A hikkikomori, fit, single-child boy who stopped going to school one day after failing to make friends, experiences nausea after leaving a convenience store and the world distorts. He is sent to another world where spirits and demihumans exist. He starts with no offensive powers, but soon finds that he has an ability Return by Death. He uses this to escape the dead ends and try to prevent the bad ends of the people around him. Watch as he supports Emilia, a scorned and feared half-elf, in her journey to be king, and as the story of the Jealous Witch unfolds.
A story about Death. Haven’t you ever thought that the difference between game and real life is the load and save functions? With a simple GAME OVER, often games allow loading to your previous save point. Personally, as I used to be an avid player of visual novels, I have a habit of making one too many saves. Try Killer Queen, for example. Without a good walkthrough, most likely you might stumble on a dead end. Same for Tsukihime and Fate Stay Night.
Re:Zero takes and uses this into the very premise of the story. The protagonist is close to useless in combat ability; his only saving salient advantage is his ability to return to a previous save point after death. Nonetheless, we are immediately shown the weaknesses to this all-powerful ability. Not being able to tell anyone about it, feeling the mental scars and pain of dying again and again, and gaining a greater witch stench which draws aminosity.
Death is probably something that all humans beings do not take lightly. We grief when we know someone has died, and it is not an easy thing to talk of nor get over. When dying becauses an aim to restart life, or using a death to get information, give up on this route and aiming for a reset, this begs the question if this is really an ethical thing to do – treating one’s life so lightly, even if one does have Rewind by Death. In the Light Novel, we also see Subaru taking his life lightly, ready to die multiple times in trial and error to get the ultimate result. It is only when he was shown that people really cared for him and would grief his loss that he reconsidered his methods and tried to enlist the help of people around him again. (White Whale Arc – other king candidates; Sanctuary Arc – Otto!!!!)
Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways from Re:Zero, as ironically as it might be, would be that life is to be treasured. (Read Arc 4 of the translated Light Novel) Unfortunately, or fortunately, we die once we are dead. Zero retries. Taking care of our health, doing our best with minimal regrets, are what we should all strive towards.
Zero retries? You may ask. Isn’t Re:Zero about restarting from zero? Do not be mistaken, I assure you. Even as the show shows you the ability of a protagonist to start from scratch each time he dies, eventually, his Save point will be changed, and he would not be able to save someone. (light novel spoiler) Life is not infinitely rewindable, nor can it always be fixed once something irreversible has occured.
But perhaps another thing or two we can take away would be the spirit of restarting from zero. No matter how under stress, how intensely we feel unable to handle our situations or emotions, always remember that there are people who love you. Be it your parents, your brother, your sister, your grandparents, your closest friends. They accept you and would want you to move forward. Conversely, be that strength for someone you are close to, be the person who will wholeheartedly affirm them and give them the courage to face tackle forward.
Perhaps to some, this sounds like a load of bull; perhaps to others, it sounds like awe-inspiring words that they may forget; or perhaps simply incomprehensible.
Since Subaru was a hikkikomori, it also brought to mind my previous post on Welcome to the NHK! and about how not doing anything, doing nothing is wasteful. It also reminds me that I need to check my own over-ambitious fluff with reality so that I don’t get deluded into getting ahead of myself. Talk is easy but action is hard. It’s even worse if you don’t face a constant dose of failure to keep you in check, when you do face it you may fall real hard.
Re:Zero is a show really popular, no doubt thanks to its beautiful art, great characters, wonderful death scenes and really fascinating way Subaru tactically overcomes his challenges after multiple tries (deaths) and pieceing together various information. Nonetheless, the area I fill most underrated or overlooked would be the dialogue exchanged in this particular episode (Episode 18). As a story device to check the protagonist’s motivations, and give him fuel to clear the plot hurdle, it can easily be brushed aside as just another pep talk by a side character. This dialogue sheds light on how one is never alone, there are people who will believe in you, and to face your problems rather than turn tail and run.
And it is always possible to try again, from scratch, from zero.
To be honest, I can see why everyone’s all “Rem best girl”, since Rem has the most development while Emilia is close to sitting like a trophy girl that is the main heroine for no reason at all. Emilia Development only comes up later on in the light novel arc 4 Sanctuary Arc when Emilia and Subaru headbutt each other with words. So of course since the anime has not covered till then most of our anime fans are all sitting on the Rem side of the fence throwing rocks and boos at the other side.
My favourite character would be Betty. I love the ‘ka-shira’ and deadpan-ness but still kind towards Subaru sometimes. Coupled with noticeable Blond Twintails (trope alert!) and super awesome spacial powers, what’s there not to like?
My second favourite character would be Otto! Especially if you read the Sanctuary Arc 4 in the light novels, you would find his character, backstory and motivations fleshed out there. He really seems whimpy in the anime arc, but when he gets serious, it inspires. A character I would never have thought could play such a major role, if at all. Never underestimate an author who knows how to convert side characters into main characters.
As for why Rem comes in third and not first, as much as we all want a waifu to devote all their love, attention and belief towards us, a cynical anime watcher might notice that Rem’s adoration for Subaru may partly only stem from how Rem saw him as her hero, her shining knight in silver armour, who stupidly tried to distract mabeasts but luckily had Roswaal coming to the party. As much as her one-sided belief in Subaru inspires, objectively-speaking she lacks sufficient participation in coordinating the White Whale negotiations, nor playing a crucial role besides supporting Subaru. (though admittedly important in itself) This is compared to how Otto distracts a tiger.
I love Crusch’s upright character. Not to forget the fluffiness that is Felix and Puck.
As we all sit tight and prepare our tear sacs for Re:Zero Season 3, it might be a good idea to read the light novel in advance if you’re a spoiler junkie like me. Knowing what’s going to happen only brings up the hype of the anime as I wonder how it will be animated!