Genre: Science fantasy, drama, romance
To get another chance at living an easier, more carefree time of your life. That would be ideal, wouldn’t it? No more worrying about searching for a new job, paying the bills, or any of that old, boring, crusty adult stuff.
That’s exactly the deal that 27 year old Kaizaki Arata gets when he meets a mysterious man called Yoake Ryō.
One pop of a magic pill and he’d be rejuvenated by 10 years- which would then allow him to attend highschool all over again. That would be a dream come true for many. Unfortunately, life isn’t an anime, no matter how much we wish it would be.
Luckily for Kaizaki, ReLIFE is one.
So what is ReLIFE exactly about?
If you’ve taken the time to at least keep up with news regarding Japan every now and then, you might have heard of the term “karoshi”, and in turn, the difficulties found in a Japanese working environment.
For those who aren’t aware, “karoshi” is a Japanese word that is defined as death from overwork, or suicide from work-related stress.
As one of the few Japanese entertainment shows to touch upon the subject, I was immediately intrigued. An anime about karoshi? You can bet I’d pay to see that- and I did.
The story starts with a peek at half-NEET Kaizaki Arata’s daily life. After quitting his job of only 3 months, he struggles to find employment, as companies refuse to hire someone who seems unreliable on paper. He claims that the reason behind his resignation is that the company “does not fit his highest potential” when in reality, he couldn’t bear the thought of working for a black company any longer.
So with his reputation in pieces, he walked away from that job and has been struggling ever since. The situation only worsens when his parents cut off his allowance, and he has to fall back on his only other source of income- a part-time job he managed to snag at a mini market.
It is at this point that Yoake enters his life, and offers him a job opportunity, on the condition that he agrees to be a test subject for a scientific experiment first. This experiment involves rejuvenating Kaizaki by 10 years and sending him back to highschool as a student, in order to fix whatever is wrong with his life as well as to provide a chance of enjoying youth again.
Desperate and running out of funds, Kaizaki agrees and signs the contract.
So that was it. He has a year to fix his life and maybe, just maybe, score a job.
Getting a bit too real in here
Despite the obviously fantastical element, ReLIFE does manage to weave in doses of bitter reality in its tale.
The Japanese working environment is not an easy one, and ReLIFE does not hesitate to explore the hardships it possesses. From sexism, power harassment and disregard for life, this anime lays it out on a silver platter. The content is perhaps not as in depth as one might wish it would be, but it does the job nonetheless. And it is through this that one might get the Japanese’ obsession with the highschool genre- things were just much more simple back then, no?
That said, ReLIFE is not without its light-hearted moments. It has plenty of those, especially when Kaizaki struggles to fit in as a student. Having been out of school for so long, the really-a-27-year-old has completely forgotten what he had learned in classes all those years ago. Maths? What the heck is that? The man can’t remember how to solve third year equations for the life of him.
Don’t even get him started on his dilemma with a certain attractive and jarringly familiar girl in his class.
So is ReLIFE worth a watch? I would think so, especially if you’re interested in the subject of karoshi.
The anime retains a fun, easy-going feel despite its darker undertones, and this makes it easier to watch in one go. There is plenty of humour to be had in this, with an amusing cast of characters and their own stories to further colour it.
I look forward to watching
Season 2 the conclusion of this series.