For the first week of August’s reading program, we will discuss the first third of Re:Zero (volume 1) and Our Journey to the End of the Ceasing World. For Re:Zero, you need to have read up to chapter 2: “A Struggle Too Late” (page 68). Meanwhile for Our Journey, you need to have read up to the asterisk page break in the chapter titled “Wings.”
If you have read further ahead, please refrain from spoiling anything past the points in the stories mentioned above. (Also, obviously, if you’ve experienced a manga or anime adaptation in the past, don’t reveal what happens next.)
Subaru has found himself flung into a fantasy world! He meets a magical girl and her talking cat sprite, but the fun and games is cut short when someone kills him at the local thief den.
I’m sure he’ll be fine though, don’t worry.
I have not seen the anime adaptation everyone’s been talking about, so this is my first time experiencing the story of Re:Zero. Unfortunately I’m not sure what about it has enthralled everyone so much, or at least I haven’t noticed anything special from the beginning of this volume. Is there a particular aspect of the story’s premise that hooked you? In what ways might Re:Zero stand out amidst the sea of “trapped in another world” novels?
Regarding Subaru and his genre-savvy narration, I have mixed feelings. One might call the story a parody, in that the protagonist (or the author) is very much self-aware about all the tropes of the sub-genre, but overall it feels like the story is still playing things straight. It’s the sort of joke where the characters note “isn’t it funny how these stories always have this thing happen?” and then that thing happens. Maybe this humor works for most readers, but I feel like I need something more.
I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t care for Satella (who I always read as Stella). The story keeps emphasizing how she is such a gentle and kind soul, but she has such a harsh tongue it’s difficult for me to buy it. Did the story really need to spend all those pages having her struggle to come up with an excuse for NOT leaving Subaru to die in the alley? (Because that was apparently an extraordinarily noble thing to do?) Why is it so bad for people to just be nice to each other? The whole scene is particularly bizarre when later on we get an extensive “save the cat” tangent in which the two leads help out a lost little girl.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the story though is its pacing. I recall making this complaint for Log Horizon, but I feel that it’s an even more prevalent problem in Re:Zero. The author has this tendancy to have something happen, and then tell us what happened, and then tell us again, and again, and again, and again. And then a little while later, tell us about it another time, just for good measure. I heard that this was a web novel that had enough material to last over 40 volumes, and now I can see why!
For those of you who haven’t seen the anime, what do you think will happen next? How do you think this story will handle tone? Do you think there is a reason behind Subaru’s sudden and unexplained appearance in this fantasy world?
Our Journey to the End of the Ceasing World
Everyone is vanishing, losing their memories and identities. In a desolate part of Japan, a boy and girl ride a motorscooter around aimlessly, making the most of their remaining days of life.
In some ways this story is pretty different from the norm, but at the same time there’s a rather familiar feel to it all. Perhaps it’s the two main characters, whose interactions are reminding me a lot of the dynamics from many other stories (including Re:Zero, actually). To be honest, I kind of don’t care about the boy and girl?
That said, I think this is more of a concept-driven story. What do you think? What would you say this story is actually about so far?
What would you do if you were in the situation of the boy and girl? Do you think they had nobody left but each other, wherever it was they came from? What is it exactly that they hope to get out of their journey?
In what ways do you feel Our Journey differs from other works of post-apocalyptic fiction? Would you place Our Journey in that sort of subgenre in the first place?
Any thoughts on the first vignette, featuring the farmer and secretary? Any predictions for how things will go for the second vignette, featuring the aspiring pilot?
Random aside: I do find it a little odd that the characters have had to struggle (slightly) to find supplies. I mean, unless they’re in the middle of an uninhabited part of Hokkaido, I don’t feel like they would have to go so far to find a few dozen abandoned convenience stores. Perhaps the cities have all been looted already? I suppose we have to just roll with things, given the lack of details.
As mentioned before, feel free to discuss any point you would like to bring up about either (or both) of these two books. General impressions, predictions for how the stories will play out, some compare/contrast between the two books, or any random observations and things you’d like to analyze are all fair game.