Re:Zero: This hit from 2016 is one the most tragic, shocking, and exciting adventures the isekai genre has to offer.
In A Nutshell
The story of Re:Zero begins when Subaru Natsuki is transported into a fantasy world after leaving a convenience store. Even though he tries to play into the isekai genres clichés he knows so well, everything seems to be going wrong for him, and he hasn’t acquired any magical powers. Things get even more complicated in this brutal and merciless world after he finds out he can come back from the dead and respawn to a specific point in time. Subaru calls this ability “Return by Death,” but soon he realizes it’s more of a curse than an actual power.
Meet the Characters
Subaru Natsuki is the main character of the series. The series begins when Subaru, a NEET, is suddenly teleported to a different world. Most of the series surround around Subaru’s psyche: he’s lively, loud, honest, prideful, and loves his pop culture references. However, Subaru thinks poorly of himself and has a tendency to get attached to people too quickly, often demanding their attention and validation.
Emilia is one of the first persons Subaru meets in this new world. Emilia is a half-elf and can use ice-related magic. She’s also always accompanied by her spirit, Puck. Emilia often gets mistaken by Satella, the Witch of Envy. Because of this, she has grown used to hiding her face and staying away from big crowds. Despite being very friendly and polite, Emilia has a bad temper and won’t hesitate to fight for herself and others.
Puck is an artificial spirit. His current owner is Emilia, whom he was contracted with. Puck is an adorable and friendly creature. He’s very loyal to Emilia, and refers to her as “Lia” or “my daughter.” He also gets along with Subaru very well, as they often enjoy playing together. Despite his cutesy appearance, Puck is a really strong creature, and he will put Emilia’s safety above everything else, including the fate of the world.
Re:Zero has a very wide cast. However, these three are the main characters from the first arc, and saying anything more would mean entering spoiler territory.
A Brief History of Re:Zero: The When, Where and How
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another Worldis an on-going Japanese web novel by Tappei Nagatsuki. The series was adapted and edited as a light novel published by Media Factory, as well as three different manga. An anime series adaptation by White Fox consisting of 25 episodes began airing on April 4th, 2016, with an hour-long special. Studio White Fox also produced two series of short episodes called Re:Zero Break Time and Re:Petit, featuring the characters in its chibi forms.
Re:Zero was considered the dark horse of its season, and ended up becoming one of the most popular and best-selling anime of 2016. As a result, the franchise earned a lot of popularity, with the light novels surpassing 2 million copies sold, and a visual novel adaptation by 5pb being released in March 2017.
Why It’s Awesome
Tired of isekai light novel adaptations and would want to see some harsh reality thrown in them? Well, Re:Zero might as well be what you’ve been looking for. Just like Konosuba did in the same year, Re:Zero takes a spin on the transported-into-another-world genre by showing a more realistic version of what such an experience would be like. Despite being the main character, Subaru is no one special, nor does he have a special ability that he can use to get out of any situation. Furthermore, the fact that he’s not from that world and doesn’t know anything about its history, culture, politics, and mythology is also a plot point that is often used to his disadvantage.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – Subaru does have a special power: Return by Death. However, unlike any other possible power, this is one no one would want to have. Dying is not easy, not even when you know for a fact that you’re going to respawn. If you add the fact that he’s not in control of this ability, that there are certain limitations to it, and that he cannot even commit suicide to end his pain, you’ve got the perfect recipe for ultimate suffering. The slow build-up and escalation of Subaru’s actions as he progresses into the story also make for some cruel cliffhangers, as well as highly memorable episodes.
It should be noted that Re:Zero is not an anime for everyone. Just like some viewers loved it for its unpredictability, world building, and ability to f*ck up with your mind, others disliked the gore, redundant dialogue, and slow pacing. Overall, the subtle exposition of the world it’s set in, along with its stunning visuals, and epic soundtrack make of Re:Zero one of the most tragic, shocking, and exciting adventures the genre has to offer.