Subaru found himself transported into a medieval fantasy world. An RPG gamer's dream come true right? That's what he thought too, however he has no money and no special abilities or magical powers. It's a crummy way to start an adventure until he meets a beautiful girl who in need of assistance. With nothing else to do, he helps her in search of a missing trinket of hers. Eventually a trail of clues points them to a good lead. Not a bad first day to start an adventure.
Then Subaru dies.
I've seen more "transported to a mysterious world" anime titles alone than some anime fans have seen of anime as a whole. In this case it's given a fairly new spin, and isn't so much about the new world as it is unraveling the mysteries of a murder. Mainly Subaru investigates his own murder.
Each day Subaru starts over from a 'replay' point, trying to avoid the circumstances which killed him. That's the only "power" he has, making his struggle compelling. This isn't a simple "oops I died" video game kind of death however, as Subaru often dies in cruel and painful ways. And whoa, does this anime get gruesome! Sometimes I honestly found it hard to watch, as Subaru lay dying, with his life slowly bleeding away, fearful of death and frustrated as his killer taunts him in his final moments. This dark grizzly contrast gives Re Zero an interesting flavor, always keeping it focused. Even when things feel silly, there is the ominous threat of what happens always lurking in the backdrop.
Although I enjoyed Re Zero, the story is in progress. I like where the story could go and the anime does well thus far. A big problem with Re-Zero is pacing. Beginning episodes are great, but later episodes conspicuously fill time so the end of an episode can have a tidy synchronization with Subaru's reset. This can feel feels repetitive at times with content rehashed, leaving the viewer waiting for the part where Subaru can make a difference.
Animation, soundtrack and so forth are high quality but nothing exceptional. Character exploration is a stand out feature of this show, because of the way the story rolls back. This means characters aren't what they seem, until details about them are later revealed. Also, when placed into a situation, they may take uncharacteristic actions (like killing Subaru). I liked just about everyone in the anime, with the exception of Subaru himself who I actually kind of hated - which is a weird development, saying I really liked an anime where I hated the main character, but this is a show weird enough for that sort of thing to happen. I did his personal growth in the show, but not much else. I suppose that made it easier for me to watch everything that happens to him though.
Re-Zero is a fascinating show. It looks like a typical fantasy show from the outside, but the very morbid turns and continuous "bad endings" make it a very cool watch, even if it hasn't reached a conclusion yet.
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