May 11, 2018

I don’t remember reading ReLIFE was getting another season. But when it did come out, how come there are only 4 stinking episodes?! Yeah, so few that it all came out simultaneously over the internet. Oh wait. That was how the first season’s format ran. But why only 4 episodes? As I read, the first season already covered a big majority of the manga that had already ended. So why not give the anime its due closure as well? They’re already there, a few steps away from the finish line so how hard could it be? It’s like they’re all doing guys like me who don’t read the manga a favour. Can’t leave those lazy otakus in the dark and left hanging. Uhm, thanks?

Episode 14
Flashback shows Yoake meeting with Hishiro to tell her she has been selected for this ReLIFE experiment. She accepts it and as he watches her, he notices she doesn’t interact with others so he advises her to involve herself more with others since she has been given this chance. Despite Kariu is now the class number one, she is still mad at Hishiro thinking she went easy on her. You just can’t please her, can you? Of course Hishiro denies as she wants to be friends with her. Kariu wonders if she was unwell then or something to do with Kaizaki as she is recently seen around him more often. Hishiro isn’t sure herself (cue for more anger from Kariu) but she is at least now her mind is a lot clearer on what to do. She then goes to confront Yoake and asks if Kaizaki is also a test subject under ReLIFE. She notices his mature habits as well as his belongings that indicate he is a young adult. He cannot confirm and deny because in the event if he is one, his experiment will end and she won’t see him again. Yoake is impressed she is showing interest in others. This brings him to introduce Onoya who will be mainly supervising her this term. This only serves to make Hishiro suspect that Kaizaki is a test subject and Yoake is assigned to observe him. Otherwise, why this braided glasses girl for her and Yoake not transferred away but supporting her? Onoya wonders about her curiosity of Kaizaki. If he is an adult, she wouldn’t have to suppress her feelings for him and she might be suspecting him out of this desire. Hishiro gets fidgety but is unsure.

The class decides who to represent them for the cultural festival. Surprisingly Hishiro volunteers, surprising many. Kaizaki becomes her partner as they discuss the English style café their class will be doing. Later they go hear out Oga’s problem. He went out with Kariu the other day but when she wanted to come to his house, he rejected her. She got mad. He then relates how his older brother is now a shut-in due to bullying from his job. He doesn’t want Kariu to know about this. Kaizaki advises to just act normal because if everyone around him is being careful and gloomy, how is he going to improve? Especially in one’s own home. As for whether Kariu would approve this, Hishiro believes she would because she is a perfectionist and strives for so via hard work and doesn’t force her beliefs upon anyone. Just tell her the truth. She’ll understand. The preparations for the festival is well underway. Those Victorian maid are sure looking good. Double thumbs up! Hishiro falls asleep at her desk after a tiring day. Kaizaki can’t help steal glances of her. It is then he realizes he is in love with her. Why am I not surprised?

Episode 15
ReMAID is well underway! Kariu is embarrassed in the outfit (WHY?!) but nothing like Oga’s admiration to have her come out of her shell. When the festival is less hectic, Hishiro and Kaizaki walk around. Suddenly, Hishiro starts holding his arm. He gets nervous and tries to hint to her others will get the wrong idea. So what? Now she wants him to hug her. You serious? Of course he won’t and wants to know what has gotten in to her. She wonders if this is infatuation. After apologizing, he thinks she was just rushing for something after overthinking. At the festival’s closing, Yoake talks to Kaizaki to assure him even after this experiment is over and some memories will be gone, there are many other things that will still remain like the results of his actions. Things would definitely end up differently had Kaizaki not been around. Kaizaki, Hishiro and Oga are taking some counselling for their university choices. Oga thanks Kaizaki for his advice the other day and everything is now clearer. He notes all of them going to the same university so nothing will change once they graduate. But Kaizaki knows better it won’t. Kaizaki feels bothered by this so he talks to Yoake about having to go back to his old life no matter what. Yoake explains he has changed in a way that he has gone to regain his old self. As he was a friendly and straightforward person, this is why he was chosen as a test subject. He is able to fret over the problems because of his past before ReLIFE. He hopes he won’t abandon the old original version as this high school version is just an illusion. Yoake hopes they can go drinking and talk about this experiment once it is over.

As Onoya writes her report on Hishiro, she too is facing a dilemma. Because if Kaizaki and Hishiro are test subjects, once this is over only the test subjects will retain memories and everyone they meet will have their memories of them erased. So will Kaizaki and Hishiro be erased from each other’s memories? Yeah, now I’m so confused thinking about it. Hence Onoya doesn’t want them to get closer. It is cruel just to think how they will end up. All Yoake can say is that they cannot decide for them and their job is to enjoy and bring out the fullest in life of this experiment. What is this experiment called again? If they support them to the fullest, they will not have any regrets. Hishiro continues to ponder. That ‘flirting’ with Kaizaki was trying to find out if he is a test subject as well as ascertain her feelings. She didn’t get any close to the former but for the latter, I think she realizes it… As the class have their group photo, Kaizaki and Hishiro monologue about their thoughts about others not remembering them and becoming like an unexplained ghost in a photo. Damn Kaizaki and Hishiro ruined the photo by looking at each other.

Episode 16
Oga needs Kaizaki’s mature advice on dating? When Kaizaki teases him for climbing the stairs to adulthood, Oga tells him to just date Hishiro because there are many of their friends who saw them together at the festival. But strangely every time Hishiro sees him, she avoids him like a plague! Apparently she is confused with her feelings and this is the ‘stupid’ thing she could do. Her friends tell her not to run away as she is one step away. Tamarai suggests she should go on a date. So the next time she doesn’t avoid him, she sums up her courage to ask him to meet her on Christmas. But she can’t go on anymore and will message him the rest of the details. Well, Kaizaki should have seen this coming so why is he surprised when she messages the details for their date? Unsure, he calls Yoake for ‘permission’. He allows it as it will be a valuable experience from a ReLIFE perspective. Both are early at the meeting point and Hishiro has researched and prepared date routes. I guess it’s okay for first timers at dating. As they walk around the mall, Kaizaki wonders why she picked Christmas as standard dates are on the Eve. Yoake and Onoya are watching afar but also give them some private space by not eavesdropping all the time. Onoya is still sad that eventually this date will be forgotten. It might be but that doesn’t mean it has never happened. Yoake pokes his nose a bit as he messages Kaizaki an important detail. It seems today is Hishiro’s birthday so Kaizaki buys her a present that also doubles as a Christmas gift. While riding the Ferris Wheel, although they talk about looking forward to next year, both cast a gloomy outlook. They are talking like how they will look back to this year and remember how special it is. In the end, Kaizaki knows he is in love with her but feels he cannot tell her as all this would vanish and his feelings won’t matter. When he tries to hold her hand, she quickly pulls back. Hishiro blames herself for not understanding such feelings. Kaizaki too but this time he gets to courage to confess he loves her. After a bit of shock and panic, Hishiro says her feelings are not any different either. But is that the same as saying I love you? Cue for the rain so they could share an umbrella close together.

