What’s with all these anime being stuck in the middle of winter?
It was a pretty low-key episode of Kyoukai no Rinne this week, geared more towards the bittersweet side of the series’ emotional spectrum that the whimsical. I thought the children of Rinne-town were going to dodge a bullet this time, since we got through an entire spirits chapter without a single dead kid, but that respite turned out to be short-lived.
The A-part wove a tale about a rogue scarf randomly popping up about the school grounds, strangling boys on the receiving end of hand-knit scarves from girls. This of course hearkens back to the importance this ritual hold for adolescents in Japan – exaggerated but not fabricated in manga in anime. As with Valentine’s chocolates, the gravity comes not so much from the giving of the gift but the fact that the gift is made by hand – which is something boys seem to place the highest significance on when it comes to gifts from girls (the converse doesn’t seem to hold true, by the way).
Naturally enough, this is a great opportunity for Rinne-kun to be on the receiving end of a hand-woven mafuraa from Mamiya Sakura (he got one from her mother in the first season, and even that was too precious for him to bring himself to wear it) in an attempt to lure out the strangling scarf. It all ties back to a second-year girl who wove it for a sempai, only to see him receive one from another girl and angrily toss her own in the trash. Resentment at seeing the continuous cycle of scarf-gifting bypass it, the scarf becomes an evil spirit until Rinne intervenes and eventually engineers a chance for the girl to give it to someone else her type. But as his reward he gets that scarf from Mamiya Sakura after all – though her knitting skills leave a little something to be desired (“B for Binbou”).
Next up, it’s a rather sad tale of a little girl who pushes the other kids around at the local skating rink. Poor kid, she almost made it out of the deathtrap that is this town, but not quite – she died after the boy she’d been hoping to teach to skate failed to show up for their date (though he’d never agreed to it). Now the boy who stood her up is a classmate of Rinne and Mamiya Sakura, and he’s been receiving a letter every year – the same one the girl sent to him before she died. There aren’t a ton of laughs in this chapter, but it is quite melancholy, especially when Rinne provides the boy with a spirit balloon to fill up with his childhood memories and bring to life. The one moment of real comedy occurs at the very end, when Rinne reveals that in the face of desperate times, even someone who can’t skate can skate…