Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another Mindset

One of my favorite currently airing anime (it began last season, and finishes this season) is Re:Zero. Despite my concern that the show would turn into a fanservice-filled, plot-light story of the idiot hero getting the beautiful girlfriend, I gave the show a shot, and boy am I glad I did. While the show has the odd comment or moment that ups the fanservice, it’s actually proven to be a pretty deep show. This is mostly due to the character progression that can be seen in the show’s main character, Subaru Natsuki. Not only does he “reset” upon dying (suddenly waking up uninjured at the last “check point”), but his entire mindset does as well.

First, a little bit of background on the show (paraphrased from MyAnimeList’s description, and not giving spoilers beyond the first five minutes of episode 2): One day, Subaru Natsuki, a normal high school kid and gamer finds himself transported into a game-like world. Every gamer’s dream, right? He thinks so, too, until he finds himself confronted by thugs and without a weapon or any powers as a means to defend himself. He then quickly realizes his dream-come-true may in fact be a nightmare ending in his death. Enter the “mysterious beauty” who not only scares off the thugs, but allows Subaru to tag along with her, under the condition he helps her find a thief he unknowingly bumped into earlier. Working together, they manage to track down her stolen item… only to be brutally murdered.

Subaru, offering to help “Satella” find what she lost.

When Subaru wakes right back up in the alley he first went to upon arriving in the world, he’s very confused (as anyone would be when they expected to be dead and find they are not). This confusion only increases as the events he just experienced begin to happen a second time. Unintentionally testing his theories by being murdered again, he learns that whenever he dies, he “resets”. His whole mindset begins to shift upon this realization…

(WARNING: Minor spoilers up to the end of episode 7 – I’ll keep it as vague as possible, but it will still touch on a few plot points)

When Subaru first enters the world of Lugunica, his entire mindset is incredibly self-centred and egotistical. He assumes that he must be some important, significant person who was summoned there to be a valiant hero. His introverted self sees this as his time to shine. When he meets “Satella” (a fake name Subara is given to call her) after she saves him, his mind continues further down a rabbit hole of selfish wants. After all, the hero gets the girl and lives happily ever after, right? Well, not in this alternate reality, as quickly proven by his death and reset. When Subaru realizes that every time he dies he resets, his first thought is, of course, “how do I not get killed again?” Experiencing a horrible death once is bad enough, but over and over? That would get to your head pretty quickly. Subaru changes his approach to the situation, eventually saving Satella and also surviving past the point he kept dying at.

Subaru is very unimpressed with his lacking “protagonist status” in the new world.

When he realizes he not only survived, but also saved Satella, Subaru is naturally thrilled. However, struck with the reality he is a stranger in a foreign world with no money and very little knowledge of where he is, Subaru uses the favor gained by saving Satella to work where she lives. He’s put under the care of twin maids and left to learn the ropes of cooking, cleaning, and other chores. Just as he begins to feel he’s found his place, however, he finds himself waking up on the first day at the mansion all over. He’s been reset. His second and third attempts to live there both result in another reset. By his fourth attempt, he alters his choices enough that he lives… but at the cost of another person. Subaru is suddenly faced with a decision: keep on living, now that he has finally survived, or “reset” despite the possibility of permanent death this time all to try and save not only himself but the other life.

If you were in Subaru’s shoes, what would you do? Many of us would say “Well, I’d like to think I’d go back and save the other person, too.” However, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’d find ourselves heavily inclined to just keep on living. After all, why risk your life for someone else, right? By nature, we as humans are selfish. Whether we do it consciously or unconsciously, for most of the day, our world typically revolves around, well, us. That doesn’t usually cause a problem. After all, no one’s going to fault you because you wanted toast for breakfast, when your friend wanted cereal – you can have your toast, they can have their cereal, and no harm’s done. That natural instinct to put “number one” first can become a problem, though. When was the last time you nearly got into a car accident trying to pull onto the highway, because your on-ramp was ending but no one in the right lane would let you in? Or maybe you skipped out on a family get together because YOU didn’t like the day-plan? Perhaps it was just as simple as a “little white lie” telling someone you had to go, because while you didn’t actually have to, YOU didn’t want to talk to them.

