Hey – who’s that black-haired guy who showed up in the preview?
As awesome as Kyoukai no Rinne is, Rokumon-chan really needs to be the main character of his own series. He’s one of the best familiar characters in anime history – adorable, hilarious, as faithful and true as the Canadian Mounties. He’s certainly not ignored in Rinne, but actually getting the starring role in an episode is pretty darn rare. That’s why this was one of the best episodes of the season for sure.
What I really love about Kyoukai no Rinne is that if you really stop and think hard about the shit that happens, it’s pretty damn horrible – yet it’s almost always played for straight comedy. Nothing says laughter like a story about a teenager living in an abandoned building eating cat food, right? Well – it is premium cat food of course, so I guess it’s all right…
When Rokumon gets invited to the celebration of Kuroida-sensei’s reincarnation (he’s a 700 year-old 10th-Dan Kuroneko contractor) the rumor is that the guests will receive free premium cat food. Naturally Rinne is only too happy to let Rokumon attend, but before that day comes a “Hobo Moth” arrives on the scene – soon followed by Shouma-kun and his black cat contractor Kurosu. He’s played by no less than Ishida Akira, yet another A-lister only too happy to be a part of a Rumiko series. He’s lured the moth to Rinne’s place and its “hobo stench”, because Shouma as usual is behind on his schoolwork and needs to catch the moth as part of his remedial assignment. With the moth shedding its bimbou scales everywhere, it’s a comedy of errors as Shouma is hapless as usual trying to catch it, and Kurosu foils Rinne’s every attempt to do so himself before he’s covered in scaled and gets even poorer (if that’s even possible).
Eventually Kurosu leaves – his contract is 9-5 and he doesn’t work overtime – and Shouma soon catches the moth by pure luck. Once the party arrives all the familiar black cats are there, and eventually the 10th-dan Sensei makes his appearance – so old he’s white. He makes a mess of blowing out the 700 candle-decked cake (the staff enjoyed it later), and, after wheeling out a serving cart full of the premium cat food, promises his estate to whoever can take the lock box out of his hand. The only problem is the old cat is a scam artist and the “estate” is 700 years worth of debts – which Rokumon fortunately avoids because he recognizes the reek of poverty emanating from it.
Intermingled here is a hilarious aside about “Envy Cats” – the evil spirits of ugly cats who stick around after death to curse cats cuter than they were. This is all part of the challenge to win Kuroida’s estate – before anyone realizes they don’t want it of course – and Kurosu proves himself quite the sneaky bastard in his quest to claim it. That shouldn’t be a surprise given that he keeps the change that falls out of children’s pockets I suppose – there’s definitely something off about Kurosu 6th-dan, who seems redolent of poverty himself despite his deftness with black cat magic. He even hates kids, so you know he’d never be working for a bozu like Shouma unless he needed the money.
In the end all’s well, relatively speaking – Rokumon dodges the bullet that is Kuroida’s estate (he’s been scamming it off on someone using this scheme every hundred years) and even manages to bring a boatload of premium cat food home to Rinne. Though it must be said, even Rokumon seems to find the sight of Rinne munching on it to be profoundly disturbing…