Arata Kaizaki (27) quit the job he landed after graduation in only three months. His life did not go well after that. Now his parents are threatening to stop sending money, and want him to come back to the country. He has no friend or girlfriend to share his troubles with...as he hits rock bottom a strange man named Ryo Yoake appears. Yoake invites Kaizaki to join a societal rehabilitation program for NEETs called ReLife. This program uses a mysterious drug to make him look younger, and sends him back to high school for a year...
ReLife is yet another show that is more about themes that execution. As long as you like its premise and find the characters likable, it doesn’t matter how it plays out. For example, many people found it very relatable because they could really understand the problems the characters are facing. I found nothing relatable in it; I hated high school and the idea of having to relive it is horrifying. But first things first. The premise is about a NEET who is given the chance to become younger with super technology and go back to high school. Supposed, the only way he can find meaning in adult life is by repeating the boring and aimless routine of going every day to the same place and learning about things he will forget as soon as the exams are over, while being surrounded by people with half his knowledge and experience. The premise completely ridiculous. If you have psychological problems, you go to a psychiatrist, you join a therapy group, or you talk about it with friends and family. You don’t run back to a lifestyle when all your needs were taken care by adults and the worst thing that could possibly happen to you is your school club losing in some competition. My point is, the show pretends to be about healing one’s mental wounds, when it’s closer to escapism, not any different from most other anime that take place in the golden years of one’s life. Which for some reason is high school, where everybody is a hormone crazy asshole, and not elementary school when everything is simple and the whole world is a magical playground. Why ain’t those years the most relatable?I will tell you why. Because no sex. We can’t have romantic interests and intercourse without being sleazy pedophilia. The truly most relatable years are sacrificed for the sake of shipping wars and sexual tension, the stuff that attract most people to anime. I mean, hearing about the premise of the series you would immediately expect the protagonist to be constantly trying to have sex with girls half his age. That’s what the average male would try to do first, if he is amongst naïve and easily exploitable schoolgirls. But, just like in any non-hentai series, nothing happens besides a lot of cock-teasing. Of course that’s not how the show is presenting itself as. Since we see everything from the perspective of an adult, means that everything is far more self-aware about what is going on. Which is completely not like any other school comedy, since those are written and voiced by teenagers thus are not self-aware, am I right? Having an adult amongst teenagers is nothing more than a running joke. Oh look, he is not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol, so funny. And look, he gets tired way faster during gymnastics, this is hilarious. What’s even worse is that the show is hardly about the protagonist retracing his footsteps. Most episodes are about normal teenagers having typical teenager problems you can find in any run of the mill series with a school in it. The very theme is not explored much.What’s even worse than that is the magic pills which are used for kick-starting the plot. I find nothing relatable in a premise that is based on a ludicrous usage of high-tech. I mean, holy shit, you discovered a drug that makes people look young. This could revolutionize the cosmetics industry and open up a dozen philosophical schools of thought, concerning the importance of aging when it’s no longer visible. The entire human history would change forever! And instead of that, they use it for letting a few NEETs run back to high school, with the hopes of becoming better people by reliving it. And the magic technology does not even stop there. No matter what happens, everybody will forget the protagonist after one year. They literally reset everything at the end, so there won’t be any actual repercussions for his actions, and then they insist this is not about escapism. And holy shit, how do they expect people to get better out of this project when they know the friends they made, the experiences they had, and the things they learned will be all wiped out at the end? What kind of a NEET would become a better person this way? He is just going to waste his time not studying or making friends and will instead be fucking school girls. And when it’s all over, he is just going to be an expelled sex offender, begging to be given more pills, so he can continue doing the same shit for eternity.And wait a second, if you have mind-wiping technology, why are you using it like this instead of taking away the devastating memories from tortured victims, or the memories that made someone a criminal, thus giving them a second chance in a normal life? Why are you instead making hundreds of normal people to forget someone and risk causing some sort of a mental disorder? They did many things together and all of a sudden they won’t be able to remember who was sitting right next to them for a whole year. Hundreds of innocent people will go nuts!But it’s not like we get a conclusion to realize that, since the show has no ending and there is not much source material out for a second season. There is not going to be a sequel for many years, and by the time it does nobody will care about it anymore. All they give you at the very end is a last moment plot twist about a girl in the class being another guinea pig with the same age as the protagonist. And so conveniently happens to be the one the protagonist tries to have sex with first. This convenience allows us not to consider him a manipulative asshole who is boning girls half his age. It’s also lazy writing but it’s not like anyone gives a shit about that. All it matters is to be relatable by having an adult pretending to be a teenager and offering shallow meta-commentary about stuff you get in any run of the mill school comedy. Boring! There were similar anime in the past, all about guiding a hopeless generation, from Great Teacher Onizuka, to Welcome to the NHK. None of them had such illogical stuff in their premise to break the immersion right away. Although they were usually pretty optimistic and naïve, I never felt like they were bullshiting the viewer to this degree. ReLife is just pandering a core audience and then pretends to be smart and different. It’s not, it’s another shitty school comedy with awful messages that go against the very life lessons it’s trying to teach.
