We’ve all thought from time to time what it would be like to go back in time and do things differently. The ReLife Laboratories wants to make that happen, no time travel involved. The institute has created better living through chemistry, a pill that will make you look like you are back in your teens, and they will enroll you in school to give you a second shot. ReLife doesn’t do it to out of the kindness of their hearts, either; they have a government contract to reform NEETs (Not in Employment, Education, or Training).
Arata Kaiaki is one of those chosen to be reformed. Arata is a 27-year-old who bounces around from job to job after leaving his first job under less than ideal circumstances. He then finds himself in a much younger body and taking up the role of transfer student in high school. He quickly finds out that things have changed a lot for your average high school student in the last 10 years and despite his life experience he’s got a lot of ground to make up. Let’s take a look at some of the more intriguing characters of this series!
10. An Onoya
Onoya is a girl in Arata’s class. She is bright and cheerful and just like Arata is a transfer student. Onoya made a point of getting to know Arata, believing they were in the same boat. She is also not the smartest student in the class; she fails many of her tests just like Arata. Her grades are some of the worst in the class making the two kindred spirits. They also share a mutual school friend in Ooga, the class representative. Arata and Onoya share a mischievous streak, especially when it comes to Ooga and his nonexistent love life. The two seem ready to tease the young Ooga at every turn, usually picking on the fact that he has no clue that his friend Rena likes him.
Onoya may not be as dumb as she lets on. She is leading second life, but she’s also one of Arata’s observers working for ReLife. She seems to have a very interventionist attitude to working with her clients and the other kids at the school. Onoya is willing to work in direct contrast to the company line for observers to just observe. She thinks if she has advice or the ability to help her client or anyone else, she should. What is it that drives her to relive her high school days and act like a dunce? We’d love to unravel that mystery.
9. Kazuomi Ooga
Ooga is a third-year high school student. He about as smart as they get and yet is the dumbest guy in class. You could view his dumbness as innocence. He is nice to everyone and is one of the first people to befriend Arata. He even becomes friends with standoffish Chizuru, once the idea that he could be her friend was put to him.
Ooga is also close friends and classmates with Rena. He is also oblivious that Rena is in love with him. Arata and An tease him about this often without mentioning names and he can’t put two and two together. We find Ooga interesting because he seems to be all the things that would be ideal in a high school boy. Yet he doesn’t seem to have any sense for romantic relationships. He doesn’t even seem to have a personality problem like some members of the cast. He just seems to be missing one piece, understanding girls as love interests rather than friends.
8. Kokoro Amatsu
Kokoro is the homeroom teacher for the main cast of ReLife. She is an optimistic young woman who hasn’t yet become disillusioned by the profession; she really wants to look out for her students. You can see that in the outrage and concern that she shows for Arata when she finds cigarettes in his bag. You often see her wearing her track suit, appropriate since she is the gym teacher and volleyball coach.
She falls on this list because she seems to be very trusting of her students to make their own decisions. Kokoro seems to truly think of herself as a guide for the children in her care. She’s also only 25 and takes her positon as their senior seriously while still trying to figure out how to be an adult herself.
7. Akira Inukai
Akira is a standoffish and sometimes straightforward guy and a childhood friend of Honoka Tamari, Rena’s best friend. He looks a little intimidating with his hair a little on the shaggy side and often shading his eyes. We see from the interactions he has with Honoka that he has a nice side. He is also the son of the science teacher.
Honoka and Nobunaga are his two closest friends. You seldom see Nobungana without Akira. The two of them wait around after school just to walk Honoka home as if they were her two overprotective brothers. He is also an observer by nature. Akira seems to sit back and watch events play out, the only exception is when Honoka is involved. We see him react to her moods and understand her feelings without her ever saying a word. Akira seems to be walking that fine line between friend and lover, afraid to upset the balance in by asking for more. He’s intriguing because something in his past led him to his reserved nature. It’s a trait he only seems to overcome when Honoka’s happiness is concerned.
6. Rena Kariu
Rena is your average high school girl. She is a member of the volleyball team and a class rep in the previous year. She also seems to have a competitive streak in her, too. Rena seems a little prideful as well. She states that the perks of being top of the class such as tuition reimbursement, free lunches, etc., were never her goals, it was the simple pride of being at the top. She also seems to have a real problem understanding Chizuru, who seems to have some sort of socialization problem. She constantly takes Chizuru’s attempts at being nice the wrong way.