Episode 17
Yoake narrates Kaizaki’s ReLIFE will be ending soon and will be reported as a success. He regrets that there will be a secret he will not be able to tell him. Knowing they don’t have much time with each other, they talk with each other via phone as much as they can even if it’s bedtime. Graduation day come and go. Hishiro asks Kaizaki for a hug. As she is pondering if this was the right thing to ask, he gives her a big one. Then all the tears keep rolling to tug our heartstrings. They proclaim they won’t forget about each other but inside they know that is not possible. Maybe that is what the tears are for. Yoake sees Kaizaki and announces his ReLIFE has officially ended. As promised, there are prospect jobs for him listed so take your time choosing. After asking his thoughts on this experiment, Kaizaki takes the pill. It is the same for Onoya and Hishiro. Only, Onoya is like on the verge of being emotional. However she soon blows up into one when she sees Hishiro wrote on her palm that she loves Kaizaki. Distraught that she should done a better job at hiding it, it pains Onoya that now she must do something about it.

In the aftermath, Kaizaki remembers all the friends he made during the experiment. However there is someone else he feels missing but can’t quite put his finger on it. After looking through the prospective jobs, he feels all aren’t suitable and asks if he could choose outside these. Of course. He wants to work at the ReLIFE lab. As he has learnt valuable lessons from it despite only for a year, he wants to use this experience to help teach others. And so he gets the job and puts his passion into it. He heads to the house of a prospect ReLIFE candidate. Wow. The shut-in quickly opened the door to hear his proposal of this experiment. Must be his smile. Kaizaki attends the company party. Guess what? Hishiro is also working there! Unfortunately they do not remember each other. When the party ends and they coincidentally leave together, Hishiro overheard his boss called him an ex-test subject. He admits he was and she wonders if he should let others know about it since it is confidential. He is only here thanks to ReLIFE. Hishiro also relates she was an ex-test subject but failed at first go. She too didn’t favour the prospective jobs after her experiment ended and thought of working here and got into the research division’s pharmaceutical section. When he asks her about how her ReLIFE was, she explains it like fireworks. Fun and beautiful but sad once it is over and you long for it. Suddenly they start to remember that fireworks incident together. And voila! Conveniently they remember each other now! So the memories weren’t really erased? Time for the tears of joy to roll and a big reunion hug.

Don’t Forget To Remember Me Always
Uhm, although I very much welcome the happy ending that Kaizaki and Hishiro get to reunite with each other, but it feels rushed and out of convenience. Sure, had they remain separated, it will literally be a bitter pill to swallow. So my qualm for them suddenly remembering their old memories is like a convenient plot tool and device or lazy writing. This is to say that the memory erasing pill does not work and if others they met in their life were to at least try as hard as they can to remember an event or some coincidental thing triggers or simply jogs their memory, the effect will be off. Yeah, so is this part considered a failure? Better research more on that memory erasing pill, Hishiro.

This brings into question how the f*ck can the organization erase memories of everyone else about a single subject in ReLIFE. Do they secretly insert the pill in everyone’s meal? If that is the case, boy they are going to need a lot of pills. And what if a test subject met somebody outside the surveillance? I mean, it is not like the observers are constantly watching them 24/7, right? For example, a test subject goes to meet a hooker and has a one night stand. And assuming if they miss out on erasing that hooker’s memories, many years down the road she sees the test subject and remembers him. Will that be super bad? But then again, we have seen at the end how effective the memory erasing pill was. But don’t destroy your brains in trying to think of how they are going logically doing it because it will never be answered. Heck, I don’t even need a pill as I already have forgotten many parts of the first season already!

This season’s final 4 episodes give Kaizaki x Hishiro the much needed focus. After all as I vaguely remember from last season, it seemed that the series paid its attention towards Oga x Kariu and we were left wondering if there would be Kaizaki x Hishiro romance at all. Our hopes finally answered, they trolled us by making us watch through their painstaking parting before that coincidental convenient reunion at the end. Like as though God was watching and He sympathises and feels bad about them being separated, hence somehow making them have the same idea of working in the same company that saved them. Yeah, it also props the question of why can’t the duo retain memories of each other. I mean, are they going to freak out and realize they are test subjects of ReLIFE? Are they going to sue to organization? I doubt it at this point they are at now. Therefore it is mind boggling that despite part of the contract says all memories regarding the test subject will be removed, doesn’t it prove that removing somebody from your memory means that person is the test subject? Oh right. You can’t even remember that person so it doesn’t matter.

With this final season focusing on our main duo, all the other side characters feel like chopped liver. Oga and Kariu whom I mentioned felt like the main characters in the last season now deservingly takes a backseat since their relationship are going steady. But all the other supporting side characters like Asaji and Inukai who were forgettable in the previous season are even more so here. Yeah, it’s like we don’t remember them when ReLIFE comes to an end. It will be mind boggling to think from their perspective that a couple of people they decently interacted with would be blank. I mean, what would they remember during the time when they had a conversation with Kaizaki or Hishiro? Especially Kariu who has conversed with her a lot recently. This means if she thinks back during her high school years, boy there are going to be a lot of blank spaces. The series never said about filling in with fake memories but just saying… Also, before the duo signed up for ReLIFE, what about the friends in the past whom they know? Don’t they know they went ‘missing’ for a year? Unless you tell me when these people who failed to land jobs at their first go have no friends in the first place. No wonder they make good ReLIFE test subjects. If they fail, nobody would remember them and nobody would care too.

