A funny thing happened in the world of Kyoukai no Rinne this week. Weekly Shounen Sunday announced that Rinne will have an “important announcement” in the next issue (yes, an announcement of an announcement – a regular occurrence in Japan). As always one needs to step back and take these things in context. The series was a dismal seller on disc (a DVD only release) but surely wasn’t expected to sell. It’s also an NHK show, and multi-season NHK series are very common. It could be Rumiko announcing she’s ending the series too, though – given her age and the manga’s good-not-great sales, that’s possible. For now all we can do is wait and hope.
In the meantime we get an episode focused on Tsubasa, which of course means a chance for Kimura Ryouhei to shine. This is the second time we’ve seen Tsubasa-kun engage in some pretty dodgy behavior under the pretense of being cursed/possessed, which I think has to make you wonder if it’s not more of a case of the inhibitions being lowered than anything. I’ve long suspected that there’s a real darkness in Tsubasa’s soul, and episodes like this one don’t do anything to convince me otherwise.
The possessing culprit is a Kyuubikitsune (nine-tailed fox), one of the most legendary youkai of the Shinto pantheon and a manga/anime staple. This one was sent to the spirit cleaning room by Grandma Tamako a century ago, and it’s back for revenge against her progeny. This gives the series a chance to engage a hilarious sight gag around spirit cleansing rooms down through the ages, and Kain a chance to not act like a total douchebag for once – he shows up to warn Rinne-kun that the kitsune might be coming for him (though his eagerness not to be at the heart of another scandal is his main motivation).
Meanwhile, Tsubasa has come down with an anime cold, and used that as an excuse to lure Mamiya Sakura to his palatial house to care for him. Sadly for him she tells Rinne, and he and Kain show up and generally act like ants at a picnic. It’s a delicious turnabout is fair play scenario for Rinne to ruin Tsubasa’s alone time with Mamiya Sakura (he even eats her delicious get-well Okayu rice porridge) but Tusabsa jumps at the chance to exact his revenge when the fox youkai (Miyata Kouki) possesses him. -con.
So what’s really going on here? All I know is that the Kyuubikitsune’s “-con” (which Rokumon calls a “dumb speech pattern”) seems to come and go at will, even as Tsubasa takes his potshots at Rinne (and Kain). The synergy of Tsubasa and the fox makes a far stronger opponent than either would be alone – especially when Tsubasa unleashes his power sprites (remember them?) which bitch-slap the enemy and score +2 damage because of the annoyance factor. Tsubasa-con even proves resistant to the spirit separation fogger-in-a-can (not effective against cockroaches, either) but for once Kain saves the day, retreating into the Reidou and fetching a washbasin that’s a portal to the spirit cleansing room (which apparently works this time).
The kitsune may have finally gone on to the afterlife (I felt more sorry for him than anything, so that’s good) but that beatific smile and gleaming skin on Tsubasa isn’t fooling me one bit. And from the looks of things not Mamiya Sakura either (though that’s pretty much a given with Mamiya Sakura). Tsubasa is so totally out of the game that’s it’s almost possible to feel sorry for him in spite of his nasty streak – he really believes he has a chance in hell. It would almost be kinder for Mamiya Sakura to confess to Rinne already and put Tsubasa out of his misery – but I don’t think we’ll be seeing that anytime soon. But hopefully, next season…