When it comes to crafting a compelling mystery series, the two main ingredients consist of an intriguing premise and a solid finale, rewarding viewer’s patience by answering the questions raised throughout the show. Although Japanese Netflix Original Re:Mind manages to nail it’s aesthetic and premise, the show fails spectacularly in almost every other area, ending with a myriad of unanswered questions and numerous plot threads left unresolved. Its a shame too as there’s certainly promise during the early episodes but this fizzles out quite quickly, replaced with an uninteresting soap opera drama and unnecessary padding. Re:Mind falters long before it reaches its underwhelming climax and the terrible ending typifies what’s otherwise a regretful viewing experience.
The first episode certainly starts promisingly enough. 11 high school girls wake up and find themselves sat at a long, rectangular dining table chained to the ground. Surrounded by old memorabilia, a handful of clocks telling the wrong time and a silk cloth covering each of their heads, one by one the girls try to piece together their fragmented memory on what happened leading up to their predicament and how they’re all connected. In terms of openings, Re: Mind does a great job establishing the mood and tone of the show, boasting numerous static shots showing off the creepiness of the setting. As the episodes tick away and the tension dissipates, the good work done to establish this is lost and in its place a soap opera drama between the girls. Love triangles, hidden secrets and more make up the bulk of the narrative, bogging down what’s otherwise an interesting idea.
One of the tactics used throughout the show involves a bell ringing and the lights going out. When the lights come back on again one of the girls has vanished from the table. When this is first introduced it heightens the tension but toward the end of the show it becomes a reliable plot device used to write off another character. What happens to these girls once they disappear is just one of many mysteries never fully explained and although the climactic episode does reveal who the culprit is who’s behind the imprisonment, the script incredulously teases others pulling the strings behind the scenes. Even when Re: Mind tries to give some answers, yet more questions are raised and the whole series plays out in this frustrating way.
The other issue with Re:Mind is with its cast. Although many of the girls stick closely to their archetypal tropes – brash, bossy girl, cursing girl, smart girl etc. the personalities of each don’t really shine until late on in the show. The irony with this comes in the way Re: Mind relentlessly snatches up some of the more compelling characters as they reveal their dark secrets kept from the group never to show them again. Aside from perhaps two or three of the girls, the rest of the high school students tend to blend together and never really stand out. An interesting bite of backstory is used at the start of each episode though, giving some much needed background to some of the girls but again, it happens so sparingly that it loses the effectiveness it could have had in establishing the characters.
So with a lacklustre mystery, a disappointingly bland cast of characters and a frustrating ending, the only emotion Re:Mind manages to conjure up is one of regret. At a little over 4 hours in total, it feels like time wasted in a show unable to establish a worthwhile ending. Its unlikely a second season would salvage the damage done here and although the setting and premise is well crafted, the rest of the show is anything but. There really isn’t anything here that hasn’t been done better elsewhere which is a shame as with an actual ending Re:Mind could have passed as an average mystery series but its difficult to recommend this to anyone other than those who like unresolved mysteries.