Every new season we anime fans are treated with countless slice of life shows; shows which do nothing more than make us watch other people living their life. These type of shows tend to attract a certain audience and also are hit or miss. Thankfully ReLIFE is a 13 episode hit. Story The story follows Arata Kaizaki, an unemployable 27 year old single man living off his parents money. After leaving his job three months after his graduation, Kaizaki's life never got any better and spiralled downwards. After going to another interview he was turned down, to make matters worse his mother calls him and tells him that she is cutting off his money. Beaten down and having already given up on the world, Kaizaki finds himself face to face with a mysterious man, Ryo Yoake, who asks him to be part of a yearlong experiment with Yoake's company paying for Kaizaki's living expenses and a guaranteed job at the end of it. And all Kaizaki has to do is swallow a pill. Oh and redo the last year of high school while he looks like a 17 year old. The first few episodes really drive home that Kaizaki is out of his element, looking around his classmates he keeps reminding himself and the viewers that he in fact ten years older than all of them, and hell, his homeroom teacher is only 25! These first couple of episodes really brings home the comedy aspect of the show; it's slightly off-the-wall, it's incredibly awkward as Kaizaki has to pretend to be a normal 17 year old student. His interactions with the other characters are joyous to watch and eventually he starts becoming quite comfortable with his new one year life. While the premise of the show isn't anything new, the way ReLIFE handles it gives a breath of fresh air. As the episodes go on Kaizaki becomes closer and closer to Chizuru Hishiro, a stoic and friendless girl and through his influence she starts opening up and becomes part of his little circle of friends. However I did find that after a while Hishiro became somewhat of a side character, especially in the latter half of the show where it was more focused on another girl in the show, Rena Kairu, but I'll get into that later. As a story it does little to change up the typical romcom/drama format that we've seen countless times but that never stopped it being enjoyable for me. Admittedly I'm a sucker for those type of shows but alas. The show does start falling into the typical romcom format after the first few episodes but I found that it didn't bother me all that much, it's what happens in the last year of school and as viewers we are more akin to Kaizaki and his opinion of his surroundings as a fully grown adult. Animation While I'm no expert in this department, I did really enjoy the look of this anime. It's not the greatest designed show in the world but it does what it needed to. The backgrounds are typical high school setting and don't do anything to change that up, not that I was expecting anything groundbreaking. There are a few moments when the characters become quite chibi-like or their facial expressions become less designed and over-the-top, which I found really fit the scenes in which they were used. As you can probably expect, this happened more in the comedy moments the anime had to offer. Sound The background music was fairly decent, as was the OP theme and the different EDs for every episode. Nothing really stood out for me and I didn't rush to download the songs but that doesn't mean they were bad. The voice acting was really good though, each voice actor played the character very well. As in a romcom, there will be a variety of quick comedic timing that require a certain charm to bring the humour while there are also heartwrencing moments that need something to make the audience feel some emotion and I feel like everyone did that very well for their characters. Speaking of which... Characters ReLIFE is a heavily character driven show, as such the characters will make or break it. The main character, Kaizaki, is incredibly enjoyable to watch and seeing how a 27 year old man copes with now being 17 is really entertaining. I found Kaizaki was my favourite character at the end of the show, something which shocked me as I normally find main characters to be some of my least favourite. Hishiro is arguably the second main character and reminds me very much of Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke. For anyone that never watched/read that, Sawako is a shy/anti-social girl who doesn't have any friends, is always alone and when she smiles it looks like she's cursing you. Eventually Sawako gets two girl friends that are very close to her and she becomes incredibly close to the main male character. Hishiro is very much like Sawako - who admittedly wasn't an incredibly unique character, despite how much I adore her. As such I found myself really liking Hishiro, it's just a shame I liked her for another character and not herself. Yoake, while not the main supporting character, is still a big character as without him the show couldn't exist. As part of Yoake's job he has to keep a distance from Kaizaki and observe him. As such he spends the majority of the beginning as a background character. It works though, it really really works and he's my second favourite character in the show. There is a flashback episode about him around halfway through the show which further explains this mysterious man but I always felt like there was more to him and I can't wait to find out more about him when I start reading the manga. I'd consider Kariu the third main character, and pretty much is the main focus of the latter half of the show. I'd say there around 5 story arcs in the show, 3 of which have Kariu as a big focus, 2 of which are the final two arcs of the show. She gets quite a lot of character development; starting off as