ReLIFE 08 – 10

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The first debut of the black cat LIME stamp

Hey guys, it’s been a while! I had a wonderful vacation, but now I’m up to my eyeballs in piled up anime episodes. If I don’t catch up soon, I won’t be ready for the next season! So here’s a big ‘ol dump covering 3 episodes of the Haikyuu! arc.

The whole volleyball tournament thing instinctively pushed me into sports anime mode. This isn’t a good thing, because ReLIFE isn’t a sports anime and it doesn’t have a very nuanced view of what types of issues athletes face. Comparing it to a more competent sports anime that specializes in just that sort of thing just makes ReLIFE look bad. It’s like putting a black and white filter on a photo of a rainbow. I just can’t help but want to know more about the sports side of thing (instead of just the drama) since that’s an inherently interesting topic. And there’s a sore lack of that here.

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Everyone tells us what an athletic prodigy Honoka is, but we rarely see those skills in action. We see her outrun Kariu, and we see her after practice, but the only time we actually see her in the act of doing something athletic in a way that far surpasses others is that flashback where she spikes a ball that scoops up into Kariu’s chin. That’s it. We’re expected to understand why everyone is so off-put by her monstrous strength, and yet we never fully witness it. It almost feels like a lie, especially since Honoka is so humble and Kariu grossly over-exaggerates the skill levels of everyone around her.

The whole prodigy thing is also a little difficult for me to sympathize with. Oh yes, poor Honoka, she’s so good at volleyball! What a horrible turn of events to get a sports scholarship because she’s so amazing! There are always some slackers on a team looking for an excuse to give up. Honoka is that excuse for them. If they really loved the sport, they wouldn’t be discouraged by having an awesome ace. Kariu may have her issues, but they don’t stop her from doing her best in volleyball.

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Her heart’s in worse shape than her ankle

It’s also harder for me to believe her teammates really hate her because volleyball isn’t the kind of sport where an ace can hog the ball all the time. The layout is always shifting and the other team usually aims for the weaker players. It’s a little silly for the other players to just give up as if Honoka could win the match on her own, and that their own efforts are meaningless. It’s also a little weird that no one notices Honoka staying super late and practicing like crazy, which would be an ample explanation for her superior volleyball skills. You can’t blame everything on Honoka being a natural when she’s also staying past sunset to spike balls and you’re rushing home early.

These are all minor complaints though, as my main moment of eye-rolling was the fight between Honoka and Kariu. However, the next 2 episodes were much better, as this show has a wonderful approach to how arguments are solved.

ReLIFE seems to be poking around the question “how much should you get involved to help people?”. For example, Hishiro notices something is awry, but she knows she can’t meddle in their affairs directly by flat-out asking them what’s up. Instead, she gathers information, weighs her options, and ultimately turns to Arata for advice.

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“and then I’ll Return By Death to….*cough*”

This opens up a rather dark discussion about their past, and how their attempts to help someone in need ended up exacerbating the situation. This has made both of them leery when it comes to placing themselves in the middle of a problem involving other parties. For Arata, this seems to be much more traumatic. It’s implied that his female coworker committed suicide from being harassed – which likely lead Arata to feel some guilt because he worsened the situation when he was trying to defend her.

Despite this trauma, Arata decides to do some more meddling. Without Hishiro, I doubt he would have though. The two support each other in a way that lets them support Honoka, and they all have a really healthy, adult discussion about their feelings. They talk her through the problem and give her the courage to speak to Kariu. It’s a great scene combined with Hishiro revealing more about herself and her re-kindled desire to make friends after a numbing series of school transfers. It’s a little cheap that they rely on eaves-dropping so often in this show to convey information more quickly, but I will grudgingly admit that it saves time and avoids redundancy.

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Guess Arata is allowed in the changeroom this one time

Kariu hears it all, but she’s not that easy to convince. Oh Kariu…you’ve come so far but just not far enough to avoid being an annoying tsundere. Ah well. Honoka had her turn to pour her heart out, and Kariu needed a moment for that as well. So while having Kariu run off yet again is tiring, it does result in a wonderful dialogue scene later when Hishiro and Arata infiltrate her house. It’s the most real this show has ever been. I particularly liked the line about how a friend doesn’t need to completely understand all of your feelings to be worried about you. If you only let people reach out to you when they experienced the exact same things as you, no one would ever try to help you. Hishiro and Arata call out Kariu for expecting too much – namely, that people will understand her true feelings without her ever attempting to communicate them. And if she’s too embarrassed to say them, she should realize that even if she doesn’t want to talk, her friends will always be there to support her the best they can. Overall, it was just a convincing conversation that really got to the root of all of Kariu’s complexes. It was also a little chilling, because I know I’ve scoffed at people trying to help me for not understanding how I feel – which isn’t fair at all.

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some teasing, scolding and forehead flicking later…

As always, the resolution of these problems are always a treat. They’re solved through careful discourse until everyone is comfortable, in a way that avoids constant misunderstandings. Even Yoake seems to be getting the hang of finding the right distance at his job, as he knows just when to send Arata to Kariu’s apartment so he can finish the job. He has faith in Arata to do the right thing on his own (such as if he’d even notice something was up with Kariu) and he’s also there when needed to help him along the way. It’s all about deciding what’s he best way to help someone to help themselves. If you can do that, you’ve provided that person with the coping skills to manage even when you’re not there. It’s a nice double-layered story since Yoake‘s job is to literally not get too close to Arata while aiding him, while Arata is doing this naturally as a part of high school life.

