If there is one thing that anime enthusiasts should know, it is that names are extremely important. Not only in anime, but in general; however, the notion of names is particularly relevant in the context of Japanese media, as the variety of entertainment industries expands.
Re:Zero, the popular isekai light novel and anime series, is a clear indication of what to expect from the series in question. Is this "Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World From Zero" as straightforward as this implies? Perhaps not. Here's what's at play when we say "Re:Zero."
Re:Zero is a story about a 17-year-old NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) Subaru Natsuki, who is one day whisked away to a different world after leaving his room for the first time in a long time to get some snacks from a nearby convenience store. Subaru is enthusiastic about the idea of living in a magical alternate world where he might be the hero, and quickly attempts to begin his adventure by meeting an elf girl who protected him from criminal
As the two are both inexplicably murdered, Subaru is left confused when the events of that day repeat themselves. Soon, Subaru realizes that he can go back in time by dying and preserving the memories from each cycle.
The use of the prefix "re-" in the title is an obvious nod to Subaru's ability to, as he says, Return By Death. The use of the prefix in this manner is common in many other titles, isekai or otherwise.
Re:Creators, a sequel to Sui Ishida's smash-hit dark fantasy horror, and ReLIFE, a slice of life title, among others, are examples of how to invoke the rawest form of the prefix "re-," which is "again," in anime; however, the term "re-" has other context-specific uses that will be discussed at this point.
The Quiet Subversion
What makes the play in the title of Re:Zero unusable to an English-speaking audience is unlikely to be widely accessible, and even in the context of Japan, due to the nature of the pun in question, it may only reinforce the previously explored notion of the general use of the prefix "re-" in anime and manga series titles.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, which has been officially translated to Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World From Zero, is not lexically nor grammatically incorrect, adds punctuation to the title which shifts the emphasis entirely, but not necessarily from the first part. In Japanese, the colon following the colon is the predicate, which gets snubbed in abbreviations; the absence of the second part, which may be
The Three Zeroes
The sentence following "Re" in the Japanese title is a simple sentence that can be directly translated to "Life in Another World Starting From Zero"; however, there are also situations in which the expression of numbers changes completely; the word "maru" is used to express "0."
The pronunciation of numbers expressed in decimal notation in Japan (0.1; 0.01; 0.001; etc.) changes, leaving the title as something very similar to "0: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu." Due to the common ideas about what "Re" represents, the perception of the "Re" in "Re:Zero" as a quiet reference to the idea that Subaru rebuilds his life from scratch (as in, "zero"), but also that