ReLIFE, originally developed as a webtoon, was one of the most pleasant surprises in 2016 when it aired as a full anime. Telling the story of Arata Kaizaki, a NEET who is given an opportunity to live the life of a high schooler for one year, the series was sensitive, funny, and memorable. It also introduced us to Chizuru Hishiro, a fantastic character whose importance grows in the series until it becomes just as prime as Kaizaki’s.
A four-part OVA was just released to conclude the show, which left us on a bit of cliffhanger and a potentially heartbreaking note. These final episodes explore revelations given at the end of the first season and end with finality that is well-suited for he series: authentic, lovely, and true.
But that isn’t to say the journey is perfect—in fact, it’s downright rough sometimes. Two unfortunate hallmarks of the original airing remain: animation that is occasionally on mark but too often shoddy (the number of “shadow characters” or those whose eyes aren’t drawn is so numerous that it becomes terribly distracting) and that creepy piano music is still used, though admittedly less often. Even more problematic is that the episodes are rushed. The wonderful development from season one isn’t replicated here, and the “camera” can never settle long on precious moments: after all, there’s only 100 minutes to complete the series.
But all that can be forgiven for the positives of the series. The characters, so engaging in the first season, are likeable again here, and the animation is especially bolstered by the music. Lovely songs mark each episode (including one by a favorite of mine, Orange Range) as the series continues its tradition of using different songs and animation to close each one.
More importantly, though, we see the development of Arata and Chizuru through to the end. The very significant message that though the world may beat us up, we still have meaning, and that by just living in the here and now we can touch others and find ourselves, continues to run through these episodes.
And the ending packs quite a wallop. I’ll admit that I jumped up and down a little in nervousness, wondering where everything would ultimately end. And the conclusion does end on just the right note, exactly where it should, and we’re left remembering what a lovely series ReLIFE is, a little show with a big, big heart.
The ReLIFE OVAs can be streamed on Crunchyroll.