Art: Daichi Matsuse
Original Story: Tappei Nagatsuki
Character Design: Shinichirou Otsuka
Lettering: Bianca Pistillo
What They Say:
Subaru Natsuki has been summoned to another world. Now, instead of continuing his normal life as a high school truant, he must find a way to adapt to the parallel universe he’s wound up in. While this may seem like every young man’s dream, things suddenly turn sour when Subaru gets himself caught up in the dangerous life of a mysterious, silver-haired girl. On the plus side, he’s been gifted with a remarkable superpower — time travel. The only thing wrong with said superpower is that he has to die in order to use it. There’s no possible way he would need to use that power more than just once, right?
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
If you haven’t caught wind of the Re:ZERO series by now, then you probably haven’t visited any anime/manga forum in the past several months. Well, luckily for you, I’ve finally boarded the hype train and have no intentions on exchanging my ticket. Train jokes aside, Re:Zero has quickly become a bit of a phenomenon in the anime world. With a story that has been continuously breaking hearts week after week, it’s no surprise that English manga giants, Yen Press, have acquired the title and simultaneously launched both the light novel and manga versions. The true question is, will the manga really be able to live up to the animated series? I mean, those are some big shoes to fill, right?
There are couple things to note before we start this off. First, the Re:ZERO manga is an adaptation of the light novel. Okay, big deal; happens all the time. Whatever. Secondly, there are actually two separate Re:ZERO manga series as of right now. This is the first of those two. Remember how the pilot episode of the anime was divided into two separate parts? This first series, as far as I know, covers no more than that first episode, hence the extended title of the series, “Chapter 1: A Day in the Capital”. Chapter two, which I assume will follow suit after the release of the second and final volume of chapter one, will cover everything after the first episode of Re:ZERO.
Being sucked into a parallel world is normally a cool thing, right? I mean, you’ve got elves and cute girls and cute girls who are also elves — the whole nine yards. Well, for Subaru, it isn’t exactly an ideal scenario. Shortly after being transported into the world of Re:ZERO, Subaru discovers that he isn’t necessarily the protagonist of some medieval fantasy game. In fact, life in a parallel world is shaping out to be pretty tough. In just the first hour of his existence in Lugnica, he discovers that their entire written language and even the names of several objects (Like apples) have been changed from what he is used to. As if that wasn’t enough, he gets mugged by two random dudes and their midget friend directly afterward. But just before the gangsters can kill Subaru, a beautiful girl shows up and, with the help of her magical cat, Puck, fends away the evildoers.
Now, despite how “anime” that last sentence may sound, Re:ZERO is far from your typical romantic fantasy. This entire series is so overwhelmingly bleak, and that all becomes apparent in the chapters that succeed this.
As it turns out, the girl (Who we know as Satella at this point in time) has had a very important badge stolen from her. In an effort to help her find it and repay her for ultimately saving his life, Subaru states that he will aid her in the search for it. As the two stumble upon a seemingly abandoned shack in the slums of the city, Subaru ventures inside only to find the ravaged corpse of an old man. Before he can escape, he is cut down by a shadowy figure. Hearing the ruckus, Satella peaks inside only to meet the same fate. As Subaru’s vision starts to fade, he is filled with regret and the desire to seek vengeance on whoever has done something as terrible as this.
But then his eyes open and he’s exactly where he just started — talking to some merchant about apples. Not entirely grasping the situation yet, Subaru sprints back to where he had just been killed, only to find that the man who was dead just hours ago is now alive and well. Regardless, Subaru asks that the old man sell him the badge that his partner, Felt (Who we briefly got a glimpse of earlier), had delivered to him. Fortunately for Subaru, he’s been transported back to before Felt had even dropped off the badge and winds up waiting for her to show up. When she does show up, however, Subaru isn’t greeted with a simple transaction. Instead, he is forced to wait for Felt’s client (Who had ordered the badge-theft to begin with) and must debate against said client in order to attain the badge.
Instead of going over the consequent actions and remainder of the final chapter in the manga, I’m going to talk about the quality of the content instead. While the artwork and story all remain above-average (And that isn’t me just speaking as a fan of the series), the quality of this particular manga release is a bit below average — especially considering the typical, high-grade product I’ve become accustomed to seeing from Yen Press. There are several panels strewn throughout this book that are cut off and unfinished. The text breaks away in the crease of some pages and ultimately ruins the underlying atmosphere the story has worked so hard to create. It’s a bit depressing that, in moments of extreme despair, you can only see half of the protagonist’s face and the cut-off, painful ramblings he’s worked so hard to spew. Like I’ve said, the manga itself is definitely what I expected, but the way it was clumsily thrown together was relatively off-putting and definitely a step down from the quality of an average Yen Press release.
Regardless, I will definitely be continuing on with this series and am looking forward to any potential improvement the product itself may have in the future.
Re:ZERO’s first manga volume does a solid job in laying down the building blocks for what is going to be a long, painful journey (And I mean painful in the best way possible). While the first few chapters are definitely a much lighter tone than the rest of the series, the way it slowly burns and becomes more and more dreadful as it progresses is nothing short of gratifying in the long run. If you can get past how several of the panels are cut off by the way the physical book is put together, you’re in for a wild ride that I would actually deem a necessity if you aren’t already watching the animated series. If you are watching the animated series, however, you are probably just going to pick this up anyway because it’s almost physically impossible to not fall in love with the world of Re:ZERO and want to absorb every inch of content that it may have.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B-
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 26, 2016