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Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

on Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:49 am
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- is a very popular anime among the anime lovers, so making a proper introduction will only look redundant. This post contains lots of spoilers and is meant for readers who have already watched the anime. If You have not yet watched the anime and are planning to do, please stop reading.

Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- is in my eyes the best anime of 2016. i started watching it on a whim, as i saw it simulcasted on Crunchyroll and ranked high in the list. i did not start from the start, i skimmed through parts of the video and it seemed a bit interesting. Later on, i watched it from start on a whim as well. But soon, 2 or 3 episodes in, i got really interested in the story, and before i knew it, i got hooked to it to the point it became my Mondays, to the extent where okay episodes became a disappointment for me.

So what's so good about it? It starts in a very gamer-ish way, when the main character uses RPG terms such as "starting gear". That being said, the main character, Natusiki Subaru, is a gamer. Being able to relate to the terms, it starts in a very funny manner, but soon turns very dark.

The dark aspect of the anime cannot be ignored, but without further delay, let's look at the top features of this anime.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the anime is that the characters have lots of depth. Unlike other animes, in Re:ZERO, i feel the characters. i can imagine the characters, imagine the situation they are in, then look at their behavior and acts, and it all just fits. i get such an understanding of their personality that if i were in their place, i would do the same they have done. In other animes, i do not get such a strong feeling or understanding of the characters. Moreover, in most cases, it seems to me that the writter forces a certain situation just to show part of someone's personality, which makes the anime look as separate and loose parts instead of a single entity. In Re:ZERO, the more i watch, the more i understand the persons and their decisions, and the situations they create as well as the situations they get into due to background events, such as flashbacks, which makes it look like a single entity. i will discuss my favorite characters in much greater details.

Another aspect which i might have already hinted out to is details. This anime asks You to pay a lot of attention to details, whether dialogs, movement of background personages, or even facial expressions! Usually, funny moments are just for the laugh, but in this anime it magically makes me understand the characters more by linking jokes to the persona of a person. One example is on episode 6 after minute 5, when Subaru "fights" with Puck and Emilia starts laughing. Afterwards, Puck says that Emilia craves pet names because she does not have many friends. From these jokes, we get lots of informations about Emilia, especially when connected to later events. Emilia is the kind of girl which is rejected by almost everyone, so she does not have many friends, yet she really wants to meet new people and have fun with them, make friends and be called by cute pet names. i will come to this later. For now, let's look at an example of background personages. An example is when Anastasia Hoshin was talking to Subaru in the café on episode 16, and on 13:34 till 13:40, we can see a guy in a specific uniform resembling that of Mimi Pearlbaton passing by Subary. On 13:43 till 14:02, we can see people sitting with the same uniform as well. The background guys keep on popping here and there til 17:15, where Anastashia asks them to leave. It is then that it becomes obvious to everyone including Subaru that the whole café was filled with her mercenary group Fang of Iron, but hints were given a few minutes earlier, and it only makes the anime more beautiful, due to the efforts put in background details. Also, we get a better understanding of Subaru in that he was so focused on his own issue that he did not even pay attention to his surrounding, let alone trying to get on Anastashia's side, which she has hinted out to him more than once. Lastly, facial expressions play a role, which Anastasia mentioned as well on same episode. Also, on the heartwarming episode 18, Rem describes Subaru so accurately from 17:25 and beyond, that it makes me want to re-watch it to see all the details. She eventually mentions his eyes and his face when he sleeps, and many more.

