Manga Review: ReLife

ReLife (Riraifu) (リライフ)
Original Story by
 Yayoi Sou
Art by Yayoi Sou
Published by NHN Japan (online) from 2013 to 2018
Genres: [Shoujo] Slice of Life, School, Comedy
Volumes: 9
Chapters:
222
Status of manga:
 Completed*
My rating for the anime: 8/10
My rating for the live action: 4.5/10

*Review based on entire manga series

MAL Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

4.5 Stars, Completed March 11, 2018
(Originally: Completed September 18, 2016 at ch. 144)

– SPOILER free –

If at some point in life, you made a mistake or kept failing over and over again, and you can’t help but think it’s useless and you’re a good for nothing; remember, you’re only taking a detour. And I’m sure further along your path there will come a day where you think, “It was a good life experience.” That’s why it’ll be fine.

I’m bringing this old review back to life (no pun intended) because this series has finally reached its end and I really miss it (especially after watching ReLife: The Final Arc, which recently released in the States). Plus, I didn’t think my mini-review on Goodreads in 2016 conveyed my thoughts well enough or gave this incredible series the spotlight it deserves.

This was the only manga (or I guess I should say webtoon) that I followed so faithfully every Sunday for several years.

Before my first fall semester of pharmacy school, (no clue why I thought this was a good idea but) I had a fabulous one day anime marathon of ReLife (because for some unknown reason the entire season was leaked by TMS Entertainment in one night). I had such a fun time with the show that I immediately had to do some research and found the webtoon to further indulge in the engaging storyline. And, no surprise, I found the manga to be even better!

ReLife follows the story of 27 year old Arata Kaizaki, a guy that can’t find a job due to his departure from his previous employer only three months after employment. Then he meets Ryou Yoake who offers Arata a second chance through a program called ReLife. ReLife is designed to reintroduce NEETs (Those “Not in Education, Employment, and Training”) back into society by physically transforming them (via a pill) into their youthful forms and having them return to high school, where the company believes the root of many NEETs’ problems began, for one year. During the experiment, the subjects actually attend a real high school with real young students, and all expenses are covered. At the end of the one year study, all evidence of the subject’s existence will be erased from his/her peers’ memories. The only catch is that the subjects are not allowed to talk about the company, program, or process; and if they do, the experiment will end and the subject’s memory will be erased.

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I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux on May 30, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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1.5 Stars, Completed September 24, 2017

– read bold text ONLY to avoid MAJOR SPOILERS –

There’s been so much Asian rep lately with the hype around Crazy Rich Asians and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, so I thought I’d share an old, belated review before the month’s end. However, to my dismay, I didn’t enjoy this title nearly as much as I did CRA (in theater) and TAtBILB (my current read).

Real love: It was all about risk and having faith. There were no guarantees.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love is about hardworking perfectionist and star student, Desi Lee, and her plans of wooing her crush… not the traditional way but through the guidance of her beloved Korean dramas (catty girl fights, car crashes, and all). She’s certain that her K-drama list of to-do’s will win over Luka Drakos, because everyone surrenders to the magic of a good time-stopping, romantic straight out of a K-drama scene. But after a crazy turn of events, she realizes that love may be more complex and beyond simply “using a formula.” Desi may need to just learn to trust her heart and the process of falling it love itself (minus the drama and flair shown in films).

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Manga Review: Daytime Shooting Star

Daytime Shooting Star (Hirunaka no Ryuusei) (ひるなかの流星)
Original Story by
 Mika Yamamori
Art by Mika Yamamori
Published by Margaret from 2011 to 2014
Genres: [Shoujo] Romance, School
Volumes: 12
Chapters:
86
Status of manga:
 Completed*
[Edit 3/11/2018] My rating for the live action: 8/10

*Review based on entire manga series

MAL Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

3 Stars, Completed July 3, 2017

– read the bold text only to avoid major SPOILERS –

He emitted a light as bright as that of a falling star…

Daytime Shooting Star is a high school romance centering around the story of a teenage girl named Suzume Yosano that moves to Tokyo from a small town to reside with her uncle after her father’s job transfer. Upon her arrival to the city she meets a mysterious young gentleman that helps her reach her uncle’s place. Though she learns that this man is an acquaintance of her uncle’s she remains skeptical of this happy go lucky guy and tries to avoid him after their first encounter… but it looks like this will be harder done than said considering he’s her homeroom teacher at her new school.

