FI – Re: Zero – METANORN

First Impressions – RE: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

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Re Meets Colon Zero

Hullo, now we have my second most anticipated show for this season. Special thanks to my other two writers for joining me. So, ladies, what do we think of this first outing?
Whoa, this was a much longer opening episode than I thought it would be, but it really seems to have worked out in Re:Zero’s favour. Of course, I’m drawn to anime with darker themes anyways, but this was pretty nice even without that…
…Live…Die…Repeat. Live…Die…Repeat. Live…Die…

 Your adventure for today, what do you do…*

KaraKuri// The two main characters Satella (which is obviously not her real name) and Subaru definitely had some kind of chemistry going on in the first episode since they both seem too nice for their own good. Satella definitely seems to be within the tsundere range, but at least she’s sincere when she needs to be and it’s not to the point where it’s annoying. Subaru works well with her since while he’s kind of average in terms of personality, he seems to have the ability to get along with people pretty well. Plus with Satella, their interactions aren’t spent arguing or being too caught up in Satella’s personality since Subaru seems to go with the flow instead of causing friction. While maybe they still seem to have gotten along a little quickly (though in the anime’s timeline, a day seems reasonable), at least Subaru had a reason to react over her death like he did as opposed to if he had just met her then, like other anime have done.

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It was also nice how the extended episode gave room for everything. We got to see Subaru wander around lost in this new world. He and Satella had almost a full episode’s length of time to bond and get to know each other to make her later death mean something. Then they showed Felt’s side of things a bit more to get the full story of the situation. Sure, they haven’t revealed the entire story of things, since the insignia and why Elsa killed everyone is a mystery, but they certainly introduced plot and character relationships effectively without explicitly saying things like “Subaru doesn’t die when he’s killed”. Maybe this will change in episodes that aren’t as long, but it was good for delivering the hook to the anime in the first episode by slowly building up the initial meeting between characters to the darker aspect of it with Elsa killing everybody (twice).

Perfect is a fault, and fault lines change*

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IreneSharda//Believe me, this series almost passed me by. I judged it on it’s appearance, and saw moe girls with one guy, then my mind immediately went to your stereotypical harem soI avoided it like the plague. Yet, when I saw the summary during an edit for the Spring 2016 post, I stopped and reread it before immediately going to look for a PV for the series. The large candy-colored female presence was still there, but I began to see a depth that I had not noticed before beneath the main series visual and the unnecessarily long and complicated LN-esque title. And so, I kept it on my radar.
So what did I get when I finally got a chance to sit down and check it out? Perhaps a lot more than I bargained for…

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve seen a hour long premiere, so that surprised me. Cut into two pieces, the first half was honestly, pretty par for the course. Subaru (again, I laugh at the irony that another character shares his name with my car) is your average boy, though a bit of a loser and a shut-in, he’s the main character that you would expect in this kind of series. I really enjoyed the transition in the very beginning between the average, everyday convenience store, and the murder scenes that won’t appear until the second half. It immediately gives you a taste of what’s to come and that perhaps it’s not a coincidence that not two minutes later, Subaru literally opens his eyes to find himself in another world.

This other world is full-on fantasy, it’s completely composed of humans, animal-human hybrids (which they call demi-humans in this world), giants, elves, spirits, and everything in between. I look forward to getting to know this world throughout this 2 cour series.

Subaru unfortunately is not allowed that kind of time to the acclimate himself. He get’s pushed from one side of the city to the other, not fully being able to communicate (the spoken language barrier is overcome because, but the written language of the land wasn’t “downloaded” into his brain when he arrived.) and having little supplies and no money doesn’t help at all.

rezero 01-009

It’s not until he’s rescued a strange silver-haired young woman and her adorable cat spirit, that he begins to finally find his footing. Subaru and “Satella” have an adorable sort of relationship. She’s a bit of a tsundere, but it doesn’t take much to make her nice side come out. I like how they don’t outright tell, but instead show you several factors about her strange situation. She tells us she’s a half-elf and the audience can pick up simply from her words and reactions that this is not something to be proud of in this world. We can also see how much Subaru has made an impression on her by immediately accepting her without hesitance. We can see the looks she and her cat give each other when she says her name is “Satella” letting us know quite early on that that is not her name.

