Re Zero Starting Life in Another World

Return by Death can really kill you!

Reviewed by: Alicia Glass
Published on: February 22, 2022 (URL is not
Available on: Crunchyroll
Content release date: 2016-04-03

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

So, high school student Natsuki Subaru is transported suddenly to another world, where there are fairy cats and RPG-like markets and all sorts of odd creatures, including the Half Elf girl Emilia, who may be Natsuki’s destiny.

The anime moves rather painstakingly slowly in the beginning, and it seems like a fairly standard other-worldly trope of modern-day boy gets whisked away to some fantasy setting to have an epic adventure. But then, very suddenly, Natsuki dies. And resurrects, to find himself repeating the same hours earlier when he first got here, meeting Emilia and others and the events that lead up to his death. And again. And again. Because it turns out, Natsuki has been blessed (or cursed, it depends on who you ask) with this odd ability, Return by Death. Which literally returns Natsuki Subaru to a previous “save point” when he dies. The save point does move eventually, so Subaru isn’t stuck repeating exactly the same day over and over, but he is forbidden from telling anyone about this strange ability, lest some shadowy Witch person who’s taken a personal interest in Subaru stretch out the hand of fate and take the life of whomever Subaru told.

Okay so, the anime has taken a rather odd turn, cool beans. That’s it for the odd turns, right? Totally not even close. Re:Zero is one of the most unique anime I’ve ever come across, and that says quite a bit, considering how much anime I’ve watched over long years. Natsuki takes a job as a kind of butler in the mansion of a friend of Emilia’s, to try and learn his way around this new world he’s apparently stuck in, and starts making friends of sorts. Here he meets Rem and Ram, a pair of maids who work in the mansion as well, but have all sorts of hidden talents and plans. One of them eventually develops an obsession with Natsuki, who of course only wants to love and be loved by Emilia, but all of this is but one of the several main plotlines floating through the anime we have to figure out.

Now what? We somehow went from butler to leader of the revolution, or at least savior of the peoples of this new world, from some ill-explained cult of witches and this one bug-fuck insane guy, who declares his name as Betelgeuse Romanee-Conti, but also a Sin Archbishop of the Witch Cult, who represents Sloth. Whew! To say that this guy is the epitome of insane contortionist villainy only hints at the beginning of the way Betelgeuse proceeds to screw Natsuki and his pals over and over, in all kinds of screaming almost Bleach-like bedlam.

As we head towards the end of the season of this convoluted anime, Natsuki has managed to shake his fears and concerns about returning to his regular life, the only thing he wants is to save Emilia and everyone else he’s come to care for, perhaps even getting Emilia elected to governance in the process too. Natsuki still encounters a ton of problems getting people to listen to him – he’s still experiencing his curse of Return by Death, which means he gets to watch his comrades DIE over and over, only to come back and do it again, trying to stop whatever happened from happening again in a kind of desperation that you and I could only have nightmares about. There are a few episodes in which Natsuki does little other than scream and sob and rant and rave about everyone dying so much on his watch, and the extent of his pain and emotion is something rarely seen in any anime; it’s that well done.

The anime studio White Fox, known for the Steins;Gate anime among other things, produced Re:Zero and put a ton of effort into making a show as faithful to the manga source material as possible. The noted composer Suehiro Kenichiro was hired to provide the soundtrack for the anime to director Masaharu Watanabe’s very exacting specifications, and while the music has a distinctly un-anime feel to it, I thought that was yet another thing that made Re:Zero truly unique and really hot damn cool.

Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World is a truly involved anime and hard to wrap your brain around, not for the faint of heart or casual anime fan, that’s all true. But the depth of emotion, the characters and even the happily convoluted plotline, is so worth it if you like deeply involved stuff.

Re:Zero can be devoured by you brave souls on Crunchyroll!