「ゼロから始まる異世界生活」 (Zero Kara Hajimaru Isekai Seikatsu)
“Starting Life from Zero in Another World”
This show is better with Felt, Puck, Rom-jii, and the half-elf whose name we now know.
Good Guys vs. Elsa
When Re:Zero indulges in some a magical action, it isn’t bad. While Subaru’s plan up to this point was frantic and fairly bumbling, once he got his feet under him and decided to act, he used his knowledge from past runs (and his improbable home training strength, watch out Izuku) to great effect. I especially liked when he blocked his midsection to save Emilia (we have a name now!), or when he yelled about Elsa’s extra knife, or when he called for Puck to shield Emiliar. Oh and by the way, Puck is back! I missed that little rascal. Even one episode without Puck is too many.
Speaking of, I liked this episode a lot more since more of the gang was there. That’s definitely a bias on my part—I like friend/team-focused stories, and especially if they use multiple point-of-view characters, so the all-Subaru-all-the-time show will never be as good for me as when the others are there. But how can you not like Emilia and the others? Especially when Emilia is slinging spells like a raid boss. Zam.
Deus Ex Reinhard
Okay. Before anyone starts in at me, let me point to a post I wrote a while back: How to not get butthurt when others insult stories you love. Before you pen an angry comment, maybe read that? Not that you can’t disagree. I enjoy a spirited debate in the comments! But after spending all of last week defending myself repeatedly, it’s made me a bit gun shy about criticizing this show. Which I’m now about to do, because if I’m not willing to criticize when necessary then there’s no reason to be writing about it, but still. Most of you are fine, but throwing it out there.
Reinhard showing up to save the day feels like a deus ex machina, but not such a clear-cut one as to make me flip the table and tear out my hair. Deus ex machinas happen when the conflict is solved through no action on the part of the known characters, and that’s not strictly the case here. Subaru inadvertently enticed Reinhard into the area with his cryptic message, and Subaru also thought up the plan that got Felt out of the building and enabled her to stumble on Reinhard. And yet, there’s still such a heavy dose of luck that it doesn’t feel earned. It took an episode I was enjoying down a notch, but the episode more or less recovered by the end. But why does it feel unearned when Subaru did do some things to enable that bit of serendipity?
I think it comes down to the work-to-luck ratio. Let me give you some examples to explain this. (Warning: in two examples, Stilts is going to bring up a (relevant) example from one of his books. You’ve been warned!) First, take Heroaca, especially this latest episode. It’s undeniably lucky that Izuku met All Might, but he struggled and worked so hard that few viewers begrudge him that bit of luck—he went overboard in earning it. This is something I learned with my first novel, where I realized the main characters needed a dose of pure luck to move the story forward, so I went to great lengths to show them doing everything they could to earn that chance at serendipity. The reason this doesn’t work as well here in Re:Zero is that the work-to-luck ratio isn’t skewed enough to the work side, so it feels like a cheat, even when Subaru probably did as much to earn it as he could have. It also doesn’t help that there was no intention behind Subaru’s actions (he intended to warn away Emilia and save Felt, not summon help), which makes it seem even luckier, even if wanting to save the others speaks well of him.
(Third example: Netoge, where it’s undeniably coincidental that all three main characters go to the same school, but it’s a comedy so we let it slide because it’s funny and there’s no reason to think too hard. Plus it’s foundational, which helps. Comedies can get away with a lot as long as they’re funny.
Didn’t See a Body
While the Reinhard ex machina is arguable, and made me furrow my brow rather than spit in rage, the one thing that did smack me as stupid was when Reinhard seemingly vaporized Elsa, and everyone just accepted that as a done deal. Don’t they know you should never count someone as dead unless you see the body? (trope!) Which is a downside of Subaru’s genre savviness—when it seemingly gives out all of a sudden and he misses something flamingly obvious to the savvy viewer, it feels like he’s being an idiot again. That’s something he quickly argues against by saving Emilia’s life, but the eye rolling moment remains. It just goes to show me that, while genre savvy characters can be a lot of fun, they’re also risky.
I’m still torn on this show. I liked this episode more than the second, and I still feel like the underlying story mechanic has its strengths, but I also still feel like the author is trying to do a lot of cool things without the writing skill to quite pull them off. Or should I add “yet” to that? Because I’ve been hearing that the next arc is where it really gets started, and I’m sympathetic to the author who’s still figuring things out on the first volume.
The only other problem is that this really isn’t my kind of show, y’all. I’m talking about tonally more than anything else. More than fantasy shows or even ecchi shows (I’m not the ecchi writer!), what I most like to read, write, watch, and blog about are shows that have a broadly optimistic (or at least not cynical) view of humanity. I’m not a doom-and-gloom grimdark kinda guy, and this is feeling pretty dark. Plus, two Sunday shows makes Stilts want to claw out his eyes, no matter how good they are. Sunday is supposed to be my day off *pouts*
So I dunno. I don’t know if this’ll get covered or not, and if it does, whether it’ll be me or someone else. I just don’t know. If it doesn’t, though, just know that it’s not because it’s bad, and I’ll still probably watch it. And if you’re wondering why we don’t recruit a thousand writers so we can blog all the shows, see my comment here. Thanks.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Subaru’s quick thinking keeps everyone alive until the Reinhard ex machina (arguable) shows up to save the day (& arrest Felt?) #rezero 03
- It was really cool how they juxtaposed her darkness with his light, though I still wish the screen wasn’t so damn dark the rest of the time, even if it does match the atmosphere/time of day. I can’t see a damn thing. It’s like Arslan Senki night battles all over again.
- Loved Subaru’s “Tell me your name.” in that epic voice! I knew he’d do the silly, gentlemanly thing. Good on you, Subaru.
- I think the statute of limitations on an attack taking effect is a few seconds, for the dramatic passed-each-other-and-pause…then-someone-drops moment. Not several minutes later after Subaru has been cavorting and flirting with Emilia. I guess Elsa’s attacks travel at the speed of plot too.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Even if you see it coming, it can still work, Batman does not kill. Superman does not kill., Inside Out: What Emotion Drives You?, and Superhot: Storytelling through gameplay.