For those of you who’ve read my impressions on this show (or check out my twitter), you’ll know that I’m absolutely in love with Re:Zero at the moment. Looking at Re:Zero from earlier in the season, it was definitely painted as your usual game/fantasy-world cliche, with tropes on-par with the likes of SAO or Log Horizon. What I got instead, was a seemingly happy-go-lucky comedy, with a heavy dose of thriller. However, the elements that definitely turned me over completely, were namely the array of lovable characters. And I couldn’t figure out why I liked them so much either, especially our main duo, Subaru and Emilia. Unoriginal or cliche is definitely not how I would describe Re:Zero, yet what is it that they do different?
[Warning for readers who have not started Re:Zero yet. This article contains spoilers for episodes 1-4. Continue at your own risk!]
Let’s start off with our protagonist, Subaru. A gamer, N.E.E.T, and shut-in, Subaru could’ve easily fallen into the annoying overpowered protagonist know-it-all that’s a common trope when it comes to the premise of gamers being transported into a game world. Instead, Subaru’s knowledge ends up doing a full 180, as he comically embarks on a personal quest to discover his new-found “protagonist” abilities. It was mindbogglingly frustrating for me to watch him slowly realize his ability. At one point, I even described him as being a downright dunce for taking so long. But don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Subaru. What is it about him that makes me incapable of disliking him?
Well for starters, he doesn’t do anything wrong.
What I mean by that is that his character and personality as a whole are solid and well developed. Whereas he doesn’t stand out much as a protagonist, he also doesn’t hit any speed bumps when it comes to character. I can relate to this eccentric everyman more than if he was a sword-wielding badass or a genius know-it-all. Every action he takes also has a believable motive, whether it’s repaying a debt, or moving away from a scene to his next goal. It’s a breath of fresh air from the usual heroes and their good deeds just for the sake of advancing the plot/hooking up with the heroine or “because it’s right”.
Not saying that Subaru is completely devoid of any empathy, however, he does know when to jump in to help and when to keep out of other people’s way. Everything about him from his quirky dialogue about his life as a N.E.E.T to his genuine attempts at helping out Emilia have all helped to make him feel like a “real” character. His interactions with the other characters in the cast all help to develop, support, and advance the plot while giving the audience a clear feel for his personality. His actions throughout the episodes also imply that he does have a code of honor, not unlike that of our gaming world’s “code of ethics”. Paired up with his rather eccentric personality and lighthearted quips, Subaru gives the audience a decent laugh, and Emilia a likable foil to play off of.
Where Subaru is more of the series’ comic relief, Emilia is the one that ties the audience to the story emotionally. Right from the very beginning, the show highlights her attempts at being strong-willed and independent, all the while hiding her undeniably kind heart. Her insistence in denying her rescue as anything more than an attempt at getting information gives the audience a glimpse at her true personality. The one thing I find amazing about her, however, is her ability to be open, kind, and cute, while somehow keeping an air of mystery around her at the same time. The way she eases you in were her mild-mannered speech is seamlessly done, charming Subaru and the audience alike.
My biggest fear for Emilia when I started off watching the show was that she’d fall into the “flustered female fool” cliche whenever the protagonist interacts with her. As much as I hate the overused damsel-in-distress trope, the strong female heroine turning into a diddling teenage girl when the MC is around makes me want to slap the original writer; preferably with my English Lit. textbook that’s the size of a small toddler. It’s ridiculously asinine for one, when you take what is supposed to be the MC’s female equal, and turn her into a glorified waifu. All for the sake of adding some romantic tension and drama, which will probably end up as trash anyway.
I’m lookin’ at you Stella…
I’ll gladly say that Emilia does not fall into that laughable cliche, instead, opting to support the the main character with her down-to-earth personality as opposed to Subaru’s dramatic antics. Her ability to not only take Subaru’s jokes in stride, but to highlight Subaru’s own eccentric personality even further while also developing her own, allows for very believable reactions. Emilia isn’t the shining female lead battling Subaru with witty retorts and haughty jibes. Rather Emilia emanates a rather soft glow — one that doesn’t dominate the stage — rather serving to give new shades of emotional color to everything around her. The way they’re dressed even reinforces this theory, with Subaru’s warm orange tracksuit headlining his bright personality, cheer, and humor. Emilia on the other hand is dressed in silver and a light violet, giving her a sort of aloof and lonesome feel.
I’m definitely in love with this new duo (and their faithful squire, Puck!). Curious to see where their relationship will go as the anime progresses. Despite Subaru building up a steady relationship with Emilia, the fact that all of that can be reset with a single death — as we saw in episode 2 — must be flustering for Subaru, and nerve-wracking for us to watch. Hoping Subaru can catch a break soon. Until then however, keep on fighting on Subaru!
I had intended to post this WAY before episode 4 started casting. Some things came up however, namely losing my laptop for a day and graduation prep. Seriously though, back up your work! Don’t spend the entire day wallowing in your own regret and self-pity over all that lost work (there was definitely much wallowing on my part).
In other news, I’ll be out of town for the next couple of days. Heading off to a three day trip down in Orlando, so I’ll see you guys soon!