The only character that was surprisingly different to how I initially know her as is Onoya. I thought she was always the happy and sporting girl but in this season it feels like as the experiment draws to a close, she shows more and more of her emotional side. Has she got too attached to her test subject? I know Kaizaki and Hishiro changed a lot during the course of the year but I did not expect this from Onoya. It’s like she is breaking into a totally new character. A side we have never seen nor would have expected to see. No doubt she is a newbie on the job and perhaps the series is trying to tell us that even these observers aren’t heartless human beings. Seeing her breaking down shows that she has a conscience about this experiment. But hey, this experiment is considered new (why are the test subjects 001 and 002 then?) and that is why they are experimenting if this trial is successful or not. Based on Kaizaki and Hishiro’s overwhelming success, it is safe to say that more people are going to be ‘saved’. But I can’t say the same for workplace bully culture. Yeah, that scourge will never be eradicated so long as the hierarchy exists.

As this ReLIFE experiment seems like it changes one’s life for the better, in fact it doesn’t as it only helps to enhance or make better your old self. Because Kaizaki and Hishiro aren’t really such bad people in the first place. They just had no luck in the employment scene. Therefore it somewhat rings true when Yoake said not to forget your old life because that is what the original Kaizaki and Hishiro are. Maybe for Hishiro she opened up more than before. There are some changes but ultimately they are still the same but better person. After all, you have got to remember the original goal of this experiment. It is not intended to completely change you into a totally different person. That is why they call it ReLIFE instead of ReLIE! Oh yeah. That was a good one I came up with. No? Sorry… At least it’s not ReWRITE. Oh wait. That name was already taken by another anime…

Overall, the short second season is pleasant enough to bring closure to the series (make sure to watch the first season first as this continues directly from where it left off). Despite some questionable mind boggling sci-fi logic that would be bugging you, romance is supposed to be the main focus. You would want to root for the main characters, share their heart breaking moments knowing the inevitable is coming, weep when they (briefly) became apart after making it this far and then heave a sigh of relief and cheer with bravado when they are finally reunited. If future experiments follow this pattern, man it’s like a big elaborated social experiment for hooking up people. Then they might rename it as ReWIFE. Haha! Oops. Sorry… So uhm, cheers and here’s to celebrating (re)life!


March 5, 2017

It is pretty normal that all of us as adults would feel that mid-life crisis of having to achieve whatever we aimed for when we were younger. We always dream of going back to our younger days in hopes of redoing things and changing for the better. We all love looking at things retrospectively, huh? Well, don’t worry. According to ReLIFE, you can go back to at least your high school years and redo everything again. Of course, this is just an experimental project but if everything goes right, you might find yourself having a better job. And you can do all this without even having to go back in time via time travelling or to a parallel universe and deal with that time paradox sci-fi crap. All you need to do is take a pill that will turn you looking like in your teens and then pretend to be a student for an entire year. Are you sure they aren’t promoting some sort of age reversing beauty product?

Episode 1
Arata Kaizaki is 27 years old and is still unemployed. After yet another failed interview, he gets this wakeup call from his mom that she is no longer going to support him and send him monthly allowance. Better think fast. Before he can fall into the pits of despair, his ‘saviour’ comes in the form of Ryou Yoake from ReLIFE Lab. He offers him a ‘job’. An experiment actually. It will last for a year and depending on how he performs he might get a real job after that. So do you want the red pill or the blue pill? Next morning when Kaizaki wakes up, he realizes he now looks 10 years younger! Just like in his high school days! He remembers Yoake’s explanation about the experiment that he is going to relive his life as a high school student for a year at Aoba High School. Making the deal sweeter is that all his expenses will be paid but he must keep this a secret or else he will be kicked out of the experiment and his memories of it erased. I mean, what does Kaizaki have to lose, right? He’s on for the ride. If starting (or in his case restarting) his high school life in his third year is already weird, it gets weirder as Yoake is also his classmate! To observe him?! Kaizaki strikes off as weird to the rest because he uses very formal speech. The other main characters that will intertwine with Kaizaki’s life are Kazuomi Oga (smart showy guy), Rena Kariu (bad loser), An Onoya (another transfer student) and Chizuru Hishiro (seemingly unsociable girl but honour student). Their homeroom teacher, Kokoro Amatsu has everyone clear their desks because she is going to give them a quiz. To Kaizaki’s horror, he didn’t bring his stationery. Even worse, when the teacher empties his bag, there is a box of cigarettes! This carelessness could cost him his normal high school life. Please see her after class. But he still has no stationery to do his test. Thank Kariu for lending hers. Kaizaki gets lectured by Amatsu about the dangers of getting hooked on smoking, blah, blah, blah. If she’d only know… Surprisingly he asks her age! The reason being he is envious that she is younger than his actual age and already has a steady job. Later Kaizaki and Yoake talk. The latter confirms his job is to observe and report Kaizaki as a test subject. When Kaizaki complains of how tough it is, Yoake sternly reminds him he told him about this programme to rehabilitate NEETs. So why wouldn’t it not be tough? Later Yoake writes his report on Kaizaki’s complete unpreparedness on his first day. But he is better off than the first sample last year who completely failed.

Episode 2
Well what do you know? Kaizaki failed all his tests! Never thought going back to school was this hard, huh? The test is also to choose the class reps. Oga and Hishiro being the top students got the honours. That’s not the end of it yet. Those who failed will have to retake them. Looking at you Kaizaki. Thankfully he has a ‘comrade’ who did as bad if not worse: Onoya. Oga takes Kaizaki and Onoya to the canteen for lunch. The transfer students cheekily ask if Oga and Kariu are dating because they are quite close. Sorry to disappoint, they’re not. Kaizaki sees Hishiro arguing with the canteen lady. Thinking she forgot her wallet and couldn’t buy lunch, he lends her a thousand yen. She is suspicious of his big money because most things at school do not cost above 300 yen. It’s like as if he is like an adult… Oga explains to him about Hishiro’s predicament. Apparently if you are a top student, you get this silver pin (like him) in which you get to eat for free, tuition fee exempted and all sorts of other perks. Hishiro doesn’t have hers yet. Later in the evening as she goes to pick it up, she stumbles into Kaizaki and they chat. Hishiro has another issue is that she is not the sociable type and doesn’t have many friends. She would like to change so Kaizaki suggests her to smile. Wow. Looks scary! Maybe that’s why she doesn’t smile. It took some time before Kaizaki understood her hint that she wants to be friends with him. They then exchange phone numbers. Back home, Kaizaki is having it tough doing his homework. After a decade, he’s given it back all to the teacher, eh? Also, he almost got tempted to smoke but remembers Amatsu’s words. He gets a call from Yoake who observed he made friends with Hishiro. Yoake knows a bit on her because he was in the same class with her last year. She was alone the whole time. He reminds him once this experiment is over, everyone in his school will get their memories erased on him. Of course Kaizaki will retain his as it would pointless doing so. Unless he breaks the rules. Kaizaki gets a mail from Hishiro thanking him for covering her during lunch and adding her as his friend. It made his day.

