Manga-ka: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2011
Synopsis: “When ghosts appear in Sakura’s house she commissions Rinne to find out what’s going on. Rinne’s on cloud nine at the thought of going to Sakura’s house, but when Jumonji and Ageha barge in on them, will the investigation grind to a halt? Ghostly cats, curses and haunted festivals… with all this trouble, Rinne’s definitely got his hands full!”
Rin-Ne has had me on the fence since the beginning. Do I like it or not? At seven volumes, I can finally say that I do. That’s quite a few books into a series to finally be able to say you’re enjoying it. Fortunately having numerous series under her belt offering years of entertainment, means I was willing to give Rumiko Takahashi the benefit of the doubt. Rin-Ne has been a lot like watching someone get a game set-up. First they have to put all the pieces out, make sure everyone knows the rules, let the audience get seated and now they’re finally ready to play the game. And since then, our patience rewarded, it’s been quite a bit of fun.
Very one-dimensional characters has been a big part of why Rin-Ne didn’t really click with me. Rinne is always poor and obsessed with money and Sakura… well, she doesn’t care all that much about anything. An assortment of side characters built from cookie-cutters of Takahashi series past were sprinkles on the Rumiko cake. Characters are finally starting to evolve however, most notably Rinne who’s attentions are being drawn past his account book. Love is in the air! But while he’s working up the nerve to be more open with Sakura, he’s got a plethora of other ladies who need his attention first in this volume, including a rock. Yes, a rock.
I doubt that anyone who has been reading Rin-Ne questions the likelihood that Rinne and Sakura are destined to hook-up in some capacity. It’s just that kind of romantic comedy we expect. Finally we’re seeing some clear evidence of the sown seeds as Rinne’s affection for Sakura is coming out clear. It’s cute watching him get giddy over being invited to her house and concerned she’ll misinterpret his actions with other women. Of course he doesn’t really have much to worry about in that regard, at least not that we can tell. Sakura still seems to lack much open emotion, falling thankfully just short of being a blank slate. That said, the story still has fun teasing us with her possibly liking ‘someone’ and then turning it back on us.
In the opening story, Rinne is asked to help a student haunted by a carnival teddy bear that just can’t be won. Next thing we know, he’s in a gunshot booth fight against a well-meaning old man to prove he’s worthy of being his granddaughter’s boyfriend. Perfect opportunity for some potential romantic misunderstandings! Then the cast is off for their obligatory trip to the beach (what, no hot springs yet?) which gives another chance to show-off one of my favourite parts of this series – Sakura actually having multiple outfits and different hairstyles! Okay, I know, change their hairstyles and most of the characters look identical but things are always set-up so you know who Sakura is. I just love that we get to see her having a versatile design. Braids? Ponytail? Buns? Down? Who knows!
A couple other short stories fill out of the volume offering plenty of silly situations, from Rinne as a host to turning his scythe into a giant cat toy. Of them the one taking place in Sakura’s bedroom proves the most memorable. Sakura, having always been able to see ghosts, now finds her once peaceful home has ghosts floating in and out at all hours. She calls in Rinne to find out what’s changed. Rinne’s reaction to the request was amusing, as were the follow-ups when he discovered that – of course – he wouldn’t actually be there alone with her (try and try as he might). When he finally discovers the cause of her dilemma, his solution is the most telling of all for the feelings he has for Sakura.
Along with some entertaining breaks of the fourth wall and weird situations that only the characters in the story can approach with a straight face, Rin-Ne has shaped itself up to be a fun supernatural slapstick. It’ll likely wear itself out sooner than Takahashi’s epics past (Ranma and Inu-Yasha) so I hope there are no plans to force it going that long. I’d love a few more volumes as solid as this one though, which I noticed includes a notable lack of Rinne’s parents and the ‘other world’. Coincidence? I think not. More ‘real world’ ghosts, hi-jinks and Rinne/Sakura, and I’m in.
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Book bought from Strange Adventures