Arata Kaizaki is 27 and quit the job he landed after graduation in only three months. His life did not go well after that. Now his parents are threatening to stop sending money and want him to come back to the country. He has no friend or girlfriend to share his troubles with… as he hits rock bottom a strange man named Ryo Yoake appears. Yoake invites Kaizaki to join a societal rehabilitation program for NEETs called ReLife. This program uses a mysterious drug to make him look younger, and sends him back to high school for a year. Apparently, the experiment is supposed to provide a chance to experience youth once again and, in the process, fix whatever’s wrong with the subject’s life.
If someone offered you the opportunity to re-do a portion of your life, would you take them up on that offer? This is a decision Arata Kaizaki has to make. In his late twenties and disappointed with his lot, he thinks that this seemingly easy solution will solve his problems – but things are rarely that simple.
The premise is one that I’m sure everyone has considered what they would do if given this opportunity in some shape or form before, but what is it offering us as an anime? Drama with a side of humour seems to be the obvious answer. We see Arata wake up one morning to find himself back in the body that he had when he was 17 – but only on the outside. He also must put up with the watchful eye of Yoake’s monitoring his progress and making sure he doesn’t divulge any confidential information about ReLIFE to his new friends and teachers.
As he takes his first steps back into school for the first time in over ten years, it’s obviously quite the culture shock. He’s not used to seeing students freely using their phones, interacting with teenage girls or pretending that he doesn’t smoke. Much to Yoake’s amusement, Arata also struggles with learning the current syllabus and keeping up with his fellow students in physical education (a scene where he pulls his shoulder just from throwing a ball did make me laugh – and sympathise). Naturally, he also struggles to accept concern and sympathy from students ten years younger than him, and it’s in these focused situations that Arata begins to stand out by acting his age. His quirky behaviours are sometimes causing him to draw attention to himself.
Yoake has also warned Arata not to fall in love with anyone during that year, whether inside school or outside. As soon as the trial comes to an end 17-year-old Arata will vanish from everyone’s memories as, technically, he doesn’t exist at that age. No one would remember him, but just leave Arata himself with a huge amount of heartbreak. I can now see why he was issued with that warning as, despite his initial aversion and hyper-awareness to the teenaged females around him, Arata is beginning to sink into his teenaged self, only coming back to reality with a bump once every so often. Of course, he’s behaving how the world sees him – as a teenager in high school.
Aside from our main character, the supporting cast are quite intriguing. When we first meet them, they appear to be your usual generic high school kids that befriend the new transfer student in their class. However, after a few episodes we start to get hints of the complex relationships that they haven’t, and that Arata has come into his third year of high school in a class tar has known each other years. And there’s something sinister about Ryo Yoake, too. Why was Arata chosen? Who is he reporting his subject’s progress to? And what of Arata himself? What will become of him after his year of high school is over? It seems like things should be unraveling soon.
I’m looking forward to seeing some interesting revelations with this one. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the ‘first test sample’ that was seemingly a failure in the ReLIFE project and I have my suspicions that it’s someone close to Arata. In a similar vein, I want to know more about the supporting characters, particularly Chiziru and Rena, as I believe there’s something more than a typical high school love triangle occurring here, something a bit more complex that will hopefully tie-in with a dramatic conclusion. But with only a limited amount of episodes left, is this something that’s too much to hope for?