It’s going to be a little tricky to not discuss critical spoilers when talking about a show like Re:Creators. It certainly stands out from a lot of titles I’ve seen and is one of the rare cases when I stumble upon a fairly original concept. The idea of manga and video game characters springing into existence is something that crosses the mind of every fan. The writers of Re:Creators aim to provide subtext and gravity to this idea, but given how ambiguously this title questions the rules in its own complex reality as a sign that the author Daiki Kase either bit off more than he/she can chew, relied on the audience not asking crucial questions, or seeks to answer questions with questions. Its ambitiousness is both its greatest strength and weakness.
STORY: I have to admit, before curiosity kicked in, I was set to really not like the first 10 minutes of this show. It began almost as I would expect *bonk on the head stories to play out in their initial minutes (*bonk on the head stories is how me and my close friends refer to anime or manga that involves characters being warped to another world, like Escaflowne, El Hazard, or Harukanaru Toki no Naka de). Intrigue intensifies as other characters from other forms of media begin to appear, as Meteroa, a tutorial guide sage from a video game, shows up an assists Sota and Selesia.
It has to be pointed out that WHERE these characters are from isn’t as important as WHY these characters were selected, and this is what makes aspects of Re:Creators very compelling. The authors of these stories are viewed as gods by their creations. It delves into the meta of not only certain genres, and the method and madness of writing stories as a whole. I’ve written stories for years since Jr. High, and while I may have day dreamed about meeting my creations, it never dawned on me how exactly they’d respond to my answer if asked by one of them why I put them through so much hardship. One of the “creators”, Sugura, bluntly answers “for entertainment” when asked why he was forced to kill his own daughter in his story. It almost dabbles into questioning the metaphysical purpose of existence in a very pragmatic manner, but with fictional characters in a fictional setting. Two dimensional beings that can suddenly grasp reality, learn, and experience emotions outside the confines of their pre-written bios and tendencies makes for a fascinating watch.
What some of the drawbacks regarding the execution of Re:Creators’ universe includes the pacing. This is a very dialog driven show, there’s so many rules and variables that it introduces, at many points it repeats itself to ensure that the audience doesn’t get too lost within the confines of its own lore when it introduces a new law, like changing canon of a character’s story based on the acceptance of the fans.
There’s a point where Selesia is on the verge of defeat, her author, Matsuraba quickly sends out a tweet accompanied by concept art of her new powers that helps her turn the tide in a battle, based on retweets and fan anticipation. It makes sense when reaching the finale of the series why things happen at the pace and why writing a character that’s stronger than Altair is out of the question, but it really takes the scenic route towards a conclusion that becomes very predictable midway through and renders a final battle that seemed only to serve as smoke and mirrors to shroud the obvious outcome. And you know your anime is a little too protracted when it calls for a mid-series recap in a 22 episode show. It’s like checking in on your audience, “You’re getting all this, right?” SCORE: 7.2/10
ART: The animation doesn’t cut corners, Re:Creators boasts very fluid production and quality along with an overall cool cast of characters. The blend of CGI has come a long way in anime and studio Troyca does a splendid job of integrating the mostly computer animated mecha piloted by Selesia and Kanoya very well.
With the cast varying from magical shoujo, fantasy/adventure, modern day seinen and such, each creation has a very unique design and gives the illusion that they are indeed from various worlds, preferably Altair, Magane and Blitz Talker, the latter two being my two favorite designs, who stand out the most. Something is a bit lost when they’re wearing street clothes and casual wear, but that’s fine, they couldn’t walk around in their game garb all the time. Action scenes are devoid of clutter and directed very well. Another great attention to detail is how the characters emote. I don’t know if it’s possible to call a cartoon good or bad actors, but the body language of a good portion of the cast is nicely done. SCORE: 8/10
VOICE ACTING & MUSIC: This soundtrack is pretty amazing. Produced by Hiroyuki Sawano, the main themes used for poignant action sequences incorporate a lot of electronic rock. It’s incredibly catchy. Thus far, it doesn’t have a localized track, so there may not be an English dub. Each Creation predictably sounds about as archetypical as their outward personas would dictate, be it Alice’s bold valor, Meteora’s flat monotone cadence, or Yuya’s cocky aloofness. These may be flavors and tropes that have been seen numerous times, but I actually don’t mind it. SCORE: 8/10
CHARACTERS: What’s kind of neat about how characters progress as compelling figures throughout Re:Creators is this a relatively intelligent cast and most of them come off as genuinely likeable people. One of the things I was dreading was the tired fish-out-of-water jokes from the Creations I grew bored with. They grab the concept of modern society fairly quickly and for the most part, are fighting to achieve their goals reasonably.
The Military Uniform Princess, named Altair, wants to destroy the current plane of existence she refers to as the World of the Gods, by introducing so many fictional characters from many different works that the fundamental laws of physics begin to break down in the real world by causing discord. Magical girls or street punks that summon Personas (that’s all I could think when Yuya conjured a samurai behind him) don’t just exist. I can’t explain in great detail what she is, but her ability to acquire new powers is due to her existence not being bound by a set story. She’s an original character whose powers are only limited to the many doujin and fan pieces that exist of her. This makes for a very unpredictable antagonist.
Magane Chikujoin is the smartest and most fascinating character to me, her actions, intelligence and skill set is probably why she’s kept aside throughout and serves as a wildcard for either side. Near the end, they introduce some others, like the very useless Hikayu, who adds virtually nothing because she comes in so late. The dialog shared between Creations and their “gods”, along with the tumultuous relationship makes for interesting exchanges. Sota himself is essentially human writer’s block, and spends a lot of the series questioning himself and his ability to create. Despite being the lead and a bit of the catalyst, I was never interested in him because once you learn what hasn’t been said about his history or Altair’s existence, there’s nothing for him to do until the plot calls for it, because it makes the climax way too obvious if it receives more focus. SCORE: 7/10
OVERALL: If you’re looking for a title that feels very different from most anime that’s around, Re:Creators is a very unique endeavor. It’s not quite great at challenging its ideas, barring if you’re willing to hang up logic and enjoy it. The constant talking and explaining can make it feel like a total slog at times, and the red herrings thrown at me didn’t really work. But at the same time, it doesn’t try to insult your intelligence. And that soundtrack is amazing. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, I’d say it’s worth a try. FINAL SCORE 7.5/10
– Great animation
– Excellent music
– Unique story, driven by fascinating secondary characters
– A little too wordy
– Fairly predictable
– There’s a good chance you may be more interested in the series each Creation comes from than Re:Creators itself