Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World

Title:Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World

Episodes 1-25
Natsuki Subaru is a young man with a purposeless life, until one day he finds himself in a fantasy world. Captivated by a half-elf girl he meets, he tries to get her to fall in love with him. Subaru is convinced his presence in this world means he’s destined to be a great hero, but the only power he seems to have is the ability to reset whenever he dies to a point sometime before then. And because he’s the only one who remembers those previous lives, Emilia keeps forgetting their relationship. It’s up to him to stop himself (or her) from getting killed so he can keep moving to the future.
This can be a very uneven show. Take Subaru’s arrival in the world—he literally blinks and he’s there. The show never bothers with how or why, or much of who he is or what he does beforehand (we know he’s a huge nerd and that’s about it). Or the whole competition for the throne gets no setup, and never explains what qualifies the candidates (or why they’re all girls). Emilia is in the running, despite being hated by a majority of the population for being a half-elf (and therefore suspect, as there was once a powerful witch who was also a half-elf, whom the population still remembers with fear and loathing). Many of the other candidates are equally confusing—one goes as far as saying her goal in becoming ruler will be to tear the kingdom down.
So the world isn’t particularly compelling, and the details are often lacking. But where it gets interesting is with the characters. Subaru is frequently annoying or presumptuous—and then he’ll die from that miscalculation. Sometimes repeatedly. The “gift” of being brought back to life functions practically more like a curse, as he has to experience usually violent death over and over, trying to prevent impossible situations. And he can’t tell anyone about his ability, either, which means he often can only say “Trust me” about some information he has no legitimate way of knowing. So he goes crazy, in various ways, and more than once. He tries everything from apathy to madness to mania to sheer hard work, and still fails until he gets smarter about how he tackles the problems.
And then he hits problems he can’t just reset around, because he doesn’t control the reset point, which make up the entire back half of the series. Subaru keeps running into the fact that, as much as he would like it to be otherwise, the people in this world (as cliche-ridden as they can be) have their own goals and agendas and lives, and he’s not as incredible as he wants to think he is.
All in all, this is a very mixed bag. If the tropes don’t immediately turn you off to the whole thing, it does evolve into something a bit more like a psychological thriller, as Subaru tries to find a way around whatever is killing him or the people he loves. But certain things about the genre still hold true (if I never have to watch that bath scene again… Really Not My Thing), and it’s those bits plus the often non-existent background that make me hesitate to give a blanket recommendation. Tentatively Recommended.

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