At the end of episode 7, we see Subaru struggling extensively with this choice. Let the other person die and continue living for certain, or risk everything to have a shot at saving them? After a long struggle, he chooses to throw himself off the cliff (literally) for the sake of the other person. This all despite the fact no one will ever know about his sacrifice (as only he remembers the “resets”). Why does he do it? I think it’s because the “reset” at the end of episode 7 is not only just a reset of events, but a reset of Subaru Natsuki himself. He is no longer using his abilities just to find a way that he can survive past his last death. His mindset is no longer “I must be some special hero summoned here!”. His focus has shifted off himself and on to how he can save those around him.

As he jumps off the cliff to reset, Subaru promises to save his friends.

How often do you honestly put everyone else first? How often is your focus less about your day, your goals, and your dreams, and more about the people around you? Unless you strive to make a conscious effort to do this daily, the answer is probably “not often”. This isn’t laying blame – I’m just as guilty as everyone else. It’s so easy to slip into the easy, natural, human mentality of “looking out for number one” that we often don’t even realize we’re doing it. So if we all do it, it must not be a problem, right? Wrong. Here’s the catch: if you watched a friend die, then “reset” to yesterday, last week, last month, last year… would you live that time differently? You’d probably put a little more effort into making that person happy and spending time with them, right?

We don’t have the advantage of knowing what will happen tomorrow. If you’re a Christian, you do believe one thing about the future: it ends in an eternity. Where we believe that eternity is spent depends on a person’s acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ, and overall, God. How much time do you honestly devote to bringing those around you into a new or a deeper relationship with Christ? If you’re not a Christian, you still believe certain things about the future. For example, something as simple as the fact the sun will rise tomorrow. Regardless of faith, however, we all want those we care about to have a good, happy future. How much time do we spend actively trying to ensure that? Probably not a lot. Why not? You’re living your own life. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with that. Looking after yourself is also important; but, you can’t just look after yourself. As beautifully stated by John Donne, “no man is an island.” Each of us relies on another person in some way and are, in others ways, relied on by those around us. We have to make a conscious effort to ensure our time is not spent entirely on selfish wants, but is also devoted to blessing the lives of those around us.

We don’t get “resets”. We don’t get a second take at things we mess up on. We get 60 seconds a minute for 60 minutes an hour for 24 hours a day. How we use that time is often for ourselves. Sometimes that’s necessary – looking after your own responsibilities and needs is important. Just remember that the bigger picture is important, too. You may never get recognition for it, and you may never see any real difference or change, but your choice to take a small chunk of that “me time” and use it for someone else can make a big difference. It’s never easy to begin with – after all, we want all our time to be me time. If you really want to, though, then just remember this: every day is a “reset”. Every day is a new day. Every day, make the choice to start it not with a me mindset, but a them mindset. The more you “reset” with that mindset, the easier it becomes, and the more natural it feels. Keep it up and before you know it, you may very well have undergone a reset just like Subaru.

15 thoughts on “Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another Mindset

  1. Great article, though an addendum: what we see after Subaru resets is the opposite of what this article anticipates. His choice to go back is self-sacrificial, but what he does after he goes back is only think of himself. He makes everything his responsibility, and is only actually victorious in this arc because of what Emilia does when she sees him so overworked. Emilia puts her trust in him, and in making herself vulnerable with him lets him be vulnerable too. Subaru gets ‘white-knighted’ by her when he’s been trying to white knight her all this time.

    The point emphasized is a very useful one to a Christian; that you can say you’re sacrificing something and do something great in sacrifice, but unless you offer up your whole life every day in service of what you’re sacrificing, you’re doing it for yourself. Ancient tribes threw their children in flames to appease their Gods; they were sacrificing to something else, but it still ultimately was to benefit them. Subaru’s sacrifice to save Rem is ultimately still one to save himself and his idealized situation.

    I don’t view Subaru as someone transforming; I view him as a great example of someone who gives off the illusion of transformation before reiterating his sin tenfold. The weeds of his selfishness choke up all his good deeds, because he only knows how to want, as the hikikomori generation do with him.

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    1. Thanks! 🙂

      Haha yeah – at the time of writing this, I was only up to about episode 9 in the show (it’s only just going up now because of editing process stuff). I was HOPING Subaru was gonna’ stick to his changes, but it seems so far he hasn’t. Rather, he reverted right back to his original mindset where he’s all “but this all went okay because of *ME* “.

