After quitting his last job after 3 months, 27 year old Arata Kaizaki finds himself unemployed. Although he claims that he quit as the job just wasn’t the right fit to help him reach his full potential, Arata finds it difficult to find a new full time job and is forced to work part time in a mini mart, going so far as to even lie to his friends about how things are.
One day while drunkenly stumbling home, Arata is stopped by a young man by the name of Ryo Yoake who offers him a job opportunity. The catch? He has to agree to become a test subject for the ReLife project; a project designed to rehabilitate NEETs – not in education, employment or training – members of society by returning them to the appearance of themselves from 10 years ago and sending them back to high school for one year. At the end of the experiment, they will be returned to their usual self, given a job placement and everyone they would have met or interacted with over the last year will forget them.
The goal of the project is to allow the subject to re-experience their youth and in the process find a way to fix whatever went wrong in their life so that they could return to being a functioning member of society. Although skeptical at first Arata agrees and is enrolled as a third year and must now find a way to navigate high school life with the aide of Ryo – his ReLife Support – and his new classmates, all of whom have interesting lives of their own playing out around him.
The fun thing about ReLife is how it commits to the premise completely without making the
anime feel clinical or overly serious. As Arata is dropped into high school the first few episodes place some focus on his adjusting to being a teenage again and a lot of it is done in a very comedic fashion. From remembering that teenagers aren’t allowed to smoke to his reaction when he realizes that modern high schools do in fact allow cellphones, the anime manages to make the premise, of an adult returning to high school, seem real enough that we can have a lot of fun watching Arata’s antics.The real shining point for the ReLife project, if not the anime itself, is being able to witness Arata’s interactions with his classmates and how he melds himself into their lives.
Early on Arata is introduced to Chizuru Hishiro, a brilliant yet extremely dense girl, Kazuomi Oga, a bright charismatic young man who excels at academics but is a little bit oblivious, Rena Kariu, a hyper competitive girl who likes to push herself to be the best at everything, and An Onoya, a very hyperactive girl who always seems to be in a good mood. The mix of character traits creates for some very interesting interactions and dynamics between the group and even more so with Arata’s involvement. The anime is actually propelled by the impact Arata has on the lives of these high schoolers and by extension the effect their lives have on him. High school rivalries and romances, friendships and goals, ReLife goes the distance as a Slice of Life anime by simply involving all of the little things that everyone knows and illuminating them in a familiar yet new, and most time hilarious light.
ReLife is one of those anime that is made for everyone and it is highly enjoyable. Its fun and comedic but also just real enough that nothing goes over your head. Its not all laughs, some of the emotions are heavy but its all handled in such a way that it doesn’t weigh you down. The characters are a delight and even though Kariu in particular may have annoyed me a lot I couldn’t bring myself to dislike her. In fact, the more annoying she got the more I found myself rooting for her. There is even a little mystery wrapped up in there somewhere and for the romance lovers, you know you love a good will-they-or-wont-they relationship. In true high school fashion there is a lot going on and a lot of it is more complicated than it needs to be but that’s just life.
I would recommend ReLife to anyone who’s looking for something simple. Despite its multitude of elements the anime remains uncomplicated for its entirety. All your questions are answered in a timely fashion and you get a lot of information as well as a lot of growth that doesn’t feel rushed. That’s something your hardly see with a 13 episode anime these days.
The end of this season was so well done that I feel satisfied, but at the same time i’m left craving more. As things ended openly with so much more that can happen. Lets hope ReLife Season two is slated in the charts somewhere in the near future
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