ReLIFE – 12

 

You know I should say it because I don’t often enough – I love, love, love this series.

ReLIFE - 12 -1Last things first – let’s talk about that ED.  I’m a sucker for a director playing out the final scene by starting the ED song early – if it’s done well it’s a fantastic device.  We saw that here, and what’s especially noteworthy is that this is the second anime to use the wonderful “Natsumatsuri” as the ED – both of them after a fireworks-themed episode. Watamote used a Hatsune Miku version and ReLIFE used the original (as far as I know) by the much-missed Whiteberry, and both takes on the song were perfectly suited to the mood and tone of the respective series.  ReLIFE and Watamote both happen to be great series when it comes to using music, especially the ED.

ReLIFE - 12 -2There wasn’t a whole lot about this episode that wasn’t absolutely perfect, though.  This was the one where ReLIFE really integrated the two halves of its story seamlessly for the first time – it was the most effective school comedy-drama ep so far, and it framed that in the context of the adults’ role (especially Arata of course) in influencing events.  It was equally effective in presenting both its text and subtext, and that’s a pretty tough balancing act to get just right.

ReLIFE - 12 -3It was about time Ooga got some focus, because he’s been rather left on the outside looking in for most of the series.  He’s more than strong enough to carry the bulk of the plot here, but the implications for Arata and Chizuru are never far from the surface.  I thought the three way conversation among the adult teenagers was pretty dark, to be blunt.  Yoake is more or less encouraging Arata to get involved with Chizuru, on the grounds that it’s a high-school fling and she’ll forget about him.  I expect Onoya to suggest interfering with Ooga and Kariu’s affairs, but it’s surprising to hear that kind of thing from Yoake – whose speech about “toying with the hearts of the innocents” is rightly mocked as disingenuous.

ReLIFE - 12 -4This whole scenario is one of the many reasons why I take serious issues with the concept of ReLIFE (the company).  It’s rather cruel to Arata to ask him to spend an entire year in the company of these kids and not become involved with them, yet the inherent dangers are obvious.  I guess they did a good job selecting their subject, thank goodness – but clearly that wasn’t the case the first time around.  Both Chizuru and Ooga are as naive as it gets when it comes to sex and relationships, and someone less scrupulous and empathetic than Arata could do a great deal of damage to both of them.

ReLIFE - 12 -5Make no mistake, Ooga is plenty innocent.  “I like everyone” is not something a high-school senior should say in response to Arata’s question, and his response to Arata’s obvious experience is that of a 6th-grader.  The thing is that of course Arata couldn’t hide the fact that he is experienced, even if he wanted to – it’s unmistakeable in the way he carries himself around the girls.  That Ooga truly does feel something for Kariu is pretty obvious, and her chance encounter (though I wonder) with Arata’s kouhai from his company forces him to confront that fact.

ReLIFE - 12 -6This is utterly charming stuff, largely because Ooga and Kariu are very believable and likeable kids, but it’s relatively straightforward anime romantic comedy.  The matter of Arata and Chizuru is much more difficult to confront head-on.  He’s interested, obviously.  She’s enough of s Sphinx that it’s hard to  say for sure and so dense she probably doesn’t know for sure herself, but probably feels something for him.  It’s just not that simple, though.  His entire existence is a lie, and it’s not as though Arata would just be another notch on Chizuru’s belt – she’s completely lacking in experience, and anything that happens between the two of them will be a defining event in shaping the woman she turns out to be.

ReLIFE - 12 -7This is a vexing thing indeed, and thus, I think a very good subject around which to bring ReLIFE to a close.  I could hardly think there’s a guy anywhere who would be kinder and more patient in guiding Chizuru through her first relationship, sexual or not – but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an adult, a decade older than she is.  I don’t know what’s right or wrong here, but Ooga’s decision to turn the hanabikaitai into a group date to make things easier on himself with Kariu sets the stage for what should be a fascinating, hilarious and ultimately moving finale.

 

 

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8 comments

  1. A

    Your analysis lead me to think you probably haven’t noticed something crucial.
    But it’s so frigging OBVIOUS that I’m scratchig my head, wondering if it’s actually missable. So… I guess we’ll see when you’ve finished the next episode :p

  2. What makes you think I haven’t noticed? ;-P

    I’m about 95% sure I know what you’re referring to, but I always assume in blogging a series that the person reading the post hasn’t seen or read farther than I have, so I don’t discuss what might be a spoiler.

  3. > What makes you think I haven’t noticed? ;-P

    😉 sounds like you have then!

