WARNING: The following contains spoilers for RE-MAIN Episode 1, "Sorry, Who Are you?" now streaming on Funimation.
MAPPA's latest sports anime RE-MAIN features another pool-based setting, but this time, it's the sport of water polo. However, when Episode 1 introduces its central athlete, Minato Kiyomizu -- who wakes up after a little over six months in a coma -- he finds that he doesn't remember his junior high school years.
Not only does he not recall his friends or family, Minato doesn't even remember that he used to play water polo. Worse still, the RE-MAIN protagonist seems to have lost all his love for the sport.
The first thing Minato consciously registers is the water. For some reason, he's underwater with a ball floating in front of him. The next thing he knows, he's waking up in the hospital, 203 days after a car accident. Minato has lost three years' worth of memories, and cannot remember that he played water polo in junior high and was a star athlete. He also doesn't recall his teammates, the fact that his team won a national tournament, or even that he loves playing water polo.
It's like there are two different Minatos: the one he's familiar with from sixth grade, and the current one with a face he can't quite recognize as his own. Some details still remain the same, however, like his dad's shop, ironically named "Memory Shop Kiyomizu" that sells a lot of jeans for souvenirs. In his room, Minato finds a dent in the wall that wasn't there before.
Minato's car accident still holds a heavy weight over his family: his mother still feels guilty for being the one who was driving when the accident happened, while his sister remains plagued with nightmares. Minato tries to return to a sense of normalcy by trying to get back into water polo, but he can't seem to find the passion for it again. So he turns to studying, rehab, and reading manga instead.
Everyone else -- friends he can't remember like Eitaro Oka, and even his family though they try to hide it -- all seem to want Minato to play water polo again. Fate seems to be conspiring against his wishes: there's a water polo club at his new school and the captain, Jo Jojima, is already trying to recruit him. Minato runs from everyone and hides in the neighboring high school that feels oddly familiar. What's more, he meets the girl from the magazine his former team was featured in, who gives him a kiss on the cheek.
The anime's title RE-MAIN comes from a rule violation in the sport, referring to receiving the ball within two meters of the opponent's goal. But it also refers to Minato's state of mind. Due to his amnesia, he's stuck in a certain headspace where his life has taken a pause while the rest of the world has not. To a certain extent, his family also still remains in the past. Minato doesn't want to stay there though, so he's trying to go back to his normal life.
The water polo rule violation elaborates more about how 'remain offside' means remaining near the goal. If we say the goal is for Minato to regain his love for water polo, that's what Episode 1 is doing. He is, in a sense, lingering at the edges of that distant memory. It might be because he can feel there's a connection between him and the sport, but he doesn't understand what it is yet.
RE-MAIN is also stylized so that the first syllable looks like a prefix. This may also be referring to Minato trying to remember what made him fall in love with the sport, and how he'll reconnect with his old teammates as either part of the team once more or, more likely, on opposing teams. RE-MAIN's first episode sets up an intriguing path for Minato to navigate through.