Re:Mind is a suspense drama produced by TokyoTV and released last October 2017. It stars the members of J-Pop group Keyakizaki46 (Mao Iguchi, Sarina Ushio, Memi Kakizaki, Yuuka Kageyama, Shiho Kato, Kyoko Saito, Kumi Sasaki, Mirei Sasaki, Mana Takase, Ayaka Takamoto, Neru Nagahama and Mei Higashimura) and has episodes directed by Akira Uchikata, Yusuke Ishida, and Yusuke Koroyasu. The show has 12 episodes with 20 minutes of runtime each. It is currently available on Netflix.
Re:Mind starts off strong with a story full of promise. On graduation day, eleven high school students wake up gathered around a long rectangle table, with silk bags over their heads and feet chained to the floor of an elaborately-designed dining room. A knight’s armor, animal head trophies, paintings, and clocks adorn the ornate yet eerie-looking space.
Soon, the students find themselves digging through their past, encountering more eerie incidents and vanishing one after another as they try to find the motive for this bizarre act. They initially interpret this mysterious incident as an act of revenge by the different individuals they’ve hurt or encountered in the past. There’s Watanabe Miho (played by Neru Nagahama), a powerful classmate who they ostracized and bullied following her politician father’s fall from grace. Then there’s Mr. Hayashi, their former professor who was fired due to allegations of sexual misconduct and physical assault. The students also suspect Miho’s father and boyfriend as culprits to get back at her classmates for their bullying. Secrets are revealed, confessions are made, apologies are given, and futures are sacrificed, but none of the students’ efforts help uncover the mystery of their kidnapping – until only one of them is left at the table.
Re:Mind’s mysterious and seemingly paranormal elements in the earlier episodes provided enough foundation for the story. These elements were important in keeping audiences interested in a show that is largely shot in a single room. Unfortunately, these elements diminished in the middle and towards the end, rendering the show as nothing more than a high school drama. This is where it gets disappointing.
The eventual loss of the show’s eerie element, nor focus on high school woes was not its ultimate weakness. In fact, there was enough palpable tension and psychotic horror to keep things interesting until the very end. It was also able to highlight relevant issues that warrant discussion in conservative societies, including suicide, bullying, and same-sex relationships. The musical score was also a major factor in keeping audiences interested even if the story shifted to drama from horror and mystery. It kept the show compelling even when the narrative was already lacking.
The show’s biggest weakness was its failure to provide answers at the very end. It does not leave the audience wanting the way a mystery usually does. Instead, it leaves the viewer horrified, confused, and worst of all, lost. The single-episode prequel which aims to give context to their kidnapping does nothing but showcase the cuteness and charm of its J-Pop stars. While the prequel’s end was a fitting intro of what was to come, the entirety of it did not show much.
Re:Mind was able to show a lot of delight and promise at the start, but eventually faltered in terms of storytelling. If you’re a fan of suspense, horror and high school drama, then this is for you. But if not, then you can move on and look for a better suspense drama for you.
(Cover photo courtesy of MyDramaList)