Every season, it seems, there’s one series that blows the field out of the water when it comes to the gap between quality and attention. This season it’s Kyoukai no Rinne, almost universally ignored by the English-language anime fandom (and seemingly most of the native one, too), yet for my money the most consistently hilarious show of the season. It’s getting better and better, too, as Rumiko’s vortex of silliness sucks you into its delightful deadpan madness and the cast of offbeat oddballs expands.
This week, the big addition is Ageha (Murakawa Rie), a Shinigami whose big sister disappeared after going off to defeat the president of Damashigami LLC. I love lots of things about Ageha, most especially the fact that she’s the complete opposite of Mamiya Sakura – her face hides nothing and she overreacts wildly to everything, great and small. I also love the fact that said Onee-san is played by Kitta Izumi, as far as I know her first major role since her tour de force as Tomoko in Watamote. We get only a taste of Kitta-san’s genius here, but there’s more to come in future episodes.
The fun starts this week with a mysterious mechanical pencil that a mysterious salesman has been promising students will make them smarter, with the rumored caveat that if a student uses it to get 100% on a test they’ll get sucked into the afterlife (as it turns out, to work as a kind of afterlife Chinese iPhone factory, making more mechanical pencils). There’s also a miniature version of the dudes from the Japanese movie piracy commercials spying on Mamiya Sakura, which also happens to be defective because it’s so cheap (it’s extremely shy and self-conscious).
Natch, Rinne-kun takes in on himself to go through the Reidou and help, but so does Ageha (who’s stepped into her sister’s Shinigami shoes). But the greatness comes afterwards, when Ageha comes to Rinne’s hovel – he thinks it’s to split the reward money and kicks her out, but it turns out she doesn’t care about the cash – to ask for his help in finding her sister (she’s impressed with the way he shut down the sweatshop). So much comedy gold ensues here I hardly know where to start. First, Ageha shows Rinne and Rokumon a picture of her sister with Sabato-san and declares she’s going to “Beat the crap out of all his relatives. The crap!” Rinne’s whispered aside to the cat may be the funniest line of dialogue in anime this year: “I need my crap!”
It doesn’t end there, though. Mamiya Sakura enters and spots the two Shnigami holding hands, setting off a chain reaction of “Jiiii…”-related hilarity (so help me, I love “Jiii!” gags – so old school). All three are freaked out by the moment, and each of them later recall it with memory askew (as the Narrator assures us). Mamiya Sakura remembers Rinne and Ageha holding hands tightly and making lovey-dovey eyes. Ageha remembers Rinne as a dashing Prince Charming (“50% enhancement”) gazing lovingly into her eyes. And Rinne remembers Sakura and Ageha staring bullets at each other, furious at the idea of a rival for his attentions (and even more hilariously, remembers Mamiya Sakura wearing Kyoko’s “Piyo Piyo” apron from Maison Ikoku.
As if all that weren’t enough, we get Mamiya Sakura’s reaction when Rinne grabs her hand to assure her it all meant nothing: “Rinne-kun, you’ll hold hands with anyone, won’t you?” And Ageha’s when she finally notices that Rinne and her sister’s boyfriend in her photo have the exact same hair (and face) – “What a coincidence!” With Sabato-kun and Kitta’s Onee-san character shacking up and Sabato setting his sights on taking Rinne down through Sakura, things can’t go anywhere but straight to hilarity from here. Seriously, if you’re not watching Kyoukai no Rinne you’re depriving yourself of so much sheer enjoyment – especially if you have some history with Rumiko. If you’re on the fence, catch up with this show – I sincerely doubt you’ll regret it.