As one of my first reviews this also ties in with one of the first anime’s I have watch all the way through in just a couple of days. What may at first seem like a generic ‘school life’ anime actually has a fresh and unique concept. This concept in itself draws people in fairly quickly and quickly allows for a good story telling mechanic. Overall it is a very good series, but also has its issues so let’s dive into the pros and cons of this anime!
Having only watched the anime and never having read the manga, this review will only be based off the anime as a completely separate review. Also this will be as spoilers free as possible, with only a mention of minor plot points that will need to be bought to describe my opinions. Also I will just be using this to express my opinions on the story and the characters involved, I won’t really be looking anime style itself. This is for two reasons: one I do not really have enough experince in animation to really judge what is good and bad and second I feel as long it is not awful then in my mind it does not have too much impact on the series as whole.
So the basic synopsis of the series revolves around the main character Kaizaki Arata (27), who after having quit his job three months ago has struggled to find anything else and seems to have no idea where his life is heading. Until Yoake Ryou (28), part of the ReLife Research Institute, comes into his life and offers to turn his life around completely. He does this by offering Kaizaki a drug that will change his appearance to that of a 17 year old, so that he can begin his life as a third year high school student again for a one year experiment.
The series then follows his interactions with all the other likeable charaters, including Ryou who all takes the drug to act as Kaizaki’s support for the experiment. It is soon very apparent that despite struggling life as an adult Kaizaki knows how to use his experiences as an adult to help those around him. So before we go further into reviewing the plot it may be useful to have quick overview of all the main characters involved as well. These will only be small descriptions to try and avoid spoilers.
The first and one of my favourite is Chizuru Hishiro (17) who is initially clever, very quiet and mysterious. With the help of Kaizaki however she grows in confidence and starts to come out of her shell. She definitely has a few bumps along the way as she struggles to cope with the social interactions that are so alien to her. However she has clear development throughout the series along with the constant feeling that there may be more to her than meets the eye. As an added bonus I feel she is the cutest of all the female characters in the anime.
Secondly we move onto Yoake Ryou, the afore mentioned support of Kaizaki. We soon learn that despite his positive and friendly character this is not the first time he has supported a ReLife experiment. I mention this plot point as it is clear reason behind how and why he balances support and distance between him and Kaizaki. Despite this he is vital to Kaizaki’s development and is a very influential and grounded character.
Next up we have Rena Kariu (17) is a typically determined, competitive but at the same time friendly and supportive to her friends. Although not as socially inept as Chizuru she does have struggles and social misunderstandings along the way. Her drive is clear throughout the series and it’s a real admirable trait that makes her a really likeable character.
Kazuomi Ohga (18) childhood friend of Rena and equally as clever as Chizuru is a very supportive character to Kaizaki. Despite his friendly nature, in a similar way to Rena he has some social blank spots that leave him struggling to deal with certain situations in his life.
An Onoya (17) apparently a transfer student, the same guise that Kaizaki enters the school, who has quirky but cute personality. Although she initially seems to be just a student who struggles with her grades she becomes ever more to Kaizaki and I cannot say much more than that without giving too much away.
There are other characters but this about summaries the main ones who have some of the biggest impacts on the series and giving away any more would be revealing too much. The connections that Kaizaki makes with all the characters mentioned and not mentioned, and the connections these characters have with each other all feel genuine. As they all have a history together Kaizaki intially feels like he may not fit in, but his characters allows him to easily establish friendship with even the quietest of the characters like Chizuru.
Now lets return to a closer look at the plot! If you are one for the ‘three episode test’ then I would say this series does a great job of initially setting up the plot. We see why Kaizaki initially wants to join in the experiment and how quickly he establishes connection and begins to make positive connections with those who he meets. He takes active steps towards affecting people lives while actually taking action and making the most of ReLife, even if me does struggle with his grades. This development happens contextually over the first month or two and so feels actually genuine.
The next few episodes develop closer connections between not only Kaizaki and the others, but also between the others themselves. We see deeper in Kaizaki’s and Yoake’s past which allows to have a further understanding why the way they are. It also balances out the mostly positive happy notes that had be running through the series till now and makes the story overall more relatable.
What happens next in the series is actually one of the few negative points I have to raise across the series. The sub-plot basically consists between an argument between Rena and Honoka Tamarai and although it is not a boring dull story it takes over the main point of three episodes. In previous episodes although there are existing points that carry on through, it is more like they are rather just there having small impacts – rather than heavily directing the flow of the story. Again to give too much away would be spoiling it and I am not saying this ruins the flow of the story at all, I just feels it spends a little too much time on this as the main direction.
The last few episodes put more of a focus back on Kaizaki’s past and allows all the charters to develop stronger and deeper emotions. The way it ends is perfect for all the characters involves and leaves with enough to be desired for a second season, but not so much that it’s a cliff-hanger (remember not read the manga yet!). By the end I was feeling really emotionally involved and drawn in to the story. You could easily relate to the struggles and feeling that the characters were going through, but the overall happy ending and positive future outlook all the characters have fits the series perfectly. The ending also has a somewhat predictable turn of events in my opinion, but this was still a very much apprenticed plot point that made sense to the story.
So I think I have mentioned all I wanted to in this review! I tried to keep the summary of the plot as basic I could while also giving my opinion so I hope it all reads okay. I really advise giving this anime a try as you will not regret it!! As an overall rating I will give it an a 9/10: a top pick for the summer animes!!