Re: ZERO ~Starting Life in Another World~, Vol. 3

By Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka. Released in Japan by Media Factory. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by ZephyrRz.

I was actually rather surprised to see that we don’t get another loop in the middle of this book. Subaru has managed to slowly figure out what’s going on, and is able to finally fix it, though not without great cost to life and limb. As I expected, this volume focused more on the fan-favorite maid Rem, and showed off her tremendous powers, her truly top-tier hatred and loathing of herself, and her realization that Subaru is not a bad guy – which he isn’t, though he can be rather frustrating, as always. Given that we know that Subaru snarks and makes comebacks in order to cover up his true feelings, I suppose I’d better get used to it, though I still say that he’s at his best when the mask comes off. His manic desperation, and subsequent sobbing breakdown, may be the highlight of the book.

Beatrice is on the cover this time, and I like her the more I see of her, though I do sort of wish she’d yell “YOU ARE INCOMPETENT” to Subaru just once. She’s the classic reluctant mentor who acts grumpy but helps you far more than is necessary. Emilia does not get much to do here, but makes her scenes count, realizing that Subaru is losing his mind a bit at the beginning, and towards the end giving him an epic dressing down (the revelation of how Beatrice and Puck stopped her chasing after him is the best gag in the book). As for Ram and Rem, the Higurashi fan in me could not help but see similarities between their background and that of Mion and Shion Sonozaki, with one twin forced to take up the mantle of the other due to circumstances, and feeling horrible about it. Rem falls for Subaru hard here, and I look forward to seeing how this is handled in the next book, particularly as Subaru is still A. A. E. (All About Emilia).

Beneath his wisecracking, tendency to kill himself to solve things, and sheer bullheadedness, Subaru is actually rather clever, and uses the loops to find just the right questions to ask his loli Wikipedia. The revelation of the mastermind is not one I’ll spoil here, but it should make TV Tropes happy if nothing else. And then there’s Roswaal, who again seems to be secretly evil, particularly given the final scene. Ram is over the moon for him, and seems totally fine with being a pawn, which is never good. Here’s hoping Subaru can figure out what’s going on with him. In the meantime, there are a few teasers for what may happen next. Emilia is still one of the candidates for ruler, and Subaru actually looks back at the first volume and tries to figure out why on Earth she’d use the name Satella given he now knows who that is and the stigma it carries. I am hoping that we get Emilia’s tragic backstory (she must have one) soon.

Re: Zero continues to improve with each volume, though this one was helped along by the back half being one massive battle. That said, I’ve no doubt the next book will feature Subaru being an idiot, and probably dying. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy fantasy thrillers with wisecracking leads.

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