First Look: RE-MAIN

Anime original by MAPPA
Streaming on Funimation

Premise

In junior high, Minato Kiyomizu was a water polo ace who was part of a quartet of nationally recognised players. However, a car accident leaves him in a months-long coma and erases his memory of the last three years. Now headed into high school, he has to decide if he still wants to pursue the game and, if so, how he’s going to regain his former skills.

Zigg’s verdict: Unconscious Imitation

Here’s what I wrote just last season about Backflip!!

“This is an example of a fairly recent evolution of the sports anime genre, one in which the basic bread-and-butter cliches of the genre (rookie captivated by new sport, quirky team of losers who just need to pull it all together, etc) are supplemented by everyone in the cast being unbearably hot, muscle-bound bishonen who spend a lot of time in various modes of revealing dress.”

Yeah, it’s basically that again. The unique hook here is the coma angle, which while interesting arguably raises more questions than it answers. On the plus side, it gives us a way more interesting personal angle to the sports drama than we usually get, and I’m way more interested in Minato rebuilding his relationship with his parents, his sister, his old friends etc than I am in the sports angle. On the other hand though it seems like the show isn’t really interested too much in that stuff – the long gruelling rehab process is almost entirely glossed over for example – and is more concerned with using the coma as an excuse to have its cake and eat, by making the main character both a total rookie klutz and at the same time an elite level prodigy with a ready made group of powerful rivals. The presence of Tiger & Bunny writer Masafumi Nishida on creative duties raises some hope for a decent character piece, but I’d be remiss in not pointing out this is a MAPPA production and the studio has not exactly covered itself in glory recently. This looks like it could be in the upper-tier of bishie boy sports stories, but it’s still hewing very closely to that tried-and-true template.

Artemis’ verdict: Fails To Make A Splash

To my mind, there are two major issues with Re-Main. First, it seems to be aiming to be a drama, a comedy, and a school sports anime all in one – and while it doesn’t necessarily outright fail at any of this, it also doesn’t do a good enough job to stand out as especially unique or competent at any of them. Aside from the tone being a bit all over the place, making for an uneasy blend of cliché-seeming melodrama and out-of-place humor, I just wasn’t sure what the primary focus was supposed to be, or even whether the show itself knew what it wanted to achieve from this premiere.

The second problem is that I only picked Re-Main up in the first place for the water polo aspect. Don’t get me wrong, I know next to nothing about the sport, but given that I don’t think (?) any anime has featured this as its main selling point before, I figured that even if the premise wasn’t terribly original, at least the sports part of the show would be. However, since there was zero water polo in action throughout this entire episode (and no, a photo of four dudes in speedos doesn’t really count), the series also failed to pique my interest in that regard. This means that the other aspects of the anime would have needed to pull enough weight to keep me around for a second episode – and since that isn’t the case here, especially given that the side characters (namely, the parents and the little sister) present a far more interesting viewpoint than our main guy, I’m not sure I feel motivated enough to stick around for more.

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