      Exactly! It’s sort of the “all the right things for all the wrong reasons” instance, unless you actively work to change your mindset so you’re doing those things for the RIGHT reasons. Although in this particular case I would argue that what he did WAS for Ram & Rem, not himself… but that’s just my view on it. 🙂

      Now that I’m almost entirely caught up on the show (last watched episode 16), I’d agree. He started into what could have been a really great change for him, and fell right back into his old ways. What I’m hoping is that by episode 24 he’ll get a reality check, smarten up, realize the world does NOT revolve around him, and stop trying to fix everything himself. Frankly I’m almost tempted to do a part 2 to this article talking about how often that can happen with people – we really believe we’ve changed, when we haven’t. Because it looked to me like Subaru really BELIEVED (falsely) that everything he was doing was for Emilia – and his shock as he realized she was right in telling him he was doing it all selfishly was part of what caused his mental break. Basically he goes too far to another extreme where he becomes so focused on everything else he places the problems of the world on his shoulders, thus unintentionally making it all about him once again.

      By nature, we are selfish. We like to lie to ourselves sometimes until we really believe we’re doing things for better reasons than we honestly are in most cases. That’s why it’s SO important to make a conscious, active decision to consistently work on changing that mindset so if people look beyond our “good” actions, the reasons behind them are just as “good” as the actions themselves.

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      1. (This is a repy to both of the replies here)

        I got to agree, Subaru can be really self-centered at some times. But I think that we also don’t need to forget what he’s gone through…He suffered several (horrible) deaths. If you finally, after several chances succeed in both surviving and saving your friends. Wouldn’t you also become kind of proud…It would kind of feel that you defeated ‘Death’ itself.

        But Jekojeko, the point you mention about that Subaru’s sacrifice to save Rem is just all for himself….Something is off there in my opinion. After all his ideal situation was actually reached, HE survived. But in the end he still chose to save Rem… One could argue that because of his own selfishness he saved Rem because it was his fault in the first place that Rem died. (hellhounds)

        Yes, Subaru is selfish, but at some points he said: ‘I didn’t want it to be like this…’ That could indeed be interpretated as if he wants to create a perfect world for himself.
        Yeah, I’m actaually weakining the point I try to make…Not very smart.

        But Subaru has been through a lot, he has seen the same people dying over and over, wouldn’t that drive your mind crazy and you would totally become crazy-minded. But still…Even through all the hardship, he still continues to try saving his friends, even if it is for his selfishness… How many people wouldn’t just not bother even to TRY saving their friends…

        Personally I think Betelgeuse was actually the same as Subaru was. That he also came from Earth, he also desperately tried to save those who were dear to him (or maybe he didn’t have any of those, in that case I think he experienced his own death so many times, that it caused him to go insane/crazy) And that the darkness of the ‘Witch’ has devoured him.

        Whenever Subaru is going to be overconfident, he will face reality at some point, whether it will be harsh words from Emilia, or whether it will be the dead of his friends. If this cycle will continue, he will eventually end up like Betelgeuse (if my theory is correct) So Subaru really needs to change his way of thinking. Otherwise he will break. He needs to stay realistic. This might sound stupid but he can’t do what he can’t. He isn’t a strong person, he can barely wields a sword. The only thing he has is his mind (and his willpower)

        So to conclude this long reply: Yes Subaru might be selfish…But who wouldn’t if you just ‘defeated’ Death itself.

        PS: I apologize if I made any mistake with my English…I’m level B1-2 not even near native.

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          1. This is a common theme in animé and Real Life: if I do something good and I feel good or get any benefit at all, didn’t I just do this for myself? It’s a theme here and in a few shows in the previous season.

            The thing is – you can do good things for selfish reasons (helping others lets you feel good about yourself) and you can do very evil things with the best intentions in your heart (Crusades anyone?). Ultimately God is the judge of your heart AND your actions. And if your actions are that you constantly and consistently help others and the only reward you get for this is that you feel good about yourself does that make you a good person or a bad one? There is a line between satisfaction that you succeeded and pride in it, and the line is crossed when you feel that you achieved the result with your own strength. Subaru has not yet realised many truths about his “gift” of Reset, not the least of which is where the power comes from and what price it extracts. He is also terribly unaware of his own lack of ability (it seems to me – but can he really be that clueless?).

