ReLIFE…part 1

“Every athlete dreams of a second chance”

My giant list of animes was even bigger in 2016. I have too many, and just not enough time to actually ever catch up, which is awesome, cause I’ll always have something to watch, something to talk about. When ReLIFE came to mind, I kinda just shoved it aside. I was in the midst of watching Re:Zero and I was very excited with where that series was going and finishing it.

That didn’t happen.

I didn’t drop Re:Zero cause it was a bad series. A lot of people are really divided when it comes to that series. Some people say it’s genius and other people say it’s a steaming pile of cow dung, and I have no say in either camp. I saw a few episodes and it definitely had my attention, but it kinda lost my attention. The steam, the buildup of the first few episodes kinda dissipated quickly for me, (despite the fact that I waited until the series had a good number of episodes so I was not forced to watch it week by week).

I still can’t explain what happened or why I stopped watching it. It’s still in my queue, mocking me, and I know that I will get to it eventually. I hope to do so before my reviews for animes of 2016 are over, so it’s at least in consideration for me, but I digress,

Re:Zero came and went and I saw a few other anime in between that and ReLIFE.

One night I sat down and looked at the mess that is my queue, and just picked it at random, having completely forgotten what it was all about, and why I had put it on my list in the first place, and I got to say,

It was the best random pick I’ve made in a good while, quite possibly the whole year.

ReLIFE is amazing.

There.

That’s the whole sum of the review for this short series, right then and there. Stop reading this. Go watch it. If you saw it, watch the dub, it’s just as good.

Stop reading this. Go watch it. If you saw it, watch the dub, it’s just as good.

I sat down and saw one episode, then the next episode, then the next one, and so on and so on. I’m really glad I was off the next day or that would have been an awful day at work as I went to bed pretty late that night.

I finished the series off the next night, finding out to my utter despair, that it was only 13 episodes long.

Why? I’m still asking that, to anyone who’ll listen…

I didn’t find out until later that the whole series had been released all at once, like how Netflix does with their shows.

The Setting

As far as the setting goes, it doesn’t really do anything. It’s set in modern-day Japan, and I think there’s something special to that right then and there. It’s easy to like fantasy. It’s easy to like romance. It’s easy to like stories that take us away to new and undiscovered places. To see the world differently and to grow as a person. A good series (anime or not)  will do that. Slice-of-life anime have to follow a predetermined set of rules. For the most part, they have to be grounded, set on Earth, modern day Japan, and the characters are real people, normal people with flaws and character traits that appeal to us all, traits we can all identify with.

Lately, I’ve really begun to appreciate the slice-of-life genre. It’s hard to tell engaging, interesting stories when under such limitations, but we see it year after year, that it’s those limitations that lead to beautiful and engrossing stories. It’s so hard to do this, because we’re dealing with the ordinary, but ReLIFE excels in these situations. It’s an ongoing anime, so I don’t know where it’s going to end up, and the premise is a bit hard to believe.  At least hard to believe that it could be done in real life. It does seem a bit out of place for the genre, but I think it works

The Premise

Arata Kaizaki is a man, who like almost all of us these days, is still struggling to find his place in this world, despite the fact he’s at that age when most people have already overcome such concerns. He’s 27, working out of a convenience store, and he’s pretending to still have the high salary, promising career he had just a few months ago. To add to that, he’s viewed as a NEET amongst his peers. One night, after a particular monotonous day at work, he meets Ryo Yoake, a man his age that presents himself with one of the most unique offers I’ve heard.

Join our program at ReLIFE and not only will we pay for your housing and expenses for a year, but after the experiment is over, we will help you find a job.

Sounds great right? Hell, I’d take that offer in a second, even to this day.

After some reluctance, Arata takes his offer and he joins Ryo at the housing facility that ReLIFE runs. He’s told to take a pill, and that this pill would make him look ten years younger, after this, he’s to return to high school and go to school for one year.

In effect, it’s an opportunity to do things “all over again.”

I’ve always said that the strength of any anime is the first episode. The first impression it makes on us is what we remember after all, and ReLIFE does not disappoint.

It pulls you in, and right from the get-go, you care about Arata, because, like I wrote above, we all struggle to find a place in this world, some of us more than others. This is especially important in Japan, seems the NEET phenomenon is so high there, and it’s such a problem. The ReLIFE idea on how to “rehabilitate” people with those issues is novel, and I really liked it.

Is that their only goal? Don’t know…

Arata is plain, but likeable, and from the get go he makes friends, his first day in class is memorable, as he is scolded by a teacher who’s in reality younger than he is. He quickly blossoms, and you see the type of person he is, and that makes you root even more for him, but more on that later on.

In this aspect, ReLIFE is a hit, a must watch. It’s one of those anime that hooks you in, and before you know, 4, 5 hours are gone, and you’re halfway through the series without even realizing it, and I love shows like that, and I know you do as well, and the premise has a lot to do in that aspect, it’s one of those shows I tell my friends and really, those who’ll listen, to watch the first episode, you won’t be disappointed.

The Characters

arata

Arata Kaizaki

Arata is our main character, and the story mostly follows him. As I’ve already written, when the story first starts, we see how much he has been struggling over the last few years, going from job to job, working only part-time, and how he quit his first stable job when he saw what that particular workplace was like, of course there’s more to that story, but more on that later.

