The Reasons I Like Natsuki Subaru of Re: Zero

… Because Subaru is one heck of a lead, isn’t he?

It is a fact that Re: Zero is the second most hyped anime series in 2016 (the crown still belongs to ERASED by the way). While I am lukewarm with the show, I can see why is this making rounds in the ani-community. It managed to bring something about the time-tested trope of a person locked in a fantasy world. Boy, the darkest parts Re: Zero really bite and that’s why I am ultimately okay with it. Whether you are on a waging war as to who is the best girl in the show (Emilia-tan versus Rem) or in a forum roasting Subaru’s (godawful) decisions, the show will keep you entertained. Don’t ask me about the current development though, as I am not hot with that.Nonetheless, this post isn’t about reviewing Re: Zero.

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Aside from Rem, I am the only one who thinks this dude is kind of adorable.

I am more keen about Subaru because he caught my eye the moment I saw the first episode. First, his character design is simply plain for an A-List series. God, even generic male harem leads are even better eyecandies than him. Yet his nondescript look really stood out in the show, isn’t it? Maybe it’s his strange appeal but I will rank him first as far as male characters are concerned this season (Sorry Suwa and Reigen). Re: Zero managed to make his personality resonate along with his normal looks for better or for worse.  I found his design rather adorable as I cannot imagine a bishounen doing all these Subaru moves without cringing. Flawfinder already wrote a fantastic article about him being the representative of an average Japanese man so I won’t tackle that one anymore.

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DESPAIR: THE ANIMATION

Secondly, I can sympathize a lot with Subaru’s characterization. He seems to be a totally harmless guy who is caught up with this time travel mess. At the beginning of the series, I think he is good natured albeit a generic lead fiddling with generic scenarios. If dying and reliving multiple times aren’t traumatizing, you should take note that he also remembers the events transpiring before as well the physical pain. He snapped, and I cannot put the blame on him. I am also okay with his less than perverted tendencies and the lack of harem in Re: Zero so far (the main reason I hate LN adaptation to be honest).

I guess those who watched the series cheered for Juli when he beat the crap out of Subaru in episode 13. Let me tell you this – I was also busy laughing seeing Subaru denying to wake up from his senses after that deluded act with Emilia. However, something sinister occurred between episodes 14 to 17. I can only twitch in discomfort upon seeing Subaru crawl out of desperation to escape an ugly time loop. My heart broke when he literally begged Anastasia, Crutsch and that red girl to aid him in saving Emilia. If I were Subaru, I would have just killed myself and run away from everyone else when I live again. Screw the show’s plot! Well, the mere fact he was able to recover from these episodes signify that his character has somehow developed in the right direction. (Don’t ask me about some plot armors though.)

Of course, that kind of reasoning won’t work if you judge him with his actions. Long story short – his decisions are awful. The kind of awful that makes you want to shake him and say “MAN… YOU MESSED UP!”. To the show’s defense, it feels refreshing that a main lead acts like a main lead but without the ridiculously power ups or deus ex machina. Subaru dies when he gets killed isn’t it? He is also the kind of dude who does not think the person has a point even when he is right. (Ahh… Shiro-isms are the best!) Subaru is not certainly likable in terms of our standard impressions on how a main character should act. That’s why I am rooting for his variant to somehow succeed in the series.

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Deluded much?

Yet I still do not approve Subaru’s actions throughout the series though. It makes me want to send a fairy to protect him in Re: Zero timeline. Not because he is a precious kid, but darn his inability to listen to other’s instruction. Remember when Emilia told him not to enter the castle and get himself treated instead? Yeah. I still winced with that memory.

The also dude needs to set his priorities in the series. Let’s say for example, the Village Children’s Arc is where Subaru and Rem went to the town in searching for the cursed animal. He committed suicide in that timeline because he needs to save Rem (and that date with Emilia, to an extent). What did he do in episode 9? Yes, the dude threw himself in front of the Mabeast because he needs to save these children. Wait – isn’t your original goal to save the fan favorite (Rem) and have a date with the prettiest girl (Emilia)? The dude just threw that out of the window because he thinks he has to. Of course, those who liked the deed will say these children were given back stories for us to root but man, a narration akin to a report presented in MS Powerpoint is not exactly the best way to do it.

For every serious Subaru moment in Re:Zero, the next scenario gives an equivalent Subaru goofball trashing all my emotional investment with him. At worst, he reminds me that Re: Zero is a light novel adaptation after all. Please someone explain why the hell Subaru keeps on insisting that he loves Emilia when Rem is the one who’s with him in the darkest moments of this show. The latest episodes (the resolution of the Whale Arc) teased us that Rem x Subaru might be real. Also, I really want to know how the heck Subaru can get away with his brand of generic MC lead goofy behavior in front of these royalties. Man, a NEET just led the knights in killing a major mabeast! That one’s very anime, isn’t it? On the positive side, Subaru seems like a meta-commentary device Re: Zero uses. It’s fascinating to see fish out of water scenarios to flesh out a generic male lead. Perhaps I will never get tired of watching Subaru Natsuki after all.