            The Jedi Order forbid attachment as it spoiled the purity of their connection to the Force. Monastic orders have similar rules (!) for similar reasons. But John Donne was right – we aren’t islands, and your actions speak louder than your words in others’ lives. If you show Jesus by the way you live your life then His Holy Spirit will surely (but maybe slowly) fill the emptiness in you that you fill with your pride at being “good”. And then when you act for others, you give God the glory both inside and out.

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            1. Yeah… I think really if you think hard enough you could make ANY action seem selfish. Even if it’s being totally self-sacrificial someone could say “they only did it to improve the way others view them because they want people to think highly of them”.

              Indeed! “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart”. While that passage is speaking in that case specifically to physical traits, it also applies to the fact that we as humans only see someone’s actions, and interpret them how we want – we can’t read their minds or hearts and see WHY they did what they did. And in some cases, pride is a good thing. We SHOULD take pride in things well-done. We SHOULD take pride in our work. BUT, we always need to remember that all glory for those things we take pride in needs to go back to God – I think it’s once we feel pride AND take the glory (possibly stealing someone else’s thunder, like Subaru does in a few cases by neglecting to remember how many mabeasts Rem & Ram killed for him, or how Emilia saved herself when HE blundered in the meeting) that it becomes a big issue. And indeed – he’s using his ability despite knowing barely nothing about it (this factor was why I said his death for Rem & Ram was NOT selfish – he didn’t know if resetting a 4th time was possible or not). Haha yeah, he is a little clueless – although to me I read it more as him being in denial about it – I think he pretends he’s more able than he is in order to push himself to become more able. With the amount of suffering he’s gone through with so many deaths, it must be hard for him to keep going on.

              Yup! Your “talk” only has real meaning if you can “walk the talk”. It’s easy to say “I care” but it means nothing if you don’t SHOW it. It’s easy to say “I’m a follower of Christ” but it’s much harder to actively live, daily, in a way that makes that obvious to others AND that brings glory to Him. That’s why having a “them” mindset is so important. Jesus says that the two most important commands are “Love God and love others”. So, once you’re already pursuing a relationship with Christ, the next step is moving daily towards trying to actively share His love with others. That’s where it becomes important to constantly fight that natural, selfish mindset! 🙂

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          2. Saxonrau, somehow I can’t reply to your message. The last episode just came out, I won’t spoil too much, but he realized what he is, a worthless piece of shit who can’t do anything at all.

            He has a large conversation and in the end, instead of running away from all of it (literally) he decides to face it all, one can argue that he is still doing this for himself and yeah, that might be right, but the best thing he could’ve done to make himself happy in this episode was to flee to another country, far from all the hardship, but like I said, he doesn’t do that (even though he gets help from someone)

            I get what you are trying to say, but now he is AWARE of his own lack of ability. ( He actually knew all along, but desperately tried to fool everyone, including himself) Right now he’ll try to save Emilia and to ‘become the greatest hero’

            But don’t think he’s trying to become the greatest hero all for himself, yes there might be a part of him that really thinks so, but he is also doing this for Rem and from what I saw, not only because of his own selfishness…He confessed a lot this episode and I think he made quite a lot characterdevelopment.

            And in the end…In this life we only have one chance…Subaru did have a lot of chances. So I don’t think either of us is correct or wrong…It’s just that we don’t know how it would be to experience several deaths. (God gave us only one chance…And unlike Subaru, if we waste that chance it’s over. Forever.)

            (To Emdaisy1)

            I think you should definitely make a part 2 of this article, because there is changing a lot of

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        1. Yeah, Joughton, I think the being “invincible” (in that he can’t die) does kinda’ get to his head. He does make several comments about how it’s (going back to save Rem & Ram) something only he can do – which it is. No one else can reset (that we know of). So he’s correct in that, it just maybe gets to his head too much.

