The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: ReLIFE
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Company: TMS Entertainment
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 1 Jul 2016

Synopsis: Arata Kaizaki is a 27-year-old who gets cut off from his parent’s financial support. Unable to find a job, he is left wondering about how he managed to find himself in this position. One night after hanging out with his friends drinking, Arata meets a man named Ryo Yoake. He offers Arata miraculous pills that change his appearance back into a 17-year old with the opportunity to relive high school. Arata agrees to this experiment with a one-year time limit and now must use this opportunity to figure out why his life ended up the way it did.

The Highlights
Premise: Compelling idea, but used ineffectively.
Unsubstantial: End product is lacking and forgettable.
Chizuru Hishiro: Has a better character arc than Arata, and is often the show’s saving grace.

Everyone has probably once in their life wished they could relive some moments of the past. Whether it is because of regrets, nostalgia, or wanting to take advantage of the knowledge and wisdom we gain as adults, it can be an appealing fantasy. So at least on paper, ReLife has a compelling idea to play around with. Unfortunately, the show itself is an awkward, clumsy affair that ends up feeling unsubstantial.

The biggest problem with ReLife is that it never truly has a focus and often uses its premise ineffectively. As amusing as it can be to see Arata fail to handle high school responsibilities such as math tests or getting through gym class without injuring himself, it is unclear why Arata reliving a year of high school can rehabilitate him into society as an adult. Arata is not a socially awkward individual who is missing essential pieces of his childhood that debilitates him. He is merely a downtrodden person who found it difficult to cope with a very cynical workplace environment.

The story seems to acknowledge this because a majority of the anime involves Arata helping out his new high school friends sort out their personal problems. Given his greater life experience and the increased perspective of adulthood, this makes sense. However, while the drama and romantic tension of his friends could potentially make interesting stories in their own right, there just is not enough substance here for the kind of story ReLife bills itself as.

Although Arata does improve personally throughout the story, deriving insight into his own issues from his observations of others, the connections he does make tend to be weak and unconvincing. The saving grace of the show is his classmate, Chizuru Hishiro. Unlike Arata, she is very socially awkward and has difficulty dealing with others emotionally. Chizuru definitely has the more interesting arc of growth in the story, and with her personality may have served better as the main character. The fact that Arata is often put in a support role for her throughout the show only cements that.

ReLife’s inability to tackle any real problems that adults deal with on a day to day basis compared to the lives of high school children is disappointing. ReLife squanders a big opportunity to differentiate itself from the plethora of anime that do nothing but idealize high school life and nothing else. As a result, the end product is both lacking and forgettable. Fortunately, the characters are likable and fun enough to distract from any poorly conceived messages the show has and ends before it grows too stale. There is a potentially interesting revelation towards the end of the show with plenty of manga material left to adapt, but I certainly am not left holding my breath for more ReLife anytime soon.

The Rating: 6

Reviewed by: Reckoner

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