Rinne of the Boundary
境界のRinne (Kyoukai no Rinne)
Shounen – Supernatural, fantasy, comedy
16 Volumes (23 Volumes Japanese) (ongoing)
Sakura once was spirited away, and ever since then, she can see ghosts. Now in high school, the guy who is supposed to sit next to her has never shown up. One day, he finally attends class, but Sakura’s the only one who can see him! The guy introduces himself as Rinne: “I’m a shinigami……sort of…”
If I was in Japan and subscribed to Shonen Sunday, I would read Rin-ne every week. I already own the magazine, and it’s a decent series, so why not? However, I don’t believe Rin-ne has really proved it’s worth buying in a collected volume.
This series is very episodic. The first couple volumes have slightly longer arcs, but later volumes focus more on shorter episodes, many lasting only one chapter. This makes it unlikely for a chapter to be significant story-wise. A ghost or mystery phenomena appears, Rinne and his allies and/or enemies also try to solve the case. Some want the money like Rinne while others just want to interfere with his job. Lots of characters (mostly schoolmates) are introduced only for that arc, but new and recurring characters and abilities are explained in the text in both their original and subsequent appearances. Combined with the introductions at the beginning of the volumes, readers won’t really get lost if they only read random volumes. Once you read about a character or ability once, you know exactly how they function in past and future appearances: Tamako hates being called a grandmother, the secretary and her mask, Suzu has a short attention span, the Bible Corner Crush can only be used once a week. Oh, and Rinne is poor. Dirt poor. He’s destitute. He can’t even afford a school uniform. Okay, okay, I get it.
Rin-ne is a comedy series, but I wasn’t bursting out with laughter as much as other comedy series. I would crack a smile, but I wasn’t cracking up. There’s the usual major misunderstandings, silly secrets, and crazy coincidences. Gags like Sakura getting ditched by her friends or Rinne’s food being destroyed or eaten are a regular occurrence. People constantly are getting kicked around, and hopes of romance are more often dashed by a punchline than fulfilled. I don’t just mean the main cast’s romances but random characters’ affections as well.
Most of the incidents take place at the cast’s school. With all of the ghosts and paranormal activity, I got to wondering why Rinne just doesn’t open his own business/club/agency instead of his indirect way of taking cases. At least he could try to collect his fee upfront and then try to stay within the budget.
I will give Takahashi credit for not making Rinne and Sakura clones of Ranma/Inuyasha and Akane/Kagome. Rinne just wants to get out of debt permanently. He’s not nearly as rude as Ranma or Inuyasha, and many people (in the story, I mean) really only despise him because of things his father did (which Rinne had no part of). Sakura pretty much goes along with whatever’s happening, even if she is misunderstanding the situation. Not a lot shakes her up. She basically acts as an informant for Rinne. Rinne obviously has a romantic interest in Sakura, but she hasn’t shown much signs of reciprocating.
The central four are established much quicker than the main group in Inuyasha. New recurring characters are introduced at random points, but some are used more regularly. Unlike Inuyasha where the other two (human) members of the group were the beta couple, the other two people in the main group act as the Ryoga/Koga and Ukyo/Kikyo romantic rivals. Tsubasa the exorcist functions romantic rival and frenemy, but Ageha the shinigami is much more scatterbrained than Ukyo or Kikyo. while Ageha the shinigami likes Rinne. Finally, Rokumon is the black cat mascot of the series. Rinne has his mix of enemies and less-than-helpful “allies” who often have their own saboteurs, intentional or not.
Art-wise, this is classic Takahashi. Characters’ appearances are pretty much solidified in their first appearances, which is nice. (Compared to Inuyasha, who looks quite different from his volume 1 look in that series.) Her style is based on simplicity: clean, easy-to-follow, and restrained. Panels are well-defined and do not feature heavy dialogue or artwork. The action flows swiftly without the reader getting lost. Takahashi uses quite a few different eye styles to help make characters stand out and helps reflect their different heritages. Rinne’s eyes, for instance, are more glossy and anime-ish, Sakura’s eyes are simple and 70/80s-ish, and Ageha has a light iris with a dark oval pupil. Fans of Takahashi’s previous series will spot some references, most notably Genma.
One of my biggest fears when I saw the title was that the main guy’s name would be written with a dash. Fortunately, that’s only so in the title. (Phew.) Honorifics are used with no guide provided. A lot of Japanese terms are preserved with translation notes provided. Full page notes are only provided in the first couple volumes. It’s too bad; they did a good job of explaining the puns with names. Some signs are left untouched but notes are provided. There’s not a lot for me to say, as this is a solid adaptation. The translator captures the meaning while neither loosely adapting the text to seem more American nor stingily translating which makes dialogue become unnatural.
It’s not bad, but it hasn’t really provided a reason to invest in the series. Rin-ne is too episodic and the humor is just okay. Not as crazy as her two previous series, but not as addicting, either. Borrow from your local library or a friend.
The anime is scheduled to premiere on April 4, 2015. I think it will be worth watching just for the voices for Rinne’s grandmother and father. Heh heh. Maybe the voice of Akane and Kikyo will also appear?