Having read the entire series-all 12 volumes (which is roughly 80 chapters)-in the span of three days, there’s clearly an addictive quality to Daytime Shooting Star. And the sole reason why I think it was so compelling to read was because (dare I say it) the love triangle.

I might be the black sheep with this confession but I’ve actually never been one that disliked love triangles if done well. My biggest annoyances with the bad ones have been when A) the triangle itself was completely unnecessary and could have been avoided but was there to add unwanted drama B) it became blatantly apparent who the protagonist would choose at the end early on and/or C) the author decided to take a cop-out and villainized one party so that the lead female would alternatively get together with the seemingly “nice guy.”

Luckily, there was none of that nonsense with Daytime Shooting Star. Instead, it excelled at the push and pull aspect of these sort of romances but in balanced moderation to minimize readers’ frustration. It was also pretty obscure throughout the entire series who the heroine would eventually pick. In fact, the mystery of the outcome was this manga’s greatest charm, in my opinion.

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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books on June 6, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3.5 Stars, Completed May 8, 2017

– this review is quite long; you can read the bold text to get the main idea and to avoid SPOILERS –

Being the daughter of a popular wedding planner, Louna has practically seen every type of wedding imaginable, some with hysterical brides, others couples with cold feet or misbehaved wedding guests, and not uncommonly all of the above sometimes. Witnessing the imperfect side of those in romantic relationships has made her somewhat cynical about happily ever afters and question if they even really exist. It doesn’t help that her first love ended tragically. So when Louna meets happy go lucky, serial dater Ambrose her heart by default knows to be wary of stepping into romance territory and she decides to keep him at arm’s length. But that isn’t going to stop Ambrose seeing as he’s finally met the girl that he really wants.

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What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen + Giveaway

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books on May 10, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 402
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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3.5 Stars, Reread May 18, 2017

– SPOILER free –

Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.

For the past two years Mclean Sweet and her divorced father have been moving from town to town as he is a restaurant consultant. With each move Mclean sees it as a chance to reinvent herself and take up a different persona. As Liz, Eliza, and Beth she’s been many girls from preppy cheerleader to drama diva. But when Mclean and her father make a stop at Lakeview, she’s finds herself as just Mclean. But who is the real Mclean? After being separated from her true identity for so long, Mclean isn’t sure who she really is anymore. With What Happened to Goodbye Sarah Dessen weaves yet another story about youth and self discovery.

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Just Listen by Sarah Dessen + Giveaway

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking Books on April 6, 2006
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 371
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

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5 Stars, Reread May 9, 2017

– SPOILER free –

In everyone’s eyes Annabel Greene seems to appear as “the girl who has everything” for the fact that she plays the part of a well-liked, popular cheerleader in a television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store. Though in reality, she’s far from that role. At school, she’s shunned by her peers for shamefully stealing her best friend’s boyfriend behind her back at a party last summer. (Though, she didn’t.) At home, her parents are completely oblivious to Annabel’s friendless life seeing as they’re more preoccupied with her older sister who recently became anorexic. With the focus on Whitney, Annabel begins to bury a lot of her thoughts from her family and it becomes a habit. But then she meets Owen Armstrong, a truth-telling, music-obsessed guy. As if his blunt honesty was contagious, she finds that voicing what she really means comes out so easily when she’s with him. But with the help of her and Owen’s comfortable friendship, will she finally be able to finally face the events that happened the night that she and Sophie stopped being friends?

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The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen + Giveaway

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin Group Inc. on May 11, 2004
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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5 Stars, Reread May 3, 2017

– SPOILER free –

I’d tried to hold myself apart, showing only what I wanted, doling out bits and pieces of who I was. But that only works for so long. Eventually, even the smallest fragments can’t help but make a whole.

