Early impressions of Re:Zero may trigger viewers’ comparison to series such Steins;Gate, Erased, or even the live-action movie, Edge of Tomorrow. What do all these have in similarity? It’s the idea of time travel. The ability to loop back from the present to the past is a fictional theme we’ve all heard of before. It’s nothing new and Re:Zero essentially portrays that with Subaru, the main male protagonist and his reset ability. The ability “Returns by Death” allows return to a “save point” after death with all memories intact of the original user. Basically, Subaru gets a chance to fix mistakes so that consequences can be avoided. The key word here is ‘chance’ as it’s not always guaranteed that Subaru can change the future. By adapting this idea, Re:Zero’s early plot developments shows how Subaru uses his ability to make a difference while trying to live his new life in this unfamiliar world.
From that world, we meet a variety of characters. One of the most recognizable character in the show is Emilia, a half-elf who has a mysterious origin. Her identity is similar to another infamous character in the series so others sometimes mistaken her for that. In the meantime, Emilia is a friendly girl although can be commanding and sometimes childish. The relationship between her and Subaru is important as they grow to understand more of each other. One of the important dynamics about their relationship is that Subaru acknowledges her as a good person. This feeling coupled with Emilia’s growing trust of Subaru establishes a bond between the two. Two other characters in the series (Rem and Ram) are also introduced whom Subaru gets acquainted with. In the later stages of the series, Rem shows obvious feelings towards Subaru that grows into love. Similar to Emilia, Subaru acknowledges Rem despite her shady past. And because of that, Rem grows to care Subaru as one of her closest friends.
It’s hard to really ignore the relationship principles of the show. Subaru forges many important relationships including a contractor, a female knight, and even a guy that once humiliated him in front of everyone. From the get-go, Subaru really isn’t a guy that is afraid to take risks. This sometimes leads to irrational decisions with disastrous consequences but he is also able to learn from his mistakes. In addition, Subaru is an idealist and firmly loyal to those he cares about. He is also clever and uses trickery to get what he wants. On paper, Subaru is generally portrayed as a kind man but not afraid to show his tough side either. In essence, Subaru is the most “human” character in the show. He makes mistakes like humans do and tries to correct them.
On the other hand, Emilia is a character that I find less appealing. Quite frankly, we just don’t know her enough and it’s hard to understand her in general. Her relationship with Puck and the other characters aren’t fully explored. Furthermore, her personality is hard to get attached to even as they are shown from pieces to pieces. To be honest, the female character that stands out the most in the show would be Rem. She has a background story that is explored including with her twin sister, Ram. The relationship development between her and Subaru is quite memorable as they risk their lives for each other. And furthermore, Rem has her own reasons to help others that viewers will easily understand.
Despite the dark fantasy style of Re:Zero, the show still remains lighthearted on many occasions. As a light novel adaptation, you’ll probably find many standard tropes ranging from the generic jealousy of certain girls to childish antics of Beatrice. Subaru also tends to make himself look like a fool in front of others which can be irritating to watch. Still, the comedy of the show on most occasions is properly timed to balance out the darker themes. The fan service comes mostly from violence rather than the skin. In retrospect, Re:Zero deconstructs its fantasy themes and twist them into a darker direction. From an adaptation perspective, the show is faithful to adapt some of the most important elements.
White Fox adapts the animation style and Re:Zero is mostly well crafted. The character designs gives the feel like they are from a fantasy world. Characters such as Emilia, Beatrice, the twin sisters, Felt, etc has their own unique presence. The monsters in the series such as the White Whale and Mabeasts also look intimidating. In fact, the Re:Zero world is something you’ll find in any fantasy tale with the lustrous landscapes, dense forests, or medieval-like castles.
If there’s also something else that deserves recognition, it would be the soundtrack. The thrilling OST portrays well for a show that has such an eerie feel. The heroic moments and climatic segments are also made memorable with the show’s instrumental choreography. OP and ED theme songs are well crafted with the talent of the singers and producers.
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