Unlicensed Spotlight – Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite!

Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite! Volume 1

Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite!
Ask Dr. Rin!
Dr.リンにきいてみて!
ARAI Kiyoko
Shoujo – Magical girl, romance, action, drama, reverse harem
8 Volumes (complete)
Shogakukan (Ciao)

Summary:

Meirin believes she’s destined to be with her neighbor Asuka. In fact, she can do fortune-telling with feng shui and secretly runs the popular Dr. Rin feng shui website. But Asuka doesn’t believe in feng shui or fate! Then Dr. Rin gets emails from someone who knows her real identity, and he claims he’s Meirin’s fated one.

Review:

Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite! is a cute magical girl series that features a reverse harem and fun mascots.

Despite the summary, this is indeed a magical girl series. I think the best way to describe this manga is Fushigi Yuugi crossed with the live action Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon or Wedding Peach. If you are familiar with any of the series, you may have already guessed how much of this story turns out. Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite! does keep the story entertaining by introducing the quirky mascots characters and the fortune-telling theme.

Unlike any of those series, the beginning of the series starts off slow and rather boring. We meet Meirin, a girl who is secretly a better feng shui master than her father. With some help from her brother, Meirin runs a website under the pseudonym Dr. Rin and gives advice to people who email her. The first few chapters are deceiving and make it seem as if this is going to be a shoujo manga about unrequited feelings with misunderstandings resulting from her Dr. Rin persona. The fantasy elements don’t truly appear until the second volume, and Meirin doesn’t awaken as a (traditional fighting-type) magical girl until the third. This is pretty late for most magical girl tales.

Fortunately, by this time, the plot becomes more interesting. The direction of the story becomes more clear, although not all mysteries are revealed until much later. As a Ciao series, the manga is never dark, but it has its drama. Since Meirin takes longer to awaken, her journey does not involve too much repetition, and the story does not involve a lot of “enemy-of-the-week” fillers. Battles generally involve people rather than monsters or spirits, but I like how the hero team all have their own abilities. Meirin herself starts to become less annoyingly clingy as she begins to realize her destiny. One plot device I often can’t stand is used to good effect here, so I give Arai credit.

Another aspect of the story that helps improve the plot around this time is Asuka’s personality. At first, Asuka is a male lead who spends more time in tsuntsun mode than deredere mode. He isn’t repulsed by Meirin (nor can he avoid her, as she is his neighbor), but he does not welcome Meirin’s comments about destiny or her advice from feng shui. While tsundere male leads are hardly uncommon, he is very tsuntsun considering how long he and Meirin have known each other.

As I mentioned earlier, both Meirin and Asuka start off pretty annoying. Fortunately, the other main characters and supporting cast are pretty strong. Like many magical girl series, Meirin has her “normal” life with friends and schoolmates as well as the associates she gains through her destiny as a magical girl. Veteran manga readers will likely identify her teammates and their secrets before Meirin does, but that doesn’t take away enjoyment from the series. As a reverse harem, the guys do develop feelings for her, and I suspect some people will object to one of her suitors. I actually found the villain quite interesting, and the plot around him adds quite a bit of depth to the manga.

Without spoiling too much, this series has adorable mascots/sidekicks. In an unusual twist, Meirin’s sidekick Tenshin doesn’t operate as the mentor or guide. Unlike the other main three, he cannot speak and has no powers. Their interactions with their “masters” are hilarious; it’s basically a love/hate relationship. The shikigami, for instance, will start blabbing secrets, and that’s when the lighter comes out. (Shikigami are made of paper after all.) A fifth one is later introduced, but he’s not as prominent (or as much fun).

As this is a Ciao series, the art is fairly typical for young shoujo readers. The manga is done in Arai’s signature style, but you can tell this series was drawn before Beauty Pop. The guys’ eyes are very simple and are basically black ovals with a small cutout on the side. This makes it harder than usual to tell the different expressions, especially shock versus anger. To make up for this, Arai uses a lot of screentones and darkening of the characters’ skins to show when darker emotions take over. Character designs range from the cute to the bishounen, but the mascots are cute.

Chance of License:

Well, I wouldn’t put the chances of a U.S. release as very high. This series was serialized in Ciao, a shoujo magazine published by Shogakukan. Of course, when speaking of Shogakukan titles in English, we must turn to Viz Media. They (under the Shojo Beat line) did release the author’s later work Beauty Pop, which seemed to be well-received here in the U.S. Of course, the genres are completely different. Furthermore, as far as leads go, Meirin is very different from Kiri, and Asuka is not hot-blooded like Narumi. Shojo Beat did release an older Ribon series, St. Dragon Girl, which would target the same demographic. (I actually prefer this manga over St. Dragon Girl.) However, Ciao titles just don’t seem to be licensed very often. Most of the ones that have been brought over were released years ago before the Shojo Beat line was even introduced (Revolutionary Girl Utena, Wedding Peach, Corrector Yui). Two of those series were released back when manga was flipped, so that should give you an idea of how rare Ciao series are in English. Probably the only other factor to help its case is the short length, but I do think Shojo Beat could use another magical girl tale. Because of the introduction, I could see Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite! as an omnibus, but Shojo Beat’s omnibuses have all been reprints of individual volumes.

Scanlations have only released the first volume and one chapter of volume two, and no new chapters have been released in years. Too bad. However, the series is import-friendly to beginning or low-level Japanese manga readers. A couple of terms (names) are Chinese in origin, so those did throw me, and I would be clueless on the correct romanizations for them. Otherwise, I had no problem reading and understanding the story.

Final Comments:

Can you tell I love the mascots?

Regardless, it may not be the best or even groundbreaking, but I do think the series needs more attention. It’s familiar yet not too predictable. And while this manga would probably be rated T for Teen (like most shoujo), it’s actually a low T, probably more like ages 10+.

There is a bonus volume (特別編, Tokubetsu-hen, Special) that includes a series of side stories about the characters. None of the chapters are really important, but Tokiwa’s and Cynthia’s chapters are probably the best.

This series was made into an anime. At 51 episodes long, this version of the story operates more like a traditional “girl fighting against evil” anime. Like the manga, it has not been released in the US. The character CD is nice, especially Meirin’s image song. It’s a beautiful, mysterious piece sung by CHIBA Saeko. (Listen to her other character songs as Azmaria in Chrno Crusade, Mayu in Ultra Maniac, and Nadeshiko from Shugo Chara!)

Arai is better known to English readers as the author of Beauty Pop, released by Viz Media. Her other major work is Angel Lip. It won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shoujo in 1999, but it is also untranslated.

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2 Comments

  1. mahoublog

    How did I never hear of this before?

    Reply
    1. krystallina

      It’s sad more people haven’t heard of Dr. Rin ni Kiitemite! This series needs more attention.

      Reply

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