Title: Rin-Ne Vol 1
Author: Rumiko Takahashi
May Contain Spoilers
Rumiko Takahashi will always hold a special place in my heart. The first licensed manga I ever read was Ranma 1/2, and I still remember frantically trying to track down all of the floppies I needed to fill in my collection. Ranma 1/2 was also one of first anime that I ever watched, a grainy fan-sub featuring the off the wall comedy in all of its zany glory. The world has changed so much since then, and now there are more series available, both in print and DVD, then I will ever have an opportunity to consume. Still, I will keep trying to sample a little bit of everything.
Rin-Ne is the latest series by the prolific Takahashi, and it is being released simultaneously in both Japanese and English. Chapters are available to read at The Rumic World but with my little 8” screen, I much prefer to wait for the print copies to hit the store shelves. There is something about holding a book and turning actual physical pages that online reading can’t match, and even if I had a monster laptop screen, I would still prefer to read the actual book.
Rin-Ne is a supernatural comedy, featuring a scrappy heroine who can see ghosts, and a poor shinigami. Ever since Sakura Mamiya wandered into the woods behind her grandmother’s house and got lost, she has been able to see ghosts. Now in high school, she does her best to ignore the wraiths, wishing that her unnerving ability would just go away. When her missing classmate, Rinne Rokudo appears at school one day, she is the only one who can see him. Determined to solve that mystery, she learns that he is a shinigami, and when he is wearing his haori, a garment from the underworld, he gains an astral body, and nobody can see him. Well, nobody but Sakura. Not content to leave well enough alone, she sets out to find out more about her classmate and gets caught up in all sorts of ghostly adventures.
I really like Sakura. She is clever, confident, and she thinks well under pressure. This kid has her act together. Maybe being able to see ghosts gives her an indifference to their presence. Whatever the case, it takes a lot to get her flustered, and her sense of curiosity keeps landing her in hot water. Even prospect of imminent physical injury fails to faze her or keep her from finding out the answer to what’s puzzling her.
Rokudo is a human shinigami. He’s poor and his job doesn’t pay well. Not having money makes him preoccupied with acquiring more of it, so he is constantly hatching up schemes to earn a few bucks. Part of his problem is that he doesn’t charge enough for his services. Either that, or exorcising ghosts is one of the worst paid jobs. Ever. There’s no correlation between the hazards he facing and the meager wages he collects. Or perhaps he’s just doomed to stupidity, because he lives in a Takahashi book and the ability to perform simple mathematical problems will be forever out of his mental reach.
The basic formula is familiar if you’ve read any of the author’s previous works. The episodic chapters are short and it doesn’t take long for the action to heat up. There is a potential for humor in every situation, especially with the ghosts and the reasons that they are still haunting the living. The circumstances relating to their deaths are predictably ridiculous, and even made me feel bad that somebody died in such a nonsensical manner. There wasn’t much depth to the story, and judging from previous works, there probably never will be. Still, there is enough wackiness going on to provide some solid entertainment.
Review copy provided by Viz