Sad looser Arata Kaizaki decides it’s about time to start making smart choices and get his life back on track! His first step is to accept mysterious drugs from a stranger he meets in a dark deserted street. Best decision ever!

I know that there was a bit of buzz around this show when it first came out and  a lot of people were looking forward to the premiere. It’s generally well liked and well rated, and it was suggested to me (by the internet – I have no friends) several times. What I do not know is – why?

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You and me both, buddy!

The show is perfectly serviceable, I guess. The art and animation are both decent but hardly memorable. The story is supposedly sweet but honestly it was not for me as I strained to stay interested. Ultimately, I just couldn’t get past the show’s flaws.

First, the characters. They are not unpleasant or particularly problematic in any way but what they are, aside from possibly Arata,  is boring, super average, stock high school students each with a particular trait, usually a flaw, that is blown wayyyyyyy out of proportion. Look, I understand being socially awkward, believe me I understand!, but there’s a point when it becomes clearly a mental issue. Same thing goes for jealous, I understand that one too!, but it shouldn’t be your defining characteristic. And how can anyone be THAT naive even have survived that long. I could go on. What I’m saying is that these characteristics are exaggerated to the point that they border on disorders. Now if they wanted to make an ensemble show exploring a cast of mentally ill or unstable characters trying to navigate every day school life, that would have been fine. Actually I would sooo watch that show… Someone please make that show. But, I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for here. And what’s worse, the traits seem assigned to just ONE character. Clueless guy is the only one oblivious to his surroundings, jealous girl is the only one who was ever prey to envy, (although other people may say they are jealous of someone or something, she is the only one that exhibits any type of jealous behavior) and so on.

ReLIFE_01_11
Just back away slowly and don’t look them in the eye

Second, the story just doesn’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny. The two reveals, such as they are, are glaringly obvious right from the start. If **I** managed to pick up on it then trust me you will too, like the very second the character gets on screen. I’m usually bad at these things. Now you could argue that this is the type of show that really doesn’t need twists and I would agree, but it presents these scenes as if they were these huge clever “A-HA!” moments and they are just boring statements of the obvious. However, for me the worst part by far is that the premise is never explained – at all. The central conceit is is that a shadow company(?), government (?), mafia group (?) – I’m not too sure really – has a drug that can make you look 10 years younger but not actually be 10 years younger, and they are running experiments by sending adults back to high school and observing them for a year for reasons. There is no attempt to explain how the magic drug works or why it isn’t commercially available as an alternative to plastic surgery. There is a mild suggestion that the purpose of the project may be to rehabilitate NEETs into productive members of society but this would seem like the most contrived, ridiculously complicated/least effective way to go about it (I have a similar complaint about Madoka but that was a much better show). We know the “company” actually produces the drug and doesn’t simply purchase it from a third-party lab, and that they have numerous employees some of which are assigned to watch over subjects for years. Enormous resources are obviously being poured into this “experiment” and we are never told why – ever… **Nobody Even Asks*** C’mon I’m not the crazy one here – right?

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right?…

And then, as if I wasn’t worked up enough, the show goes and pulls one of my least favourite tricks: it inserts a jarringly dark and maudlin turn of events to simulate “depth”. For no fiddlesticks reason! Ok, maybe the situation **could** happen, it is in the realm of the possible, but it seems very unlikely. On top of that, even though we were just treated to a deeply traumatic incident which is meant to explain the serious emotional and psychological scars of the protagonist, the very next episode everything is right back to normal and it is never mentioned again….

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-What are you doing here, didn’t you just go through a tragedy?                              – Oh dude, that was yesterday!

Edit (I actually forgot to include this in my original post but it bugs me) And another thing: supposedly at the end of the one year experiment – everyone will simply forge the subject… HOW??? Are they drugging EVERYONE? and WHY??? This is their last year of high school. They could so easily just tell people the subject decided to attend college in another country… None of this makes any sense… o.k. I’m done now…

A lot of people like this show. Maybe you would too. If you do – please tell me why?

Favorite character:  Yoake – by process of elimination. I like blondes but Ohga is just too much, even for me

What this anime taught me about myself: There apparently is a limit to what I’m willing to accept from a blonde bishie – who knew?

 “Love makes the world go round? Not at all. Whiskey makes it go round twice as fast.”

Suggested drink: Forever young

  • Every time Ohga is oblivious – take a very small drink
  • Every time people make a big deal about dropping honorifics – take a polite drink
  • Every time Hishiro is surprisingly moe in texts/letters – take a drink
  • Every time Arata fails a test – make plans to study later
  • Every time Hishiro gives a creepy smile – take a drink
    • If it’s to Rena – take a second
  • Every time Yoake and/or An troll anyone – take a drink
  • Every time Hishiro fails to remember someone’s name – take a drink
    • if she insults the other person in the process – take another
  • Every time the silver pin is shown or mentioned – do something responsible (don’t ask me – I make up anime drinking games as a hobby…)
  • Every time Arata smokes – consider quitting smoking. If you don’t smoke consider quitting drin… no wait – don’t!
  • Every time Rena is throwing a jealousy fit – take a stiff drink
  • Every time someone is trying to get Rena and Ohga together – take a drink1472787364790-1

8 thoughts

  1. Re:Life made my top 10 of 2016. If you ask me why, though, I wouldn’t be able to answer this easily, and I agree with most of the points you made. I don’t know the source. I didn’t anticipate the show at all. When I started it I was underwhelmed and nearly dropped it. And then I sort of clicked with the show and that’s it.

