Plot: Arata Kaizaki, age 27, works part-time at a convenience store, surviving only because of the money his parents send him. To make matters worse, his parents threaten to cut him off, forcing him into a difficult situation. However one day, Kaizaki meets a strange man on his way home from work, who offers him an unbelievable choice: continue the dead-end life he is currently living, or take a pill that will transform him into a 17-year-old high school student again, with the possibility of also getting a job after the experiment. The experiment is called ReLife.
Now when I first read this premise, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I enjoyed the fact that it was an original plot (at least compared to anything else I have seen) and so it definitely got my attention. However, a friend pointed out that it seemed to be just another segway into your typical slice of life high school romantic comedy. Now don’t get me wrong, slice of life rom coms is my favorite genre of anime, but I didn’t want ReLife to end up being like all the rest. And like the rest it was not.
Also as a personal side note, I watched this anime back in America before coming to Japan. But to my surprise, ReLife was actually super popular here, with its DVDs being the most popular anime DVDs being checked out. It’s Manga (which is what the anime is based on) is also widely popular here, being in many featured sections of book and manga stores. Another fun fact, all 13 episodes premiered on Crunchyroll on the same day, which was something I had not previously seen before.
First of all, I was curious as to how any sort of romance would be introduced into ReLife, due to the MC’s tricky situation of being 10 years older than everyone else. However, I felt that it was handled quite maturely. The MC clearly shared the same sentiment as me, being very wary to avoid any sort of morally questionable situations. Now don’t get disappointed, because there is certainly still romance. The age situation also brings up a multitude of funny situations, such as the MC getting caught with cigarettes in class, which is a no-no for the 17-year-old that he looks like, as well as having to hide his beer when classmates come over.
One of my favorite things about the show, which is very important to me in all anime, was the OP and ED songs. First of all, the OP song was very well done, and the animation went along with it very well. But what truly makes ReLife unique, is that each episode concludes with a different ED song! So if you didn’t like one of the songs, you are sure to find at least one you like.
For the end of my non-spoiler review, I would give it a 7.5/10. I very much so enjoyed the show, but there was room for improvement in my eyes. I felt like there was a repetitive theme of certain characters’ drama and problems, that seemed to have been resolved but came right back up an episode or two later.
To conclude, I would recommend it, if slice of life is your thing. The manga is still going, so you have something to look forward to after you finish the anime.
*WARNING SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT*
While I was watching the show, there were 2 things that stood out the most to me.
1. The character development of Rena Kariu. I personally hated her character, as she seemed to just have the most petty problem with each character. She got upset at the MC’s love interest for being to smart, but then resolved her issues peacefully by just acknowledging that everyone is good at something, and no one is good at everything. This is all well and dandy, and a fair solution. Yet, Kariu has the SAME EXACT problem with her fellow teammate on the volleyball team and best friend Honoka Tamarai. Yet, it took another intervention and nearly 2 more episodes for her to come to the same conclusion to solve this problem. I felt that once was enough for me, and that I didn’t need to see the same thing twice. But this may have been influenced by the fact that I just don’t like Kariu’s character.
2. On a more positive note, I was not expecting the climax of ReLife. Boy, I was certainly expecting a drab “happily ever after, no progress” ending to episode 13. However the insane cliffhanger of finding out that Kaizaki’s (sort of) love interest Chizuru Hishiro is also in the ReLife program was something I was not expecting. It’s a plot twist like this, that truly made me glad I watched the show in its entirety. I also want to add that the way the plot twist was delivered was also well done. A montage of events transpiring through Hishiro’s perspective was shown, leading up to the stunning climax. Very well done. The writers did a good job of casually dropping in that Kaizaki was the second test subject, and that the first was a failure. However, they want you to believe that the first was completely removed from the program, instead of being right there with our MC the whole time! By far my favorite revelation in the whole show, and rightfully so!
All in all, ReLife is certainly a ride from start to finish. But it is another “read the manga” kind of ending. It ends on a cliffhanger that keeps you wanting more, and it worked. I want more. I am tempted to go out and buy the ReLife manga, but alas my poor college student budget doesn’t allow.