One more aspect i must mention is that RE:Zero is thought provoking. Not everything is given as ready to swallow, and we can get a much better understanding by thinking based on what we have seen. Linking different events to the nature of the characters is an example, but there are many more, and i will restrict myself to an example of prediction. i usually mention times of events, but this event is a bit too long, so i will refere to episodes 9, 10 and 11. After dying several times, fighting, crying and then thinking, he finally gets a hint on what was going on, that is, the village contains the shaman who was cursing the staffs of Roswaal L Mathers. Knowing how curses work, he manages to deduce the identity of the culprit: the dog. When he gets to the village to take care of it, the dog had already taken the children into the forest and cursed them, and after lots of trouble, Natsuki, Ram and Rem manage to beat the dog and his friends - the mabeasts -, with the help of Roswaal.
The episodes were nice, but after a bit of thought, i started wondering: Why did the dog turn 180 degrees on a certain event? Why would he not go on rampage on another event? At first, i thought that it was due to Subaru's miasma, which is similar to that of the Witch's Cult. That miasma attracts mabeasts, and makes them go violent. Subaru's miasma is also very strong, on the same level as that of an archbishop, if not stronger. But then, why would the dog pick up on Rem when Subaru did not go to the village due to fear and depression? A logical answer is that the dog was being "activated" by someone - or at least something. The first suspect is the person who sent Subaru to the dog, which is the shy little girl with blue-purple hairs and lime green eyes. She is also the one who called the dog and picked it up before handing it to Subaru, which could be the moment she activated it. That's not all, the childs were all gathered in one place when Subaru came for their rescue, excepts her. Why would she not be with the other childs? Once he retrieved her, he got in conflict with the mabeasts soon after, which might just be the hint that she was using herself as a decoy, or was being used as a decoy. Later on, on the end of episode 14 and the start and end of episode 15, some of the other childs were shown when the Witch's Cult stroke Mathers' domain, excepts for her. More clearly, on the final episode 25 on 9:57, all the other childs were shown, excepts her. Why is she not with them? Anyways, that girl is suspicious.
And guess what? What i said might not be all true, but she is bad news. Apparently, she is associated with Elsa Granhiert, The Bowel Hunter, which tried to steal Emilia's insignia and kill her. For reference, please check Meili's Wikia.
Is it not cool to predict such a thing? Is it not beautiful to understand the characters more and better? Is it not wise to discuss RE:Zero in a philosophical way? i say yes to all. And to my wondering, while i was writting this, i found yet another proof that she was involved. On 21:13 of episode 11, Ram mentions that a child has disappeared, which must be her. So even now, i am still getting more and more hints!

Finally, the anime is just too exciting and emotionally triggering in its own virtue. Normally, we'd either be bored cause the good people never die, or we'd be saddened by the death of one of the main characters. In Re:ZERO, there are moments where i'd start thinking "Please die, please start over and do it right..." There are moments where Subaru goes through so much that even giving up seems right. And there are moments where i am just waiting for that character to show us the extent of his/her strength! As i said, okay episodes disappointed me, as i wanted more for a monday.

i have been mentioning only good aspects of the anime, so it is time to mention a flaw in my eyes. The thing i could not get around was when Natsuki Subaru's attitude changed drastically in such a small time interval. This started on episode 13, i think specifically on 9:35, when Julius Euclius said Subaru could not possibly be a knight when he made such a face next to his beloved Emilia, but went hardcore when he got in a fight with Emilia and got hit by the Unseen Hands on 22:03 when attempting to tell her about parts of his memory he acquired through Return By Death. It became diehard later on, but that is not so important. i feel that Subaru underwent too much of a change when the situation was not so dire. Subaru went through much more and he did not change personality in the past, so why would he change personality when he gets shamed by Julius? Even after not being able to convince Emilia, his behavior in an angry state was explainable, but for an everlasting change, i feel that was too much. i feel that Subaru was being forced to act upon the role of an archbishop of pride. The writter said it was intentional, but i still cannot go around it, and i feel it was the most important flaw. But we are forced to accept this flaw as the writter made it part of the story. Emilia even said to Subaru that he was not the same she knew on 16:28 in episode 17. Before that, he got corrected many times as well, but he kept on ignoring all of it. It was incorporated too greatly in the story to even attempt to ignore it.

Now, an interesting discussion for every anime is favorite character. Everyone has their own preferences, and whatever You, the reader chose as favorite character, is perfectly fine for me. But i will not limit myself to announcing my favorite character(s), but try to incorporate some philosophical thoughts as well.
First, there is a vague notion in "favorite". By this word, i really mean the best, or the best of the best if that pleases You. So there should be one single entry when discussing such a subject. To my surprise, i often find people listing 10 entries or more (including groups or collections of people, games, songs, etc), with an end note "and much more!" What does such a meaning of favorite emphasize then? i know my standard is pretty high and such favorite is mostly not possible to declare, but at least when i do, i know for certain that my entry is truly that which i believe is best, and mostly is of far greater quality than the other possiblities.

