Re:Zero is the Dark Souls of Anime

When you see Re:Zero the first thing you think about is how it’s “The Game: The Animation”, right? There’s a million and 1 just like it but those are easy Cuphead-level crap! And I am here to convince you that Re:Zero is the Dark Souls of anime! Boom! Cue the 10-second intro..! I’m… I’m not doing that. That’s silly. That’s stupid…

“‘Life is the puzzle; death is the reward‘? I couldn’t disagree more”.

I look at Re:Zero from a structural standpoint and I see 2 straight lines positioned next to each other vertically. Both lines are 2 sides of the same coin; line #1 is the line they try to hide from us and Subaru. Line #2 is the general reality we’re shown. Just like a game if we want to unlock what’s behind line #1 we have to go through the levels in line #2. This sets up Re:Zero’s main attraction of monopolizing the plot so that the viewers can figure out the puzzles.I enjoy shit like that because it keeps me thinking. It entices me to theorize based on available information exactly what will happen next. My favorite puzzle is the one where, y’know, Emilia tells off Subaru; essentially telling him he’ll never get this pussy. It starts after that. And you can see Subaru had a lot of information passed to him prior to this puzzle. For starters, we know Roswaal always wanted Subaru to attend the royal selection conference; something Emilia urged him tirelessly against. Previous encounters doesn’t make Roswaal look like an honest man, albeit fuckable, so we can assume he’s not working in Emilia’s best interest. Reinhardt aligned his loyalty to a street rat so it’s safe to say that he immediately became useless due to being a part of a faction without any real power beyond his own. But you also have to keep in mind that Reinhardt is not an idiot and the fact that he’s the only man under Felt’s banner and the fact that Felt’s griefing doesn’t change that. 

Emilia’s in trouble as the covenant seeks to kill her. Subaru’s met with 2 paths: one is linear and safe but takes too long to get back in time. The other’s open and takes less time to reach the destination. Here’s the catch: The White Whale is waiting around there to gluttonize all humans who pass the open area especially someone like Subaru who has all of Satella’s piss covering his body. Then, there’s Puck who has threatened Subaru if anything terrible were to happen to Emilia then “bad things” would happen. Bad things being the end of the world which, understandably, put Subaru in a state of depression. Easy enough, Subaru doesn’t want Emilia dying anyways so avoiding Puck shouldn’t be hard. But with all this happening has Subaru taken in all of this information? No!

That’s where Emilia shines a light on the true colors of Subaru Natsuki and arguably why she’s the best character (I’ve re-thought this statement over in editing and realized that Subaru is technically the best character mainly because everyone else is a resource in the “Subaru Show”. But Emilia’s performance is the biggest contributor. Honestly, kind of depends how you view it.) As she pierced through the faux exterior of Subaru Natsuki; Emilia found that Subaru was not the man he made himself out to be. I would agree with her and add that he’s worse than garbage. He’s the fecal matter inside a bird that would rather die than shit it out for the world to see. He pretended to be a good person to get a girl to like him. He lies to himself; thinking that because his intent is “good-willed” that it somehow gives him luxuries he’s not owed. That he doesn’t have to abide by the rules of society. His intent doesn’t matter because all he sees is a golden opportunity to be dubbed a hero. Not even specifically a hero to the people just a hero to Emilia. That’s all he cares about. He pays no attention to words of other people. Even though he’s in the same room as 4 other royal candidates. He refuses to identify that everyone is playing a political game and they’re not just thinking about how they’re going to win. They’re thinking about denying the win conditions of other parties. And still! All Subaru knows how to do is try to take a morale high ground; attempting to guilt other parties into helping his cause. Begging for charity. Degenerating himself to the level of a dog licking his master’s foot. Everyone has identified him to be nothing more than piece of shit! ..I don’t want this to get a little dark but I can relate to his thought process. I can understand the desperation he feels. For the longest time while learning to play League of Legends I always thought about MY win condition. How I was doing. How MY team was doing. While my enemies were thinking about how to ensure I don’t reach my destination. I lost game-after-game blaming my team instead of blaming myself. It took me time to realize that I was failing. Granting that I relate to him and greatly admire his character; this does call into question a misconception regarding him. That misconception being that he’s a “self-insert character”. He’s not! Nobody wants to be like Subaru. Even the people who are similar to him refuse to admit their similarities. But I wanna re-state that it’s my extreme scrutiny of his persona that makes me love his character. He’s well written as well as Emilia and Rem for their own respective reasons.

