What’s it about? Kiyomizu Minato wakes up from an eight-month coma and doesn’t remember anything about his life as a junior high school student, including being a water polo national champion, but he’s determined to resume a normal life with his family. Despite wanting to give up water polo, it seems the sport isn’t ready to let him go yet.
I’m excited and cautious about this one. Cautious in the sense that everyone is aware about how poorly MAPPA has been treating their animators; and while this anime original has potential to be a hit, it doesn’t feel right that it has to be at the expense of overworked and underpaid animators. I wish there was more I can do or say on the matter, but at least highlighting the issue to keep people talking about it, is a start.
Having said that, the series does seem to have a reputable staff working on this. Nishida Masafumi is the chief director and writer known for working on Tiger & Bunny. I haven’t seen that show, but I know it’s a beloved series. It’s safe to say RE-MAIN is in good hands and so far this was both a bittersweet and delightful episode. It doesn’t showcase any water polo sport yet, but it does introduce us to some of the main characters while holding viewers hands as the show gradually teaches us the basic rules of water polo.
Minato is a sweet character and while his amnesia made him forget pivotal moments in his life, he still takes things in strides and wants to live a normal life again. Despite his optimism, the notable sadness from his family and ex-teammates are difficult for him to bear. The reality is no one knows if he will ever recover his memories, and Minato is struggling with the fact that he might not be the same person. He also feels bad that he isn’t emotionally connected to water polo anymore and struggles to understand his past enthusiasm by reviewing his old notes.
It’s clear that water polo defined a huge part of his life, and Minato can’t help but feel pressured by everyone that he should get back into it even though he isn’t ready. The introduction of his under-classmate Oka Eitaro is probably the only flaw in this premiere. He’s annoying and almost feels like a stalker, considering the fact he was determined to follow Minato to whatever high school he chooses. What Minato needs right now is time to figure himself out and not the forcefulness of his eventual teammates to get back into a sport that he isn’t sure he wants to continue anymore.
I normally don’t like sports anime, but RE-MAIN doesn’t feel overbearing and wants the audience to really connect with the characters first before getting into the nitty gritty aspects of water polo. Since Eitaro is an eyesore and Jojima Jo is pushy, I don’t think I’ll like everyone on Minato’s team, but I’m hoping the rest of them are bearable. I also want to note that it’s refreshing to see that a Black character is going to be part of the main cast and while I don’t know how he’ll be represented in the series (he’s in the opening theme), it’s great to see more diversity in anime. Considering the recent success of Yasuke, I want to believe MAPPA will get this right.
Overall, I liked this premiere and it’s worth checking out a few more episodes. Will this make me love sports anime? No, but hey at least I liked RE-MAIN and that has to count for something.