This may sound a bit cheating after claiming one entry, but i will talk about favorite male/female character, so there will be two entries, one for each gender. Let's first start with the favorite female character.

my favorite female character is without doubt Emilie. To me, it may just be the right idea to compare Emilie with Rem, the favorite girl of most other watchers to the point she became a meme: "Rem best girl".
Rem is the younger twin sister of Ram. Rem has light blue hairs while Ram has pink hairs, and the color of their eyes matches the color of their hairs perfectly. Rem is the kind of girl which would hurt badly the persons who care about her the most, then realizing how wrong she was, crying over it, then showing them unconditional love. Rem laughed at Ram when she lost her horn. What did Ram do to deserve it? She cared about her little sister, tried to releave her from the pressure of her parents, and even protected her when the mabeasts attacked their camp. Ram was not the problem, in fact, Ram was the reason Rem got a chance to live. If Ram was not a prodigee, they would have both been killed due to possessing a single horn. The problem was her parents who expected too much from her. After realizing this, Rem died on the inside, and became cold, living in the hope to become half as good as her sister would be if she had not lost her horn. She became blind, and could not see the innocence in Subaru, to the point she would kill him when he was sick, to the point she would kill him when he was at his most innocent state, crying to her, asking her what he did wrong, and on the verge of telling her that he loves both her and Ram. Her unconditional love to Ram and Subaru costed more than the human mind can comprehend. It costed Ram her powers, as well as her pride, with a side effect of having very slow regeneration if any at all. It took Subaru two lives and a desperate third, and a hard working fourth, to reach her heart.
Her unconditional love, however, is pure, sweet and tender. She would die for the two persons she loves, which she has already done twice. Her love is the real love man genuinely seeks. The hints are all over the second season of the anime: Her accurate description of Subaru, her blind trust in him, her smile for him, her understanding of his acts even when he does not explain himself, risking her life for him and even dying for him twice, and all by being so honest and direct in telling him and showing that she means it.
Still, i prefere Ram. Ram is much kinder than Rem to strangers and even Rem admits it. Ram did not kill Subaru because she doubted him. She is also very loyal to her master Roswaal, much more than Rem, to the point she would ask people to kill her instead of complying with a servant of another master, as she said "Kill me. I won't accept this disgrace" on 2:45 in episode 23. i think Roswaal is the one who saved her when the mabeasts attacked, and he continuously provides her with mana, as was seen on 21:53 in episode 11, which made her pledge loyalty to him. Ram is also straightforward in telling people what they have done wrong, as seen on 12:37 in episode 17. All in all, i believe Ram having much better qualities than Rem, only that Rem received much more attention through the whole anime. Rem has also been depicted very charming in different moments, to the extent i cannot help but wonder if people sold their heart for outside beauty.
Then, there is Emilia. She is on a whole other level than Rem. Emilia possesses both outer and inner beauty. i really love her eyes, they have a different shape than the others, but it is really pretty. The way she puts up her long hairs with the flower which matches her hair color so well, and the one knot braid hairstyle is so adorable. Not to mention her formal clothes, which match her so perfectly, and even without matching, the clothes are still very decent. Her lovely soft voice which matches her kind personality. But more of all, her personality is incomparable. She is rejected by almost everyone. The others give her special treatment because the dragon chose her as a priestess. But that is not what she really wants, she wants a person who befriends her and cares about her, and that's all. That is why she laughed and put a gorgeous smile on 20:09 in episode 3 when Subaru saved her and in return only wanted her name. Someone was finally reaching out to her as a friend, accepting her as who she is. The others all reject her, no matter what she tries, no matter how innocently she talks to them. Even when she tries to help others, she is rejected, as was depicted on 6:05 and especially 9:16 in episode 23. Yet she reaches her hand to them trying over and over, to help them, to be accepted, to socialize with them, even when she knows she will be rejected again, and getting hurt due to that. She reveals that she fight for equality, as was shown on 4:54 of episode 13. A bit later on, on 6:26, she shows how determined she was against the prejudice. She faces a grand fate with all what she has. She is discriminated because of her physical appearance which fits the description of The Witch, so she is hated. But even here, the writter gives us another reason to hate her, because whereever a person like her is, the Witch's Cult show up and kill everyone around. It does not only take virtue to stand by her side, one must also be very courageous, and ready to fight and die for what they believe is right. She has done nothing wrong. She is very kind, which was shown over and over from the get-go, when she helped the same kid find the parents after Subaru resetting over, when she saved Subaru from the thiefs, when she says that she does not matter and runs to Subaru asking him if he was okay, after he took a blow from Elsa, how she handled the dispute with Subaru, when Subaru was yelling at her but she gave more importance to his tears, when she fought the Witch's Cult and cried in front of the vilagers because they got hurt, even the way she talks and the words she uses tell of the extent of her kindness. She is hated out of racism and of fear of the consequences. Could i stand by her side if i happened to live in Re:ZERO? What about You? Would You fight with Your life for what You believe is virtue?