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Puck himself is the cutest talking animal character I’ve seen in awhile and I already love him. I find it funny that Subaru is not as wowed by this world as most would be, being a gamer and a hikkineet, he’s heard of this kind of situation before, and while it gives him some unrealistic expectations of himself, it also helps him adapt to this world rather quickly.

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So, the first half of this premiere was rather calm and ordinary as transported-to-a-fantasy-world stories go. However, the shadowy beginning scenes still place a feeling of foreboding over the otherwise cheery scenes. And it’s not until the second half where those feelings are paid off in full.
Reading about it in the synopsis and actually seeing it carried out are two different things, and as Subaru ends up finding out through experience that he’s stuck in a death time loop, you begin to realize just what kind of series you’re in for. It’s like that turning point in Steins;Gate when you become conscious of the fact that everything that you thought this series was going to be in the beginning, is being turned on its head.
Our protagonist is not in for a good time, and I have a feeling that it’s only going to get worse from here before it gets better…if it ever does.

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Subaru meets more characters during his second time run than he does first, and I’m already charmed by little Felt and the dumb but brave Rom. Elsa creeped me out upon first appearance, but hopefully after being killed by her twice now, Subaru can figure out a way to avoid her. But more than simply trying to avoid getting murdered once again, poor Subaru is also going to have to contend with the fact that he’s going to be the keeper of all these timelines. Possessing this world’s version of the “Reading Steiner”, I think that the psychological burden will become far worse than any sort of physical pain he could have endured.
And it’s there that the hook lies, not only do we find that our hero is somewhat immortal, but also there’s a mystery surrounding our female protagonist as well. Who is Satella? Why do they want to keep her insignia from her? How will Subaru navigate each of these changes to the timeline and learn more about the situation that he’s been dumped in? How many times will he have to die, in order to do so?

Explain the Change, the Difference…*

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skylion// It’s the little things that I love about this premier episode. Yeah, the story is defiantly engaging in some easy-picking on those well heeled old “summoned to fantasyland” tropes, that is for sure. But that’s really just the backbone. Just as we had in last season’s well loved Grimgarwe have a sense of character, and a sense of need right of the bat. Very broad strokes. But, the biggest part of that is filling in some of the spaces other epic stories can leave blank, or default to stock tropes making them effectively blank.

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First we get the gruff “move along and start your quest” stall holder. As time passes he goes from stock figure to more rounded supporting character; husband, father, concerned about people if he has the chance. Then we have the thieves in the alley. Yeah, they were tough guys, but the skinny one took the time to grab his downed buddy when the table turned on them; that one action tells me that there is some character there, these three have a story beyond just moving the main character along. Now, if they could only blend the CGI crowds and background in a bit better – oh my, a LOT better.

Of course, there are also the big things. I could go on about the time-travel mechanic and how much it’s reminiscent of starting from your game’s last save point. But why go on? It’s just a feature, that’s all. How they use that to tell the story they want is far more interesting. So, what if you’re life did start from Zero? If you could keep all your memories of what you did before and Bill Murray you’re way around (or Okabe, or Satoru…your choice) the landscape, righting wrongs and making rights…but it meant losing everyone? You’re a man out of time after all. Displaced and eventually dispossessed…kinda gruesome when you extend the line out that far.

It’s funny that the whole being summoned into a parallel world has become such a cliche in Japan that people just automatically assume that they have protagonist status upon arrival. But in any case, this was a super intriguing first episode. What I’m excited for is seeing what will come next. There seems like there’s going to be some sort of lore in the anime, with the mention of the Jealous Witch, which seems like it’s some sort of well known folk tale or something. There was also Satella’s reaction to Subaru using the name she went by in his first round in this new world. Speaking of that, what will Subaru do now that he’s catching on that he keeps repeating the same day when he dies? What will he do about Satella? Will he stop Felt and the Rom’s death? Who else is going to die? I was expecting something more generic, but this first episode was far better than that with how it built up the intrigue. I’m definitely looking forward to the second episode of this.

