I must be losing it pretty hard, as I’ve only just realized I completely spaced on Kyoukai no Rinne last weekend, and this is a series I really look forward to. In my defense I was cat-sitting and my normal routine was disrupted, but even so..
If anything, a bigger problem is that the weekend this season is just absurd – well over half the series I’m really into are crammed into two days. As a result I’ve got no choice but to be a little more economical with my posts, especially when we’re talking about a double like this one. And the first half of the double is a triple, as Episode 3 splits Rinne up into three chapters for the first time I can remember.
First off we have an appearance by Sabato for the first time in a while, as
Grandma Tamako is cleaning out one of the endless rooms in her mansion (while her grandson lives in a derelict schoolhouse, in case you forgot). There’s some funny stuff here, especially Tamako trying to blackmail Rinne with his middle-school yearbook showing him being a delinquent – except it turns out to be Sabato, while Rinne’s adolescence was predictably proper. This chapter also shows us Tamako’s black cat contractor for the first time – Kuroboshi, who’s sadly been trapped in a closet for about ten years (turns out Tamako is quite the hoarder).
Sabato carries over into the second part of the episode, where he’s hitting up everyone and anyone for money to buy something back that’s precious to him. The idea that Sabato would pay money for anything is suspicious to begin with, but he fools Mamiya Sakura with his seeming obsession with a photo of he and a toddler Rinne together. Naturally enough it turns out Sabato’s “sentimental” attachment is to the ¥50,000 hidden in the frame.
Finally we have the first appearance in quite some time by Masato, who’s trying to harvest a few souls at a local campground. He’s got his cloven hooves into the younger brother of a friend of Mamiya Sakura’s, but Rinne and Tsubasa turn the tables on Masato and de-snot him thanks to the demon army Masato tries to summon being away on a long weekend. And, there’s meat. Meat!
Episode 31 introduces a new recurring character, shinigami-in-training Shouma (Sanpei Yuuko). Apparently part of elementary school for kid shinigami is a homestay program where one has to earn 50 points guiding spirits while being supervised by an established veteran. Mostly the tykes focus on safe and easy stuff like household pets (1-5 points) – while humans are worth a lot more (as much as 50 for spirits turned evil), that’s a little too high-level for the grommets.
Shouma is undeniably a brat, but I do feel a certain sympathy for him being stuck at Rinne’s place. For a kid, staying with a guy in an abandoned schoolhouse, sleeping under newspaper and being turned into child labor can’t be much fun. So it’s no surprise Shouma is desperate to get his fifty points quickly. The best opportunity seems to be an “alligator woman” spirit, but the rumors about her are wrong – the woman is still alive, and the spirit is just that of her deceased pet, searching for its owner (we learn this thanks to some convenient “monologuing” – more hilarious self-awareness from this series).
It’s part of the magic of Kyoukai no Rinne that it can take an absurd tale like a pet alligator gone bad and make it sort of touching. No, there are no “hand-sized alligators” out there (Rinne may have the single funniest narrator dialogue in anime), and keeping them as a pet is a really bad idea. But the woman in question certainly loved her “Chibi” and he loved her (and her chicken jerky). What I like too is how this story subtly shows off why Rinne is such a good shinigami (and main character). He doesn’t have any superpowers – except the ability to listen, and actually care. It’s his patience and empathy that’s Rinne’s superpower, and that’s pretty cool if you ask me.