Ding ding! Time for favorite male character! my favorite male character happens to be Reinhard van Astrea! Reinhard van Astrea is a cool knight who happens to be very strong but also very friendly. People who are strong usually behave in a very cool fashion in anime, and Reinhard is no exception. So let's talk a bit about his strength. We have seen a glimpse of his powers on episode 3. He barely had any trouble fighting Elsa, The Bowel Hunter, while Natsuki with Felt, Rom (Valga Cromwell) and Emilia had trouble surviving against her. On top of that, he was only using a sword he found on the ground, and was holding back to give Emilia time to heal Rom, as they are both spiritual users. He did not even use his knight's sword, with scratches made by dragon claws. On top of that, from what i read, he has the strongest Divine Protection which allows him to wish for any Divine Protection, which is a power i am generally afraid of. Such powers usually depend on how well they are used, so Reinhard could theoretically beat anyone if he'd adapt to the situation in the correct manner. He had not used either of these powers, and he still has more to reveal. i think Reinhard is the strongest character in the anime, and people even went to the extent of comparing his strength to The Witch herself and some believed they would end in a stalemate. Still, with such strength, he does not look down on others. He helps those in need and tries to close distance as soon as possible, as was shown in 9:46 of episode 2. In times of needs, he does only what is needed, not more. In his fight against Elsa, he first suggested her to surrender, but she refused. He then tried not to hurt her and offered her a deal, that if he'd manage to make her out of weapons he'd win, which she refused, as she said "If I lose "my fangs, I'll use my claws. If I lose my claws, I'll use my bones. And if I lose my bones, I'll use my life" on 15:24 of episode 3, showing that she will fight to death. It is only then that he landed a blow which destroyed the whole building, and he might have holded back to spare her life. Another example is on 3:27 of episode 13, when he protected his "queen" Felt from Priscilla Barielle. He did nothing more than protecting her, but he also appologized to Priscilla, all in taking a rather submissive physical position, almost bowing before Priscilla. When things go wrong, he does not hesitate to appologize and tries to fix any misunderstanding as was shown on the beginning of episode 14. Another trait of his is that he believes strongly in faith, which i do not hate. All in all, Reinhard is a knight who is often described as a perfect knight. For me, such a person is a model to reach virtue.

i have promised that i'll talk about philosophy, and i have done it a bit, but i must add a bit more. There is a problem which i have. i love Emilia more than Rem because Emilia is kind in her own nature, and whatever the other side does would not change it. Rem, in contrast, is not kind to others, unless she is attached to them. Due to this difference, Emilia would treat strangers better than Rem would, and this is an ideal i cannot neglect. i believe that those who accept You when You were nothing to them will never be parallel to those who came after You became a big shot. This is in itself also a problem, because it means that if someone messes up their first meeting, such as Rem, it is game over, they could never repent for that. i have done things You could probably not even imagine for people who gave me a first impression, but i still want to attain virtue, so i need to acquire forgiveness and give it. What do You think?
Speaking of virtue, there is a problem i fear in Reinhard. He is so strong that if he chooses the wrong side, it would lead to dramatic damage. And that choice might just be choosing Felt as his queen. Felt is a bit violent and she spoke of grand changes on episode 13, would she win the Royal Selection. What if Felt becomes a bad girl, will Reinhard still follow her? Loyalty is part of virtue, but being loyal to the wrong leader seems worse than evil, as one is being submissive to others' evil desires. In this case, i doubt Reinhard's choice, and why a man with such a high caliber would make such a decision. Then again, there is a time-leap of a month, and lots of things have probably occured between Reinhard and Felt which we currently do not know yet.

This is it! i hope You enjoyed reading this post answering why i like RE:Zero so much! i have voted on Re:ZERO as best anime of 2016, for the Crunchyroll Awards. i hope You liked it as well!
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