That was a hug – no take-backs.
OP2: “Ura no Ura” (裏の裏; The back of the back) by Passepied
Spring’s most underrated series and funniest comedy rolls into its second cour with a new OP and ED, a shift in direction, but the same spot-on comedy. There wasn’t a series last season that delivered laughs more consistently, or that improved at as steady a rate as Kyoukai no Rinne did. And judging by the way the new season has started, things should continue to fire on all cylinders from here on out.
Really, when you think about it, no show was ever better suited to be a misunderstanding-based romantic comedy than this one. Not only is Rumiko-sensei fiercely adept at that sort of humor, the premise and characters here are a perfect fit. The addition of Ageha to the cast was a major catalyst, and while we’re still going to get some of the same stories and gags that we did in the first cour, it seems clear that this hilariously dysfunctional four-way dynamic is going to command the comedic stage. And as this episode proves, the potential is endless.
This time around, the comedy is built around a trip to the amusement park. Not only is that a canvas for the first leg of this new romcom dynamic, it gives Rumiko a chance to dip her toes into both a pool episode and a haunted house farce. The premise is pretty complicated, with several guest ghosts (again, parents of teens – I plead with you not to move to this town): we have Mizuki Rina (Hikasa Youko), a frustrated idol who died on her way to her first event, at the park. We have Ono Yuuki as an unnamed ghost of the park haunted house, who died frustrated that he never got to go to the park with friends, and unwittingly partnered with “fishing buddies” damishigami to lure souls inside and harvest them. And we have Ageha and Tsubasa scheming to turn all this to their romantic advantage.
The genius of this setup reveals itself in manifold ways. First of all, we have Tsubasa thinking that asking Mamiya Sakura into the haunted house under the premise of “investigating” will advance his cause, but the truth reveals itself immediately – Mamiya Sakura is the last girl in the world you’d want to take into a haunted house for those reasons. Of course Ageha has more or less the same goals in mind, and naturally she manages to glom herself onto Rinne-kun at every moment Mamiya Sakura just happens to be watching. As all this happening the “normal” couples are passing through the attraction, and every time the boys reach “bliss” (the dirty thoughts when the girls scream and clutch them tightly) the “fishermen” yank their souls out of their bodies.
The coup de grace comes when Mizuki blows a gasket at being ignored and shorts out the power, causing a blackout inside the haunted house. This results in Tsubasa-kun and Ageha hugging each other in the dark, which results in both their spirits leaving their bodies (ever the altruistic one, Rinne saves them both). The catch? Each of them thought that the one they were hugging was their beloved, and they never find out the truth. Even after everything is settled – the idol (too greedy in her goals to be satisfied at signing autographs for horndog disembodies spirits) and the lonely ghost end up hooking up and passing on to the afterlife hand-in-hand – Ageha and Tsubasa go home believing they got to second base (I’d appeal – they missed first), and are appropriately hot and bothered.
As for Rinne and Mamiya Sakura, the standoff continues – though Rinne at least had her ear long enough to plant the seeds of doubt about his “relationship” with Ageha. I think we can rest assured that Rumiko is going to draw this out indefinitely, but where in a more serious romance that would be irritating, the comedic possibilities here are so delicious that I don’t really mind a bit. The real question now is whether with that accidental embrace in the dark, Rumiko has set up the true final pairings of the series, even if the principals aren’t aware of it yet.
ED2: Futatsu no Sekai (ふたつの世界; Two Worlds)” by Quruli