Every show I’m watching had a better premiere than Re:Zero
I expected a dramatic, bingeable show with some cool plot ideas. The premiere would be some melodramatic call of action for the protagonist, with over the top violence and maybe some cliche anime/LN humor.
What I got was an hour of some guy babbling about being trapped in a video game. Subaru’s personality so far is that he likes video games and he wants to be a hero because he’s in a video game. White-haired girl (Satella? Emilia?)’s tsundere monologues weren’t interesting, they just made her character sound cliche. Puck was kind of fun, mind you. In the end, I was kind of interested in how the premise would turn out, but a lot of that will be fueled by how the show continues to be loved and not the premiere in and of itself.
So this is not a show I would have continued when it started airing. Here’s some shows I did continue, many of which when they started airing.
Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning): A young widower goes on restaurant adventures with his adorable preschool daughter. I can support these characters right off the bat. The situation is inherently sympathetic, so I don’t feel like I’m missing something about them, like I do when I see Subaru’s attempts at heroics. None of the characters feel like archetypes. Sure, Kotori’s two plotlines (hot for teacher and being the incompetent daughter) are fairly standard, but they’re handled gracefully and they aren’t the main focus of the episode.
Amanchu!: This was an atmosphere I could buy. Nothing really happened in the first episode of Amanchu!, but I could look at that ocean forever and I loved the feeling of starting a new school year. Meanwhile I could name all sorts of things that happened in Re:Zero, but it didn’t hook me. The fact I don’t remember much about this episode (Pikari’s a diver, new year is starting, etc.) makes it one of the weaker ones here. I’ve got no problem if someone thinks Re:Zero’s premiere is better.
AnoHana: Like Re:Zero, this has a pseudo-realistic art style, starts by introducing us to a gamer, and has a bunch of scenes from another point in the story cut in with the regular scenes. Let’s focus on the latter for now. AnoHana’s cuts weren’t just there for atmosphere, they made the story. They showed how Jintan’s past contrasted with his current self, established the Super Peace Busters from their first day to their last day, and came during moments where they enhanced what was going on in the present day by filling in the blanks. Meanwhile the death cut in Re:Zero is just a repeat of a scene later in the episode. There is no reason yet established for why it would be shown with the beginning. Even if it’s justified later, it’s just not as well done as the Busters flashbacks. The best point in Re:Zero’s favor is that I already care about the AnoHana characters because it’s a rewatch, but some of this stuff was apparent even from my first viewing.
Casshern Sins: Better atmosphere, more distinctive art style, and understandable conflict. Both shows start with immortal protagonists largely trying to do good for goodness’ sake, but the people around Casshern face huge stakes, while Subaru can just bring people back to life.
Days: While I could spend a whole post on how much the rest of Days easily beats its cute first episode, the first episode does pretty well on its own. Kazama and Tsukamoto bonding over their game of futsal works way better to endear them than Subaru and Emilia(?) looking like parents for half of a second.
Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (Legend of the Galactic Heroes): Do I talk about My Conquest is the Sea of Stars or Overture to a New War? The former was pretty plain, but it left enough blanks in Reinhard and Yang for me to be curious about how they’d turn out. In contrast, Subaru says so much, but doesn’t give me any character traits worth investing in. Overture to a New War, on the other hand, is easily a better premiere and it’s not really fair for me to compare them.
Hourou Musuko: This show introduced a full fledged cast in its first episode. While pacing out the introductions of the main characters is a good idea, it’s a bit awkward just talking about the premiere when everybody loves Rem. The characters’ actions are believable without screaming “Hey this is what a normal person would totally do in this situation!”.
Love Live! School Idol Project: Stakes: the inevitable closing of the school and the council’s resistance to the MC’s ideas. The characters were silly but at least they were exciting. I totally expect the characterizations in Re:Zero to pay off, but if we’re just talking about the premiere, I can say they don’t open much for interpretation.
Mob Psycho 100: Now this is how you construct a mystery box! Ominous percent counter increments throughout the episode. Wild creative visual aesthetic mixing Bones’ talents with ONE’s wild style. Mob in this episode is largely a recycled Saitama, but this episode’s goal was to look awesome as hell and it succeeded. And Mob and Reigen were precious.
Orange: I didn’t like this one that much better, but it covered very similar time travel plot development with a more relatable protagonist and half the time.
Planetarian: Like with Casshern Sins, a meditative robot apocalypse premiere doesn’t need much to beat fantasy world tsundere shenanigans for me. This one’s more a case of “I know what I’m waiting for next episode”.
Re:Zero: Even Re:Zero is better than this show.
ReLIFE: Like the other two TMS shows, instantly relatable. I’m not saying a NEET going into a fantasy world and trying to discover his superpowers and quest is inherently less relatable than a pseudo-NEET going into a modern high school and trying to discover his place as a functional human being, but Re:Zero’s interactions are nowhere near this level.
Rurouni Kenshin Tsuioku-hen: Fight scenes are some of the best. Nothing else to really say about this show.
Anyhow, I won’t be surprised if later episodes of Re:Zero address these concerns. I hear it’s a lot about treating people like NPCs and the implications of cheating death, so I’m still hoping for a strong show with a fitting premiere. I’m just surprised that just these two episodes propelled so many people forward in the first place.