While I’ve referenced Steins;Gate a couple of times (and I’ve also heard KonoSuba and Erased being brought up) if you paid attention to my opening line, if this series takes its cues from anything, it’s Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 light novel entitled All You Need Is Kill and the 2014 American film based on it, Edge of Tomorrow. (If you haven’t gotten a chance to see that movie, I highly recommend it.) A young wimpy protagonist finds himself resetting his timeline over and over again every time he is killed, but it’s through having been killed hundreds of times that he is able to grow from a coward into a hardened warrior, though there is definitely a harsh mental toll.
I’m interested in what the toll will be for Subaru and how this mystery will unwrap itself. Re: Zero shot itself up to being one of the best premieres of the season so far, and I’m rather excited to see where it will go next.

Well, that is it in a rather big nutshell, don’t you think? There’s quite a bit to unpack with this premiere, and I think the double length was the best way forward. I’ve read most of the manga that available from scanlations, and I think they did a fine job using is a source; they stuck to the basic plot and molded it just right for the television screen. White Fox usually ends up doing some very pretty looking shows, and this is no exception; to the point where the slums didn’t look half bad. It feels like they are working from a great script, the animation is smooth, the character design is crisp. I can’t complain about a thing. So, I’ll be seeing you for the next one. Until then, thank you to my co-writers, and I thank you on their behalf.

*I Believe in Coyotes and Time as an Abstract….

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We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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33 Responses to “First Impressions – RE: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu”

  1. Di Gi Kazune says:

    I support the cat.

    In a world where there is kemonomimi… mi.. mi..

  2. zztop says:

    Re Zero’s listed for 25 episodes. It’ll be a long ride of pain and death!!!
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/daily-briefs/2016-04-04/re-zero-starting-life-in-another-world-anime-listed-with-25-episodes/.100658

    Zero started as a webnovel, which is also the de facto medium for a LOT of today’s reincarnated/teleported to other world stories – otakus and their literary ambitions!

    • skylion says:

      Well, you have to admit that mining from online novels is a pretty good way to find what they need. I’ll be honest, the criteria for the writing of light novels isn’t the highest (sure, there are exceptions), and it’s a very recyclable industry. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and in this context it’s the next in line to mass market…Plus the “lost in another world” approach is a great literary device for growing up strange in a normal world, something that publisher love to exploit, I guess?

      Yeah, 25 is big. I’ve only touched like 22 chapters total from the two manga versions that have been scanlated, and they just hint at how big it could get. At Metanorn this actually the first two-cour show I’ve committed to…

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Gold! A very powerful start and it makes sense why it needed two parts to work out to be detailed as possible. Which leaves to speculate there wasn’t enough financing to make an outright hour long introduction. Then again, it makes for a means of taking a breather before jumping into the second half. Also, seeing how ERASED just ended, no way are any comparisons going to be avoided.

    Subaru was a little overbearing about what he should and could do now transported to a fantasy world but fortunately, that dissipated gradually over time. Apart from that, he’s a cool lead. His appearance screams a similarity to Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin’s Juugo Yama.

    Overall, I’m quite impressed and it appears I’ll have a fantasy anime worth following after a while. Therefore, a candidate for being part of list header this season. 25 episodes long with the hope of maintaining this level of interest is icing on the cake. Bring on the next episode!

    I’ve read most of the manga that available from scanlations

    Let’s see if there’s resistance to leaking out spoiler info. This test needs to be applied to anyone watching an adaptation of any material they’ve read. I already know there are some weak-willed ones among the bloggers.

    • skylion says:

      There is a very easy way to keep this from being compared to ERASED. Don’t do it…

      I’m pretty good about keeping spoiler info to myself, or using that information to suggest what might come.

  4. HannoX says:

    A great start to a show that holds a lot of promise. Of course Subaru had to know the spoken language otherwise several episodes (or a time skip) would have to have been spent learning it which would be boring for the viewers. But I like how he didn’t know the written language. And of course being ignorant of the geography he makes a mistake saying he’s from an island nation to the east. Hopefully the show will have other aspects showing him to be ignorant of things that are common knowledge in this world. Not knowing the name of the Jealous Witch is another illustration of that. But as he repeats the day over and over he’ll start to learn such things.

