Re:Zero

Discussion in 'Anime, Manga, Light Novels' started by Windfall, May 28, 2018.

  1. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Just needed a quickie to get it off my chest.

    I picked up Re:Zero over the weekend because I needed something dark to watch to purge some bad feelings. In a way it did work, because I ended up more upset with how disappointed I was with the anime than with real life things. I dropped it after Episode 15, where it ventured into the land of tasteless, so here goes a partial review.

    The premise is an interesting one. It's an isekai story with a trope-aware MC who actively comments on the tropes, like "Where is the beautiful chick who summoned me into this world?" and stuff like that. Then it tries to subvert all the tropes by having isekai be... kinda horrible, but not really, because... cute girls, and friendship, and stuff... but, oh, it can be really horrible too. I should have seen the problem with the tone from the beginning, but I had faith in good reviews, so I had hopes.

    Episode 1 is painfully cliched, but intentionally so, and you have a very cute cat, so I guess it's fine. Then Episode 2 hits you with some very interesting narrative cuts that makes you wonder if you're watching the episodes in the wrong order -- until you realize that whenever the MC dies, he returns to a 'save point' in time, and he's basically in a time loop where he can go back to 'fix' things. Nice presentation there of the concept, with a little bit of nice world-building and mysteries. Okay, pretty good.

    The real kicker for this ability to go to the 'save point' is that the MC keeps getting killed in horrible ways, and I also like the presentation here. We see it through very brief 'negative colors' flashbacks as the MC 'remembers' the horror of dying. Again, good presentation on not having to repeat the 'failed version' and the 'good guys win version' of history. I'll also give props to how the MC reacts to the whole thing: he's terrified.

    Then, unfortunately, things happen and he's surrounded by very cute girls and more trope-y things happen. But then it starts to lose its sense of direction and story and the dialogue become more and more dramatic and, uh... stupid. I'll give it that there's a lot of very nice poignant moments, and it seems that it tries very hard to hit the emotional points -- but because there's no clear idea on who the MC is, his interactions often seem 'off'. The goofy/serious tone shifts are sometimes very jarring, and they're not handled very well. And the flow of dialogue logic is... forced, making for awkward, clumsy dramatic moments.

    My point is: when you want to do something very ambitious, make sure you have the skills to pull it off. I still whole-heartedly applaud the attempt, but the anime would have benefited from a lot more thought and think-throughs.

    It would be better to actually:
    - explore in greater details on how the experience of (violent) death impacts one's psyche
    - keep the 'time loop' format for different arcs longer and show how the MC comes to live with it. This will give the whole show a nice structure which will allow them to slowly build up the world, and not crank it to the 11 out of nowhere in the third arc.
    - not have 'winning the heart of the first chick I saw who saved me from evil people' be the MC's main motivation. Seriously, when you're dying violently every few days, romance should be way down your list of priorities.
    - build character flaws slowly and make sure they make sense. It's not 'creating a three-dimensional character' when you have the MC make a complete fool of himself because of... very weak reasons *cough*plot*cough*. But then this could have been avoided if they really understood who the MC was from the beginning.
    - I get the whole 'deadly sins' references, but, seriously, they need to build it up way better than that and not try to throw everything in the viewer's face all at once.
    - You cannot introduce a very annoying villain, and have the most gruesome torture, and have the MC on the brink of sanity (which was not well set-up in the first place) and introduce a slaughter scene (for the second time in two episodes), and then, uh, okay, let's do that over. It's... clumsy, sloppy, all-over-the-place, and for something that dramatic to happen and have no real immediate impact but simply shift back into colorful cutesies just doesn't work.

    I know I'm harsh, but I'm usually a lot harsher on things that have potential, rather than things that are 'meh'. Overall, there are things to like, there are some moments where I thought "Okay, that's really good", and the characters are generally likeable (when they're not forced to do something that makes no sense because of *cough*plot*cough), but as a whole, it just... didn't really cut it.
     
  2. DJ Schinhofen

    DJ Schinhofen Creator of Worlds. Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Even with all of tis flaws, my biggest gripe about it was him not going for the woman who obviously loved him and told him, because he has some kind of complete fixation with the one he met first.
    Most touching scene that was passed right over to continue with the "plot" of him chasing his obsession... I don't want to spoil anything, but she was without a doubt best girl in that anime.
     
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  3. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I completely agree -- and I was hoping he would sort of change his mind at some point, which would totally be subversion of that trope, but from your post it seems he doesn't, so I don't regret my decision to drop it. I think I know who you're talking about and she is no doubt one of the most interesting characters of the 'type'. Her backstory is surprisingly well-done and got actual tears out of me, and my rating of the story actually shot up to 7 or 8 out of 10 after that arc. But then everything goes to heck from the sheer lack of finesse in the writing and direction.

    Maybe this is a good example of how a show should have let characters drive the story -- then it can go to interesting places in an organic way. The whole 'because... plot' renders all human interactions hollow and meaningless.
     
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  4. Seagrim

    Seagrim Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    This does seem to be something I've noticed happening with some of the Light Novels and the anime that gets based on them. It seems to be cruising well and then just slowly disintegrates into "what in the hell are you doing?!?". I'm going to be honest, and I think it has part to do with writers idea's slowly running out, and, another part of it seems to be writers who are the "Pantser" types, who don't take the time or have the time, for the re-writing that that style of writing desperately needs. So, their story suddenly veers out of control, but, the deadline is looming and they just don't have time to re-write the last 4 chapters so they just keep moving forward.

    While there might be some kind of reason as to why he obsesses on the first girl, it does not seem to be very well developed in the anime. Sometimes things are touched on with a too light hand in Japanese style story-telling that might be more obvious to a Japanese reader than for an American audience. There were several things I've spotted in other anime that were very subtly done and would be pretty easy for someone to miss if you weren't paying attention and thinking. I sometimes thought that his obsession with her was rather odd, then I started thinking...he got dragged to that world by the same force that resurrects him and it seems to be related to the witch the girl is named after...I then started thinking it might not be his choice to be obsessed with her and that he really does love the best girl...we all know who I mean.
     
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  5. Windfall

    Windfall Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Now that would be interesting! (But sadly I doubt it is the case)

    I think the 'Witch's body' stigma thing is a nice touch, and it's mentioned right in the first episode, so it's not like they just thought about it midway through. But then everyone's reaction to it is inconsistent. Everyone's clearly afraid of the Witch. Why doesn't everyone have a stronger reaction when seeing the girl who matches the description. Why doesn't she even hide her appearance if this is the case? Again, I guess "because plot" makes it so that it's only an issue when the plot demands. And, honestly, who would even joke about the Witch's name if it's such a You-Know-Who case? Thinking back, I should really have seen it coming from the first episode. Gah.
     
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  6. Seagrim

    Seagrim Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Truth. I offered it as a strong possibility, but, there really isn't much in the show to justify the point. It's just I have seen things in other anime that could easily be missed if you were blinking or chugging a glass of tea and not paying attention for a few seconds, or didn't put some things together from different parts of the story. I've also seen writers who get so "Cause PLOT reasons" that it gets to be an unwatchable or unreadable mess.
     
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