When he is approached by Ryo, he becomes ReLIFE Subject #002.

As a high schooler, he’s kind, easy to get along with, albeit somewhat naive about what it’s like to be a high schooler in this modern age, underestimating the challenges he’s about to face.

As such, he can’t seem to pass his exams, and is stuck taking makeups until he can. His appearance hides his years of practical knowledge and wisdom and as such, he becomes very valuable and quickly respected by his close friends.

As far as MCs, ReLIFE doesn’t have a problem, as most of its main characters are interesting, charming and easy to relate with. The story could have followed anyone of them and it would have held its own, but we get to see Arata’s view on things, and that’s not bad.

ryo

Ryo Yoake

Ryo is our mysterious stranger. He’s the one that approaches Arata with the proposal to turn his life around and get him going on the right track. Ryo works for the ReLIFE labs, and while we don’t know the extent of their reach, right away, we can see they have a good amount of affluence. He’s the same age as Arata and because he’s Arata’s support, he has to be by his side, and attend the same school he does.

Due to the fact that the support staff has to pass off as teens, it seems he’s been going to the school for quite a while, at least 2, 3 years. Arata and Ryo don’t interact much while they’re in school, but get on along great outside of it, choosing Arata’s temporary apartment to drink and smoke in.

There’s much we don’t know about Ryo, but we can infer a few things. He used to be a lot more open, but it appears that something happened. It might have something to do with Subject #001, but we don’t really have enough to make a educated guess. Despite his cold and hard exterior, he cares deeply for his friends, and is thrilled to see Arata break out of his shell and engage with his friends.

an

An Onoya

An starts out as another “transfer student” in the same vein as Arata. As such, both of them struggle with their exams.

We later find out that An is another member of ReLIFE’s support staff, and as such, she’s the same age as Arata. Worried that Arata would take advantage of a high school girl, she set him up and was relieved to see him not take the bait.

We don’t really know much about An, other than the fact that Ryo and her have worked together in the past, and that’s she being groomed to take on her own subject soon. She’s a lot more open than Ryo and has quickly established herself in Arata’s circle, as such, she’s often seen with him at school and in other social functions, much to the chagrin of Ryo.

oga

“something he says a lot to Arata…”

Kazuomi Oga

Oga is a student that is in the same class as Arata, Ryo, and An. He’s upbeat, kind, helpful, and very bright. His appearance doesn’t lend to this aspect of his personality but he is the men’s representative in his class.

He offers to help out Arata and An, but quickly regrets it as the two have no intention of actually trying to pass their exams, although An does so later on. Despite this, he is their friend, and we quickly see the three grow close.

As an actual high schooler, (and not pretending to be one) Oga is inexperienced, and hasn’t really thought about what he wants out of life, though as the series progresses, we get an idea of who he is and what he wants.

We don’t see too much development out of Oga, but what we do get is gold, and quickly makes the series all the more better.

kariu

Rena Kariu

Rena is a student that is in the same class as Arata, Ryo, An, and Oga. Very bright, proud, and highly competitive, Kariu is a fan favorite, and right from the get-go, we see why.

On Arata’s first day, she quickly gets him out of a jam, and lends him a pencil and eraser. Later on we learn how bright she is, as she was the class representative for the last two years, until now.

Kariu is the most developed character of the series, and a good number of the story arcs feature her as an important character, if not the central character.

Despite her appearance and her attitude, which is…short tempered, she’s insecure, and doesn’t know what she wants out of life. Her failure to be recognize by her peers as a rival originally drive her mad, but this is resolved as the series goes on.

It’s easy to say that most of us will reasonate with Kariu as we all went through that phase in our lives. Well-written, she never breaks character, and this makes her a joy to watch.

tamarai

Honoka Tamari

Honoka is a student that is also in the same class as most of our MCs. She’s the captain of the volleyball team and is good friends with Kariu. Her physical abilities are recognized and well praised by most students, though that wasn’t always the case.

Her physical abilities made her a target of bullying in her younger years, and it’s a source of internal conflict for her.

Her story arc is heavily connected with Rena, and is one of the highlights of the show.

Her childhood friends also go to school with her, and are constantly watching Arata as they believe he’s interested in her.

hishiro

Chizuru Hishiro

Hishiro is the current class representative along side Oga, a fact that drives Kariu mad in the first few episodes. She’s quiet, shy and doesn’t stand out in her class despite her intelligence. Her awkwardness makes her difficult to talk to and engage with, and her inability to remember names makes her seem cold and indifferent.

As she sees Arata quickly make friends with his other classmates, she realizes that she has to change, and takes a leap by asking Arata for his phone number, explaining that she must change.

Hishiro and Arata quickly become friends, and after a confrontation with Kariu, the two also become friends. Her quest to get friends is ongoing, and she slowly begins to change.

Like Kariu, Hishiro is central to the plot, and finds herself, unknowingly, in most of the plots.

Easily the standout character of the series, you can’t help but root for her the whole way

As I wrote above, ReLIFE has no problems with its cast. They’re all well developed, engaging, interesting characters with strengths and flaws that we can all see and appreciate. Making a cast this diverse and cohesive is a difficult obstacle that most shows are not able to overcome but ReLIFE has no issues with it whatsoever.

My analysis of ReLIFE continues in the next post…

 

 

 

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