Title: Re:Zero Chapter 2, Vol. 1
Author: Tappei Nagatsuki (Story), Makoto Fuugetsu (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Shounen, Battle, Fantasy
Publication Date: May 23, 2016
I’ve seen some rather long titles in Japanese and this volume of Re:Zero is no exception. Re:Zero -Startling Life In Another World- Chapter 2: A Week at the Mansion, Volume 1, is the start of a “new series” due to the fact that it has a new artist adapting this portion of the light novel. We’ve seen multiple mangaka do this with other series so it’s quite pleasant to see Re:Zero getting the same treatment. I always find it interesting when the same work is interpreted by different artists!
In Re:Zero Chapter 2, Volume 1, it starts off dedicating the first chapter to recapping all of the events in the first two volumes of Chapter 1. It recaps how Subaru came to this world, met Emila and how he helped her get back her pendant from Felt. After this, Subaru wakes up at a mansion and is greeted by best girl and second worst girl, also known as Rem and Ram respectively. He is brought to the dining table where he is to meet the eccentric Master Roswal. Roswal and Emilia both agree that for helping save Emilia’s pendant, he can have any reward that he so desires. Subaru could have used this moment to wish for untold riches and fame, but he decides to ask to be employed at the mansion, just so he could work in the same house as Emilia.
Subaru’s request is granted and he is put in the position of Rem and Ram’s protégé. Subaru does pick up on the tasks rather quickly, but he isn’t exactly all that skilled at them. He meets Emilia one night and asks her to come along to the village and meet the children he spent some time with. Emilia agrees, but before the morning comes Subaru comes to realize that his Return by Death had activated and he had woken up on the day he first arrived at the mansion!
The story was a bit stagnant here as the volume mainly focused on character development and establishment, which is a bit odd for a new story arc. The main story here is that Subaru is attempting to start life over at this mansion. His reasoning is pretty solid because he was summoned here to this world, has no job, none of this world’s form of currency and no home or friends to turn to. While Roswal and Emilia both felt that Subaru’s request to stay and work there was rather paltry, it made complete and total sense.
From here, the story kind of comes to a standstill as it’s just a montage of Subaru getting accustomed to the work. Towards the end of the volume, Roswal has some suspicions about Subaru being a spy sent to infiltrate the mansion and sabotage Emilia. Ram says that it’s possible, but the probability is quite low. Nevertheless, it looks as if Subaru was murdered in his sleep so the foreshadowing suggests that even with a low possibility, it’s not completely zero, therefore someone at the mansion didn’t want to take any risks. This sets up an intriguing second volume where I can foresee Subaru dying a few more times as he tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
There was quite a bit of character development here with both Subaru and Emilia. We also got introduced to Rem, Ram, Beatrice and Roswal.
First off, while Subaru’s personality hasn’t changed one bit, it seems that Emilia and Puck are beginning to trust him. While Subaru is brash, he is simple-minded and pretty straight-forward. Puck picks up on this when Subaru considers Puck a friend, which actually moved him quite a bit. We saw a bit of this in the first couple of volumes, but it shines through a little more here in the new series/volume/chapter/whatever you want to call this. Subaru kind of needs this redeeming quality about him, otherwise he’d just be a complete and total jerk.
Emilia, on the other hand, proved just how dense she could be… either that or she’s in denial. I can’t count how many times Subaru made it blatantly obvious that he’s in love with her only for Emlia to end up questioning if Subaru liked Rem or Ram or she just got confused at whatever Subaru was trying to say. Puck picked up on it almost instantly, yet, Emilia still doesn’t have a single clue. On the same token, we do find out what that badge Emilia lost was all about. It has the nation’s crest on it and it means that whoever holds one of those badges is recognized to be a candidate as the next ruler of the kingdom! There are still some interesting quirks about Emilia’s character, such as when Subaru revels in the fact that she’s a half elf, but Emilia seemed really bothered by that. Emilia still seems like the most well-rounded character thus far and this new information about her being a royal candidate just adds more depth!
Rem and Ram come off as emotionless maids that like to repeat what the other says, just using different words. All I could think of when reading their lines was Zorn and Thorn from Final Fantasy IX, also known as the Jesters of the Moon. Towards the end of the volume, it seems like Rem and Ram are starting to warm up to Subaru (even if it is in the most minuscule way). This is important because it also reflects the kind of aura Subaru has. The good sides of his personality are rather infectious and to see it work on characters like Rem and Ram is a true testament to that infectiousness; however, all of that was for naught when Subaru’s Return by Death activated and now Rem and Ram are back to being drone-like. It’ll be interesting to see how Subaru can break their shells once again.
Beatrice is our tsundere character of the volume. She’s the keeper of the mansion’s library and has the power to seal off that room completely by linking a random door in the mansion to the library. Subaru, somehow, manages to guess what door it is every single time and that annoys Beatrice to no end. Beatrice cannot stomach Subaru and is always looking for ways to punish him and inflict pain, but she has a REAL soft spot for Puck. She just melts into a little child when she sees him for the first time in four days. It’s pretty apparent that Beatrice is a powerful magic user so it will be interesting to see what role she plays from here on out.
Finally, we have Roswal. I don’t know if words can do him justice, but he’s a very flamboyant, yet eccentric person. He dresses like a clown and is the lord of the manor. He is also Emilia’s benefactor and seems to know the history of the land rather well. Despite his odd looks and personality, Roswal is incredibly intelligent and is said to be a very powerful magic user. Just by hearing his explanation of Emilia’s candidacy, you get the feeling that he is a very influential man with many connections… something that could really benefit Emilia if she is, indeed, running for King (or Queen in this case.) He is also a bit of an enigma so it will be interesting to see how his character gets fleshed out.
This volume of Re:Zero was a bit slower, but the introduction of the new characters made it fun and refreshing. While the story was a bit stagnant, it had a lot of interesting aspects, but I felt that the character development took center take here. Now that everything has been established, the next volume is looking to be more story-driven as Subaru is going to have to find out who killed him and why. While it is odd for first volumes to focus on characters, it makes a lot of sense seeing how that this volume is a sequel series, but still, a continuation of the story. I just find the naming structure really odd and don’t understand why this just couldn’t be called Re:Zero Volume 3.
Nevertheless, the opening color pages were very well done. That is something Yen Press has always been impressive with and this volume is no exception. My only regret is that if you take the time to admire the color pages, then it kind of spoils the mystery about Subaru’s death, or at least, offers up a major clue as to who did it and how it happened. Of course, if you’ve seen the anime and/or read the light novel then it’s not really a spoiler, now is it? They often say that anime is just there as a promotional tool to sell more copies of the source material. Since the anime is an adaptation of the light novel and the manga is like a hybrid adaptation of both, then I guess the color pages aren’t really seen as spoiler material since there is a good chance readers already know what happened at this point. My concern is for the readers that haven’t read the novel or seen the anime. I’m sure that there are some out there!
Outside of that, Tappei Nagatsuki (the author of the light novel) also wrote a small short story and that was added to the end of the book. While I have seen something like this before, you don’t see it all too often and it’s a nice little bonus for those who pick up the volume!
As I said In my previous reviews, Re:Zero takes the “trapped in a world” genre and tries to add a bit of pseudo time travel to it. It makes this really interesting and detracts from the standard “let’s kill some monsters and act like we’re inside of and RPG” kind of story. It’s a refreshing series that is methodical in its approach to the story all while giving the characters their own unique personalities that really mesh with the world around them. While series like Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash and Deathmarch to the Parallel World Rhapsody all stay within their own niche setting, Re:Zero dares to try something different and, so far, it’s working well!
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press