    However, repeating the same day 25 times would be too much. I hope he moves past this day onto other days where once again he’s killed and has to repeat them until he gets them right.

    • BlackBriar says:

      However, repeating the same day 25 times would be too much. I hope he moves past this day onto other days where once again he’s killed and has to repeat them until he gets them right.

      That doesn’t seem to be the case. Like you suggest, it appears the reset only works when Subaru is at death’s door. I may be jumping the gun but I’d take that as a sign that a higher power wants him for something and he isn’t allowed to suffer circumstances that will obstruct him.

    • skylion says:

      That was an aspect of the direction I really was hoping someone would bring up. The Jealous Witch. That was a great visual stinger that payed off later and it added a great deal of depth to the cliffhanger; much more to come on that.

      As far as him knowing the language. These are the sorts of things we have to handwave cause it’s more expedient to our enjoyment to do so. After all, in a live action film, you can’t actually see the riggers hanging lights to get just the right composition, nor notice that someone had to wait for the airplane to pass over so they could deliver a line clearly, nor do we follow the the main characters and their very very empathic, not to mention very mobile, orchestra.

      As far as learning, yes, that’s the nature of the game right now. I don’t know how the show will break down episode by episode, so how many times he will die is anyone’s guess (well, having read some of the manga I can give you how many times I know of so far, but it’s really not that important) so we’ll all wait and see.

    • Highway says:

      I certainly hope the central conceit in this show isn’t that there’s a lot of ‘do-overs’. It’s not an original idea, and it loses a lot of punch, especially when it becomes an expected thing.

      • skylion says:

        Do over: time repeats, dude thinks he knows what he has to do next, new information or frame of reference challenges him, new story happens.

        • Highway says:

          Even that is, at this point, a tired conceit. Sure, it may be possible to do, but why not have there be real consequences for doing something wrong? Like dying and staying dead. Saying that, it makes me think that the ‘time repeat’ is a cheap way for writers to have a ‘Now I can kill my main character without having him die.’ But when you do that, it loses (at least some of) the tension of impending death.

          And like every literary device, it loses impact with overuse (my original argument).

          • skylion says:

            I’m not going to say you’re right or wrong about your conjecture, nor if they explore that.

      • IreneSharda says:

        Do overs can be cool if done in the right way. Seeing Tom Cruise get killed over and over again in Edge of Tomorrow was downright hilarious. Or it could be played serious like in Steins; Gate where you realize the mental toll that the traveler goes through.

        The key is not showing all the do-over loops themselves. But give the audience an idea of what are the consequences of all this, both for the plot and for the time traveler.

        • skylion says:

          Tom Cruise’s character getting iced over and over again was the selling point of that film; the rest of it was pure butt-biscuits.

          • IreneSharda says:

            Ugh, you just don’t recognize a good sci-fi when you see it. 😛

            • skylion says:

              Oh, I’m as good with science fiction as I am with recognizing a horrible script and rather piecemeal direction. It has so many “because it’s an action film” answers to very basic questions. Butt-biscuits. Wet, butt-biscuits.

        • BlackBriar says:

          The key is not showing all the do-over loops themselves. But give the audience an idea of what are the consequences of all this, both for the plot and for the time traveler.

          That’s almost like the predicament Reoko Banryuu of Bubuki Buranki is cursed with. She has an immortal body but every time she revives after experiencing death, she suffers severe mental damage that’s gradually taking its toll.

          In hindsight, an ability that has you recovering from fatal injuries may seem advantageous but it can also be like a curse. No matter what, the user is going to feel intense pain every time.

  5. BlackBriar says:

    This other world is full-on fantasy, it’s completely composed of humans, animal-human hybrids (which they call demi-humans in this world), giants, elves, spirits, and everything in between.

    Demi-humans or “Ajin” (You know what I’m getting at) if you want to use the full-on Japanese word.