Episode 3
Kaizaki receives a thank you letter from Hishiro in his shoebox. The funniest thing is how she folded the money to repay him. Bad news: Kaizaki and Onoya fail their retake tests! And they did much worse! What the f*ck happened?! Hishiro tries to make friends with others but she had to put up that creepy smile and this sends wrong signals to Kariu thinking this is some sort of challenge and making fun of her. The class take a fitness test. The first task is to see how far they can throw a ball. Kaizaki sniggers at Oga when he can only manage 2 metres. He’s got the brains but not so athletic? Snigger, snigger. When it is Kaizaki’s turn, he is going to give his best shot but his shoulder gives way! Only manages a metre. Oga gets the last laugh. I guess despite Kaizaki’s young looks, his body is still old on the inside. When Kaizaki is ogling at Kariu with her friend, Honoka Tamarai, Akira Inukai is about the beat him up for leering at them but luckily Nobunaga Asaji takes him away. Kariu misunderstands Hishiro further when the latter asks her to take over her duty of timekeeping (since she was the closest to her) and putting up that creepy smile. When it is the guys’ turn to run, Kaizaki makes a mad dash. He feels good for taking the lead when suddenly his feet give way and tumbles badly. Oh man, his knee is really busted and bleeding like mad. But that’s not the most embarrassing thing. Asaji carries him like a princess and rushes over to the infirmary. Thankfully it is nothing serious as he can still walk normally the next day. Kariu is shocked when he sees Kaizaki and Hishiro together. It is the fact that Hishiro can naturally smile while she is with him. But when they contact, Hishiro puts up that creepy smile. She thinks Hishiro pretends to be serious and acts nice around boys. Yoake compiles a very detailed report on his observations on Kaizaki about how he is fitting in well and already forming his own circle of friends. Compared to Kaizaki’s ‘lazy’ report of ‘nothing out of the ordinary happens’ in each entry. Yoake notes Kaizaki’s life is improving and smiling more than he was as a NEET.

Episode 4
Kariu narrates that she couldn’t care less about the perks of having the silver pin. It was the status of being number one. Making it even worse is that Hishiro is always putting up that creepy smile and she thinks this is some sort of harassment. Although her friend Tamarai has a better smile, Kariu still sees her as a rival in another sort of way since Tamarai is better than her in other stuffs like athletics. Making Kariu’s blood boil is seeing Hishiro eating alone at the canteen and she thinks she is trying to make her situation more sympathetic. Oga is not pleased that Kaizaki and Onoya continue to fail their makeup tests! It’s giving him a bad name at this rate. So when Oga suggests to get Hishiro to teach them since they are both silver pins, Kaizaki is reluctant. Oga thinks he is jealous of other guys talking to her. Back home, Kaizaki talks to Hishiro about her being unsociable especially he noticed Kariu had that aura that was ready to kill her. But from her answer, it’s as though Hishiro is like emotionally unstable. Kaizaki then calls another loner: Yoake. However he prefers to stick to his observation job instead of making friends. Next day, before Hishiro could say anything to Kariu, the latter gets up and leaves. Hishiro goes for a committee meeting with Oga and this makes Kariu wonder if she puts up the same smile to Oga as she does for Kaizaki. Too much thinking on this has caused her to lose concentration. When she was in her first year, she got the silver pin for the first term but failed to maintain it for the next few terms. Next year, she made sure she got it for the entire year. Now, the silver pin isn’t just about status. It’s about the right to be by Oga’s side. When she goes to return the gym key after school hours, she sees Hishiro talking to a teacher in the staff room. She gets jealous thinking Hishiro is tops without putting in any effort so she decides to steal her bag and drop it somewhere. Unfortunately she bumps into Kaizaki. He notices she has 2 bags and recognizes one of them belonging to Hishiro. Kariu runs away but he catches her. During the struggle, she falls off the stairs. Kaizaki grabs her but cannot maintain his balance and also falls down. Once Hishiro is done, she finds her bag missing and sees the duo unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.

Episode 5
Kaizaki wakes up in the infirmary. No serious injuries. As he tries to think why Kariu did this, he remembers bullies in his workplace sabotaging his senior out of jealousy. Although she knew it wasn’t her fault, she still apologized to the boss. She told Kariu that those bullies have lost their way and resorted to this to win. Seeing this doesn’t make her mad but sad. So when Kariu wakes up, he asks her a lot and tells her straight up not to run away. She tells the truth so he advises her based on his experience not to give up because she has been working hard on her own accord. Kariu is still annoyed because despite doing her best, she is not good enough and even more so she is not even acknowledged as a rival. He tells her not to compare herself to others. She breaks down for a while but gets back on her feet. When Kaizaki leaves, he sees Hishiro waiting at the gates. She was curious about something and needed to ask him and so she waited. Kaizaki tells the truth on what Kariu did. Since she is a little dense, she decides to wait and ask Kariu directly. After all, the other question she wanted to ask was why Kaizaki was hugging Kariu when they fell. Better to ask this question later. One question at a time. Kaizaki can’t leave this suspense alone and hides nearby to eavesdrop. Kariu is now at the gates with Hishiro. She thinks she is screwed but Hishiro straight up asks if she would be her friend if she gives her silver pin. And also everything that Kaizaki said. Kariu accuses her for mocking her each time their eyes met. But Kariu thinks back for a while on what Kaizaki said and has her smile. See that creepy smile? Yup, she sucks at smiling! So this smile was what Hishiro was hoping for them to be friends? No wonder the misunderstanding. Hishiro although admits is a smart person, is not good in interacting with others and wants to change. They reconcile and shake hands to become friends. Kariu vows to get the silver pin from her but not the easy way. So don’t you dare lose on purpose. Later Kariu texts Kaizaki about ratting her out but thanks him for this. Kaizaki wonders if he did the right thing because he knows all too better that reality is crueller. Yoake says whenever she is in a tough situation in the future, she’ll probably remember what he said to her because it stood out. Then Yoake teases him for being a kettle calling a pot black.

