ReLIFE is a sci-fi fantasy drama seinen directed by Tomo Kosaka. The story revolves around Arata Kaizaki, a hopeless adult that has given up on his dreams. After struggling to find work after leaving his previous employment after only 3 months, Arata has been given a proposition to turn his life around. Ryo, who works for a ReLIFE, offers him a trial drug that was turn the clock back on how he appears. 27-year-old Arata must now attend high school again as his 17-year-old looking self as part of the experiment. Will the experiment fail, or will he come out on the other a better person?
It was hard for me to get into ReLIFE, starting with the premise. The concept of being able to go back and do things differently or relive a time in your life isn’t new. On top of it the story isn’t setup well enough as the first episode starts out fast with a weak explanation as to why this is happening. There isn’t a believable motivation that the government would spend so much money for a program to assist a small group of people in such a covert manner. The sci-fi element is flimsy and under utilized. It’s ridiculous that a pill would do that in one day. Later the pill is used to further the story, but it’s never explained how the pill works or how it’s made. The series felt like it took a different tone after the first 8 minutes. Started as a turn your life around drama. The secrecy behind the company and the sci-fi element felt as if the series might be a thriller. It immediately just turns into a show about high school drama with occasional references to real life situations as an adult.
There is surprisingly good character development for most of the characters in the short amount of time. In fact, most of the subplots deal with life issues for the teens. The main character with hindsight, deals with those issues and assists his classmates on how you would look at those situations differently. That’s all great except, the main character gives me problems that force me to not enjoy the series. Like the premise, he is creepy. A grown man pretending to be a teen without question. In the first half of the series, it doesn’t take him very long to be leering at high school girls. That in itself is creepy enough to not root for this character. Later in the series he seems to have calmed down as there is less emphasis placed on this part of the premise. Having the main character be put in romantic situations was unnecessary, as the goal was to grow up into a different adult than how he turned out. As an afterthought when I finished ReLIFE, it left me wondering why didn’t he just back to university to get back his life. I just found it hard to believe that life lessons learned in adolescents is what he needed.
I wasn’t expecting ReLIFE to have as much humor as it did. Just based on the “sci-fi” element and how the series began I thought it would go a more serious route. As I said before the tone of the series changed almost immediately so given that it’s really a drama about high schoolers, the amount of humor isn’t surprising. The music gets old as fast as the story. Lack of variety adds to the music getting repetitive. While it is good, early on it doesn’t fit in a lot of scenes. As the series progressed it felt like either the music has grown on me or they parse out the music to fit the tone better. The artwork is on the average side, and the animation itself is good.
ReLIFE gave me mixed emotions on how I felt about it. In the end, the negatives out weighted the positives. The series could have been setup a better way. Instead all I get is some weirdos think it’s a good idea to grow up into a better adult by sorting out students lives and maybe falling for a high school student is okay since they won’t remember when the experiment ends. The series has some great ideas and memorable characters, but it all feels wasted. Give it a watch, if you don’t mind the premise as the drama can be good at times. Although as the short series feels unfinished, you are probably better off just reading the manga.
Episodes: 13 (1st season)
Director: Tomo Kosaka
Writing: Michiko Yokote and Kazuho Hyodo
Kensho Ono as Arata Kaizaki
Ryohei Kimura as Ryō Yoake
Ai Kayano as Chizuru Hishiro
Reina Ueda as An Onoya
Haruka Tomatsu as Rena Kariu
Yūma Uchida as Kazuomi Ōga
Himika Akaneya as Honoka Tamarai
Music: Masayasu Tsuboguchi
Studio: TMS Entertainment