Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 01 (First Impressions)

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I enjoyed the simplicity of Natsuki Subaru’s transition from one world to the next: after buying some food at the Mini Stop, he rubs his eyes, and when they open, he’s simply there, in a medieval-style fantasy world filled with humans and demi-humans. Being a shut-in NEET, Subaru rolls with it, confident he’s seen this kind of world in games he’s played and can thrive if he plays his cards right.

And it’s a lush, detailed world. Like Grimgar, Re:Zero takes its time building out the world and its rules, but in a different way. Instead of providing long pauses in dialogue or action for us to admire the world and become attuned to its slower rhythms, Subaru is in the middle of a bustling city and bounces from one strong personality to the next.

Subaru also makes no bones about the fact he’s dead broke and lacking in magic or other skills. All he has is the physical training he put himself through to guard his home back in his own world, and that only takes him so far. He expects a cute girl to save him, but it’s not the first one (a tiny, fleet thief in a hurry), but the second (an silver-haired ethereal maiden with a spirit cat).

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The girl—a half-elf who calls herself Satella (and voiced by Takahashi Rie, a favorite here at RABUJOI)—and her spirit-cat Puck are looking for the person who stole her jeweled insignia (probably the tiny thief), and Subaru decides to help her on this mission after she stayed by his side until he woke up from his injuries.

The insignia hunt gives Subie and us the chance to explore the world further, and as the sun goes down it only seems to get more and more beautiful, especially when Satella entreats with a mass of lesser spirits on a bridge. We’re in firm Final Fantasy territory here, stylistically speaking.

But as the sky gets dark, so does the show, as Subaru enters an apparent loot house and finds a bloody corpse, then he and Satella get run through by a killer in the shadows.

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Then…things reset. Subaru is back where he started when he first arrived in the fantasy world. Instead of trying to locate Satella again, he continues his search for her insignia without her, ending up at the tavern where he was killed and meeting Rom, the man he found dead there before.

It isn’t long before the thief, Felt, shows up with the insignia, and Subaru offers to trade his cell phone for it, demonstrating with its camera that he can “freeze moments of time with it, to their amazement.

Then the planned buyer of the insignia, Elsa, arrives, and it’s clear from her voice and face that she’s the one who killed Subaru and Satella. Subaru manages to win the insignia in negotiations with Felt and Rom, but when he says he’ll be giving it back to its owner, Elsa turns deadly once more.

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She dispatches Rom, Felt, and Subaru without much difficulty—she’s just too quick and stealthy for a novice like Subie—and he returns to the street vendor once more, as if a reset button had been pushed. That being said, he has the memories of the last two times he was there, but not knowing what the heck is going on, he passes out from exasperation.

Shortly after awakening, he spots Satella passing by, and calls her out by name, apologizing for getting himself and her killed before. Satella, to his surprise, reacts with hostility to Subaru calling her by the name of an infamous “witch.”

A lush alternate fantasy world, a fish out of water and a clash of cultures, a pleasant friendship seemingly domed by murder most foul, and mysterious time looping—Re:Zero serves up quite a bit in its ambitious double-length debut, and even though it wasn’t even on my list initially, now it’s at the top of it.

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Author: magicalchurlsukui

Preston Yamazuka is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

8 thoughts on “Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. That was actually very good. A little slow going at first, but it really picked up in the second half. I really enjoyed it and I really want to learn more about this world.

    I was getting a lot of “All You Need is Kill” aka “Edge of Tomorrow” aka “Live, Die, Repeat” vibes.

    Question is, why did she ask him to call her Satella, if the name was that infamous? You knew something was up with the name the whole time, but you didn’t quite know what. Puck is adorable and I while the MC took a while to get used to, I really liked him as well.

    1. Glad you made that Edge of Tomorrow reference. I thought that too! I avoided EoT when it first came out because I’m not the biggest Tom Cruise fan, but Netflixed it recently. That was a damn good movie!

      At this point, I wonder if he’ll just keep going back to that point and trying things a little differently (and possibly getting into even worse trouble) each time.

      I also thought of Steins;Gate (and Erased) while watching this, as they also deal with going back in time to change things. This has the extra layer of being an alternate world. Almost a Grimgar/Erased hybrid…

      1. It’s interesting and I don’t know if you know the background, Edge of Tomorrow was actually adapted from an LN called All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which was written in 2004. Ten years before this LN was originally written in 2014. However, 2014, was the year that Edge of Tomorrow came out, based on that older book.
        Just a little time turn around for you there. LOL

      2. I knew EoT was based on an LN, and I felt it benefited greatly from the rare-for-Hollywood sourcing. I didn’t know about the coincidental release of the film in the same year as the LN this show is based off of. Hat tip to ye!

    2. Puck commented on the name when Satella gave it. Why she chose the name isn’t clear but she clearly didn’t want to give her real name

  2. I’m just glad they’re still dishing this kind of genre out since Grimgar and Konosuba, But this one sure has an interesting twist. There are countless way for Subaru to try fix the point of incident and prolong his life and perhaps save all those involved, since his reset power only activates upon his death. Other than that he has very little chance in defeating Elsa unless he does something witty to overcome her, which he could figure out through a painful process of trial and error.

    The world is also very interesting. There seems to be more demihumans in this setting as opposed to the usual predominately human societies portrayed in other similar fantasy-themed titles. And I’m glad they get to show half-elves here, through “Satella”, which are almost unheard of before. Of course all of the above are probably meant as mere background for the story which will focus on Sabura misadventures of finding a way in fulfilling the task at hand without him and any other people involved getting killed.

  3. While I enjoyed Grimgar and the other NEET-in-RPG comedy over all, Re:Zero blows both SAO’genre pieces out of the water. It has a fantastic render quality (the color use on Satele’s hair overlaying her forehead is tight) interesting characters and it’s own hook. This protagonist is flawed but not an over the top jerk with a heart of gold and a downer complex like last season’s comedy. Nor is this show overly self conscious about the meta plot that Grimgar teased. Thumbs up!

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