I’d put this at 4.5 out of 5 stars. Kazami’s glory-hounding is a bit much sometimes… but then, in the early eps the four players still think it’s all a game. Parviz, May, and Hiroto more than make up for it, character-wise. And Kazami’s optimistic “of course we can win this mission!” proves critical to saving lives by convincing locals to move out of an indefensible position before the attack comes down.
Not that our heroes know they’ve actually saved lives. Yet.
Caveat: I’ve only watched about 5 eps so far, and the series is up to 21 and still going. So I’m going off what I’ve seen and Wikipedia, Tropes, and Reddit pages for more details and background. As for why I started with Re:Rise and not Gundam Build Divers – well, I heard there was isekai and I got there as fast as I could. *G*
Hey, everyone has their sucker buttons. One of the earliest SFF books I read past the Lord of the Rings that left a real mark was Andre Norton’s Witch World. Ever since, Portal Fantasy/ Isekai has been one of my favorite things.
And Re:Rise does it subtly.
Bit of background. The anime is set a bit into the future, where there’s a VRMMORPG, Gundam Battle Nexus; a game in which you not only construct a character avatar in-game, you physically build a Gunpla Gundam model, scan it, and the computer bases your mecha’s game stats on what parts you used and how well you put them together. So your skills outside the game are already important inside the game.
GBN has recently had an update. More realism! More dimensional battlegrounds! New missions! And our four heroes stumble on one of these “secret new missions” from a floating display in a back alley. Almost literally stumble; they’re a rag-tag group that don’t even know each others’ names yet, they Just Happened To Be There when a frantic NPD (Non-Player Diver, NPC) starts yelling, “Save me!” The details are sketchy; the mission completion condition is unclear. They’re really thinking better of this….
Well, three of them are. Kazami pushes Accept. And things get… interesting… from there.
One of the things my bunnies glomped was that the isekai aspects sneak up on you. Different landscapes and oddly human NPDs? Wow, heck of a new update. One event seems to lead to another? Ooo, GBN must be experimenting with Story Missions. We can only “start” this mission again when all four of us are in GBN together? Must be party-locked….
Through the game, our heroes are able to bounce back and forth between Earth, GBN-VR, and (what they later learn is) Eldora. So their starting reactions to the situation and people they meet are those of players, not people out of their own world and fighting for their lives.
(Reddit bits hint that there is a very interesting explanation for how they have real bodies on Eldora – if you’ve read any of the Dodge Tank novel series you may find it familiar. And I suspect once they figure it out, Parviz is going to have a bad moment of, “Oh man that lava pit would have really fried me if I hadn’t flown!”)
This easing into the reality lets the story start with its focus on our heroes’ own problems, instead of survival, so they can grow as they start becoming a team. Meaning by the time they do figure out it’s real, they’ve had some interesting character development. Kazami starts off desperately seeking attention. Parviz is (justifiably) terrified of heights. May… is a mystery I won’t spoil, you can look her up. And Hiroto is grieving a girl no one else seems to know existed.
That depiction of grief is another of the reasons bunnies glomped. It’s not obvious. He’s not screaming at the sky and rending his garments. He’s just… distant. Cool. Not interested in interacting with others. Until he ends up shanghaied into a PUG that desperately needs him as a tactician.
But like I said, I’m still only a few eps in. Info I’ve found says the series keeps up the quality and builds the characters even as they realize That Was No Dream. So… fingers crossed!
(It’s on Crunchyroll. Hee.)
This AMV uses bits from ep 4.