Would you return to school if given the opportunity? That’s a tough question to answer, as there are numerous pros and cons to consider. My time at comprehensive was plagued with inept teachers and bullies, so I don’t have fond memories of the place. The cushier school hours easily trump my present day nine to six job though. Now that I am older and wiser, I would like to believe that I would fare better if given another chance at education. In ReLIFE, a thirteen-episode anime based on Yayoiso’s manga, twenty-seven year old NEET Arata Kaizaki accepts the challenge of spending one (all expenses paid) year in high school. Blending in with the student body won’t be a problem, as he has been asked to trial a miracle drug that transforms its users into teenagers.
Arata didn’t have much to lose when a mysterious lab asked him to test their youth restoring pills. It was either that or work retail (shudder) as a part time convenience store clerk. Arata’s first job, a stressful marketing gig, ended with him quitting after three short months and since then he has been unsuccessful in getting hired elsewhere. He’s so ashamed with his employment status that he even pretends to still work at his old office, whenever his drinking buddies invite him out for a few brews.
Tales of adults masquerading as kids are commonplace in fiction. ReLIFE handles the premise better than other shows though. Even if you strip away the anime’s sci-fi elements, it still holds up as a humorous high school romp that has a likable cast. Thankfully the series is devoid of sleaze, so you won’t see old man Arata inappropriately cavorting with girls. ReLIFE also isn’t one of those insufferable stories were an adult returns to school and becomes the most popular kid in class. Quite the opposite in fact! Despite looking young on the outside, Arata has the stamina of someone pushing thirty – so he sucks at sports. Academically he is also a failure, leading him to flunk all his exams. That’s actually realistic. If I returned to school now I too would struggle with subjects like math and science.
My rating for ReLIFE is three stars. Although technically a drama, the series consistently put a smile on my face thanks to its funny scenes and feel good moments. Arata may struggle with grades, but when it comes to enriching the lives of others he easily scores top marks. You might be wondering why such an outstanding guy cannot find work. Well, the reason is explained in one of the later episodes. It’s tied to a dark event that occurred in his first job. Despite enjoying the series, I wish the storylines were spread out more evenly. ReLIFE is only a single cour long and for some reason ends up dedicating most of its story arcs to a redhead named Kariu Rena, who is only an auxiliary character.
Best girl without a doubt is class representative Chizuru Hishiro. She is one smart cookie, but hasn’t got a clue when it comes to socialising. Chizuru reminds me of Sawako (Kimi ni Todoke) because they both possess awkward smiles that creep people out. There’s some romantic chemistry between Arata and Chizuru, although the former is reluctant to pursue a relationship due to their age gap. I am curious to see what will happen next between the pair; especially given the bombshell that the show ends on. Thankfully more animated ReLIFE is due out in 2018. Crunchyroll also hosts the source material, so fans can follow Arata’s future exploits that way too. Good to know that the story of the youth restoring tablet won’t end on a cliffhanger… that would be a tough “pill” to swallow.