It strikes me not for the first time that it’s something of a miracle that Kyoukai no Rinne works at all as a manga. I’ve noted (literally) from the very beginning that this series is funnier as an anime than it is as a manga, but the manga is still entertaining and amusing – and in watching an episode like this one, it’s hard to imagine that, given just how dependent it is on timing and the brilliant seiyuu cast. How in the world could a moment like Ryouhei Kimura’s brilliant line reading of “Gateaux chocolate cake-like…thing” possibly work on paper without that delivery? It’s a testament to Rumiko’s skill as a writer, I suppose.
First off though, it’s yet another example of young Shinigami being exploited to get work done basically for free with the lure of a vaporware reward – in this case the work being the finding of Kain and the solving of the mysterious decline of the Sanzu River flower fields (which Kain disappeared investigating). Rinne’s two main suitors, Ageha and Matsugo, make an appearance fighting over him, and in the end the disaster turns out to have been caused by a mole spirit (which strikes me as being not much different than an actual mole). My favorite moment here is Rinne-kun sneaking up behind Kain with a giant rock – and Kain’s reaction.
Next up it’s exam time, and lo and behold Rinne places in the top ten. But he’s received a hand (yes, I made that joke twice in one weekend) – or rather, several – from the spirit world. There’s been a definite evolution in Rinne’s character this season, and it’s interesting to see the rest of the school cast – from the highly suspicious Renge and Tsubasa to the usually trusting Mamiya Sakura – try and figure out what to make of it. Sure, Rinne is doing the good work here, helping spirits cleanse themselves of their worldly passions so they can move on – but he’s definitely got another agenda, too. As badly as life has screwed Rokudo-kun I for one sure don’t blame him for starting to look out for number one a lot more, but it’s still an interesting transition. He does need to be more careful about picking helpers who can read the questions, though.
Finally, we have the aforementioned Gateaux chapter – and last is certainly not least this week, as it’s the funniest segment by a good margin. This one was absolutely hilarious from start to finish, as Annette-sensei decides to summon faeries from grandmother’s book because she’s too lazy to do her work (writing report cards) herself. This chapter is full of so many spot-on laughs – like Rinne’s “Just to be clear – these are not spirits, they’re angry faeries!”. Faeries in anime seem to be a winning comedic ticket generally, but paired with Annette-sensei’s phenomenally slacker attitude it’s a win-win. Between Kimura, Ishikawa Kaitou’s great work as Rinne, Inoue Marina’s unshakable deadpan and Sawashiro Miyuki’s scenery-chewing as Annette-sensei, this chapter is as beautiful a collage of brilliant comedic voice acting as you’ll ever see.