    The company didn’t bother me. It was so utterly stupid from the get go, that you either accept it or don’t. It’s a lot like magical realism; it’s just there, and we deal with it – or not. I had no problem here, but I’d have had a problem with it had I not clicked with the show.

    Similarly, I’m less hard on the show for its one-note characters. They were distinctive enough, and I came to like even the art (who knows how; I found it utterly dull at first). And I found it easy to empathise with them all.

    The twists? Yeah, when they revealed the twists I was confused: I thought we were already supposed to know that. In fact, I thought they spelled it out for us. I went back and it turns out they didn’t or I couldn’t find the scene. That was rather clumsy.

    The one thing in your post I experienced completely differently, though, is this line:

    And then, as if I wasn’t worked up enough, the show goes and pulls one of my least favourite tricks: it inserts a jarringly dark and maudlin turn of events to simulate “depth”.

    For me, this was the moment the whole show came together. It was when I understood the show (in the sense that it became a cohesive whole; I’m not pretending to guess the intention of the writers, and I’m not saying that that’s the one true reading). It was not the moment when I clicked with the show; that came earlier and was – actually – not a single moment.

    I’m not sure I can describe it well, but there’s a throughline, a motif that keeps repeating, and it’s “When should you intervene? How should you intervene?” The employees of Re:Life struggle with the question (as advisor – customer). Arata struggles with the question: life-experience vs. teens. And it’s the entire emotional sub-pinnings of that arc. Can you help? How can you help? When should you step in? When should you let things run its course? Are you prepared for the responsibilities that come with it?

    Re:Life is a personal show; it’s not a political one. They’re not criticizing, for example, “black companies”. It’s more about the emotional fall out: what do you put up with, and above all how do you deal with watching others put up with something you wouldn’t. Re:Life is not a judgemental show, and it doesn’t offer a solution to the question. Arata only sees the negative fall out so company guy (Yoake? I forgot the name) shows him the positive fall out to balance it. The rest is up to Arata, and it takes time, and that’s why things go back to normal. They have to. Any change takes time, and it’s not clear what change there will be, and if it’s going to be very noticable. Sometimes people just continue to do the same thing as always, but they go about it in a more relaxed manner. I think Re:Life is one of the shows that understands this.

    There’s going to be a 4 episode OVA next March, and I’m curious to see whether I’ll be forced to change my mind (or alternatively forget the OVA existed), or whether it’s going to end well for me. Not sure this makes much sense for you, but that’s how I watched the show. It’s not why I liked the show. I think it’s the other way round; I think I watched the show like this because I liked it. But so far it worked out well for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t disagree with your points but I stand by mine. I believed the same point could have been made with a less exaggerated turn of events. Of course I have personal feelings and experiences about the subject and I don’t lie seeing it thrown in as a thought device without proper due and respect. It needs context and shouldn’t be trivialized or normalized but that’s a personal pet peeve.
      This said – I am curious about those OVAs. Thank you so much for your comment. It almost makes me want to rewatch this.

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      1. You could make the same point with a less exaggerated (is it?) turn of events, but it would be a different show. And I’m not sure it’s making a point so much, as working through issues. I know absolutely nothing about the mangaka, but if that part were from personal experience, and the manga is his/her way to cope with it, then the author couldn’t take it out without also removing the motivation. I have no idea what went on in the mangaka’s head, but to me it feels that central to everything. It’s not added in, to me; it’s the gravitational centre – at least in memory. (I’d have to rewatch the show to see if that holds up; it might not.)

        I’m also speaking from experience, albeit not in a much, much less hostile environment. In terms of relatability, the woman is much closer to me than Arata, and – to be honest – the moment he got upset he’d have been a huge burden, which would have been doubly bad, because prior to that he’d probably have been an important source of support. It’s like your only water supply has ended up poisoned. I’m not going into to much detail, but I do appreciate how they handled the incident without pretending to know what’s right or wrong, and without too much fanfare. I generally like understatement; that’s part of how I tick. They acknowledge that things are difficult and then move on. I like that.

        If I hadn’t clicked with the show, I might feel exactly the way you do. And I don’t really know why I clicked with the show. Sometimes little unacknowledged details can frame a show in a completely different manner. You’re not seeing the context I see, so it’s up to me to tell you what I think the context is. The trouble is that I don’t know, so I can’t. Above post is the best I can currently do.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. and I really appreciate you tried. Like you said – there’s always a subjective aspect to enjoyment. One person can resonate deeply with a show and it doesn’t quite translate for the next. Heck there are shows that I go from loving to disliking depending on my mood when I watch them.

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  2. I think the main problem with ReLife for me is that it felt like a huge wasted opportunity. You’ve got a premise that actually allows you to say something meaningful about stuff like working culture in Japan and the separation between school/teen and adult life, and you waste it on telling the same old stories you see in just about any high school drama/romcom anime title? The odd glimmer of something a little deeper or more complex was there, but the next second it went back to completely ignoring the premise and treating the series like it was any other high school slice-of-life title. Basically, I felt like all the truly interesting material was shoved into the background while the standard teen drama took front seat, when it should have been the other way around.

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    1. That is an excellent point. This said it’s difficult to really elaborate on the sociological aspect without emphasizing the somewhat creepy aspect that a grown man is dropped in the middle of a bunch of high schoolers without them knowing it… But I understand what you mean. It’s almost as if they had this generic slice of life drama and someone said – wait we need a hook…

      Like

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