One of the upsides of so much bad stuff happening so often to the good guys at the heart of Kyoukai no Rinne is that whenever a drop of fortune passes their way, it feels like cause for celebration. And when it comes to good guys, series protagonists don’t get much good-er than Rinne and Rokumon – not only are they the two nicest guys in the room but they’re actually quite smart and hard-working too (plus, Rokumon is ridiculously kawaii). That’s what makes Rumiko-sensei’s sadistic take on them all the more galling (though given that it makes Kyoukai no Rinne what it is, it’s a necessary evil).
So, given all that, what in truth is an altogether ridiculous exercise played for farce in the Kuroneko exam actually takes on a sort of drama and suspense (Rumiko’s magic touch). Rokumon is really in his element here, using the lessons of his frugal seikatsu and his natural resourcefulness and grit to try and overcome his natural disadvantages and get himself certified as a 1-dan black cat. The first step is surviving Kurosu 6-dan’s key test, which Rokumon tries to do by getting the kuroneko to team up (which is, it must be said, like herding cats). This leads to Kurosu rather hilariously throwing Shouma under the bus (this cat hates his job), but Rokumon’s plan does eventually work – though unfortunately he hasn’t foreseen the flaw in it, which is that he’s effectively sacrificing himself for the others.
It’s by sheer chance that Oboro wins this one, and (though we don’t know it yet) that means he and Suzu are already certified. The final round is a doozy, a melee (in the “Kuronekodome“) where the kuroneko must buy weapons (or snacks, in Suzu’s case) with coupons earned by their prior results in order to defeat each other in the ring (or knock each other out of it). Not only does this naturally disadvantage the diminutive Rokumon, but the coupons are rather cruelly held over for the Shinigami if unused – which makes poor Rokumon rather conflicted about his 5000 Yen worth of script.
This battle royale is pretty silly stuff, with cats chasing clockwork mice out of the ring and Suzu (overstuffed with takoyaki and yakisoba) disqualifying herself to take a nap. Best of all are the megane-sporting brainiac cats – the leader is promptly (literally) booted out of the ring by Oboro, and the others fall prey to Rokumon’s true-or-false- reidou trap. Ultimately it comes down to Rinne-kun urging Rokumon not to worry about his scythe – just use his last 1000 Yen to buy some weapons and survive somehow. You know that hurt because Rinne was crying blood, but that you can add loyalty and selflessness to his (and Rokumon’s) list of good points has never been in doubt.
With that, we get our happy ending – not only does Rokumon-chan get his certification, but the MVC (most valuable cat) as well (and Oboro and Suzu are of course passed, too). I’m sure Rinne would have preferred a pile of cash or at least another scythe-repair coupon to a slip of paper and a maneki-neko piggybank trophy, but hey – those future discounts will eventually pay dividends, and there’s at least going to be Mamiya Sakura’s red bean rice to celebrate (rice!). All in all it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy (and his cat).