Some other thoughts:

  • The Whale Arc seemed to ran out of steam though. I am not mad at it but I already lowered my expectations for the next episodes. Where’s the dark thing you brought Re: Zero? I miss that.
  • Orange’s production values went south. I am now more worried about that instead of the depressing plot that looms in the background.
  • I need a dose of Shirayuki-hime in this Summer 2016 madness.
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7 thoughts on “The Reasons I Like Natsuki Subaru of Re: Zero

  1. Ha! True that. The most common complaint I’m hearing about Subaru is how godawful his decisions are. Then again, that’s exactly what makes him intriguing in my eyes. As hoomans, we make a lot of mistakes consciously and subconsciously. We’ll never know if the decisions we make is right or not until we live long enough to see the results. In his case, however, he does have the means see what lies in the end of a path, and use that as an advantage in resolving whatever is blocking the /real/ route he wants to go for. It’s just that he’s frail. We’re all frail specially in front of something we don’t understand. He — and we — always has it in him, but the fear overcomes his rational of calming the fuck down and think. These past few episodes where he “leveled up” didn’t really gain him any new super powers like most MCs do, he just needed to lend an ear to someone who’s patting his head, instead of rushing with brute force.

    As far as Emilia goes… I don’t know. I will never be able to give a confident answer until I experience a love equal to his. I’m obviously on the Rem camp, but as a man, I respect Subaru for being true to his feelings. I’m not sure if how much of it is true, or how much is out of helplessness though.

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      1. I actually respect this blog a lot, i get averted by a childish fandom often, this is why i dislike shonen fans who watch seinen anime and later claim it is too harsh, because of tragic bite it usually has, regardless what subaru did was a feat, not small, i doubt we would be capable of doing it, from a realistic view, Subaru keeps himself at physical peak as well, as he said he worked out (grip 70?! i mean god, this guy is awesome) and he even is a great tactacian (probably from all the games he played) he is wise, his wits are a skill, he is not a bad fighter either actually he will develop in that sense too, now the critical fact, the Emilia hate, why Subaru likes her? she is his type, and she is kind, regardless whatever happens, she will always be kind to him, Rem is great, she is best, she is so nice, she even helps Subaru with Emilia, maybe she is not even a girl, she is cinnamon bun, too cute, but lets me men and applaud Subaru for never giving up on his love and being loyal in the heart to it, he is like Araragi Koyomi of a game world, a hero where we all would have failed to be if it was us in his place, that is why Subaru Natsuki, is worthy of our respects.

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      2. Well, as much as I like Subaru, the dude can be sometimes delusional (see episode 13) but man, he is just earnest in what he wants and I think that’s good enough.

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  2. I’m actually a lot sunnier to this series than you seem to be (granted, I’m only at episode 9). I find his more humorous side to be what ultimately grounds him, and certainly not something that affects my investment in his journey. Tropes can be harmful, certainly, and were one of the main reasons I regard Hibike with much lower esteem than you do, but given how I myself had a similarish (okay, the comparison is very loose) situation of being at a psychological disconnect from everyone else, his reaction feels very plausible to me. Besides, the guy is a NEET, seemingly very lacking in social skills, and justifiably thinks he’s got things figured out when there are other factors in play that he didn’t account for; his actions largely feel, not only plausible, but probable. Disliking him for making mistakes is a criticism that I just can’t get behind. Aside from pre-existing character relationships, what would you say made Okabe Rintarou, a character who has received similar complaints to those you have given to Subaru, a more engaging lead?

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    1. Okabe Rintarou actually researches about the nature of his time leaps, hence, his decisions made for more arresting moments in the entirety of S;G. That Subaru dies. Lives again. Dies. Becomes a white knight. I had fun seeing his journey though.

      Man, wait for episode 13. Yeah.

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  3. >Rem x Subaru might be real.
    And it, well, is. The ending of the 3rd arc was really dark and painful outside of anime. Almost as if the author gave Subaru some fresh air to breath in ep.18-25 only to kick him in the guts and send swimming in cement shoes right after. And suddenly, without the one telling him how awesome he is and her unconditional faith, Subaru is not the almighty hero he felt like before. Weak, powerless and pathetic, with his pride, wraith and despair having nowhere to go – all this under a fake smile of a never-yielding knight.
    I find it a rather interesting and appealing trait for Subaru as a character. Failing to become a hero for his own self-gratification, he decides to become a hero for someone else – for the only one who’s seen his true colors at his worst moment, and accepted him. And fails her too.
    Later on he even admits that the force and will that keep him fighting for his dreams is not his own. It’s just that Rem denied him any other choice.

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