Episode 6
Kaizaki is shocked that Oga and Onoya are already outside his doorstep to do group study. Hold on. Need to clean up the beer cans, cigarette butts and past high school certificates. While studying, Kaizaki and Onoya tease Oga to get a girlfriend and they could use this as motivation to pass their test. Kaizaki almost gets into trouble when Onoya picks up his calendar and sees his ReLIFE schedule. He quickly takes it from her hand and throws it at the wall like as though it was to kill some bug. After Oga has to leave for a part time job, Kaizaki dreads being with Onoya alone. She asks about the calendar and all. Kaizaki manages to bluff that it was for a part time job. It makes her start thinking he might be the one working at the convenience store at the train station. She takes off her glasses and undoes her hair. Look familiar? Nope. Well of course. She thinks he looked more mature then. Kaizaki is shocked when Onoya claims she fell in love with him at first sight. She starts flirting with him and wants to be his girlfriend. Fortunately his resistance is strong and rejects her. She needs to take better care of herself. Yoake who has been eavesdropping makes a mad dash to Kaizaki’s place. He has a key to his place so don’t worry about breaking down his door. Onoya gets the wrong idea the guys are in a gay relationship! But Yoake is serious. He reminds Onoya about getting too close with the subject matter all the time. Now forcing her way into his room is too much. Yup, Onoya is from ReLIFE Lab with Yoake. So that love at first sight was a lie, eh? Just a test? At least he is prepared if he is in a similar situation. Kaizaki further learns that both of them are actually the same age as him. Onoya mentions not all she said was a lie. She did ‘fall in love at first sight’ and did meet at that store. In fact, she was the one who picked Kaizaki as the subject when she saw his data. She was supposed to be Kaizaki’s support but since she didn’t complete her training, Yoake took over. They apologize and hope they can work together. It’s a good thing Kaizaki isn’t mad, right? A can of beer is enough a solution to calm things down.

Episode 7
A flashback on Yoake’s term. He was warned by the executives for getting too close and involved with the first test subject termed as 001. So when 001 asked for advice and Yoake reminded him he is only a support. At the same time Yoake got a request to check out Kaizaki who is potential as test subject 002. He visits him working part time at the convenience store and plants his lost wallet. Surprisingly it took Kaizaki fast enough to return to him honestly. When the experiment on 001 failed, Yoake is again reprimanded for not giving enough support. So what do you think he should do then? Onoya thought she could cheer him up by telling him that Kaizaki has been approved to be selected as a test subject. Yoake knew Onoya would be mad at him since she wanted to handle Kaizaki but he jumped on her and met up with Kaizaki to offer him this experiment. Later Yoake and Onoya discuss about Kaizaki as a good potential for ReLIFE since he has lost his confidence for his social skills, which makes him perfect for this experiment. That night Yoake gets a surprise call from Kaizaki that he needs a medicine to turn back to his actual age for a while. Because he is going to quit his job and tell everyone he’d be away for another year, at least he wants the courtesy to tell them face to face. Yoake processes his request in time for him to do the necessary. Kaizaki is grateful for helping him out. Then he takes the pill again and knows he can’t turn back. Now Yoake happily types his report that Kaizaki attempts to improve each time he demonstrates remorse. His forward thinking nature is infectious and starting to change things around him. Yoake can’t wait to see what kind of effect this will have on him and those around him.

Episode 8
Guess what Kaizaki fails his tests again! Fortunately Onoya passed. Bye. You’re on your own. Kaizaki is forced to see Amatsu but it seems there is another student who failed: Tamarai. Amatsu warns her she is already in her third year and if she keeps this up, she can’t play in the volleyball tournament. Later Kaizaki and Tamarai talk. She attributes Kariu for helping make volleyball fun for her. Tamarai then asks if Oga and Onoya are dating. Definitely not. When Kaizaki returns to class, Hishiro also poses the same question to him. He couldn’t stop laughing. Tamarai then tells Kariu that Oga isn’t seeing anyone. Kariu is shocked because she didn’t ask for this. When Tamarai is to go change to practice, she overheard girls badmouthing about her talent that probably gives her a free pass to a lot of things and they think it will upset Kariu. Tamarai hides when she learns Kariu is coming. Kariu also hears this trash talk and will not take any of it. She chides them how Tamarai works harder when everyone else has gone home. The girls cannot reply and run away. Tamarai feels very grateful she has a friend like that. Tamarai crashes at Inukai’s place to study. It pays off as she passes her tests. Kaizaki? HE STILL FAILS???!!! WTF???!!! Tamarai thought she could return to practice peacefully but all that studying has made her weak. She partially collapses on the court. Because she also accidentally spilled the box with volleyballs, it caused Kariu to trip and sprain her ankle. She’ll be out of action for a while. And the tournament is in a few more weeks. Both girls try to blame themselves. Tamarai thought of cheering her up that she could heal fast but Kariu snaps back that even if she heals, she cannot play because she needs to practice. She is not like her who has talent. Therefore by being on the team or not it does not matter or affect anything. As long as Tamarai is around, they’ll win. This hurts Tamarai a great deal. Only place of solace is in Inukai’s arms.

Episode 9
Tamarai is getting very friendly with Hishiro. But the mere sight of Kariu, Tamarai runs away. This leads Hishiro to think something is very wrong. When Oga tries to help, Kariu becomes agitated and short tempered. Although he still helps her, Kariu reflects how wrong she was and feeling guilty of taking out her frustrations on him. Of course Kaizaki also notices something strange going on because Hishiro, Kariu and Tamarai are close friends now and yet they’re eating separately. Kariu has also stopped going to volleyball practice. He gets a message from Hishiro wanting to talk to him for advice. She is outside his doorstep now. Couldn’t she just called? Didn’t think of that… She tells about the awkwardness between Kariu and Tamarai before expanding a bullying story in her class last year. She wanted to stop it but the bullying got worse but kept thinking maybe if she just put up with it, everything will go away. It didn’t and she regretted it since she didn’t do anything eventually and the victim transferred to another school. This has Kaizaki tell of his own experience of bullying in his workplace although he explains it in a high school way. Merely remembering his senior getting bullied and putting up with it traumatizes him. It got bad enough that he hugs Hishiro and apologizes before realizing too late what happened. Hishiro forgives him and suggests they team up and get their ‘revenge’. She wants to forget her failure of running away and maybe there are things one can learn through failing. The duo go to talk to Tamarai after her practice. She tells the truth. Inukai happen to heard this and he forcefully brings Kariu to come and listen quietly. Kariu hears Tamarai revealing she wasn’t going to play volleyball in high school.