After witnessing her father’s unexpected death, Macy has always sought to find control of her life by planning for the expected. She likes the certainty of knowing what will happen next. So when her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp, she decides to spend her summer subbing for him at his library job, studying for the SATs, and occasionally making small talk with her mother about anything but the traumatic loss of her father. But when she meets the dysfunctional team at Wish Catering, a group accustomed to chaos and surprises, after they cater at one of her mom’s parties she starts to feel compelled to breakaway from her steady and sheltered life. Because, perhaps, the key to truly living is not to dwell on the past or wait for the future, but instead embrace each moment of the present.

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Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith
Published by Delacorte Press on May 2, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 432
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Publisher

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3.5 Stars, Completed March 22, 2017

– minor SPOILERS ahead –

windfall
/ˈwin(d)fôl/
noun

a piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves receiving a large amount of money.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck and especially not after she experienced the worst kind when she lost her parents nine years ago. But as a joke she decides to buy a lottery ticket as an eighteenth birthday present for her best friend that she has secretly loved for years, Teddy. To their utter disbelief, he wins $140 million and, suddenly, everything changes. Teddy’s newfound wealth will put an unexpected strain on their friendship; their once effortless understanding and dependence of one another after having grown up in tough circumstances together dissipates completely as they argue more and more. Thus, the money begins to feel more like a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice will discover more about herself and what she wants from life in moments she least expects.

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By Your Side by Kasie West

5By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by Harper Teen on January 31, 2017
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: ARC, paperback
Source: Yallfest

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3 Stars, Completed February 15, 2017

– SPOILER free –

By Your Side is a light contemporary about two teenagers that develop an unlikely friendship after they’ve been accidentally locked in the library for a weekend. Dax is the school’s loner with a bad reputation. Whereas, Autumn is a do-gooder that doesn’t notice much beyond her camera’s viewfinder and inner group of popular friends. At first, Dax and Autumn only recall the negative impressions they have  of each other and do not get along. But after a few nights of shared vending machine snacks and real talks, both realize that the other is much more than what first meets the eye. They decide to call an amiable truce and soon begin to enjoy each other’s company. And when the pair are finally found and released, the question is after all they’ve shared will they remain friends or will they ignore each other as they had before?

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Manga Review: Blue Spring Ride

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Blue Spring Ride (Ao Haru Ride) (アオハライド)
Original Story by
 Io Sakisaka
Art by Io Sakisaka
Published by Bessatsu Margaret from 2011 to 2015
Genres: [Shoujo] Romance, School, Slice of Life
Volumes: 13
Chapters:
53
Status of manga:
 Completed*
My rating for the anime: 8/10
My rating for the live action film: 6.5/10

*Review based on entire manga series

MAL Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

Purchase links are not available because, as of when this review is published, this manga has yet to be officially serialized in English. However, you can still read this online with fan-subs.

3.5 Stars, Reread January 1, 2017

– read the bold text to avoid minor SPOILERS –

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Gif credits to wordstuck

If I had to choose one word to describe this manga series, it would be the Japanese adjective, “懐かしい” (natsukashii). This term is difficult to translate into English accurately and completely, but it is often used to express a yearning for something, or a slightly nostalgic feeling of missing. As a non-native and amateur learning the foreign language for my own fun, how I’ve personally interpret natsukashii is the feeling you get when you’re reminded of the past. And Blue Spring Ride made me feel just that.

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The story begins with two middle schoolers, Futaba Yoshioka and Kou Tanaka, that like each other making plans to attend a festival together during their school break. However, misunderstandings arise after Futaba accidentally blurts that she hates boys because of their obnoxious behavior. Kou hears her exclamation, and doesn’t meet up with Futaba the day of the event. Futaba believes that he stood her up for the outburst that he overheard, but really he couldn’t make it because of family issues. So she decides to address this misunderstanding when they return to school. But on the day of the new semester, Futaba discovers that Kou has already transferred schools to another town. With a lot of loose ends left and the strength of first love, the two never forget each other in spite of the distance. And then years later, fate makes them enrolled in the same high school. Will they finally face each other after all this time? And will the attraction they shared from the past be rekindled?

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