Re: ZERO ~Starting Life in Another World~, Vol. 23

By Tappei Nagatsuki and Shinichirou Otsuka. Released in Japan as “Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu” by MF Bunko J. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Dale DeLucia.

Do you enjoy Re: Zero but feel that it’s gotten a bit too complacent? Are you upset that everyone now tends to get along and talk through their problems like reasonable adults? Do you miss the early volumes when flipping each page felt like crawling through broken glass? I have terrific news for you! Subaru’s lost his memories, and we’re starting all over from zero! , Now, to be fair to Subaru, he actually IS pretty good about things, at first. My worry was that he would immediately try to hide that he’ lost his memory and try to fake it, which absolutely would not work with this crowd. So he confesses right away. Sadly, he is unaware of Return by Death, but he very quickly finds out, and also very quickly leads to him realizing that someone keeps killing him. So he DOES then try to hide that he’s lost his memory. Which does not go well, because see above.

So yes, going back to the start of the book, Subaru has lost his entire memory of this world, thinking he just got here from Japan. He tells Emilia and Beatrice, who are clearly upset but are used to bullshit, so they cope as best they can. And Subaru is not the only one confessing secrets. “Anastasia” finally comes clean and decides to admit that she’s Echidna (no, not that Echidna, the other Echidna) and that she’s trying to save Anastasia before her life runs out. Unfortunately, as he wanders around trying to figure out what to do next, Subaru is pushed off a staircase to his death. At first thinking this was some sort of dream precognition, he makes another attempt to wobble through the same events… and suddenly finds half the cast also dead. As he realizes that this book just became a locked room mystery, Subaru reacts in a nostalgic way: by completely losing his shit and being 100% paranoid.

I admit, this book hurt to read and I wanted it to be over with as fast as possible. (It does help that it’s one of the shorter Re: Zero volumes to date.) I appreciate everyone’s character development, and seeing it removed it not ironic, it’s just mean. That said, this is very well done. Julius’s frustration, Rem’s furious disbelief, and Emilia’s unwavering love are all done incredibly well. The final scene with Emilia and Subaru is like a reward for the rest of the volume, and it will touch your heart. (Also, thank goodness that Re: Zero is one of those books that uses honorifics, because the moment Subaru says “Emilia-chan” when he’s trying to hide his memory loss you can see everyone go “WTF”.) And then there’s Meili, who spends half the book as a corpse but might get the most development of all, and whose backstory is both grotesque and a bit heartwarming, like most of the cast.

We end the volume with another death, but at least this time Subaru has decided, memories or no, to start fighting back. Which is good, as the culprit is clearly inside the house, and is also not any of the cast we see in this book. A great Re: Zero volume, despite the pain.

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