Episode 10
Tamarai adds she is good in other sports too that other people resent her. Especially volleyball. So when she came to high school, she was just checking out in hope against hope since she was sick of the game. That’s where she met Kariu. She thought nobody would know her in this high school since it doesn’t place emphasis on sports. But Kariu called her out and tested her. She recognized her talents and became her friend-cum-rival. Thanks to her, Tamarai had wonderful memories. Now she is afraid they won’t be friends at this rate. Hishiro relates her own experience. It’s like saying if she continued her anti-social ways like her, she’ll end up like Hishiro. In a way the bond between them makes Hishiro jealous. When they leave, they see the busybodies eavesdropping. Too late to hide. Tamarai tries to talk to Kariu to come back but she has already made up her mind. She has resigned from the club and is done with this. Everyone hopes Kariu would show up at the volleyball game. They believed in her. Too bad she didn’t believe in them. Hishiro is going to drag her here but nobody knows where she lives. Yoake sticking his nose in by giving Kaizaki the address. Let’s just say he got it from sensei. They fake delivery so Kariu would open the door. Although Kariu claims she doesn’t want to go, it looks like she is dressed for the part. After all that stubbornness and Hishiro telling her to finally knock it off and not waste everything they have worked for, cue for Kariu to break down and give even more excuse why she just can’t come back in like that. Need a reason? Here’s an update on their volleyball team: They lost a set. And so Kariu changes her mind and comes back to play with Tamarai. It looks like they lost the set again. Kariu and Tamarai talk and reconcile while crying (partly due to the loss). Why is Hishiro sitting in between them? To cut a long story short, they can still continue playing volleyball in college and it’s enough for them to reconcile. Oh, a big girl hug for Hishiro as thanks too. Not that creepy smile again.

Episode 11
Kaizaki requests Yoake for the pill to temporary turn him back to an adult again because it is the death anniversary of his senior, Michiru Saiki. Yoake agrees to do it but on condition that he comes along with him to the graves. As Kaizaki prays, he remembers his past and regrets. The black company he works in has no redeeming factor. It was all worth it because of Saiki. She was a good mentor. Of course we all know about the bullying case. Against her advice to ‘grow up’, Kaizaki went to voice his displeasure against those bullies. The harassment only worsened. Shortly after, Saiki hung herself. After the police ruled this as suicide, what irked Kaizaki the most was that everyone in the company acted as though her death never happened. He lashed out at them once more and this time he has had it. He tenders his resignation. His boss reminds him to rethink since it will look suspicious on his resume he quit a job after only 3 months. Better than spending another second in this rotten company, right? That’s when his boss changed his attitude. Reminding him only executives can resign, trash like him will be given notice and then forgotten. So get the hell out now! You’re fired! This traumatized him for a while as he ponders had he took up Saiki’s advice, would he still remain as a productive member of society? On the way out, he bumps into a couple of people who recognize him. They claim they are newbies from the company he worked in and joined after he left. They know him from the photo album and the boss always talked trash about that guy who left after 3 months and kept praising Saiki as the company’s hero (so that everyone should follow her example and work themselves to death for the company?). They too are unhappy with this black company and want to quit but afraid of the repercussions. They admire Kaizaki for what he did because nobody could have done so. Kaizaki never knew his rebellion had this effect and looking at them just reminded him of himself. He advises them about the harsh reality after quitting. The failure to secure another full time job. He hates that company and not giving his life to it. But had he not joined, he wouldn’t have met certain people. He is glad to have quit. Later Kaizaki has a hunch that Yoake set this up. True enough he did. He thought it might help him to start looking forward if he learns what he did gave hope to those that came after him. Kaizaki might not have erased the guilt of not saving Saiki but he feels a bit better and knows his voice has reached someone.

Episode 12
Kaizaki is happy summer holidays are around the corner but Oga reminds him that he has remedial classes during that. Sorry pal. But isn’t that what he has been doing the entire semester? Yeah, he failed yet another makeup test. Because Kaizaki remembers Yoake mentioning about Oga’s feelings for Kariu, Kaizaki asks if there is anyone he likes. Shocked at first, Oga tries to give funny answers like he loves everybody. But for each question Kaizaki poses he would like to do with a girl, Oga can only think of Kariu. Oga then questions back if Oga has kissed a girl before. He has. The shocking answer has Oga in shock and now Kaizaki acts like a big boss. On the way home, they see Kariu talking to a guy. Isn’t that guy the junior from Kaizaki’s ex-company? It seems like she is rejecting something and when she loses her balance, he catches her. Oga immediately comes out of hiding while Kaizaki continues to cower in hopes his name will be called. Don’t ask me for help! When Kariu is reluctant to say, that guy is glad Oga is her friend. Seems Kariu has heat stroke. He was just passing by and wanted to help her by calling an ambulance but she refused. With this drama over, Oga and Kariu chat. Kariu didn’t like how he calls her weird because of her sincerity today. He is laughing despite she hit him. That night, Kaizaki gets a message from Oga that he has fallen in love with Kariu. He is glad this has finally happened. It’s like waited for this moment to happen in his boring high school life. So the next day, Oga is going to ask the master how to get the girl. Hishiro, Yoake and Onoya have heard this and also pitch in their ideas. Unfortunately they have no experience whatsoever so we can just ignore them. Hishiro seems to hint jealousy that Kaizaki has got ‘experience with women’ before. So Oga screws whatever they’re thinking because he has decided. He is going to ask Kariu out to the festivals and confess. Kariu is shocked when she receives his invitation. Did he send to the wrong person? She realizes her worries were for nothing since Oga also invited the rest.

