Re:ZERO Vol. 1 Review

51L+vKbr4YL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Re:ZERO – Starting Life Over in Another World- Vol. 1
Author: Daichi Matsuse (Art), Tappei Nagatsuki (Story), Shinichirou Otsuka (Characters)
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 160
Genre: Shonen, Fantasy
Publication Date: July 26, 2016

The Story

Natuski Subaru was just on his way home from the convenience store when, all of a sudden, he was whisked away to another world with only the clothes on his back and the groceries he bought in his hand. Subaru believes that he was sent to a medieval fantasy world, but the reality of the situation soon hits him when he is assaulted by some thugs. Just when things are about to turn grim, a silver-haired girl named Satella shows up and rescues him. In order to repay the kindness, Subaru agrees to help her track down a thief that stole her precious badge. After picking up some clues, the two travel to the slums where Subaru and Satella are killed at the hands of an unknown person. Just when things seem to be over, Subaru awakens right where this all began, in front of an apple merchant’s stand.

The story is really intriguing. There are so many questions after reading the first volume, but that’s a good thing because any good first volume is supposed to give the reader many questions that don’t immediately have answers. The biggest question would be how Subaru ended up in this alternate world? This will probably end up being the series’ major plot point and will take some time to resolve, but what question did get answered in this first volume is how Subaru ended up right back where he started after dying.

Subaru has this ability to rewind time, but it only happens after he dies. It seems that Subaru cannot control how far he can go back, though. It’s very much akin to a save point in a video game, except it seems the “save point” is pre-determined as Subaru can’t choose when or where. Subaru does end up retaining all of his memories, but the world around him is reset. This is proven after the apple stand owner owed Subaru and Satella a favor for finding his lost daughter, but after Subaru returned there after his death, the apple store owner had no idea who Subaru even was.

The first volume contains five chapters and it, essentially, repeats the same situation, but the second time through, there’s a bit of a twist. Rather than finding Satella, Subaru just heads straight for the slums in order to track down the stolen badge. This is where we are introduced to the character that ended up killing Subaru the first time around. Sadly, she succeeds in killing Subaru a second time and the volume ends with him starting over in front of the apple stand once again.

We know that volume two will now start with the same scenario for a third time, but the interesting aspect is now Subaru has a LOT of information to work off of and I have a feeling Re:ZERO is going to be a series of events where Subaru is going to have to die over and over in order to try and work his way through some problems with the stolen badge incident being the first of them. So far, the first volume has really piqued my interest and the characters that we were introduced are equally as interesting!

Characters

Natsuki Subaru is, of course, our main protagonist and much like any main protagonist of a shonen battle series, he’s a bit on the air-headed side. Despite not being overly bright, he is rather clever, but he does like to speak his mind very often. Typically, he will state things most people would rather keep to themselves, but for someone that was a truant student in his own world, I can’t imagine he has much shame. He definitely is courageous, but being courageous and approaching situations with a hard head are two completely different things. Subaru means well, but there are smarter ways to handle things rather than just getting yourself killed all the time.

Satella is also an interesting character and right off the bat, I can tell it’s not her real name. She hesitated when she gave it to Subaru and even her spirit companion, Puck, made the comment of “so that’s what you decided to use.” It’s pretty much a dead giveaway that Satella is a false alias which surrounds her in a bit of mystery. The badge probably has something to do with her true identity as well and I suspect that if Subaru successfully gets his hands on it, more information about Satella will be shed.

Satella’s personality, though, is a mixed bag. At first, she comes off as kind of a tsundere, but then you realize she’s just in a hurry to try and get her badge back. She does accept Subaru’s help and isn’t exactly overly mean to him. She does show kindness when she offers to find the lost child’s missing parents as well so she does give off hints of having a warm personality. I’m hoping volume two sheds some more light on her character as I would like to see her fleshed out a bit more, but still a great introduction so far.

Next we have Rom, the shop owner in the slums. He has that big gruff and tough old man look to him, but he’s pretty level-headed. He comes off as someone who has seen and experienced a lot in his time and that comes through in the way he speaks. Nothing really seems to rattle him and trouble just seems like a run-of-the-mill occurrence. He was willing to hear Subaru out rather than just kicking him out of his shop, too, which speaks to his mindset and personality even more. He was my favorite character from the first volume just because of the way he carried himself.

Finally, we have Felt. She’s the thief who made off with Satella’s badge and has a rather humorous run in with Subaru when he was getting mugged in the alley. Felt’s personality is one you’ve seen many times before, though. She’s a small girl that’s bit hot-headed and over confident, but through it all she is fair when it comes to making deals. She apparently has ties with Rom as the two have known each other for a long time and given what we’ve seen of Felt so far, I’d venture to guess that Rom is like a father figure to Felt who, like many MANY manga characters, probably doesn’t have any parents. Just taking a stab in the dark on this one.

The characters you are introduced to all have their own unique personalities that mesh together very well. You can tell how the world operates just through their dialogue and mannerisms. Every character you run into raises questions and makes you want to know more about them.

Final Thoughts

Typically, in a first volume, you are either introduced to the characters or introduced to the world in an imbalanced way. Some stories will try and focus on world building while others will give you a slight hint of the story and try to build the main characters up first. While both scenarios should be designed to make you want to know more, not often does a first volume fire on all cylinders on both fronts, but Re:ZERO does just that. It gives you a premise to a story you want to know more about and it gives you characters that each have their own mystery about them. Some of those mysteries are bigger that others, but each character is interesting enough to make you want to know more and that’s the important part.

The time travel aspect worried me because I am a big fan of the genre and I always like to see the rules of time travel adhered to. Re:ZERO seems to do a pretty good job so far with those rules! The world behaves accordingly, but the nice little caveat here is that the main character isn’t fully aware of what is going on. Even by the end of the first volume, Subaru is still a bit in the dark as to what is happening to him, leaving us asking the same questions of “how?” and “why?” along with him.

I believe this is going to be a series worth picking up!

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This item was provided for review by Yen Press

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.