So I somehow missed it, but that “important announcement” for Takahashi Rumiko fans turned out to have nothing to do with the Kyoukai no Rinne manga ending. No, it was “just” that her entire catalogue was going to be available digitally, and that her worldwide print run had reached 200 million copies. Neither of those are small things (the latter is pretty remarkable for any mangaka, to say the least) but the cogent point here is that Rinne is continuing as a manga for the foreseeable future. Whether that’s going to be true or not for the anime who knows, but I sure hope so – and episodes like this week’s are a big reason why.
I enjoy the mini-episode format this series often employs (it returns next week) but there’s something to be said for the full episode storylines like this one. This show is deceptively good at intricate plotting, and the opportunity to dig a little deeper with the characters gives Rumiko and the seiyuu a little more room to riff. That was certainly true with this week’s episode, which featured Sawashiro Miyuki as a fortuneteller who made such a good impression, I hope she returns as one of this series’ seemingly endless supply of great recurring characters.
Miyuki is the memorably named Annette Hitomi Anematsuri – the gag being that she’s the “Ane of the Shopping Mall”, a big sister who tells fortunes for the local high school (mostly) girls. The hook is that Ane is actually a fortuneteller and not a hoax, because she’s in possession of a “peep ball“. Sawashiro sinks her teeth deeply into this role (and the scenery) here – here “MI-E-RUUUU!” line delivery when she gazes into the peep ball and sees the future is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in anime this season.
Since the peep ball is a Shinigami “must retrieve” item, Rinne and Rokumon want it – they’ll be paid the massive sum of 500 Yen if they manage to return it to the custody of the Shinigami Association. But Ane has other ideas – the ball has been in her family for generations (a family of witches going way back to middle ages France, she claims). There’s some great gag comedy here, starting with the chase scene where Rinne and Rokumon pursue her only to be tripped up by the banana and beef (she knew she’d be chased by these two) she’s bought at the time sale at the suupaa.
Eventually Ane somehow gets a job as a teacher at Rinne and Mamiya Sakura’s school (the peep ball told her to), which is a good thing as the ball has stopped working and her mother and grandmother have told her to earn some money or hit the road. The ball gives her the ability to see spirits but not actually do anything about them, so she tries to get Rinne to exorcise them for free. Again, lots of comic gold here – I think my favorite bit was Rinne deciding not to return the ball because it shows him paying 200 Yen to get it fixed and getting 1000 from Ane (sadly, it doesn’t show her asking for 800 Yen change). It all concludes with a “ghost” haunting a girl and kiboshing things with her boyfriend – which turns out to be her father’s living spirit (a true act of Dad wish fulfillment). As I said, I hope Ane-“sensei” sticks around – she’s a worthy addition to Kyoukai no Rinne‘s all-star cast of baka.