RogerBW's Blog

Kyoukai no Rinne season 1 23 February 2016

2015 modern fantasy, shounen manga adaptation in 25 episodes: AniDB, vt "Circle of Reincarnation". High school student Mamiya Sakura can see spirits. It turns out that her classmate Rokudō Rinne is also working as a shinigami, helping lost spirits reach the wheel of reincarnation. But she's entered a dangerous world…

This is quite an old-fashioned show, and that's not entirely surprising: the manga is by Takahashi Rumiko, creator of several series that were big in the 1980s (Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku and Ranma ½ among others), and while her style has developed over time it's certainly not as innovative as I see in some other contemporary shows. (But only some. A great many shows owe a great deal to Takahashi's work, and ring changes on her ideas without any particular inventiveness.) It's in small things too: while most other shows set in the modern day make a point of including the cellphones that are a key part of Japanese teenage life, they're practically absent here.

But yes, we have the introduction of a new main cast member whenever things seem to be flagging, and a minor love polygon, and lots of comical misunderstandings (particularly whenever Rinne tries to get closer to Sakura, though at least that's not his sole purpose in life). This is clearly a series that is intended to set up the overall situation and then progress at a glacial pace, making the most of its core relationships without ever changing them substantially.

All the same, there's plenty of good stuff. Sometimes the problem is a spirit of the week, sometimes it's something longer-term involving major characters. Once Rinne's father is introduced, many things about his situation become more clear, and there's a sense of depth to him which is very uncommon with typical disposable anime characters.

Technically it's competent but uninteresting: backgrounds are quite standard, and music doesn't get in the way but neither does it add much. Characters are reasonably distinct, in the usual modern style.

I don't generally binge on a series all at once anyway, but I'd definitely recommend against it in this case. There's some repetition and I think that taking it undiluted would reduce one's appreciation of the good bits. Even so, I quite enjoyed it. Another season is expected in the summer 2016 slot.

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