Check-in Station: Kyoukai no Rinne ep1 (poverty and piety)
My feelings on Rumiko Takahashi works are set in stone and emotional. Her material has a rare and unique pedigree. Any of her works have the potential for great diversity and entertainment value. You could get a series that excels in comedy and action, or a series that excels at comedy and gore, or a series that excels at comedy and romance. And I have some great memories of moments in those series. The problem is that the joy never lasts. Eventually, the shows stop progressing and the plot refuses to flow and everything becomes a stagnant pool.
So why the f*ck am I watching this show if I’m still jaded from the messes that were InuYasha and Ranma 1/2? Because I have the time (temporarily), and I just love the laid back and often fun style in her writing. I can only hope that everything I describe previously doesn’t taint my first viewing of this.
I’m really bitter about InuYasha… G0d@mn!
I’m so jaded. We start the episode with a girl who wants to change how she’s viewed going into high school. It’s the usual “fresh start” set up that is usually given to outcasts, losers and weirdos in anime. And in another familiar set up, we learn that she can see ghosts. And she’s apparently the only one that can do this. So as is standard issue, she gets an annoying ghost or two to show this off to us as she heads to school. At school is where things get a bit weirder, as she talks with a classmate about how the student that is supposed to be sitting right next to her never shows up, even after a month of class has passed by. And thus begins a unbelievable series of coincidences as her classmate finally shows up, is only viewable by her, and summons a giant chihuahua that soon after swallows him whole and disappears out the window. The next day, that same student shows up, but isn’t wearing the fancy robe he had on before, and is completely visible to all who can see.
Okay, I’m bored with this set-up so we’re just going to skip ahead.
The new student, Rinne teams up with the girl named Sakura to take down an evil spirit and set it back to the afterlife to be reincarnated. During this process we learn that Rinne is simultaneously cool and devout, but also pitiful and unscrupulous. He’s constantly struggling with his lack of cash, and has no issues using his priesthood to supplement his way of life. It appears to be the only way he gets cash. And it doesn’t help that all of his magical items come at a real world price.
Sakura’s contribution to this partnership? Well not much really during this first episode. She’s just there to bring gaps and make coincidences work for some benefit. Her friend ends up just getting a haunted phone with a phone number that used to belong to their homeroom teacher’s best buddy, who died years back. Now the dead high school friend is haunting her because she had that number. Good thing that as they try to wrangle the haunted spirit, the homeroom teacher (his eyes weird me out) comes around to give the destitute Rinne a used track suit that actually also belonged to his dead friend, but he was never able to return. The spirit takes the tracksuit and moves on to the afterlife.
Dammit! I ended up giving a synopsis anyway!
Anyway, the episode felt quite rudimentary and not entertainingly ridiculous to me. It’s all a mix of stuff I’ve seen before in other shows, and none of it felt fresh or exciting. Rinne seems like a decent character at the least. I could see the mixture of his poverty and piety being an entertaining mix. Who doesn’t love a good lovable corrupt priest. As long as he’s not sexually assaulting or propositioning women, I suppose I can get behind that. But Sakura is just there. She’s plays off Rinne a bit, but she just seems mostly bored with things, and then mildly surprised by other things. She doesn’t strike me as someone with much of a personality, which doesn’t work well when Rinne isn’t much of a standout himself. If Rinne is just above serviceable, then Sakura is just below. In short, they make a very bland duo.
I don’t know anything about this show’s manga origin; so I have no clue if this show keeps to its format of episodically helping the dead, or if it actually transitions to a much more elongated and in depth series of story arcs like somewhat similar shows. InuYasha started off in a mildly episodic nature that transitioned into some great and not so great elongated story arcs. Bleach and Yu Yu Hakusho are shows I think that started off also in a comparable fashion and also transitioned into much more involved material. Though both were also shounen battle manga that completely moved away from that format in time. The beginning of those shows were just stretching their legs before getting into much more involved material. The complete opposite end of the spectrum would be Mushishi or Kino’s Journey. But I get the feeling that this show will be far less emotionally involved than those two shows. So if I have any vested interest in this show’s evolution, it will be to see which road this show takes.
Finishing off this first episode, I left underwhelmed and unintrigued at this show’s potential and execution. My only real hope is that I find some emotional investment in these characters or their plights. And only time will tell in that regard. So in a step quite contrary to my tone throughout this post. I will give Kyoukai no Rinne more time to develop and see where it goes. But I can’t imagine I’ll give this dog much of a leash.