Not for the first time, I apologize for ever suggesting that Kyoukai no Rinne wasn’t a first-rate series. This isn’t second-tier Rumiko or anything else – it’s a great anime comedy, with impeccable timing and a wit as sharp and hard as a diamond needle. It just goes to show that you can’t rely only on first impressions – although I’m still convinced that this series works better as an anime than it ever did as a manga.
This ep was a definite standout, one of the best of the series. It started off on a hilarious note with Mamiya Sakura arriving home from school and telling her mother (have we seen her before?) “Great job, Mom!” in English when she finds out she’s getting hamburg steak (cheese inside!) for dinner, and just builds from there. But as is sometimes the case with Kyoukai no Rinne, there’s a melancholic and slightly creepy element in there too, as the Mamiya house is overrun with rather forlorn-looking but harmless spirits.
Naturally enough (as she has strong feelings for him whether she admits it or not) Mamiya Sakura asks Rinne to help her with this odd development. The sequence where we see Rinne from the neck up, moving somewhat oddly, only to pan out and discover he’s skipping in a field of flowers is one of the great sight gags of the season. Equally naturally, the two idiots flip out when they find out something is up between Rinne and Mamiya Sakura, and decide to crash the party.
There are so many great jokes in this episode it’s hard to keep track of them all. For example, Rinne agonizing over which of his two battered cans of fruit to bring as a gift – and then crying with relief when Mamiya Sakura tells him the gift was unnecessary. And Rokumon-chan’s reveal that he’s been sneaking over to Mamiya Sakura’s house – and Tsubasa-kun’s reaction. It should also be duly noted that Mamiya Sakura was carefully cleaning and vacuuming her room – and this was when she thought it was only Rinne coming over. Flag!
Tsubasa and Ageha do indeed crash the party, and they offer up their usual useless solutions to Mamiya Sakura’s problem – “guard dogs” who chase humans as well as spirits, ash bombs – while Rinne-kun is more focused on getting rid of the two idiots than the spirits haunting the house. He’s skipped out on the “Shinigami Tool Seminar” his granny is teaching in order to be at the house, but he still has a satchel full of recalled and defective samples from past seminars – stuff like zombifying antenna and balloon evil spirits – which he employs in a desperate attempt to get some alone time with Mamiya Sakura. Finally he manages to keep dumb and dumber out with “barrier duct tape” – but Tsubasa breaks the impenetrable seal by ringing the doorbell and having Mamiya Sakura’s mom let them in.
In the end, it was one of those free samples that was the problem – an exorcism hourglass Mamiya Sakura got when she went to the Reidou as a little girl, which has run out of sand. Rinne replaces the sand but the returning idiots break the hourglass, so he seeks out his grandma for another free sample. Problem is this was the one sample that actually worked and turned into a real product, so she makes him pay ¥20,000 for a replacement. Poor Rinne never catches a break despite being the best guy in the world, and he and Mamiya Sakura never seem to make any real progress – yet somehow, Kyoukai no Rinne never gets overly frustrating because of it. That may be the most remarkable thing about this ridiculously underrated series.