So while ReLIFE annoyed me when I saw it as a sports anime (bad move, there wasn’t even any volleyball!), it definitely picked up when the group was resolving their issues. Now that we’ve gone through developing pretty much the entire main cast, will Arata finally figure out how to shed his semi-NEET skin and become a fully-functioning member of society? …You guys probably know the answer since y’all finished watching already so don’t tell me!

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About

A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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13 Responses to “ReLIFE 08 – 10”

  1. Joojoobees says:

    Heading into the final stretch!

    I think this show did a good job of developing the cast that surrounds the main character. In too many shows the other characters seem like they are there to be someone in the story of the main character. In Re:Life it seems they have a life of their own. Arata has an impact on the lives of others, but they seem like plausible characters on their own.

    • Overcooled says:

      Yep!

      It’s true. The characters can exist without Arata being there, which means they’re their own people and not just described in terms of how they fit into Arata’s life. It’s nice. And I think this story really hinges on that, since Arata will one day be gone from their lives and they need that independence to survive. Otherwise, the story falls apart.

      More drama need to take notes from how ReLIFE handles things…

  2. Highway says:

    It’s kind of a shame you got stuck viewing this through a sports anime filter, because as a general high school story, this was a pretty good one. To me, Rena is probably the hardest part of it to get through, because she’s being such a twerp, but that twerpiness is completely authentic. It does show a lot of the Japanese mindset on work vs ability, tho. Rena felt that because she hadn’t put in the work, she wasn’t entitled to be on the team, even though if she’s the #2 hitter on the team, they’d want her there no matter what. But back to Rena’s authenticity, she’s throwing a pity party, and nobody else is invited, even though everyone else tries to invite themselves.

    This storyline was really the time when the ensemble nature of the show really congealed, especially bringing Nobu and Aki in with Honoka. I think the show does really well in keeping the right feel for an ensemble and letting other characters be the main character for a storyline. Arata is there, but he’s more supporting character throughout this story. But this was also the part where Hishiro really started to shine, because this was her working to solve problems, even noticing problems. I like the slow, piece-by-piece reveal of Arata’s history as well. It’s a storytelling style that I have liked before, in shows like Uchoten Kazoku as well. Telling the same thing, but adding another detail, adding another part. It helps us feel like Arata is working on his problems, is reconnecting with himself.

    And now you’re almost to the end! ganbare!

    • Overcooled says:

      Yeah, I realized it was probably the absolute worst angle to tackle this from, but at the same time I really did get stuck in it :/

      Kariu is pretty hard to take at times, but she has some of the most interesting and complex personal issues to work through. Ah, yeah, she really put the pressure on herself for not practicing while she was injured. I can see why she’d feel bad suddenly showing up to the tournament, and I guess that’s even more of a faux-pas in Japan.

      I love the way Arata is basically just another character. Or rather, everyone is a main character. They’re all friends in different ways too, and yet they’re all connected in a way that makes their issues fun to explore. I especially liked seeing more about Nobu and Aki too! So cute the way they look out for Honoka~

      Ok! I’ll keep on watchin!

    • Author says:

      I think it’s completely valid to complain about technicalities. If the mangaka chooses volleyball, he/she ought to research properly. In some cases, the story is important enough. For example, in Ginban Kaleidoscope, a pilot would have a hard time not to notice that instruments in Pete’s indicate utter nonsense. But it hurts nothing, since they are completely insignificant. I am not certain that the volleyball in ReLIFE qualifies for this excuse.

      • Highway says:

        I don’t think there was anything messed up about the presentation, tho. I think that OC’s complaint about not being able to focus a player in volleyball is wrong, actually: The other team can choose who to serve to, and a team could have their plan be that they always set to Honoka. Sure the other team could figure this out and set their defense to it, but that doesn’t mean they’d win in a high school match.

        I also don’t think that Honoka was saying that her teammates hated her, but more that volleyball had become a chore. She was expected to do well, didn’t really get congratulated, and she didn’t have that sense of community with the others because they were typical teenage girls: pick on the person who’s doing better than you are as a way to make yourself feel better. We’d even seen the start of that kind of thing at the beginning of this arc, when Honoka got “special” treatment while she made up her test.

  3. ProtoSovereign says:

    I sometimes forget ReLife is an anime from THIS season XD. But yeah you’ve made some convincing arguments about the sports stuff.

    • Highway says:

      I think OC’s point about the sports aspects was more that “if it were a sports anime, it should have done this and that, but the reality is that it’s not a sports anime.” As I frequently point out, it’s not like they wasted time. So if you want it to be more of a sports anime, then you’re taking time away from the things the show is, a friendship “dramedy”. Volleyball was just the Mcguffin that show used as a setting to generate tension between Kariu’s personality and everyone else.

      • ProtoSovereign says:

        HAHAHA yeah I get that Highway ofc volleyball isn’t the focus but still if its there sometimes one cannot help but scrutinise it and find the faults in its presentation.

  4. skylion says:

    Very good arc here, I pretty much can’t top or add much to the coverage, but….

    I don’t see this being a sports/volleyball anime or even needing to adhere to those standards. Most of the feels were internalized, so whatever team standard the sport has had to take a back seat to that…which I think might have been the point, but I don’t the sports anime…

    I mean, I see this being as much a sports anime as The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is a historical…sure, it could have some points they explored from history, but even me, the history buff, only really wanted to see his LOLi harem grow…

  5. Author says:

    One thing that jumped at me was how the moment of Airiu’s injury was actually animated, in the end. When it plays out, it’s off-screen. I thought it was only natural, because animators have significant difficulty dealing with less than stock movements. That’s why major studios show off their prowess and budget by changing camera angles – or they did before the pervasive 3D. But the scene was played (mostly) for the flashback in the next episode. It’s as if they weren’t on schedule animating it for the broadcast. But with a director this clever, you can never know what actually happened.

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