    What’s to notice is the contrast of having features that are obvious and those that are inconspicuous. Until she brought the fact up, I didn’t think of Satella being a half-elf. Mainly because of her not having pointed, elongated ears we’ve known elves and other half-elves to be born with. Much like Outbreak Company’s Myucel Foaran.

    The white hair is trivial because it isn’t strange in anime for a character to have an odd hair color.

    • skylion says:

      The outward features of her being a half-elf aren’t the most important part. That would be that she identifies that she is one, and she hints that being one is troubling to her…

    • IreneSharda says:

      But she did have pointed ears. They’re more similar to those you would see on elves in Lord of the Rings or Santa’s Workshop, rather than the very elongated ears like that of Gate.

      As for light hair, that’s normal for elves period.

  6. Overcooled says:

    Wow, I didn’t expect this to turn out so well. I really liked the two-part episode, because it allowed to kind of explore both sides of the story. First we get to know Satella as the victim of thievery, then we kind of see it from Felt’s point of view. I felt a lot less hostile towards Felt when I saw she was just a good-natured kid trying to make a living to escape from poverty. The time reversal thing is an interesting way to let Subaru meet different people all within the same span of time and get contrasting stories. I’m still sad he lost all his “progress” with Satella though, because they were such adorable companions T_T

    I also can’t help but find it funny that Subaru is the rare kind of NEET who had so much free time he exercised every day. I’ve never seen an anime NEET who was remotely in shape – usually the game world just buffs them up to make up for their lack of physical prowess. Good on you, Subaru! You wasted your life away indoors without completely wasting your life away!

    • skylion says:

      I had a lot of fun watching this myself, as you can probably tell. Yeah, Felt is a good girl. I get this feeling that the slums aren’t all that they seem, or at least the level of poverty they are experiencing is something pretty new; cause those three guys look totally new to the job, and still look out for each other, pro thieves would have done it very different.

      Well, I’m currently working home security myself. I’m as strong as an ox and have hardly lifted a finger to get like that; so don’t mess with me, yo!

    • IreneSharda says:

      Subaru is an interesting rare breed of hikkineet. He’s in shape, knows how to fight, has pretty good social skills. Is clumsy around pretty girls, but not completely worthless.

      Honestly, if he didn’t actually state a couple of times that he was a shut-in, I would think him a perfectly well adjusted high school teen who had stayed home to play games all weekend.

      • skylion says:

        I think he’s a perfectly fine, but dorky young man, that is calling himself a NEET cause basically society has given him little other choice in how to identify himself in this brief moment of his young life. He has about as much to do with the concept of hikkokimori and NEET as ground beef three times a day, leather wearing, gargles raw eggs has to do with a no ova-lacto-skin vegan

      • Di Gi Kazune says:

        Kasugano Sora is my preferred NEET/hikki.

  7. ProtoSovereign says:

    Oh man, I waited too long to watch this so nobody is going to see this comment but. Wow this show is great and I’m glad I made this my 3rd pick of the season. (other 2 series I’m probably definitely going to follow for sure are Mayoiga and Netoge no Yome) Since everyone’s already said all there’s been to say about this show let me say something only I want to say. THANK YOU ‘Satella’ (I actually know her real name :/ I accidently spoiled myself looking up the seiyuu on anilist) Thank you RE;Zero for having LOTR style elves rather than the GATE style elves which seem prevalent in Japanese fiction. (not sure if elves in this show will be LOTR style being awesome and all or GATE style being losers but at least the ears are LOTR style) Now I can die, happy 😀 !

    • skylion says:

      We certainly do get picky about which style of anything is the “real” or “best” one, don’t we? I think this one is going to be a good one, so I’ll see you around in the weeks to follow.

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        Yeah, I prefer LOTR depiction of high fantasy, as opposed to the type made famous by one of those old rpg games I think. Dragon quest or something I think where the orcs looks like pigs. Not sure where the elves with sideways ears come from though. (note my information maybe very wrong since I’m not sure where these influences came from either.). And yeah see you around Skylion :D.

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