Written by Bananaowns
Images courtesy of TMS Entertainment
Anime adaptations of on ongoing work can be relatively hit or miss. At a certain point, the anime can catch up with the original work. This can lead to a variety of options. Some studios turn to filler arcs to pad the length. Others leave it off on a cliffhanger with the intention to lead the audience to purchase the original work. My least favorite option is the anime-original ending. With the exception of the original Full Metal Alchemist, anime-original endings usually are of a lower quality. The show that I am reviewing this week is an example of how to perfectly adapt an ongoing work. ReLife ended with that perfect mix of closure and anticipation for the rest of the series. I am Bananaowns and this is an Otaku Youth anime review.
Story & Characters
The story revolves around Arata, a 27 year old who is unemployed after quitting his job of three months. Because of his short time with his previous employer, it is very difficult for him to find other work. One day, he is given the opportunity to be part of an experiment that will see him returning to high school. He is given a pill that will de-age him ten years, with a chance to fix the problems that plague him.
ReLife has the perfect mix of drama and comedy. This is mostly due to the excellent character interaction. All of the characters are inherently interesting with a variety of traits that add to the story. For instance, Arata’s older age gives him a sense of maturity that he imparts onto the other students. It also makes creates a lot of comedy when he is forced do anything physical. On the other hand, there is the socially awkward Chizuru. Her awkwardness and ignorance is a primary means of comedy and drama for this character. Her interactions with Rena show this range perfectly. The awkward attempts at smiling are a lot of fun, but create a lot of conflict. Of course, the rest of the cast manages to be just as interesting as this small selection.
My only negative with the story involves the large amount of time spent on Rena’s story arc. In certain situations, her personality does not lend itself for the audience to root for her character. Her multiple episode fight with Honoka is the perfect example of this aspect. Her personality comes across as grating and it makes her insufferable at times. The extension of this story arc just highlights this problem and messes with the otherwise great pacing of the series.
All other anime studios should turn to this show to see an example of how to perfectly end and ongoing series. They found a natural break in the story, right after something major is revealed to the audience. This leads to the perfect combination of closure, but anticipation for another anime season. The story obviously was not done, but at the same time, this ending was not a cliffhanger. It felt natural and I was very satisfied with it.
Animation & Sound Design
The animation of this series is not the strongest aspect. In fact, I would consider the animation to be rather mediocre overall. Character movements are very stiff and the backgrounds are usually bland. There is only one aspect of the animation that I would say is impressive at every moment. The facial expressions for this show are great. They really add on to the comedic timing of many scenes. Of course, Chizuru’s terrifying smile is my favorite example. There are a few scenes that see a noticeable jump in animation quality, but the only one that really stands out is the firework sequence in the last couple of episodes. There is nothing bad about the animation, it’s just fairly average.
The sound design has a significant strength as well. The voice acting for this series is phenomenal. There are a lot of subtle changes to inflection. The sense of comedic timing is spot on. One of my favorite moments involves An and Arata whispering about Kazuomi’s dense nature. The cast is similarly great when the drama begins to arise. Arata’s exploration of his past is expertly captured by his voice actor. It is a relatively serious performance given the mostly comedic nature of the series. As for the music, nothing stands out here. The opening is rather generic and the score does not offer anything substantial. The music fits with what is happening, but there is nothing that manages to jump out at the audience. Overall, there is nothing I would consider to be detrimental about the sound design and animation. Both of these aspects have some factors that I would consider to be strengths, but are mostly mediocre overall.
The Netflix-style release of ReLife caught me by surprise. I ended up finishing the series in a couple of days. The mixture between drama and comedy was an indicator of a great work. Despite some pacing issues in the middle, the story and characters made this show into something special. The animation was mediocre overall, but nailed the facial expressions. The sound design had great performances, but lacked memorable music. I give ReLife my Watch rating. It’s not a perfect show, but I wholeheartedly recommend this series to everyone. I’ll be back next week for another review and thanks for checking this one out.