Reviews: Re Zero

If You Want To Watch An Isekai...

This is better than most. That being said last anime season had Death March, which reduced its world to an old school rpg with high schooler leveling his character to god tier within the first episode and then spending the remaining episodes collecting preteen girls that want to jump his bones. Needless to say better than most of a toxic genre is a very low bar to pass and occasionally I feel Re Zero trips over it, anyway.

It's somewhat of a relief to learn that Suburu does not immediately dominate the setting like most isekai protagonists. His power, resurrective immortality, allows the audience to see how dangerous the world is without ending the story, anticlimactically. Getting gutted by a group of muggers is a fairly realistic way to die, but a terrible way to close a narrative. In contrast to other isekai protagonists that evolve a power in order to survive, Suburu evolves his mind becoming more clever as he continues to die in a fairly hostile fantasy environment. He has to make alliances, bargain deals, and often think outside the box to defeat potential dangers.

Which brings me to the other quality Re: Zero does better than most isekai and that is developing its side characters. Suburu has to rely on other characters to survive and in order to do that he has to learn about them so they can commit to his cause which is a fluid way of introducing these character's motivations and backstories. These characters eventually take on a life of their own. For example, Wilhelm's conflicted relationship with the woman that would become his wife is not tied to Suburu at all, but a compelling story in its own right.

Where the story trips is when it gets dragged down by more common isekai conventions like the harem genre. I dislike harems because it reduces female characters to notches in the MC's bedpost of masculinity. Contrary to popular opinion I loathed Rem because when she fell for Suburu all other traits were crushed under an obsession to please him. The story also features a thief dressed as a hooker that wonders why she isn't more feared or respected as well as a number of other unreasonably dressed female characters. Occasional breaks in the fourth wall made by the MC also disrupt an otherwise interesting fantasy world. The story can also introduce elements just for the sake of being melodramatic. Rem disappearing in a timeline results in Suburu screaming incomprehensibly until he dies and she appears perfectly normal after the time reset, the entire subplot affecting nothing whatsoever.

I want to like Re Zero but I grow weary whenever it shows its skeevy side. More than anything I find it a sanctuary to wait out the storm of crappy isekai manga and anime that flood the fantasy genre nowadays, which throw blank slates into cookie cutter worlds and hope they stay afloat.