There just aren’t many anime that wouldn’t be better off with Yamaguchi Kappei added to the mix, and Kyoukai no Rinne is certainly no exception. He seems a very natural fit here, too, given the series’ mix of old-school style and irreverence – Yamaguchi is as good at taking the piss as any seiyuu in the game. And while there is a sort of semi-seriousness to this episode by Rinne standards, its tongue is still very much in-cheek.
Yamaguchi-san’s role here is an important one – he’s Rinne’s dad, Sabato. And as is the usual in Rumiko series, family issues abound. There’s a good reason Rinne told everyone his parents were dead – his father told him his mother was, and he’d seemingly be be better off if his father was. Turns out Sabato is the reason Rinne-kun has such a bias against damashinigami – he is one himself. And not only that, he’s responsible for Rinne’s debt, not his Grandma. Hell, he even stole Rinne’s piggy bank when he was a grade-schooler.
Looks can be deceiving in Rumiko-world – she certainly did a good job selling the notion that Grandma was responsible for Rinne’s problems. But boy, Otou-san sure seems like a bad seed – lying, emotionally manipulating, stealing are just a few of the crimes he’s committed against his son. His latest caper is to get Rinne to become president of his damashinigami company (and thus take over its massive debt). It must be said, poor Rinne deserves a lot better than what life is offering up – he’s a pretty noble sort, really, about as feckless a protagonist as you’re ever going to see in a Takahashi manga.
Much of the humor in this ep derives from Tsubasa’s relentless self-denial about Mamiya Sakura’s love for Rinne (which, it must be said, she isn’t consciously acknowledging herself). I also love the way the characters provide their own sound effects (like falling with a “Bonk!”), and when Mamiya Sakura and Tsubasa fall through a trapdoor, Tsubasa shouting “It’s a trope!”. And this business about characters being trapped in cages they can escape from any time with an “Oh – I’m out” seems to be developing into a full-on running gag.