So what happens when you take the time travel abilities in Boku Dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED) and mix them with something akin to Log Horizon? You get the proverbial love child known as Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. I will be completely honest, after watching ERASED, I had pretty low expectations of this show mainly because of the whole fantasy world setting, but it did surprise me just a little bit with its first episode, which was an hour long, by the way. So let’s dig in and see just what Re:Zero had to offer us.
First Episode Impressions
We are introduced to Subaru Natsuki. He’s at a local convenience store picking up a package of ramen, presumably, for dinner tonight. He pays for his purchase properly and then steps outside. All of a sudden, the world around him warps and he finds himself inside a medieval world filled with many strange-looking beings and humans alike. Unlike some main characters, Subaru is actually self-aware that he was transported to another world and theorizes that some beautiful and mysterious girl summoned him there.
You get to see Subaru go from place to place trying to gather information, but nothing really pans out for him. He can’t even buy anything because his money isn’t even accepted where he is. He eventually stumbles into a back alley where three thugs try and shake him down for some cash. They’re all interrupted when a female thief is making her escape. Once she humorously runs off without helping Subaru, the punks return to shaking him down, that is until they’re interrupted again! Enter a mysterious silver-haired girl with a feline spirit animal accompanying her. She’s looking for the thief that just ran through and ends up using magic to send the punks packing. She’s about to leave when Subaru agrees to accompany her on her search.
She introduces herself as Satella and just from the way she did it, you could tell that it was a fake name through and through which adds a bit of forced mystery onto us. I didn’t really care for that as I don’t like it when shows blatantly throw mystery into your face. Had she sounded believable, when her true identity is revealed (assuming it will be), it would have had more impact. Remember, you have to fool your audience as much as the characters in the show!
So they track down the thief who is a girl named Felt. She lives in the slums and when they arrive at the shop where Satella’s stolen medallion is thought to be, the shop owner is found murdered. Then Subaru gets his stomach sliced open by an unknown assailant. Then Satella comes in and gets a taste of that blade, too! Subaru dies right then and there… but he doesn’t die because ERASED’s Satoru Fujinuma gave him his powers of Revival and he woke up right where he was arguing with the street vendor over not accepting his Japanese money.
So right away we’re introduced to the first time loop. Then, without going into too much detail, Subaru goes back to the shop, dies again and awakens once again in the same spot, but this time, instead of going to the shop and dying a third time, he finds Satella wandering the streets, but she has no idea who Subaru is. After a lengthy first episode, this is where it ends.
While the first episode of Re:Zero does pique my interests, I didn’t like how Subaru was just dropped into a fantasy world and just accepted the fact that he was teleported there. Any normal person would wonder if they were dreaming, they would be confused, disoriented, scared, etc. Not Subaru, though. He acted like this kind of thing just happens every single day. That doesn’t make the story all that believable if you ask me. Either that or his life was so insanely pathetic in the real world that he was happy that he was whisked away to a fantasy world with no explanation whatsoever.
His ability to revive after dying hasn’t been explained and I don’t think that it will for quite a while. This is a 25-episode series so there is plenty of time to simmer these stories in order to flesh them out. The three main characters we were introduced to so far have just enough backstory revealed to make them interesting, but offer up enough room for expansion later on… just as any good first episode should.
With the whole time traveling aspect to this, Re:Zero does a good job of obeying the basic laws of time travel right out of the gate. No real big loops or weird retcon stuff has happened (at least not yet and I pray that it never does) so it looks to take those laws a bit seriously. If done correctly, it could really become a mind-bending anime, but judging by the way it is handled in the first episode, I fear that while it may not ignore the rules of time travel, the show may end up abusing it for the sake of keeping the main character alive.
OP & ED Impressions
There was no opening theme here in the first episode of Re:Zero, but we did get to hear the ending theme which was “STYX HELIX” by MYTH & ROID. The song offered a soft and somber techno style to it with a slight upbeat tone. The female vocals, though, sounded a mix between natural and Vocaloid-style synth. It’s an okay song at best, but it doesn’t really jump out as something that sounds unique. The song would probably work best if you were lying in bed in the dark and you just wanted to listen to something soft to let your mind float away. At least that’s the vibe I’m getting from this. Interestingly enough, the opening is slated to be by Konomi Suzuki, who did the amazing opening to Watamote. So I’m expecting something awesome come episode two.
YES – While Re:Zero seems like it’s going to have its flaws, the first episode gave off a good enough impression to catch my interest. I know, I know… I’m a sucker for time travel stuff and I’ll watch pretty much anything with it…. Except Dr. Who… because screw Dr. Who… that’s why. The fantasy atmosphere isn’t like most animes where it’s all sword and board-type stuff, which puts an interesting spin on it. While the first episode is an hour long, it still delivers and keeps your attention from beginning to end. While I haven’t watched it, I did quickly open up episode two to confirm that it is back to being just a 30 minute show (23 minutes minus your commercials, etc). I think Re:Zero is one worth checking out.