Arata Kaizaki’s life has kind of hit a stand still. After quitting his first job three months in he is finding it pretty hard to find employment, or even really face the world and is becoming increasingly isolated. Enter a pill and a contract to go back to being 17 years old for a year and have a chance of a job waiting at the other end of the experiment. Yes, Arata is going back to highschool.
Firstly, I am going to thank whoever decided to release the 13 episodes of this show on one day. If I’d had to wait week to week to watch this, I would have lost interest. Not because this is bad, but because it is kind of ordinary and there isn’t really enough to make you want to come back to it. However, in a single sitting or split over a couple of days, this is actually quite fun and interesting. So, good decision there.
Secondly, what’s with the title? Why is does LIFE need to be entirely in capital letters? I don’t normally care when anime does weird things to English words but this one kind of just made me wonder whether there was meant to be some greater significance that I just missed.
Alright then, on to the review.
The premise of this anime (that somehow reliving a year of high school will enable you to overcome your adult gained emotional baggage and become a productive member of society again) is complete and utter rubbish. No matter how you look at it, even if magic pills that could make you appear older/younger existed, this is not going to work. Even if you learn to get on with others within the confines of school, this does not directly translate to the workforce. More importantly, in Arata’s case, it isn’t his inability to deal with people that’s the problem. It was the criminal negligence of the company he worked for. So reliving high school, not helpful.
If we ignore this (and if you can’t just don’t bother watching), then what we get is a half-way interesting show about nice guy Arata overcoming the hurdles of being plunged back into a classroom and helping all his new high school friends overcome their emotional angst by giving them pep-talks. Okay, it sounds lame but as I said, it kind of works. It’s sweet and it doesn’t drag and most the characters are likeable.
My biggest complaint would have to be the writer’s inability to let the premise be. He goes to school for a year and then everyone forgets him and he goes back to his adult life. Instead we have a second test subject in the school and a growing romance and you just know that if this story continues they are going to find some ridiculous reason to let at least one person remember what happened. Just commit to your silly premise already. Hey, you already declared you were going to wipe perfectly innocent students’ of their memories of an individual, what worse things could you possibly do?
There’s some genuine humour to be found in this series. Particularly Arata’s difficulties with studying. Yep, even if you made it through school, if you don’t use it you lose it. In addition to studying we get to look at sports, bullying, romances and all the usual anime high school tropes but from the perspective of an adult who has already had their illusions about real life shattered.
Furthermore, the two ‘support’ characters who are working for the group that are incharge of the ReLife experiment are gold. Their back and forth when discussing strategies, their different approaches in the classroom, and just their ‘support’ really work well to keep the plot moving along.
I enjoyed ReLIFE. I started watching it while waiting for someone while I was away and ended up marathoning the entire series. That doesn’t mean it is amazing but it is watchable and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. However, if you aren’t going to let go of the fact that the entire motivation behind the going back to school thing is rubbish, you aren’t going to get into this show.
So, what do you guys think?
ReLIFE is available on Crunchyroll.