ReLife Laboratories, a strange research organization working on a way to rehabilitate unproductive members of the world – people who are paying little more than lip-service to society, while not actually participating in it. Sounds like a noble goal, and a worthy one. The weird part is their methods… they have created an experimental drug that makes people look like teenagers so they can attend another year of high school in an attempt to reintegrate them into life itself.
During this year, they’ll have their basic needs provided for and based off of how their time at school goes, they might even get offered a permanent job. The catch? They can’t let anyone know about ReLife, and as soon as the ReLife program ends – either at the end of the year or if something goes wrong – everyone they knew will apparently forget about them. Our protagonist, Kaizaki Arata, is 27 years old and has become a recluse since quitting his first real job after only 3 months. One day, after drinking himself into a stupor, he’s approached by Yoake Ryo, a representative of ReLife, who offers him the opportunity to enter the program.
As you might expect from the above, ReLife is a pretty typical slice of life show of the ‘high school’ variety. It does have a strong cast, and I found myself really growing to like these characters over time. It has all the themes you’d expect… and our protagonist is – of course – terrible at all facets of school life. Our protagonist even has a romance interest in Chizuru Hishiro, a socially awkward girl striving desperately to change but unsure of how to go about it. ReLife has one very significant unique element that changes the perspective on so many of its events: the fact that the protagonist and his ReLife guide Yoake are actually adults.
While most of the cast fall into various tropes, our main couple (well… couple-ish) are very interesting characters. At first glance, you might think ‘oh he’s just your typical NEET archetype’ or ‘oh she’s just your typical ‘smart socially awkward’ character’, but as you start to delve a bit into their respective stories, you’ll come to realize that there’s a lot more to them than that. Chizuru’s strive to change was particularly touching, to me at least. Watching her gradually overcome her inability to deal with people hit really close to home, even if certain moments were a bit exaggerated… and the fact that such change came slowly, and never quite completely, made it feel all the more believable. After all, real people don’t tend to change overnight so why would Chizuru?
The show had some great storylines over the course of its first season. Some of the side characters fairly well developed, and the dynamic between Kaizaki and some of his teenage classmates was very intriguing. The dichotomy of him thinking as an adult but being treated as a kid worked really well for this show, and it was rewarding watching his subtle influence affect those around him. There were a few things that really made no sense, most notably the ‘everyone will forget you ever existed’ bit… these people interacted with him for a year, were influenced by his decisions. What are they going to attribute those memories to if they don’t remember him? It just felt unnecessary to the overall show, and served only to briefly distract from the elements that made it so enjoyable.
Ignoring the questions the show raised through its oversights, it was one of the better slice of life shows I’ve watched. It has a very solid cast, an intriguing story, and some very unique character interactions. It also explores some pretty deep concepts in a way that makes you really think about them, all while under the guise of a light-hearted slice of life show.