaru must learn what went wrong and how to fix it. This is the main recurring element of the series. This also proves to be a weakness for the show because there is no main plot. There are multiple incidents that occur through the series, but there is no main event that connects these incidents. They only seem like separate issues that Subaru needs to conquer in order to keep surviving.
Though there is seemingly no overarching plot, the events that are spread throughout the show are very well executed-mostly because of the effect that it has on Subaru. Subaru is an enjoyable character to watch because of the range of emotions and how well the show does in executing them without feeling forced or not needed. When emotions are at a high, there are bright colors and sounds that accompany them and when things go south and are at their darkest, both the colors and soundtrack darken to accompany the shift in tone. These darkest moments are where Re:Zero (ironically) shines. They have a despairing effect on Subaru’s mental state and keep hammering away at his psyche, driving him into a deeper and deeper panic.
All in all, Re:Zero is a flawed series that uses elements that have been used before in past shows. That doesn’t stop it from delivering on its characters and its rollercoaster of different emotions However. Anyone who likes fantasy, time travel, or good writing would have a great time watching.