Re: Anime

What’s the Deal With ‘Re:’ in Anime Anyway?

It’s been a long day at work, you’ve sent out and replied to all your business emails. Believe me, the last thing you want to see at this point is the term ‘Re:’, which would normally accompany a large wall of text from a co-worker. So why is it now that what feels like every anime is jumping on the ‘Re:’ trend? For better or worse, it’s honestly not that complex, though it can often make things a little confusing when it comes to backlogging shows.

To start with it’s definitely worth mentioning this isn’t some sudden trend that started because of the recent Re:Zero series. During my research, the earliest example I can find actually stems back some thirteen years ago to Studio Gainax’s 2004 ‘Re: Cutie Honey’ — an OVA series about cosplaying vigilante who fights crime in the name of love and justice. In mid-2014, almost 10 years later, ‘Re:␣Hamatora’ was released by Studio Lerche to the enjoyment of many. Of all the years however, 2016 was probably the biggest for the trend following the release of ‘Re:Zero.

So let’s talk about it, what exactly does ‘Re:’ mean, and why is it popping up everywhere lately? If you’ve never had to send an email in your life, or had the (mis)pleasure of posting on a bulletin board, I won’t hold it against you for not noticing the little mark. Much to the surprise of many, it doesn’t mean ‘reply’ as you may have been lead to believe. It’s actually an abridgment of the term ‘regarding’ used to refer the reader to the original topic. For example, ‘Re:Zero’ would be perceived as ‘Regarding: Life in a Different World Starting From Zero’. 

It’s the success of ‘Re:Zero’ that makes this trend particularly troubling, especially when it comes to unknowing fans. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t seen it happen before, with fans often confusing other shows as alternate stories in the ‘Re:Zero’ universe. In the current season, we’re seeing the release of ‘Re:CREATORS’, a show that times itself just a year after the release of ‘Re:Zero’. Now, I’m not saying that there was ever any ill-intent in this naming process, but I’m sure that the creators were in some form painfully aware of the confusion this may cause. What are your thoughts, is the ‘Re:’ naming convention a trend that you’re all for, or something you’d be happy to move to the junk box?

Lachlan Johnston

Editor in Chief at OTAQUEST. Doing everything I can to help promote the things I enjoy the most here in Japan. Currently living in Tokyo.