In spite of her good grades and athletic ability, Rena seems to have an inferiority complex. She feels she needs to prove herself again and again. She also seems to be the jealous type where her crush is concerned. Rena struggles with some inner demons as well as fighting the instinct to do the wrong things at times. We find Rena’s drive to be very intriguing. She is a character who should be moving smoothly through life, yet she struggles with self-esteem issues or even depression.
5. Michiru Saiki
We all would have loved to have known Michiru. She was Arata’s trainer at his office job after college. By all accounts she was a successful professional, constantly beating sales goals. Michiru was also tough as nails as she navigated a hostile work environment. She wasn’t mean, though, as we saw with the way she treated Arata by taking him under her wing.
Michiru is on this list of intriguing characters because we have a lot of unanswered questions about her. She was smart, successful, and tough, surviving a less than positive work environment. Yet she let the pressure of the company and the harassment of other employees jealous of her success drive her to drastic measures. Did she not have anyone outside of work to lean on? Did she not feel she had the opportunity to leave the company and make a fresh start? What made her feel trapped and alone?
4. Honoka Tamari
Honoka is best friends with Rena. She is also childhood friends with Nobunaga and Akira. She’s a natural athlete and the captain of the volleyball club. Honoka is one of those people that are good at everything they try and have the will to practice hard to go beyond the amazing level of her natural talent. On the other hand, she isn’t great at academics and needs to work hard on them also in order to keep from failing.
She is on this list of intriguing individuals because despite her talent and success in sports, she almost decided not to join any of the sports clubs. Honoka is proof that success isn’t everything. She found her success alienating to teammates in the past. Honoka wasn’t a braggart or flashy about her skill, but that skill being so much greater than her teammates led to resentment. She didn’t have the desire to compete for competition’s sake, she just wanted to play well with her teammates like Rena. The successful yet humble athlete is a rarity in this world and what makes them stay humble among great success is intriguing.
3. Ryou Yoake
Ryou maybe a high school student but he isn’t average. He has a full-time job as an observer for ReLife Laboratories and he is actually 27. He is also responsible for observing and supporting Arata. He’s had a tough time of it as a supporter during his first assignment. The individual he was in charge of made no progress in becoming a more well-adjusted person, leaving him feeling like a failure.
Ryou also seems to have some baggage. He seems to be constantly worried about getting too close and too involved with the civilian students and the person he is observing. Ryou seems to take his time getting to know Arata, keeping him at arm’s length seeing him as little more than just a file or a person to observe. He is one of the characters we learn the least about with a back story that seems yet to be told.
2. Chizuru Hishiro
Chizuru is a puzzle, and one Arata wants to figure out. She is a third-year student and one of the highest ranked students in her class. She is a shy girl with an inability to connect with others. Chizuru is also very blunt for a shy girl. She also seems to have great difficulty remembering names but does well remembering facts about people, like Arata getting caught with cigarettes. She even tries to smile, but her smile comes off as looking sinister.
Chizuru is intriguing because she is smart, earnest and a very hard worker yet seemingly naïve about the world. She understands that she is often considered unapproachable. Chizuru recognizes that she doesn’t have any close friends even though a girl her age should have at least one. She also wants to change, but has no idea where to begin. A change for her would be easier if she had friends to guide her and a lack of friends is keeping her from changing; a catch 22. When we learn even more about her character we are still left with many questions and that sets her firmly on the list of most intriguing at number two.
1. Arata Kaizaki
Arata is a 27-year-old man masquerading as a 17-year-old high school student and working as a test subject for ReLife Laboratories. He seems to be a well-grounded individual, not unemployed but underemployed and getting by. Arata is also a model employee at his convenience store job, taking the work he does seriously. He is chosen for ReLife because his early career seemed filled with promise. He was working in an office job but several years on he wasn’t working in an office anymore and didn’t seem to have the will to push for something more than his day-to-day existence.
He was never a slacker or an anime-obsessed NEET, he was a guy who tried hard to make a go of it in a salary job. The world he found as a professional crushed his illusions of the world and an office tragedy led to him quitting. He worked hard and tried to get new professional jobs but never managed to land one. We get to watch him form friendships in school and attract people to him, promoting positive change in the people around him. Arata is intriguing because it’s amazing that he ended up in a dead-end job with his talent and character. We simply aren’t sure if he was chosen to reform himself or others.
ReLife is about regrets and reinvention. The characters in ReLife all have their reasons for wanting to do it all over again and the project observers are no different. We know there is something about going back to our youth that is appealing, even if we didn’t have the ideal youthful experience. We equate youth with beginnings, so it’s only natural to want to go back to the beginning if we have a regret. The anime is not only entertaining, but may help those of us of a certain age reexamine our choices and imagine our own ReLife.