          It’s interesting what you said about Betelgeuse. I’m still only caught up to episode 16, so I may have missed a reveal in 17 or 18, but something he said really caught my attention. When he addresses Subaru, he asks “are you Pride?”. Now, he’s Sloth. They’re both names of the seven deadly sins. Kinda’ makes me wonder if the “witch”/dragon in that world has been summoning people from the real world into that world to act as the 7 deadly sins in order to build towards some ultimate corruption. That would mean Betelgeuse was also originally from Earth, pulled there because he had innate traits making him an ideal candidate for Sloth, and Subaru was pulled for innate tendencies to be prideful/entitled (which, as Jeko pointed out, hikikomori tend to have). Maybe the other 5 deadly sins are out there and the witch is slowly trying to turn them all, devouring all their darkness in turn to become stronger with the full power of all 7 deadly sins. Idk, I sound like a conspiracy theorist but it’s an interesting plot idea, I think.

          And yeah, I see Subaru slowly snapping in the same way one can figure Betelgeuse may have. Betel’s obsession is with all things sloth, Subaru’s obsession is, pridefully, with himself and what “only he can do”. And indeed, all he can fight with is his mind. So he’s relying on that and it’s starting to break him.

          Also, your first language isn’t English?! I’d honestly never have guessed. I’m in college and your writing was at a higher level than I see some English college kids using. What’s your native language? 😀

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          1. Wow your theory about the 7 deadly sins sounds very convincing! The writer (it was originally a light novel) might have used this idea. There’s nothing new under the sun. And if the story indeed will head towards this direction, it would all make a lot of sense.

            But I think we shouldn’t judge the ‘Witch’ immediately, all we have heard of her sounds like she is indeed evil herself (If that’s the case, then it might become a fight between good and evil) And we’ve seen the black hands doing all sorts of wrong things. (Can’t say this properly without spoiling) She might as well be a very good person, sacrificing herself for the people around her and that because of that she became hated. Honestly I don’t think she will turn out that way. But hey, you can’t judge a book just from its cover. In the end we only heard of her and a lot of them are rumors/legends. And as you said, we humans only see the outside, but God sees the inside. We only see the actions, not the intentions. Well…I hope we’ll at least get to see her.

            My native language is Dutch, I turned 14 in July, I hope my age won’t be a problem to discuss things, if it is, feel free to say so. Although I hope you won’t mind it too much 🙂

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          2. Sorry I took so long to answer, Joughton! I had exams going on at school. Officially done my 2nd year of college now, though, so I can finally answer this, haha. 😛

            Thanks! Possibly. And yeah, I haven’t caught up yet (see above – examssss haha) though I plan to tonight or tomorrow. That’ll clear up a lot I’m sure. 🙂

            I’m also torn on the concept of the “witch”. I’m curious as to if she’s actually bad, or people just SEE her as bad. After all, we’ve seen that theme of misunderstanding & judgement become common in the show (e.g. Rem & Ram, the story of the blue and red ogre, the villagers’ initial fear of Subaru, everyone judging Emilia for her appearance). So that may all be an overarching plot idea about how easily we can be mistaken when we judge wrongly!

            Cool! Well, your English is really good, in that case! I definitely can’t speak any second language that fluently! And nope, age isn’t an issue. 🙂 Discussion is always encouraged – that’s why we run this blog! 😀

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  2. Episode 18 gives a whole new view on all our comments. Subaru confessed that he is a worthless and can’t complete anything. ( Bug report: I first replied with a way larger reply and it didn’t get sent)

    Spoiler:

    In the end of episode 18 Subaru said he was going to become the greatest hero of all time (something like that)

    How do you all think about this, I personally think he said this both to satisfy himself, but also because he’s not anymore totally self-centered. (The conversation in episode 18 made this clear enough I think) I think he’s also trying for the sake of others, at least he realised that all what he did, was for his own selfishness…

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    1. Er, you musta’ mistread… it’s not TECHNICALLY about a game. It’s just set in a world very similar to the typical MMORPG world. Although, elements of it ARE a lot like a game (e.g. coming back at “checkpoints” if you die, having different “quests” or “goals”). There basically are just a lotta’ references – and Subaru himself thinks he’s in a game (hence whining about lacking his “protagonist status” that main game characters get – superpowers, etc.)
      However, I’d still watch it. 🙂

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      1. Gotcha, yes, I must have misread. Well, I will be checking it out anyways since all the cool kids are watching it haha.

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