Try to guess who here is over 25.
ReLife is a 13-episode anime that aired in the Summer of 2016, based off a webtoon turned manga. It tells the story of a 27-year old Neet named Arata Kaizaki, who has been struggling to make ends meet after quitting his job at a company for various reasons. He is approached by a seemingly young man named Ryou Yoake , who offers him a deal: if he takes a pill to de-age him by ten or so years and then repeats a single year of high-school, his company will pay for his living expenses for that year and possibly offer him a job at the end of it. So now Kaizaki has to deal with a return to school life as part of his rehabilitation to become a productive member of society in this slice-of-life show.
Now, I purposely ignored this when it first aired because it didn’t look like my cup of tea. It has all the set-up for one of those high-school harem comedies and I judged it based on that line of thought. I now regret doing so because this is easily one of the most entertaining and relatable shows I’ve seen in my adult life, given I’m trying to do the same thing as our protagonist.
Not the de-aging part, the returning to school to better yourself part… but if that was on the table I wouldn’t say no.
The premise of the story is that Kaizaki gets a chance to do over a single year of his life in high-school while a company monitors him through his handler, Yoake, (and its later revealed he isn’t the only one) while he spends his day going through High School to make him more suitable to reenter society later on as a productive member, rather than a Neet.
Now, from the start, this premise appears to set it up to be a high-school harem comedy of sorts because… well, if it was any other one I’d expect nothing less. But no, he doesn’t seek to fulfill his teenage wish of bedding women left and right. He treats it like he would a job, and takes it seriously without going overboard.
The humor comes from watching him trying to connect with them despite a decade gap leading to a lot of changes from what he remembers, like how cellphones would be banned when he attended school but now they don’t mind so much. And if you’re an adult, you can probably relate to this, adding some attachment to it.
The setting is mostly modern day Japan, fixed around the goings and comings of a High Schooler due to the premise. It does go over into the adult side of things, by which I mean touching on things like death and work and so on, but it’s rather grounded all things considered.
If you don’t count the magical pill that de-ages you, anyway.
Most of the characters of the story are amazing. The adults who masquerade as teens have a level of maturity befitting their age, but they do have times when they cut loose and act funny in a believable way. They genuinely do care. And the teens act like teenagers, I think… it’s been a while for me.
Arata Kaizaki is a man of convictions who quit his job because he felt that it was unacceptable how they treated his mentor and it got her to commit suicide. I can relate to how he struggles in school after a long absence. Mind you, failing all of his make-up exams is freaking annoying because he can’t be that dense. But he’s emotionally mature when it comes to the teenagers he’s surrounded by. He makes an effort to help them get over their problems since he’s been there and done that, which showcases his compassionate side.
Yoake Ryou is his handler, a 27-year old who teases him while also being supportive. He tries to help without overly doing so, which is later revealed to be the result of his last subject failing because of that. He’s generally a good guy, but takes pleasure in light jibbing here and there.
Chizuru Hishiro is one of the students that Kaizaki helps out the most. She has trouble picking up social cues and interacting with others, but is very book smart. In her case, it’s not just because she’s shy, it’ a long-standing problem that genuinely has impacted her life and takes much effort for her to improve with the help of others.
An Onoyo is another one of the students who hangs around Kaizaki, having just transferred in. She’s bubbly, energetic, and like Arata can pick up on the quirks of other characters. I liked her a lot.
These are the four who I would consider the main characters. The others are largely support, with the relationship between Ohga and Kariu classmate being the primary focus among them. Ohga’s problem is that despite being very intelligent, he doesn’t recognize that Kariu has a huge crush on him. Kariu, on the other hand, causes virtually all of the school-side problems in the series because of her insecurities and she’s very aggressive in a Tsundere sort of way that I’ve come to start loathing. The fact that her issues take up the later half of the series really didn’t do it any favors either.
Animation & Sound
The animation is pretty okay. It’s nothing spectacular, but it is a Slice-of-Life story that runs for 13 episodes. As for the music, it was well-timed. The tracks were appropriate during the sad times and the funny times, fitting the mood well. Just listening would give you a feel of the tension or the underlying sorrow of a scene, even if you didn’t hear the conversation.
The dub is also excellent.
Overall, it is a rather good show. Unfortunately, the ending drops a plot twist the size of a mountain. With no second season announced, you’re kind of forced to look at the manga to figure out where its going next.
If you’re a fan of High School romance or comedy shows, if you like Slice-of-Life, and if you like mature shows, you’ll probably like this. I recommend watching the dub as well since it’s good too.