Genre(s): Isekai, Fantasy, Drama, Adventure, Psychological
Age-Appropriateness: 15+ (Violence, gore, profanity)
Platforms: Crunchyroll, Funimation
Episodes: 26 (Counting Pilot parts 1A and 1B as separate)
TheAwersome Rating 8.9 / 10 (Whoa man)
Premise: Upon leaving the convenience store, Subaru Natsuki is mysteriously transported to a fantasy world. Being well acquainted with the Isekai genre, he’s stoked to see what powers he’ll develop and cute girls he’ll encounter! Things don’t pan out so nicely, however, as he’s quickly mugged and beaten by a gang of thugs. Fortunately, he’s saved by a mysterious girl, Satella, who’s looking for something stolen from her as well. He helps her track down her stolen Insignia, and shortly after finding it, both he and Satella are brutally murdered. Subaru immediately reawakens to a familiar scene – confronted by the same thugs and meeting Satella all over again – as history repeats itself.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: Everyone loves a good “Groundhog Day” scenario, right? Re:Zero does a superb job keeping things fun and exciting as well as intense, dramatic, and devastating. Which, in time loop scenarios is VERY hard to do. There’s simultaneously an immense weight to this show and the existential detachment of “I already did this,” and it’s expertly reflected in Subaru’s character development and growth. At first, I was annoyed by his plucky, overconfident, “I’m the protagonist” attitude, but reality catches up quick, and everything takes its toll.
One thing I especially want to mention is the very well written dialogue. There’s one episode in particular that I feel is Oscar worthy, the kind of a scene I would have loved to have studied and competed with in Theater competitions back in the day because it was so immensely rich in depth and emotion. You’ll know it when you get to it.
TLDR: Combine your average Isekai fun with the dread of Majora’s Mask and the psychological rattling of Doki Doki Literature Club.
I feel like Re:Zero is, for better or worse, a very accurate depiction of anime as a whole. You have amazingly animated action sequences, your shonen-flavored cocky protagonist, potent dramatic scenes that make you cry, a quasi-harem thing going on, psychological elements that give your whole body goosebumps, there are maids, lolis, and magical cat-like familiars, an emotional and resplendent soundtrack, some over-the-top comedy elements, and a moderately complicated plot with twists that leave you literally dumbstruck, unable to speak for seven straight minutes as you process it with a heavy pit in your stomach.
It’s only because of this, the inclusion of a good handful of tropes and clichés, that it doesn’t breach into the 9 and higher category. Yes, a lot of the tropes and such are addressed as being tropes and are significant in Subaru’s character growth, but it can still be somewhat of a deterrent early on.
Season 2 begins at the end of April 2020, but I didn’t feel like waiting until October to give my Re:Zero thoughts. There’s also a movie-length OVA that just dropped on Crunchyroll, so expect that soon in the reviews here. Crunchyroll also has the “Director’s Cut” edition of Re:Zero, which is basically just two episodes at a time, with minor changes in pacing on a few shots and slightly de-cluttered backgrounds.