I don’t think there’s any question that bringing Tsubasa back into the fold reminds us that Kyoukai no Rinne is missing a certain element when he (and to a lesser extent fellow baka Ageha) aren’t around. I never read far enough into the manga to know for sure, but it seems odd that Tsubasa was almost a weekly fixture for most of the series and then disappeared altogether for a great many episodes, only to return for two in a row (and he’ll appear next week, too) but perhaps it was an intentional move by the anime staff to establish some other pieces in the story.
This time around it’s a linked trifecta of beach chapters, all of them solidly fastballs down the middle at the heart of Kyoukai no Rinne‘s strike zone. This series has the ability to be not just funny but funny in a very snarky way for almost an entire episode, then sneak a little pathos up on you in the final moments – and so it was here. Plus, these mini-episodes have the added virtue of showing us Mamiya Sakura in a bikini (or rather, three bikinis) for their entire length.
First off is a rather silly tale of a very shallow teenage girl (we see a lot of those in this series) played by Saito Chiwa who got herself drowned in not-so shallow water trying to attract the attention of a buff lifeguard (also attracting the unwanted attention of an old fisherman, whose rescue attempt she killed herself avoiding). Apparently this girl wants to jump any guy with a tan, which becomes rather relevant when Tsubasa-kun shows up again after having fallen asleep on the beach. Rinne’s attempt to use a Yorishiro doll to help her pass on doesn’t work so well – after initially conjuring up a kind of lifeguard-Cthulhu cross, the girl summons Rinne’s image and Ageha destroys it – but truthfully, this spirit seems more interested in hanging around macking guys than passing on anyway. When she gloms onto Tsubasa, Rinne decides that’s perfectly fine for the moment.
Next up is a tako story, featuring Hosoya Yoshimasa as the proprietor of a beach cafe next to a cursed road tunnel (I love the way Rinne has made “monologuing” by the guest characters a running gag). An angry octopus spirit which died after falling from a truck in the tunnel refuses to vacate it, leaving a sucker mark on the face of anyone who tries to enter. Octopi are very smart creatures, of course, so it’s no surprise that their spirits should prove among the more challenging animal spirits out there. My biggest question with this one is whether that dried-out carcass really did come back to life after Rinne committed its body back to the sea? What is dead may never die…
Finally, there’s “Spirit Beach” – apparently the place where the endless dead teenagers from the most dangerous town in Japan gather to play in the surf and sun. Young Shinigami patrol the beach as lifeguards (deathguards?) to help them pass on, and that’s what Rinne and Ageha are up to. The focus here is on a karate kid played by Morikubo Showtaro, who dies (duh) in an accident before he can leverage his buff physique into a date. Tako-chan and shallow-girl show up again, and eventually it’s decided that there’s going to be a group date (Mamiya Sakura isn’t comfortable dating even a spirit solo). Once more Kyoukai no Rinne dabs a surprising little accent of sentiment on the painting here as a finishing touch – the spirits of the youngsters passing on after their dream beach date ends with fireworks is genuinely wistful. Karate Kid makes a play for Mamiya Sakura before he goes, and her rejection is rather sad – but shallow girl shows up at the last moment and both of them pass on in a rather more upbeat manner than they might.