I didn’t think it was working either…
I really love having Kyoukai no Rinne on the schedule again, because as I said last week there just isn’t another anime comedy out there with the same sense of humor. The premiere was a nice reintroduction, but it was this episode – especially the second half – that marked the return of Rinne at its hilarious best. Pound for pound this show gave me more laugh-out-loud moments last autumn than any other series, and I won’t be at all surprised if the same proves true this time around even with as many strong comedies as we have this season.
There were a couple of episodes in the first season that offered two mini-episodes, as I recall, though it wasn’t the standard format. This time around we lead off with the story of a young tennis player, frustrated because he died before he could ever get on the court, who’s been mischievously stealing balls from the tennis club for years. Rinne’s simple solution is to stage a match for the spirit so he can pass on, but the dirty little secret is that there was a very good reason why the boy never got on the court. The highlights here are Mamiya Sakura in a tennis outfit and Tsubasa being Tsubasa, though this is definitely the weaker of the two chapters this week.
It’s with the B-part that Rinne really finds its stride, and the theme of Tsubasa being a buttmonkey definitely runs through the entire episode. You’ve heard it from me before but damn, Kimura Ryouhei really is a wonderful seiyuu. He can be serious, he can be earnest, but he can also deliver the vocal half of physical comedy as well as anybody in the business. The spirit in question this time is a scorned woman named Yayoi-san, whose love letters a couple finds in their storeroom (resulting in a curse being placed on their son). Tsubasa-kun dutifully takes on the role of exorcising her, but then delivers an unusual (for him) level of follow-through in helping her on to the next life.
This whole sketch is just a great example of Kyoukai no Rinne being Kyoukai no Rinne. Mamiya Sakura’s constant “I don’t think it’s working” reaction to Tsubasa’s protection charm, Rinne and Rokumon’s deadpan asides at Tsubasa’s idiocy, the sight gags – it’s just really funny, plain and simple. Explain it? Hell no, I can’t explain it – it’s humor, you either get it or you don’t. I mean, when you get right down to it this series is actually dealing with some fairly dark material, but somehow that just adds to the genius of it. This is one of my favorite anime comedies in a good while, and episodes likes this one are the reason why.