Wait – I can do a First Impressions and Series Review post at the same time?
I have no idea how I’m going to watch ReLIFE, never mind blog it – but I’m all but certain that I will. Maybe it’s just anime entering the binge watching age at last, but this thing about releasing all the episodes at one (courtesy Comico in this case) seems odd to me. And Crunchyroll is apparently going to do likewise with the official subs.
For now, it’s enough that the first episode is good – and it’s very good. There are a few moments when the broad comedy and distorted faces seem forced and out of place, and I won’t deny that this general theme is trendy as fuck in anime at the moment. But all in all, this was smart, funny and the time flew by. ReLIFE is off to a very solid start.
Ono Kensho is Kaizaki Arata, a 27 year-old who quit his post-grad school job after only three months. Because he took two years off before starting college, that makes Arata solidly a NEET – and his parents decide to cut him off financially to try and force him to take ownership of his life. After a night getting drunk with some old friends, Arata is approached by a smiling young man in an alley (that can’t ever be good, even when it’s Kimura Ryouhei) and promised that he can get a full year’s living expenses paid if he agrees to an experiment – take a pill to make him look ten years younger, and spend a year in high school.
This is a pretty standard conceit, and certainly evidence of animanga (and Japan’s) odd obsession with high school. But you know, just because this sort of body-switch (kind of) thing is common these days, that doesn’t mean it can’t work. This episode is snappy and tightly-written, and evidences a good deal of sensitivity and insight. Naturally enough it’s no easy thing for a 27 year-old to try and fit in at high school, and Arata’s first day is believably disastrous without being so bleak as to be unfunny. Of course he’s intrigued by the notion that he can be openly attracted to high-school girls (as opposed to secretly, like most guys his age) but it’s with the 25 year-old homeroom teacher Amatsu Kokoro (Sawashiro Miyuki) who busts him for smoking that Arata feels a real connection. I’ll be interested to see how that’s going to work.
I like both those characters, and the other high schoolers who settle in around Arata – played by a fine group of seiyuu – seem likeable and interesting as well. Based on what I know of the manga this first episode is not a mirage – the source material is pretty strong – and the premiere reveals that the anime staff isn’t going to make a meal of it. I wish ReLIFE were airing on a normal weekly schedule, but hey – I guess you have to change with the times, and I’ll figure something out for a series that has this much potential.