For God’s sake, somebody get that poor boy a bowl of rice already.
The most dangerous town in Japan – if you’re high-school aged or below – claims yet another victim on this week’s Kyoukai no Rinne. And with that the series once again performs its strange dance of taking very somber and tragic situations and turning them into black comedy. Kyoukai no Rinne is one of those series that, if one were to really analyze it close up, would reveal itself to be almost stunningly dark – childhood hunger, poverty, accidents, broken hearts – laughter may be the best medicine, but Rumiko is certainly crafting it from some toxic raw ingredients.
This week’s victim is Kanou Youko, a young girl who died (at least she made it to her third year in high school – that’s above-average for this town) and is bound to the local Shrine, where the usual rumor girls have heard tell that the Priest has found a straw doll nailed to a tree. That’s a sign of Ushinotokimairi (literally “visiting a Shrine in the hours of the ox”), a traditional Shinto curse ritual. The cursor (generally a woman slighted in love) nails a wara ningyo to a tree with an image of the cursee. It must be done between 1:00-3:00 A.M., and has to be done for seven nights running without the cursor being caught in the act.
This is a very odd and funny episode all the way around, especially considering how dark the subject matter is. Suzuki-sensei was the subject of Kanou’s affections when he was a student teacher, and after he failed to return her emails during the year after he left and then announced he had a girlfriend, Kanou cursed him. Suzuki is a weird guy to begin with (was there something passive-aggressive in giving Rinne a multi-layer bento that was all umeboshi?) but hey, whatever floats your boat, Kanou-kun. It’s especially morbid hearing her describe to Rinne and Mamiya Sakura the night of her death, which involved her falling down the Jinja steps, falling into a manhole and being attacked by wild dogs (seriously, parents – just leave now) before succumbing to food poisoning.
While Katou has been hanging around out of a lingering fear that Suzuki-sensei might found out she cursed him, it turns out he knew all along. Poor Katou really gets put through the wringer here, even as a spirit – her mother shows Suzuki-sensei her diary (really, Mom?), but at least she passes on before the indignity of hearing that Suzuki-sensei met his girlfriend (who has a very odd taste in bento) searching the windblown scrap of paper withKatou’s email address. Maybe being incredibly dense really is a crime – if not, it probably should be.
And by the way, if you see Tsubasa anywhere – even on the side of a milk carton – please speak up. I’m starting to worry.