Ah, another season and this time it included a Rumiko Takahashi work. She’s been in my life for a long time starting with Inuyasha and continuing through Ranma 1/2. Since Inuyasha first came on air on Adult Swim when I was a child, I’ve not only grown to love it but Rumiko’s unique style. So when Kyoukai no Rinne was announced I became excited to give another Rumiko work a try. You must understand though that Rumiko works all have similar feelings. You should come to expect a nice atmosphere in her stories but also some similar characters. At its core, Inuyasha had this feeling. Ranma 1/2 was built around this feeling and Kyoukai no Rinne exemplifies this feeling. But because of this all of her works can seem a little too similar. Still a story about a poor shinigami and his relationships in the human world, especially with one Sakura Mamiya, are new territory.
The characters in this work are definitely mixed bag. Rinne is a very different protagonist than I feel we’ve gotten before. He’s poor, he’s part shinigami, he’s part human, definitely a little awkward, and his sense of justice is off the charts. Sakura Mamiya, the love interest of the series, is the most intriguing character of the series. She’s normal, she does okay with friends and school, and she’s flat. Yeah, I said it. Sakura’s character is unbelievably flat. And it is this flatness that somehow works. Because within her flatness comes out a sarcastic wit like none I’ve ever seen before. No matter what happens she rarely bats and eye. Few things surprise Sakura and she has a comeback for everything. Seriously, something totally outrageous could happen, that freaks out even Rinne, and Sakura throws a witty comment out there and moves on. I’ve never seen any character so sarcastic and yet not be the emotionless type. I’m impressed it even works.
Then there’s the rest of the cast: Jumonji, Ageha, Kain, Sabato, and Tamako. Jumonji is the typical lovelorn, childhood friend. He pines for Sakura and she acts like she has no clue he has feelings for her. Her interactions with Jumonji are priceless. She brushes off his feelings and yet is still nice to him. Even when he tries to make a move she just gives him this blank face and ignores it. Ageha, another shinigami, is interested in Rinne and therefore spends most of her time bugging him and disliking Sakura. Sakura, for her credit, doesn’t really care about Ageha. This too is part of her sarcastic/flat charm. Other characters you will meet include Tamako, Rinne’s grandmother who saved and married a human, Sabato, Rinne’s lying, cheating, all around crappy dad who has been using his son to get loans for years, and Kain, a shirushigami whose mother was a victim of Sabato’s ridiculous schemes for money. All these characters blend together to give Kyoukai no Rinne its unmistakable Rumiko feel.
The story, as mentioned before, centers around Rinne Rokudo, a shinigami-human sort of thing. He has recently decided to move out on his own and now lives the poor life-style. Rinne attempts to use his shinigami powers as a way to get people to pay him for exorcising demons and other spirits in order to pay off a large amount of debt his owes thanks to his father. During this time he runs into Sakura Mamiya, a girl capable of seeing spirits. After she finds Rinne out the two become unlikely friends and end up in all sorts of messes. Include the rest of our cast and you get a wild supernatural slice-of-life.
I’m not going to say the story of Kyoukai no Rinne is perfect. It’s pretty formulaic and can get repetitive, especially once Ageha comes in. However the story is still entertaining and definitely looks good. That’s one of the best things about Kyoukai no Rinne. Rumiko Takahashi’s style hasn’t really changed over her career. It’s this older, classic shojo style. I think it looks nice but definitely shows its age. For this anime though they really updated the style. It’s still hers, you tell it’s a Rumiko just by looking, but it has been updated to modern standards and turns out to be a bright, colorful, and fun show. It may not be the best style in the world, you may not want to watch every show in this style, but it does a good job of matching the fun vibe of the show.
As for sound you get two openings and two ending for the 25 episodes. The first set of opening/endings is the superior set and really fits the show. The second opening is…honestly, terrible. I like this song. The full version is fantastic. This shorter version is not. Whatever it is about this first part of the song, it doesn’t sound good when you stop it after about a minute-thirty. The second ending isn’t nearly so bad and fits the wacky style of the ending animation. As for background music, we are presented with a show that has very interesting music. Some of these tracks are very memorable. The one that plays during the previews, as well as during key moments, is the best of the soundtrack. Some of the other tracks aren’t as memorable as that one. Therefore we gave the sound an average score. Some great, most average. (Click here and here to listen to some of the better tracks from the soundtrack, if it’s still available on youtube.)
At the end of the day the thing to remember about Kyoukai no Rinne is it will feel reminiscent of Inuyasha or Ranma 1/2. It is a work done by Rumiko Takahashi. That said if supernatural, slice-of-life sounds intriguing you will probably enjoy this show. It has an interesting world filled with fun characters and a bright atmosphere. That’s why I think most people should give it a try. If it ends up not being your cup of tea, that’s cool, but it could be just the refreshing break you’ve been looking for.
Recommendations – If you liked Kyoukai no Rinne, you might also enjoy:
Inuyasha – Another Rumiko work, includes the supernatural element like Rinne but is more serious.
Soul Eater – Includes Shinigami’s, some comedy but more action
The Devil is a Part-Timer – Comedy/Supernatural combination that is sure to make you laugh