Speaking of which after failing numerous times, he wants sympathy and he’ll get it anyway he can. But nobody understands because nobody can know. He chooses to give up and run away with Rem despite the futility in that decision. Rem makes a beautiful speech that you probably know of already. No need for me to narrate it. Some would say it was a little bit of a rushed transition. I do land in that ballpark. But the emotion! The intensity from this episode is beyond the boundaries from what was expected. It wasn’t just the words coming out of Rem’s mouth. It was Subaru’s reaction to all of it. You can feel the transition as it is happening. And mind you, it was not because Rem was saying any of this to him. It was because anyone at all was saying this to him. To have someone genuinely love and believe in you is more valuable than pity. It’s as valuable as life itself. Since it’s a life being entrusted to you as if you were its home! That realization really impacted how I saw Rem. Because Rem, up until now, was always just there. I didn’t really pay her any mind. But that’s what makes her “Rem”. She’s always there for Subaru based on feeling! Even when Subaru acted like a piece of shit and even when she recognized that he is pathetic. She is in love with Subaru based on microscopic reasons that have 0 merit and understands that it’s fruitless in face of Subaru having feelings for Emilia. It’s an unhealthy, one-sided love but it works for her. That fact alone gives Subaru his humanity.

That said, Re:Zero is not perfect. Far from it. It overplays its “game” theme when it comes to certain side characters. Some of whom I’d consider less as “people” and more as “NPCs”.  Subaru goes through many “levels” as I described them earlier and this requires him to talk to participants within the plot. The characters are introduced in a way that feels like they’re in a display case with a label that says their name, personality and what they do. (Doesn’t help they churn out these girls like they just came off a ” waifu conveyor belt”). Cunt-muncher is introduced and we know right off the bat she’s a cocky little rich bitch. She states very seriously that “everything in the world works in favor of her”. And she means that literally. Analytically speaking, I picked that up very quickly judging by a few variables. You can tell she hasn’t known any sort of pain since birth. Probably never even gotten a paper-cut; look at how smooth her skin is! She walks around town by herself seemingly with no worry. Gets nabbed by the 3 hooligans and she gets out unscathed? I’m a skeptic but God exists and this is her face. There’s not a lot to her. She’s a sheltered spoiled brat whose only heard ghost stories of appas so that she doesn’t go picking up “commoner” food. And then they let you know she’s going to be important later on. Why else would they start up a new social link? It’s not the worst way to introduce side characters. But it makes them feel situational which leads to things feeling a little formulaic because the viewers can clearly see the structure and where these characters are placed within it. Makes it feel a little fake.

There’s a small advantage anime has on most video games. You’re not just staring at an idle animation for the majority of your playthrough. In anime, characters move and characters can be defined by how they move, how they walk, how they gesture, face reactions. A lot of things a mere textbox can’t convey. But Re:Zero doesn’t take advantage of these qualities a lot of the time. A lot of characters have no unique movement. A lot of their animations just look like they’re following the iconography anime has become too reliant on. Rem was the star of one of the greatest scenes in recent anime history; no exaggeration! But to say it’s without flaws is a bold statement. Again, the way she moves is not unique to her. It’s a lot of copied animation techniques from a million other anime. And I don’t want to take away from this scene but this is a consistent problem within Re:Zero as a whole. Another nitpick, if you can call it that is how little I know of the world. All they’ve shown us is politics and some mechanics behind it for the sake of the plot. But I can’t really picture the city of Lugnica on a map. I’m a fan of maps. I concede that that’s a little unusual but painting a picture of what the world looks like helps a lot. It makes me feel more a part of the world since it helps me deduce certain paths and where they lead. I can’t even begin to guess what Lugnica looks like, how big it is, where the characters are and it makes me feel detached from their reality. It doesn’t help that Lugnica looks pretty fucking boring, I gotta be honest. It looks like if the writer just wrote “Fantasy, Festive” as to words to describe what it looks like and that’s it. Can I also bring up the CG crowds? They don’t look God awful because they have so much detail that relates them to Re:Zero’s world. But sometimes they can be creepy as fuck!

A Re:Zero video calls for answering the age old question: Who is better? Rem or Emilia..? Hmm! I… Do not care. They both participated in amazing scenes and performed exceptionally. That’s what I care about. And that’s what we should ALL care about.

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I do love Emilia, though.

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