This review may contain what some might consider minor spoilers. No big story points will be revealed, though they may be alluded to.
I don’t think that there are many people out there who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to redo high school, if only for the final year. I certainly know that I would. So when Arata Kaizaki gets approached with just such a propostion, given his current state of affairs, he accepts.
Arata is an intersting individual with a somewhat tragic tale that reflects what many perceive to be the toxic corporate work environment. Coming out of college he landed a position at a corporate business and was taken under the wing of their best salesperson. He soon finds out that the drama of high school and college doesn’t stay in those environments and that pettiness and jealousy is something that plagues the work environment as well. Due to certain circumstances, Arata quits his job, tarnishing his resume, which makes it hard for him to find another decent job. Due to this and his disdain for that corporate atmosphere, he only works part-time jobs and becomes reliant on his parents to support himself. The opportunity to go back to high school for a year, with all expenses covered, seems like even more of a dream come true under this light.
ReLIFE’s central theme revolves around the idea of regret. Regret that he didn’t say the things he wanted to. Regret that he didn’t get the chance to support the ones he cared about. Regret that he couldn’t change how things turned out. Often coupled with regret, though, is resolve and he quickly resolves himself to helping his new high school peers from feeling that kind of regret.
Characters are always an important aspect to any anime, and the characters in ReLIFE are absolutely fantastic. They are very much high school students, but they are not straight molds of characters from romance anime. Rena is a great example of this. She is strong-willed and ultra competitive and very much a sore loser, but she is also genuinely concerned about her friends and she comes across to people. Her relationship with her best friend Honoka is a great depiction of what a high school friendship would be like. Rena cares deeply for her friend, but that doesn’t mean that she hates being second fiddle to her any less because of it.
An (yes, it’s An) is also a fascinating character to me. Her background is quite interesting and her personality is very fun. The dynamic between her and Arata is wonderful. They have some of the best banter in the show, and their collusion when it comes to making fun of other characters is a riot to watch! Ryou, Oga, and their teacher Amatsu-sensei were all great additions to the cast as well, bringing good balance and, in Oga’s case, providing some good comedy.
My favorite character in the show is hands-down Chizuru. Her lack of awareness, both of self and others, I found to be super charming. Chizuru’s desire to change herself is relatable and I couldn’t help but to root for her because of it. Design-wise, hers was my favorite out of all of the characters. Her pigtails and bored expression really worked for me and I loved how she played off of Arata because of it. Plus she has one of the goofiest/creepiest smiles in anime, which is a plus in my book!
Visually this show was pretty good. There were a few moments towards the end of the show that showed either a lack of budget and/or time. Panning still frames is a strike against any show, in my opinion, and I was surprised when one happened all of a sudden towards the start of episode 13. While not breathtaking on the animation front, ReLIFE did a perfectly acceptable job of adapting this anime and due to that and how aesthetically pleasing as this show was for me otherwise, I can forgive it for one lapse that I’m sure will be fixed in the eventual home video release.
A tidbit that makes this anime even more interesting was the way that it was produced and released. It came as a shock to everyone that I talked to when it was announced that all 13 episodes of the anime would be released on the same day. I’m surprised that news of this wasn’t leaked earlier, but not a few days after the news leaked the anime was released in entirety on Crunchyroll. This is the first time that I can think of that an anime was released all at once. What makes this even more intriguing is that while it was released all at once on the web worldwide, in Japan ReLIFE was still released weekly on television. It would be interesting to see how economically and critically successful this kind of release can be, and how it may influence the future of simulcasting anime.
Overall, ReLIFE was a great show. It took an interesting premise and actually did a good job of tackling somewhat sensitive subjects. It avoided the typical trappings of a high school RomCom and with its fun and diverse cast of characters, ReLIFE was able to deliver an impactful and enjoyable story. If you are looking for a great comedy/drama with some good romance, I highly recommend you give ReLIFE a look!!
TL;DR: With solid characters and a fresh, interesting story, ReLIFE is a must watch for those that enjoy romantic comedies!
Recommended Audiences: Teens and up. While not having any noteworthy sexual content to speak of, some heavier themes are touched that may be inappropriate for young children.
With a little determination and plenty of laughter, Arata finally passes his tests and brings ReLIFE to a 4/5!
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Director: Satoru Kosaka
Episode Count: 13
Languages: Japanese with English subtitles
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Slice of Life