Episode 13
Kariu texts back to the girls that she is worried because Oga might go to a different college and so as not to regret this might be their last chance together, she hopes they can make them alone together. So the plan works out well. If they didn’t do it in such an obvious way. On the busy bridge, Oga suddenly confesses he loves her. Is her heart ready to hear that? Not quite. After all that flustering and regaining her composure. It’s her turn to confess she has liked him since the first year and wants to go out with him. Is he ready to hear that? Didn’t think so. So after all the awkwardness, blushing and delayed reactions, looks like they’re going to be a couple. We take a detour to Kaizaki being left alone with Hishiro watching the fireworks. He is thinking Yoake’s irritating comment that he didn’t like seeing him with Hishiro (Yoake was with Hishiro at the start) although Kaizaki justifies that ‘jealousy’ to be the rare sight of him being with Hishiro. When Hishiro mentions she is glad to have met him, Kaizaki starts evaluating if this ReLIFE is worth living. Because it makes him sad that once this ends, she’ll forget about him. And he can kiss goodbye to this life. Yeah, school days are the best, right? Then this is the biggest shocking revelation ever. Maybe. Hishiro is test subject 001. Not too sure if she remembers her past (in which she shouldn’t) because she notes how the more fun she has, the more hurtful it will be when they part. She might be saying this unconsciously since well, the body might remember. When everyone reunites, they cheer at Oga and Kariu holding hands. Mission accomplished. After the friends part ways, Kaizaki walks Hishiro home. He ponders more about being forgotten. But you know what? Screw all that. The moment is now and he is going to live it. It feels like they’re trying to force some sort of final romantic liaisons between them but Kaizaki always stops himself with the dilemma when Hishiro won’t remember him in the end. There’s a moment he thought of kissing her and a moment she accidentally fall onto him and he catches her. Tempting, right? But no. Kaizaki remains his calmness. Can’t risk it. At least she holds his hands for balance to walk on her geta. Onoya and Yoake are eavesdropping this and although the outcome they hoped for didn’t materialize (you suck, Kaizaki), at least Yoake has a good report to write.

Second (High School) Childhood
Well, well, well. What do you know? I suppose that with the drama heading down towards boringness and that the end isn’t going to give us much closure, they decide to drop the revelation bomb that Hishiro is that mysterious test subject that we have all been wondering. If we cared anyway. Although I didn’t really guess it was her, when it was revealed she was 001, it didn’t come to me as a shocking surprise. Because my guts were telling that 001 had to be someone we all know. Well, it would have been better had 001 remained a mysterious because now my head is flooded with sudden unanswerable questions that I will forever be too lazy to find myself or even Google the answer. For instance, if Hishiro failed her ReLIFE (and it was a quick one too), what the f*ck is she still doing here in school? Isn’t she supposed to be dumped somewhere with no memories of her failed high school experiment life and going back to her useless life? Unless Yoake broke protocol and let her continue. Because it is also questionable how she remembers Yoake from last year if that is the case. If so, do you think the higher ups will allow this? This also means she is about the same age as Kaizaki, right? Another failure of society, right? Thus I can conclude my biggest assumption of why she failed the experiment miserably is because of her creepy smile. Yeah, that might be it.

Oddly, the broadcast of this series wasn’t your usual an episode per week. There are very few anime series that don’t follow this pattern like Katanagatari which aired an episode per month for an entire year. But for ReLIFE, when it was first aired, all of its episodes were released simultaneously on the Japanese streaming website, Comico. So instead of waiting for your weekly anime, you get to watch the entire 24 minute episode anime in one setting. Though, other traditional broadcasting stations did air it on a weekly basis but for those who cannot wait, the web is always you greatest source of instant gratifications. Sort of.

The story and pacing is moderate and for those who aren’t used to such romance drama, may feel it is a bit slow. The name of this anime and even the setting you read in the synopsis may give you a projection that this is some sort of sci-fi genre. There is literally none of it here. Just pure romance drama genre. That’s all. After all, what else can a 27 year old do back in high school? You make friends, you help out your friends, you study together, you eat together and you have fun together. Sounds kinda boring, right? But as you watch Kaizaki make his friends and continue his daily high school life, you will start to forget he is taking up this job as an experiment despite reminders from time to time. It certainly feels more like a high school drama.

The characters are a mixed bag. You thought Kaizaki would be the main protagonist in focus since he is the subject of the experiment and has taken the pill. This is only true for the first few episodes before it starts slowly shifting towards Kariu. So for the middle parts of the show, it feels like this show belongs to Kariu! Of course that flashback episode of Kaizaki and his employment just to remind us that he is what this show is supposed to be about but then we’re back on track of being distracted to other characters and now on Oga’s confession. Well, I suppose Kaizaki did get his wish of not wanting to stand out so often. A few supporting characters feel like a miss and disappointment too especially Inukai and Asaji. I thought these guys would play some sort of important role but they’re just forgettable. Inukai is like some guy with anger management issues if not grumpy outlook that makes you think he is some sort of unofficial ‘protector’ to some of the girls while Asaji is like his total opposite to cool things down with a smile and ‘neutralize’ the heated situation.

Personally, I feel Kaizaki seems to be doing better redoing his high school compared to still be on the streets finding a secure job. At least we see him being sociable and you might say his greatest achievement in his life is making a sociably inept girl more sociable and patching up a friendship between the volleyball friends. I want to point out about his running joke that he keeps failing his tests every time and seems to be on a 100% record streak. And this is just the first semester. But then again when I put myself in his shoes, I think I will not do any better! I mean, do I really have to go resit and study again all those topics that I have given back to my teacher? No way! I can’t do it! I just can’t! That’s why when I snigger each time this running joke comes into play, this instantly gets brought up in my mind. At this rate, can Kaizaki even graduate? Maybe he could take on this high school student as his permanent job… Kaizaki might not have gone back in time to fix things, but in this case he can improve on what he is now and move forward for a better future. See, it works too and you don’t need sci-fi to fix all that. Even if his ReLIFE will not work out in the future but at least he made positive changes to those around him.

Coming back to Hishiro again, she might be smart in books but dense in everything else. I’m sure we have this kind of character in our school days. With this fact that Hishiro is a smart student, it makes you think again how the heck in the first place did she get selected by ReLIFE? Isn’t that an experiment to test NEETs? Don’t tell me she improved like hell over the year. Oh, here’s another theory. Because they emptied her mind by erasing those unnecessary memories, her brain is now freer and clearer to absorb more materials. Yes! That must be it! Or it could be that schools don’t teach and prepare you about the working life… Great grades but zero in job getting requirements. She can thank Kaizaki for allowing herself to open up more and mix around with others. Though, she might want to work on her facial expression. And try harder not to smile like a serial killer, okay? Then we’ve got Kariu who takes up a bulk of the drama of this series with her insecurities. She tries to compare herself to others and when she doesn’t get the desired outcome, she tries to act tough. She needs to be more of herself. It is good to know that she has good friends like Tamarai around because bad ones will forever traumatize her but instead recovers.

