Going back to school can be great
Do you hate being an adult? Have you ever wanted to go back in time and relive your high school years? Did something happen to you that you changed your view on the world? Then maybe all that you desire is to start anew and try to change your perspective in life.
Thus the main purpose of ReLIFE. What started off as a webcomic in 2013 has evolved into a 13 episode anime series. What’s different in this particular show than others that Hey Poor Player have reviewed thus far is that for the North American distribution on Crunchyroll (Which is the version that I will be watching for this review) is to have the entirety of the show launched all at once on the first of July. Rather than post 13 different reviews, this will be about the series as a whole and if it is worth pursuing or not.
ReLIFE stars Arata Kaizaki, a 27 year old man who has quit his job after only three months. After being unable to find a new career due to lack of experience, having his parents stop sending him money to live off of, and having to lie to his friends about his non-existent working habits, Arata has had just about enough of his life at this point. Enter Ryo Yoake, a mysterious man who offers a very drunk Arata a pill that will make him turn back into a teenager. The catch? Arata must attend high school again for a whole year and try to change his viewpoint on life. Our hero accepts, and thus begins the next stage of his life, which is ironically the last stage of his life thus far.
The show then goes ahead and introduces the remaining players in the ReLIFE story. We have the usual from these types of school-based anime, with the serious and studious Chizuru Hishiro, the student that just can’t match up with the best personified in Rena Kariu, and the joking cool-kid who doesn’t realize what love is in the group, Kazuomi Oga. Add in the aforementioned Ryo and the flirty An Onoya and you have the montly crew that ReLIFE focuses on. These characters, trope-filled that they are, all serve a purpose in ReLIFE, and none of them feel particularly worthless in the story. You start to feel for a few of the characters when their lives start to go downhill and almost always plays off well. The voice actors all work great for the show, with Arata’s and Kairu’s being particular standouts.
ReLIFE likes to jump between comedic moments and high school drama. The jokes mainly focus around Arata being a dumbass, forgetting almost everything from is past years in school (I mean, who doesn’t) and acting like an adult to people who think that he’s a delinquent teenager. Heck at the first episode Arata forgets to bring pencils to school and packs away cigarettes instead, a big no-no in Japanese culture. If its not Arata being an idiot, then its probably him not realizing how different schools are in this day and age. These moments are where ReLIFE shines brightly, bringing a flow that only good comedic anime can bring. While the show isn’t necessarily a comedy, ReLIFE tries its best and mostly succeeds. While a few are standard fare for school-based shows, like worrying about tests and failing at sports, ReLIFE has a way with even these, making the show flow between jokes easily enough.
Its not all jokes in ReLIFE, as there are quite a few serious moments in the show. While quite a few are typical for school-based shows, they all go in nicely with the theme of changing your life in your high school years. Arata’s backstory is saddening and shows how ReLIFE can bring both comedic and dramatic moments that connect together. Its what made the webcomic one of my absolute favorites, and what makes the anime adaption go forward in a great way. Even some of the background characters have their moments, which is always a good sign that the story is well written. I won’t go too much into detail in order to not spoil the story, but its worth a watch, especially if you are into this sort of show.
Not all is good with ReLIFE however, while the art style is certainly passable, its nothing special, focusing mostly on pastels and bright looking backgrounds. Sometimes the anime likes to jump into a chibi look for a few seconds, mostly as a gag, that fits the art of the webcomic perfectly. TMS Entertainment did a great job in emulating the webcomic, almost to a tee, but unfortunately did nothing more to have the show stand out from others this season or others in the school life genre. The music is, in the best way that I can put in, pure garbage. While a the majority of pieces, trying to give the anime a “Jazz” feel, fit into the background and are forgotten, at various points the series likes to go and play a beat that only a person who has never touched an instrument can produce. Another piece has pianos play the same bashing of keys directly in a row that, while can technically be called music, is also something that no one really wants to hear. Its grating to the ears, and doesn’t belong anywhere in life, much less in an anime. The Opening and ending songs are at least passable, though if you played them after a week or two to me, I probably couldn’t guess which show they are from considering that they are extremely generic.
I can’t give ReLIFE a perfect score, as many anime have come out well before and certainly after that have tackled many of the same themes that ReLIFE did. However, the series has some fantastic moments, great characters, and has made me like the generic school genre that has been frequently getting worse as time flows by. If you are ever bored or in need of a good series this year, I can highly recommend ReLIFE to help satiate your needs. Just be sure to do your best to ignore the background music and you’ll have a fun time.
Final Verdict: 4 / 5