What if reliving high school was better than the adult world?

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 10.28.01 PMTitle: ReLIFE
Genre: Drama, Realistic Fiction
Publisher: NHN PlayArt (online) / (JP)
Earth Star Entertainment (JP), Crunchyroll (U.S)
Artist/Writer: Yayoiso
Serialization: Comico
Translation: Andrew Cunningham
Release Date: December 21, 2015
Review copy provided by Crunchyroll.

Arata Kazaki used to have a plan about how his life would go: go to college, get hired by a good company, then get married and have a kid by the time he was 25. But it took a few years for him to get into college, then even more time to get into grad school. After a bad first job he’s now 27 and scrambling for a chance to really begin his adult life. Of course then, he thinks that it’s ludicrous when someone approaches him to be part of a medical trial for a pill that de-ages you back to high school for one year!

Of course he accidentally takes it; with the allure of having all of his living expenses paid for a year, and possibly a job at the end, Arata puts on a school uniform and begins living as a university-bound student again.

This is not a new premise at all; recently we’ve had the shoujo manga Idol Dreams which also involved magical pills allowing an unfulfilled office worker “relive” her high school days, and Satoru from this season’s Erased anime is also a very similar character to Arata. Neither one of them is a complete NEET but they aren’t living fulfilling lives either, and upon becoming their younger selves are filled with a confidence and ease that wasn’t present in their adult lives. It’s more impressive in Arata’s case since he has not gone back in time and can coast by on what he remembers. He’s now in a new and very competitive high school (studying subjects he hasn’t touched in ten years) with completely new people, but perhaps that’s why he’s thriving. The manga hasn’t explicitly stated why he left his first job (which the interviewers make clear is not the norm in Japanese businesses) but what glimpses we’ve seen show that he has a good heart and that if he had a chance to wipe his employment record clean he’d be happy to try again. Going back to high school is a bit of an extreme version of this but so far Arata has nice, surprisingly fleshed out classmates. The whole experience feels rather pleasant and makes you wonder what was so bad about school in the first place.

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In fact, my biggest problem with the manga so far lies not so much with the story but the format. Each chapter is very short, only ten or twelve pages long, which means that the chapters end in odd places. They don’t end in the middle of a conversation, thank goodness, but sometimes seemed to do so before a scene was fully over. This was made worse by reading the manga on Crunchyroll’s manga reader which has to reload the page for each new chapter and takes you out of full-screen mode. I suspect that if you were to read it without constantly reloading, either in print or in another digital format, that the short chapters wouldn’t be as noticeable and I wonder if the upcoming anime might be even easier to follow. Even with that caveat, I am heartily recommending this first volume and hope that the rest are translated soon!