ReLIFE – 09

ReLIFE - 09 -1I was starting to get a little worried about ReLIFE losing its way for a while, really for the first time since the series began.  Episode 8 (I started to type “last week’s episode” there…) and the first part of this one had a bit of drift syndrome going on, with the shift in focus to Honoka.  The truth is without Arata’s direct involvement in the story ReLIFE plays a lot more like a conventional high school drama, and not surprisingly loses a lot of it’s snap and narrative momentum in the process.

ReLIFE - 09 -2Happily, this proved to be a detour rather than a course correction, as the camera soon enough very much turned its eye back on Arata.  Not to mention Hishiro, who’s a more distinctive and likeable character than Honoka.  What’s going on with Honoka and Kariu feels very much like an overblown high school snit (though not to either of them, assuredly) but it has rather grave echoes of events in the adult world.  This is really much more on-point for ReLIFE – events in high school causing Arata to reflect on his life outside it, and Arata using his experience to try and spare his new peers some of the pain he endured.

ReLIFE - 09 -3I confess I’m not getting tired of Hishiro’s tin social ear – I find it endearing when she tells Honoka she looks “awful”, and then asks if the redness under her eyes (from crying) was caused by bees (like I said earlier – imagine Sheldon Cooper if he gave a damn and wanted to change).  Hishiro is definitely learning – she understands something is amiss between her two new friends, and that Arata is the one to turn to for help in trying to fix it.  And snit or no, it does need fixing – Kariu is threatening to quit the volleyball team outright, and she and Honoka are in complete avoidance mode.

ReLIFE - 09 -4Not surprisingly, the scene where Hishiro visits Arata at his apartment (he hates the drop-in) is easily the best in the episode, and a great one by any standard.  Like it or not, age difference or not, there is a great chemistry between these two – but it doesn’t have to be romantic and probably isn’t.  Hishiro opens up to Arata about a bullying incident in school the prior year, and how frustrated she was at being helpless to prevent it.  We know Arata has a bullying story of his own, of course – but what we didn’t know is just how horribly it concluded.  It’s easy to understand why he’d be a little gun-shy about these types of situations, because he blames himself for causing what happened – for not “leaving well enough alone”.

ReLIFE - 09 -5This is a complicated matter, and there are issues here I suspect ReLIFE will revisit in its final quartet of episodes.  This “equilibrium” Arata talks about respecting is really a trap – when we accept injustice and cruelty as unavoidable, we make its recurrence unavoidable.  But for now, it’s enough that he finally shares his agony with someone, and even if Hishiro isn’t his work sempai, at least he’s able to feel as if he’s helped someone even if he couldn’t help the person he truly wanted to.  That he’ll be able to help Kariu and Honoka I have no doubt, but that really isn’t the point – this is more about the process of Arata trying to help himself.  And that tearful hug he shared with Hishiro is strong evidence that he’s making enormous progress in doing that.

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5 comments

  1. R

    See, I agree with you on most fronts except one. The equilibrium Arata mention’s isn’t completely a trap.

    To be specific, if you act purely on moral outrage and can’t handle the backlash, sticking your nose in WILL make things worse. I’m speaking from experience. I was bullied when I was younger, not to the extent that Japanese schools often see, but not benign either. And whenever someone passing by exerted their moral high ground to chastise or condemn the bullies, it would get worse. Why? Because often the person doing the condemning was in a position where the bullies couldn’t safely start harassing them instead. So they took out their frustration of someone talking down to them on the person who they COULD harass. There was no game plan on how to stop the bullies, just emotion.

    Was Hishiro willing to not only speak out but also protect this classmate, day in and day out? Was she willing to also possibly become a victim of the bullies? Was she willing to continuously pressure the teachers to do something? Was she willing to be possibly completely shut out by them if they didn’t take her seriously? The answer is probably no.

    And that’s just it. IF someone wants to truly change something, they need to be able to shoulder the repercussions and also have a very well thought out, logical plan. And probably like 5 backup ones.

    And if you are such a person, then yes choosing instead to maintain equilibrium is a trap. You let someone suffer who could have been saved. But if you’re not such a person, and being such a person is no easy task, it’s not a trap. And I don’t begrudge the people who couldn’t do that and chose to maintain their own safe space instead of shouldering that burden. It’s a lot harder than you think and it’s something that’s likely going to hurt the person trying to help as well, because unless you stick yourself really deep in there and wade into all the ugly things yourself, you probably won’t be fixing it anytime soon. All you’ll be doing is appeasing your own conscious by speaking out against injustice, but just that by itself doesn’t help the person actually stuck in that situation.

  2. I don’t see the disagreement, to be honest. To acknowledge that accepting the status quo is a trap is not to suggest that taking action is easy, or that unwise action might not make things worse. I think the problem is that finding the right action to take in cases of bullying is extremely difficult, and to the people directly involved often seems impossible. That’s why it’s such a pervasive and toxic phenomenon, and why it’s so easy to fall into the trap.

  3. z

    Yeah, I was worried that you lost a little bit of interest of the series to what I consider the weakest part of the series (I kinda strayed at the “support backstory” episode and episode 8), but from this point on the series starts slowly gaining momentum again to the finale (although Kariu is basically the victim of this arc as this arc portrays her with too much angst. I like her at other arcs though).

    In fact iirc this is the point when I say “f*ck it” and start marathoning the series. So yeah, I hope you’ll enjoy the rest.

  4. k

    Anxiously awaiting the rest of the reviews 0.o for Relife! probably one of my favorite slice of life/comedy series this season 😀

  5. Everyone happened to be in front of that particular door just at the rigth time to hear something plot-relevant… (Four times during episodes 8-9, if I remember correctly.)

    (Not that I really mind. This series is great on so many aspects that I’m willing to overlook small plot conveniences. The characters are likable, story is interesting, and I also like how the different plot elements relate to each other.)

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