Too bad if you were hoping for some sort of Kaizaki x Hishiro romance. Some subtle hints and seemingly forced ones at the end but that could be just our minds thinking too much. Instead, we get Oga x Kariu romance drama instead. Yeah, even smart guys like him need to have some romance. He is such a patient guy and doesn’t give up on Kaizaki who keeps failing every damn test. Last but not least, Yoake and Onoya. They’re trying to do their job and blending in without raising suspicions. Yoake isn’t as sporting as Onoya but they do try support Kaizaki in every possible way they can. After all, if Kaizaki fails, they will also fail. In the end, everybody too has their problems. Nobody is free of them whether you are young or old. That’s life.

This series subtly tries to highlight the shady sides of certain discriminating company policies and the grown up life. I believe not only in Japan but in all other parts of the world too there are unscrupulous companies like this. It feels like they are trying to paint society and the working life as bad while high school life is so much fun and free. Well, when you are a kid, what kind of responsibilities do you shoulder? That’s why it is such a pain when you grow up and suddenly all the responsibilities to be part of society fall right into your hands. That’s why typical salarymen everywhere always get drunk in bars after work, ruing the better days they had and wishing the what-ifs and opportunities had they taken. It’s like wishing to do it all again, right? There are certainly the good, the bad and the ugly in the working life. It all depends on your mind set and the culture you come from. Basically that is what a big majority of the modern life is. Unless you’re super special, it’s either you’re in and stuck with the flow or you’re out and a failure. Something must be very wrong with our modern society to have this kind of system, huh?

Art and drawing are also nothing to complain about. Everything looks pretty normal and bright, meeting today’s standards of Japanese anime. Furthermore, this is more of romance and drama so you don’t need intricate details in every artwork to make people go wow. Heck, will people even praise or comment the visuals? It’s not bad but it’s not something that you would notice right away and comment on it. This series is animated by the veteran studio, TMS Entertainment who also did Amaama To Inazuma, Orange, Kamisama Hajimemashita, Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa, Gugure! Kokkuri-san, Itazura Na Kiss. Yeah, don’t count the countless Detective Conan and Lupin III animations they did over the years.

Voice acting is pretty okay, nothing to shout about. I only recognized Haruka Tomatsu as Kariu and Miyuki Sawashiro as Amatsu. The rest of the casts are Kensho Ono as Kaizaki (Slaine in Aldnoah.Zero), Ai Kayano as Hishiro (Inori in Guilty Crown), Yuuma Uchida as Oga (Kasumi in Qualidea Code), Ryohei Kimura as Yoake (Kodaka in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai), Reina Ueda as Onoya (Mira in Dimension W), Himika Akaneya as Tamarai (Lala Manaka in Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection), Noriaki Sugiyama as Inukai (Shirou in Fate/Stay Night), Daisuke Namikawa as Asaji (Rock in Black Lagoon) and Shizuka Itou as Saiki (Haruka in Amagami SS).

The opening theme sounds like generic pop rock, Button by Penguin Research. But for an anime that has only 1 season worth of episodes, every ending theme is different. This isn’t the first anime to do it since very few and rare animes before it have done this before, namely Sora No Otoshimono and Seraphim Call. Lucky Star is another one but this anime mainly sings karaoke parodies of other anime themes. Yeah, they even beat the Monogatari series that has a habit of having a few different opening and ending themes but they repeat for a few episodes. This one is different for EVERY episode. Unfortunately, none that really attracts me but I’ll note a few noteworthy ones like Iijuu Rider by Tamio Okuda (first ending theme), the disco rock of Hot Limit by T.M. Revolution (second), the 70’s-like feel of Timing by Black Biscuits (third), the old rock-n-roll school-like Kore Wa Watashi No Ikiru Michi by Puffy (fifth), the lovely slow ballad of Yuki No Hana by Mika Nakashima (eight) and the calming Asu E No Tobira by I Wish (tenth). Later as I learnt that these songs are not new songs but old songs from the 90’s to 2000’s when they were popular in mainstream music. This choice of music selection is to somewhat parody the song preferences Kaizaki hear because we all know he is an adult in his late twenties. As I read too, each song also reflects an aspect in Kaizaki’s life. Not that I am interested to know more about this trivia anyway.

I also want to point out that many of the BGMs I hear are piano based. While some are like lounge music, there are a few that are oddly strange. Especially those frenzy ones. Uh huh. There is one piece in which there is this very chaotic finger drilling frenzy played in short bursts, then it completely stops and a short silence follows then back to that chaotic play again. Repeat style. It’s like they take a five year old and tell him to mash the piano keys and you get this ‘cacophony’. It’s so bad that it’s good kinda feeling. It is really weird hearing this song especially they played in one strange during one of the dramatic episodes. It feels funny and odd that they are trying to match the pace of the song with the drama of the conversation. Well, they certainly timed it well but I just can’t seem to get that song out of might head each time I think about that scene.

Overall, this is not a bad anime but there is nothing that makes it interesting after you read the plot of undergoing an experiment to redo your high school life again. There is no sort of twist whatsoever (turns out Kaizaki could be sleeping in a pod like in The Matrix! Surprise, mother f*ckers!) and is just purely your high school romance drama. To some (like yours truly) it might bring back not so fond memories of your high school years. Yeah, those weren’t nostalgic times for me. And then when you put yourself in Kaizaki’s shoes of redoing school life again, it gives you the chills. Don’t want to study and fail my tests! Ever! The pill might make you look younger but your inside isn’t so you aren’t technically an immortal. Given a choice, I would not take the pill and go back to sleep, continuing my dream. I’d rather continue moving ahead with my boring uneventful otaku life than pick this. It’s the life that I’ve gotten used to. Sometimes changing for the sake of changing isn’t necessarily a good thing even if it is for better or worse.

N/B: If Yoake gets his seventh test subject, he should get James Bond… Test subject number 007… :-)

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