After an entire season comprised almost wholly of three mini-chapter episodes, Kyoukai no Rinne went fully in the opposite direction this time with a multi-parter focused on one storyline. And remember that side story about the little girl who thought she was being spied on with ghosts? Turns out it wasn’t a side story at all – though that became pretty obvious in the final moments of last week’s episode. What wasn’t yet obvious is just how connected to the main plot it was.
As it so often does, in this storyline Rinne shows off Rumiko-sensei’s ability to dance on a wire when it comes to showing off edgy material in a humorous light. It all comes back to Otome-san, of course – and it hasn’t been Otome we’ve been watching in this ep, but a Yorishiro doll. As usual Sabato is up to some shenanigans, but for a change his deception is small potatoes compared to someone else’s. It’s easy to see in hindsight how he and Otome ended up together (though we get to see the literal story of that in flashback).
In short – Rokudo’s mom is a cougar. She met Sabato while working a matsuri in the afterlife, and it was love at first sight. What she didn’t tell him is that she was two years younger – than his mother. That’s a whopper of a lie to have to cover up, so it’s no wonder she wigged out when Sabato inadvertently brought home evidence of her deception through his usual penny-ante dishonest dealings. Of course she was forgiving of Sabato’s lies – she was living with an even bigger one herself. What’s funny is that in the end, it seems these two actually did love each other – and still do.
That presents some complications of course – and not least for Rokudo-kun. Because she was carried through the Rinne no Wa by a herd of gnus (that has to be some ind of Buddhist reference, but I don’t know it) while destroying the evidence, she’s been reincarnated. There would a couple of intermediate stops along the way (killifish, canary, anteater) but now, she’s Ichigo-chan. That does give us the delightful prospect of Hayashibara Megumi voicing a loli, and it delivers the goods so I’m not complaining. But he can’t exactly step back into her old life, can she?
All in all, this was a satisfyingly bizarre way to bring Rokudo’s mother into the story, though I suppose in hindsight the Ichigo revelation shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did. It also marked the first time we’ve (more or less) seen Sabato reflected in a positive light – he actually is capable of loving someone, and he kept tabs on her through her entire reincarnation cycle. And, of course, he has sense enough to realize that getting back together at the present time would be rather awkward to say the least. He’s still a terrible father, but at least he’s human (ish). And Rokudo has a mother – in a way. But not the sort who’s going to be able to keep him from starving, unless her allowance is a lot bigger than it looks.