One of the new series I completed for the year was ReLIFE, simply because all of the episodes were made available at the same time. ReLIFE is an adaptation of a web manga and is the story of a 27-year-old unemployed no-hoper named Kaizaki Arata being given an improbable chance to relive high school for a year. It was very enjoyable as a binge-watching experience.
The nature of this series is that it relies on its characters to drive much of the action. Arata as the protagonist is fun when the action doesn’t get deadly serious. There are portions where he still believes he’s 17 despite his body being 10 years older so he injures himself just trying to do physical activities for gym class. He also seems to really get the point of the experiment, which is to really live a new life.
He’s got a couple of allies from the ReLife Laboratory, the folks behind this grand experiment, in Yoake Ryou and Onoya An. The former is the one who drags Arata in, but he is largely an observer even as a student at school. An is more involved with things and comes off as an irresponsible adult once her reveal happens a few episodes in, but that’s fun too.
So these three are working together on the ReLife experiment, but the other students at the school are compelling as well. The main girl that Arata gets involved with is Hishiro Chizuru, an aloof girl incapable of smiling like a normal person unless it happens to be in Arata’s presence. She starts to get better with making friends throughout the series, as we learn more about her own past.
The other thing that is charming about this particular series is that it’s very easy to ship characters in this show. An and Ryou are clearly a couple. Ooga Kazuomi and Kariu Rena are a fun ship as well. There’s even a couple of teachers in Amatsu Kokoro and Inukai Sumire that are fun to imagine finding love in their own ways.
The characters even get into silly conflicts with each other and internally as well. The arc where Rena and volleyball club captain Tamarai Honoka clash over their differing talents; the former has good grades but has to try very hard to be an okay volleyball player while Honoka is a natural volleyball talent with bad grades, was very well done. Rena was a sort of wall between Honoka and the rest of the volleyball club that was intimidated by her talent. Once Rena got injured, things began to fall apart. It’s all very stupid in the end, but it feels very realistic.
In fact, I think the only downside I had with ReLIFE has to do with the ending. The series is very loyal to the manga, but the ending is nothing but a “go read the manga if you want more” kind of ending. I can’t see this type of show getting another season, so I’m just going to be stuck having to catch up on it that way.