someone who always wants to win and becoming... well what she ends up becoming, I'm not going to spoil it. The other characters come and go as they please and don't really add anything to the overall story. While Kariu and Honoka become the two girl friends that Hishiro has and they both have an arc about them, I never felt Honoka's presence was needed all that much. She also has two childhood friends; Nobunaga and Akira, who seemed really interesting to me but get little to no backstory and are there just for the sake of it. It would've been nice for these three to have been more relevant outside of the Kariu/Honoka arc but that's just not how this show goes. An and Ohga are really good characters but fell flat overall as they weren't really expanded upon. An has one moment a few episodes in and Ohga has some in the last arc of the story but apart from that they just seemed to be there for the sake of it. While I liked Ohga's connection to Kariu I felt like it was added to further expand on her character rather than his character. Overall Overall ReLIFE pleasantly surprised me with its beginning. Kaizaki trying to cope in this semi-new enviroment and freaking out about some of the new rules - mobile phones being confiscated for a month back in his day yet are perfectly fine now - were really great, though it did lead me to one question. Who exactly is this show aimed at? On one hand it seems to be focused more towards the mid-20's audience; we're in Kaizaki's perspective 99% of the time and therefore his thoughts would match the thoughts the audience have about school. On the other hand though it seems like it targets the 17 year olds with how the show quickly progresses to a typical romcom/drama show. As such it makes it very difficult to recommend. If you're a fan of romcoms then you will most likely enjoy this. The same can be said about drama too, however if you're a pure comedy fan and don't like the drama/romance aspect then you may want to steer clear of this. While the first few episodes will draw you in as it shifts genres you may feel thrown off, though there is the possibility that you'll become slightly attached to some of the characters and want to see more of them and their progression. If you're a fan of the genre though then you should not give this one a miss. It may not be the best romcom of all time but it's an enjoyable ride all the same. You won't be disappointed.
Every once in a while, there appears a title that doesn't strive to take the top positions in the anime ladders. A title that just simply serves the purpose of providing the viewer with a good time. A show that enables the spectator to temporarily escape from the struggles of everyday life, delve into the story and share a few enjoyable moments with its characters. Even though we tend to forget the contents of the show fairly quickly, the pleasant feeling of actually experiencing, what the title has to offer, lingers for a pretty long time. Recently, I grew very fond of this kind of shows. ReLIFE is yet another well-executed example of such pleasant experience. The story itself follows the classic archetype of highschool drama/comedy we saw many times already. The main character with his own share of troubles spends his time meddling with various problems of his schoolmates, helping them out to obtain their desired happiness. Some may say that they are fed up with this clichéd design, but it doesn't really bother me. The reason is that this show is really well-executed. There is a lot of both funny and sad moments in ReLIFE, but it doesn't ever cross the borders of becoming irritating. The jokes don't seem forced and when there are sad moments filled with tears, I can empathize with the protagonists. Not every title can deliver this sort of emotions without them becoming too forced. I am also satisfied with the pacing of the anime. There were quite a few events in the 13 episodes that kept me entertained and interested the whole time. The paranormal aspect of the show, with the age transformation pill is also a wonderful fresh breeze in the genre of highschool anime and will probably play a big role in the future plot development. Unlike most of the shows, ReLIFE doesn't introduce many characters. The main group consists of three boys and three girls. Aside from Arata (the MC), there are only two girls in the show, Rena and Chizuru, who undergo more serious character development. All the other protagonists moreless serve the supporting role. Given the fact that the show consists of only 13 episodes, this model seems adequate. There is also a room for the potential development of other characters (Ryo, An, Ohga), should ReLIFE receive another season in the future. If I ought to choose a girl that impressed me the most, I would go with Hishiro Chizuru. I find her personality and appearance rather appealing. The audiovisual aspect of the show is by no means exceptional, but it fits well with the atmosphere. I am sure Hishiro's creepy smile will haunt me in the sleep for quite some time. The openings and endings were pretty average and didn't really stick in my head (which may be a good thing as well, considering the endless-loop-listening to my favourite anime music). To sum this review up, I will state my final verdict. I am really glad I stumbled upon ReLIFE. It made my day (which I would otherwise spend with some boring game, thanks to the rainy weather) a very pleasant one. Even though I don't think I will remember much of this show in the future, it left a really good impression on me and I wouldn't hesitate to watch the continuation of the story. If you are wondering whether you should spend your time with ReLIFE, I can only recommend it. Trust me, you won't regret your decision.
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