  4. F

    Yeah, as for Akka’s comment I agree with Enzo on this, it was a great analysis of this penultimate episode and other implications are best to be left for the series reviews post (which I’m also eagerly waiting by the way, because RElife was an amazing anime which I became quite fond over the time I watched it during the past two months and Enzo’s insight always elevates the enjoyment of the eps )

    And well, as for Ooga’s innocence, personally I don’t find it that much strange, when I was around 17-18 years old, the majority of the boys in my class weren’t that interested in girls, at least not openly. Although as for the gender ratio, it was a quite skewed community with 10 boys for 26 girls, almost everybody had their own hobbies, interests or had their hands full with other after-school activities. There were the sport jocks albeit a little bit less arrogant and rude as your usual jocks, the bookworms, the honor students, the ones with a fascination for watching soccer, playing videogames etc. So in the end my point is that romance didn’t seem to be all that important as (other) anime or other media featuring high-schoolers tend to show it.

    And that is what i like the best about RElife: the characters seem so natural and realistic that I can almost picture myself attending the same school as them. While usually animes focused on high-school exaggerate its characters in one way or another, simply to pattern-match them into the accustomed tropes or to get their points across, RElife doesn’t try to make them larger than life. What was the really surprising part for me is that I haven’t found Chizuru’s character grating, like I’ve found Naho’s obliviousness in orange just barely bearable. Despite the fact that those two characters have a lot in common Naho’s actions are just tearing apart my already battered suspension of disbelief. I mean, by reusing the former example of my real-life experience, I also had a really shy and insecure female classmate who behaved similarly as Chizuru except maybe the fictional girl’s (I would say out-of-character) assertiveness. Chizuru is bad at reading other people’s mental state and emotions even though not exceptionally so for a 17-year-old girl. Naho’s baffled reactions toward Kakeru’s advancements in my opinion are just plain stupid when both of them knows that they are romantically interested in each other. My shy classmate never participated in any voluntary activities or even raised her voice over 45 decibel but she could hold a conversation if somebody asked her and she was one of the few who openly confessed to one of my classmates throughout high school which showed me that even extremely introvert people can change their mental image of themselves when they feel that the circumstances require it. So to sum up this already overly long comment, I’ve just wanted to point out that the RElife anime’s biggest strength lays in the characters which are easy to identify with.

    Oh, and by the way the original intent of my comment was just to make a little emendation, I just get easily sidetracked. So, since the vocaloid version is one of my favourite Miku song, I would like to point out that the ED’s title is 夏祭り (Natsumatsuri) and not 夏休み (Natsuyasumi), though I suppose it was just a slip of thought from Enzo’s part. I really liked it in Watamote since the song is about shyness, regret, and the loneliness caused by the cruel hand of time. In this instance, in RElife’s case, this also fits, albeit I think it is more about Chizuru and Arata and not about Ooga and Kariu and I strongly advise Enzo to not look up the lyrics before finishing the series because in hindsight this song just fits utterly perfectly well with the last episode.

  5. Too late – I looked up the lyrics after Watamote…

    Great comment, but I have one quibble that I mainly mention because I hear it a lot. I honestly don’t see Naho as totally clueless or baffled by Kakeru’s advances (such as they haltingly are). I think she basically knows what’s going on – she’s just so painfully, pathologically shy that she can’t respond in what most people would see as an appropriate manner.

  6. I think Naho is actually pretty clueless (as Faolin pointed out, to the point of being unreal). She had to have her friends explain to her that Kakeru wanted to hold hands. If it was a matter of not knowing how to respond, then she wouldn’t need that from them.

  7. S

    I don’t think Naho is that romantically interested in Kakeru anymore. She wants to save her friend, but the romance side of it has sort of faded away by everything else. I think Kakeru can sense her conflicting emotions too.

  8. F

    After thinking it through once more, I’ve come to realize that the comparision of Naho and Chizuru might not be that valid since Chizuru is not really shy or insecure, I would rather say that she’s passive and lacks the skill to take social initiative. In Naho’s case what I find frustrating is that she’s pathologically shy and on top of that she’s less perceptive than a normal teenager and the combination of these two personality traits nudges the plot toward tragedy. (I haven’t read the manga so it is just my opinion but I just can not picture a happy end at the end of orange). So I should say that it is not even Naho’s shyness which peeves me, it is the fact that a little bit of introspection from Naho’s part could steer the flow of events in another direction. What I’ve found ultimately baffling is that she knows that a tragedy will happen and even with the possession of that knowledge she lacks perspective and is the victim of her own scope insensitivity in a way that prevents her from sitting down and thinking through her options to avert Kakeru’s fate.

    However, I would also argue against myself since thinking back proves to me that lacking perspective and being victim of one’s scope insensitivity are just essentially integral parts of being a teenager. So in the end I see that my arguments lack the power of persuasion since they are partially fueled by my refusal of the illogicalness of the teenager existence but that aside I would really like to know more about the thoughts of the adult Naho on the events that have passed in her timeline because those could serve as the cornerstones of the drama.

    And I’m sorry about dragging orange’s topic below a RElife’s post, next time maybe I’ll try to separate my thoughts, even notwithstanding that after the end of both series I think there will be more aspects of comparision.

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