Weekends are generally crazy for me as a blogger, as most of you know, and that’s certainly been the case for the last couple of seasons. So it’s interesting how my relationship with Kyoukai no Rinne has evolved over time, given that it’s always aired right in the heart of the maelstrom. Nowadays I almost always start off the weekend by watching Kyoukai no Rinne first, which I think is a testament both how good it is and to just how easy it is to enjoy this series. It always gets me in a positive mood and never leaves me mentally tired. And really – shouldn’t we step back and consider just how admirable shows like that really are?
There’s a character in the OP that new viewers of Rinne have every right to be curious about, given how prominent he is and that we’ve never seen him – until this week. He’s Matsugo (the silken-voiced Murata Taichi) and he’s yet another scepter out of Rinne’s past, though the episode keeps the exact nature of their relationship a mystery for a long time in very clever fashion. In fact, the first hint of his presence comes in a flashback by the hapless demon Masato, who’s wings have been forcibly pawned for 3000 Yen – by happenstance (not) the exact amount it would take for Rinne-kun to attend his elementary school reunion.
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Masato, because he may be even more of a schlimazel than Rinne. But he’s strictly grist for the mill of this plot – a way for Matsugo to lure Rinne into attending as part of an exquisitely convoluted plan to exact revenge on Rinne for what Matsugo sees as his betrayal in sixth grade. It’s clear early on that Matsugo’s obsession with Rinne is perhaps a bit too intense, but both the reasons behind it and the sheer intensity of it still come as something of a surprise both to Rinne and the audience.
One thing’s for sure – Rinne-kun really is a prince of a guy. He always has been, as a kid and a teenager – and he was a prince to the much-bullied Matsugo in elementary school too. That meant eating lunch with him, defending him from bullies, and partnering up with him on field exercises like hunting akuma balloons in the woods. I thought for a time that Matsugo’s complaint was going to be that by overprotecting him, Rinne had allowed Matsugo to stay a victim – but this is Kyoukai no Rinne, so you know there’s going to be a snarky twist.
I’ll say this much – that may be the most touching example of using that particular incident for plot advancement that I’ve seen in anime. I’m not quite sure how we’re to take Matsugo’s overall fixation on Rinne and eventual “I still love you!” – I think Mamiya Sakura and Tsubasa-kun’s perpetual “Are you a girl?” asides are a bit mean-spirited, but I’m guessing we haven’t seen the last of Matsugo-kun. This is more a dramatic than comic episode by Rinne standards, but the finale does give us a great gag – when the now-forgotten Masato arrives at Rinne’s room a week later asking about his wings, we see Rokumon-chan with rice on his face and an empty sushi tray – a very nice callback, and one more metaphorical soup spilled on the unluckiest demon in anime.