Is Kyoukai no Rinne the funniest series about children being seduced by demons into turning innocent spirits evil and condemning them to eternal torment in Hell ever? It’s certainly in the top three. It’s so cheeky (I really think that’s a good word for this show, actually) that it’s irresistible. In in my mind I’m picturing Rumiko as a
Grandma Tamako-like figure, laughing behind her hand as she sips green tea and writes these terrible jokes about terrible things happening.
Brilliance was on display from the opening moments this week, as Kyoukai no Rinne did a brilliant job selling the notion that the 79 year-old man in “great health” was about to kick the bucket. In a classic deflate-the-balloon KnR anticlimax, it turns out Rinne has just dragged Shouma to the park to eat the beans the ojii-san is feeding to the birds for breakfast (hat’s child abuse, surely?). Shouma may be a brat, but it’s hard not to feel for him – from the perspective of a sixth-grade bozu this homestay surely is Hell.
Fortunately we have Masato (am I wrong, or is Tsubasa hardly involved this season?) to tie the real thing into the plot. He sees Shouma as a perfect way to strike out at Rinne, who’ll be held responsible (and fined severely) for any crimes the boy commits while on his watch. So he fools the mini-shini into attaching an evil-spirit generator to his scythe and zapping the newly turned innocents, which Masato can then harvest and take back home for a healthy profit. It’s a win-win – not only does Masato clean up but he screws Rinne in the process. Fortunately Rokumon (sorry, Roku-chan – that’s not righteous anger you’re seeing on Rinne’s face) and Mamiya Sakura have lamped out what’s going on and they buy some time until Rinne can arrive on the scene.
The rest is the usual feast of Rinne sight gags (tell me you didn’t think Rokuman was going to snip that power line) and wordplay, along with hilarious narration like “Fight, Rokudo Rinne! Bread crusts taste great dipped in milk!”. Rumiko is infectiously having so much fun here, and she seems to especially enjoy highlighting the (irritating, bless them) idiosyncrasies of the elderly. Self-parody in the hands of a master like her is a comedic thing of beauty, even if a relatively small number of us are seeing her do it.