ReLIFE – 11

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Well, I guess even ReLIFE can have an off-day.

Perhaps it’s unfair to watch this episode on the heels of a terrific episode of Orange—or indeed, the momentous previous episode of ReLIFE—but I just wasn’t feeling this one. Which is a shame, because for all its momentum-killing flashbacks, it marked a significant leap forward for Kaizaki by the end.

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This week Kaizaki asks Yoake for another pill to make him 28 again, so he can properly visit his senpai Saiki Michiru’s grave. She committed suicide after continued harassment from her peers, which only intensified when Kaizaki ignored her wish for him to “grow up” and not to involve himself.

I guess my main problem with this storyline—important as it is for how Kaizaki ended up with ReLIFE to begin with—is that I don’t buy that an office would be that awful. I’m not saying office jobs can’t be that awful, just that I didn’t feel that scenario was portrayed carefully, convincingly, or realistically enough here.

This show’s always better when working with shades of gray—everyone has selfish desires; that sort of thing—but Kaizaki’s former job seems like a ridiculously cartoonish hell; a “black company” not just full of sexist pricks, but borderline sociopaths.

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Then there’s the two kohais from his company, who Yoake and An arrange to bump into Kaizaki. It’s good there are people who feel as he does, even if they didn’t have the courage to quit as soon as he did, and their admiration of what he did certainly lessens his regret somewhat and convinces him quitting was the right thing to do.

That’s all fine and dandy, but I’m still not sure why Yoake chose the anniversary of Saiki’s death to do this. It means for four months he kept information from Kaizaki that could have helped him deal with his trauma. But why so long? Was he simply waiting until a time when he knew Kaizaki would ask for a re-aging pill?

Finally, Kaizaki says he wants the pill so he won’t run into trouble if someone he knows shows up at Saiki’s grave. But that begs the question: how has he been able to avoid being spotted people he knows for four months? It’s a can of worms the episode presents that’s best left closed for the purposes of suspension of belief.

At any rate I’m glad Kaizaki is feeling better about the choices he made that led to his joining ReLIFE. Now I’d like to see him get back to that ReLIFE.

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Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

3 thoughts on “ReLIFE – 11”

  1. So I’m gonna disagree here, but hear me out…

    I can believe there would be an office this bad, especially for a professional woman. I can also imagine this leading to a woman taking her life because there’s no escape/no reward for staying alive and productive.

    However, there are 2 reasons why this is difficult to absorb within the context of the show, and both are interesting.

    First, ReLife is set in a school without bullying. In fact, it’s set in a school where everyone is pretty awesome to each other, which is itself I little stylized. Believable or not, the safety of school strongly contrasts ‘the real world’ those students will face when they graduate, which emphasizes several points ReLife has made about Japanese life — that ReLife exists, in part, as a response to the unpreparedness of the actual teens moving to adulthood as much as the adult it thrusts back to teen context. (a great deal of the ReLife reports consist of how Kaz has affected the students around him after all)

    Second, Kaz was only in the work force for 3 months. Literally, he only experienced the most surface/naive perspective that almost immediately resulted in death. So he’s an unreliable narrator and, of course, his perspective is warped because the only person he liked in that short period is dead. The officemates don’t even have eyes. This reinforces the importance of ReLife as a perspective shifting experience — that it doesn’t really matter what happens in detail — as long as Kaz experiences optimistic change and positive influence on the students, thumbs up. (this downplays the importance of who is actually an adult, or the morality of several adults masquerading around in a high school class without telling anyone)

    And both of these elements play into meeting Kaz’ replacements and seeing what better adjusted and/or more sedentary people think. They have faces, some shame, some hope, but are good people. And Kaz is an even better person, who can make others aspire to more, and make himself more as well.

    For me, that makes it at least an 8 ;-)

    1. You are heard Ogi-san. You’ve added a lot more nuance than I originally saw in the episode. I guess I was a little disoriented by suddenly delving so deep into Kaizaki’s past, since he seemed to be doing so well after bringing everyone together for the Volleyball Coup. A bit of narrative whiplash, if you will.

      This was clearly still something troubling him, it’s just with only three episodes left, I would have liked him to get past this earlier in the run. It’s almost as if the producers (or writer) procrastinated, realized they were up against the wall, and created the anniversary of Saiki’s death to justify shutting the rest of the story down.

      Then again, anniversaries of deaths have a way of sneaking up on you, so go figure.

      I definitely agree with your unreliable narrator point, as well as the fact that his senpai’s suicide would have probably been prevented by her own ReLIFE experience.

      But I’ll still tick with my gut 7 for now…a “high” 7. In addition to the timing, this whole exercise felt more manufactured and “This is Your Life”-y, in contrast to his more organically achieved victories.

      1. Fair enough and I’ll agree that putting off the reveal/backstory for Kaz’s emotional damage was risky. It gives him depth (he didn’t just quit over stress, but serious emotional damage) and it gives ReLife more significant purpose… but 3 episodes from the close is a tight box to fill.

        If anything, I think this is more a case of poor integration of that backstory up to this point. Like, if it had always been rosey and upbeat and we’d just thought he’d left like a flippant loser, only to be punched in the face with massive tragedy late in the game, that would be awesome.

        What we got toed the line — we knew it was dark… just not as dark as it turned out. That down plays our surprise, and the rating.

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