On the 15th of February Netflix added a new show to their selection of Netflix Originals: Re:Mind, a Japanese mini-series directed by Yusuke Ishida, Yûsuke Koroyasu, and Akira Uchikata. This mystery thriller follows eleven female students who, on the night before graduation, find themselves shackled to a large dining room table in a room filled with items inciting them to remember events from their pasts, stating “everything reminds you of something”. Intrigued by this set-up I decided to give it a watch and record my thoughts episode by episode, excluding the thirteenth ‘special episode’. So, let us begin!
I’m loving the premise of this series; the simplicity of shooting in one location (so far) is such a wonderful idea and allows for the set design to be so rich and deep, with all the candles, animal head wall mounts, and suits of armour playing into the typical horror tropes. However, even though this episode dedicates itself to setting the scene, I feel like I don’t know any of the characters and it was only in the final minute that I was provided with a hook. Still, I have a feeling that this will only get better.
This second episode is frustratingly slow, so much so that I think episodes 1 and 2 would have been far more effective if merged together. Characters are starting to develop and I know the majority of them (Kyoko and Mirei being my two favourites) but the narrative still feels very lost. Perhaps it can be argued that this puts us in the position of the girls – lost, confused, a little bit scared – but so far this show is painfully slow. Luckily, the setup, along with this episode’s last minute revelation, is extremely intriguing and I have to go on.
Following on from the revelation occurring in the final minutes of episode 2 this episode really gives the characters to shine, becoming almost a character study. Pointing blame at one another the atmosphere shifts from uncomfortable tension to desperate reliance and companionship in the face of fear. This is shown really well through a sequence near the end of the episode when the girls begin to play a song they had to sing at a school festival; the sounds of their voices accompanying the faint track played from a phone juxtapose with the images of thick oil seeping from the ceiling onto the clasped hands of the praying girls.
We start this episode in a very unfamiliar and exciting place: we leave the room! Providing a flashback, albeit a brief one, to the girls’ school, information about some of their “out of school activities” paints a deeper image of their characters, fully establishing the idea that nothing is as black and white as it may first seem. I’m unsure as to whether I’m slightly disappointed by the nature of these “activities” as they’re something I’ve seen before, namely in the manga Death Note. Mid-way through the episode, a new player is brought into the girl’s game and leads us in a new direction for the show. I’m excited to get to the next episode!
If you’re going to use a knife to threaten someone, please upgrade from a butter knife, it just looks ridiculous. The episodes are starting to pass by more quickly, the levels of intrigue keep being developed and switched around, leading us in one direction before turning around and pointing us in another. The end of episode twist didn’t have as much impact as some of the earlier ones, perhaps seeing as we’re learning not to trust the information that’s given to us, but some sort of answers seem to be on their way.
Much like episode 5, this episode continues the effective change of pace: cutting longer sequences of more menial things short, such as cutlery being dispensed, and allowing the focus to hang on the characters themselves. However, from the beginning of the episode, there’s a tonal shift that borders on the uncomfortable. Despite the fact that only girls are in the room from the very beginning of the episode we only truly become aware of that here, and it could be better handled
Technology is being used more and more within the show; from the beginning characters used their phones to find photos and videos to use as proof of their claims and condemnations of the other girls. In this episode, the technology is used to its full advantage; giving the audience a chance to leave the room and adding layers to the characters and their relationships. Compared with the earlier two episodes, this one does fall back into similar, expected patterns, but there has been a large enough accumulation of clues that we’re all playing detective.
This show continues to surprise me. Within this episode, a revelation and shocking new take on the girls possible-captor leads us to a darker place thematically; emotions rise and this outlandish scenario aligns itself more clearly with real-world experiences and consequences. A question I’ve had from the beginning, regarding a seemingly unexplained jump from being friends with someone to bullying them, is answered in this episode too, bringing everything in the episode together. Along with some stand-out shots (a memorable one being an extreme close up of Shiho’s face, half lit by candlelight and half in darkness), this has been one of the best episodes so far.
The majority of this episode left me a little disappointed. Following on from episode 8, I expected the standard of emotion to only rise, but it seemed to be dropped almost entirely. There have been some conscious efforts to surprise the audience, notably by breaking the structure of narrative it had set up for itself, but this falls back into the regular routine. What’s more, the camera work and editing in this episode seemed almost clumsy: whole sequences were shaky for no purpose, there were sudden cuts repeating the same image, and jarring transitions into slow motion that felt out of place. The ending, however, had me on tenterhooks. It shows that this series can evoke emotions effectively when it wants to, it’s just a shame it’s not used more to its advantage
This series really isn’t very consistent since, after the slight regression of episode 9, we’re hit with a mysterious and moving opening sequence, setting a tone for the episode as a whole. As the girls descend further into a place of fear and distrust, their desperation rises. These ideas are filtered through the character of Memi, the heart of this episode, and who gives a truly heartrending performance. There are a few really interesting shots used in this episode; many of which explore the space from low angles, often with creeping pans that add to the nightmarish feel of the show. I simply hope this standard remains in the final two episodes!
I don’t know exactly how I feel about this episode. There is a lot to be enjoyed; with some gorgeous shots and transitions, the overall slickness and aesthetic of the show are raised. However, the majority of the screentime is dedicated to a montage with an editing style not dissimilar to that of BBC’s Sherlock. This montage is incredibly effective at building anticipation for the big reveal regarding the girls’ captor and provides a summation of the clues dropped over the course of the show. However, it is simply too long. Nevertheless, after the final images of captor and prey made to stand out with powerful low angle vs high angle shots, I can’t wait to have all my questions answered.
The grand finale leaves us with more questions than answers, however, the ambiguous ending is oddly fitting for this show that so often places us in the position of the characters. It isn’t an easy watch; the episode asks us to sit up and “remember” all the seemingly insignificant details provided throughout the show. The final shot in the end credits presents the idea that the creators want us to be confused, to think about everything we’ve just seen, and to decide for ourselves the fate of the girls. A few explicit answers may have made this more effective but overall an enjoyable ending.
Re:Mind is a singular mini-series, unlike anything I’ve watched before. Is it a great show? No, the inconsistencies of the episodes prevent it from being so. But it is very good, especially for those who enjoy mystery thrillers in which you have to be an active viewer. The show tackles some interesting themes, many of which could have been further developed, but were handled well nevertheless. If you’re looking for something a little different to watch then I would recommend giving this a shot.
Have you watched Re:Mind? Are planning to give it a shot?
Let me know in the comments below!