Kyoukai no Rinne ep2: that was surprisingly simple
Well that was a hell of a lot more interesting than the first episode. The show has been nice enough to give us a few answers while leaving one big nice mystery for us to ponder moving forward. And that question isn’t anything along the existential route. It’s just Rinne. What business does this boy have being a reaper?
This cute little episode made me quite a bit more interested in the world of Kyoukai no Rinne. I just found the cute little set-up quite nice. And the for most of the episode, the pink bunny had me questioning even what was going on in the first place.
First off, we see Rinne’s grandmother – I mean relative (she makes it incredibly clear she doesn’t like being called grandma or old in any fashion) take a prominent role in this episode. We saw her very early on in the series as she is seen saving Sakura from the afterlife in the first episode as a child. And that is clearly addressed at the end of the episoe. For now, she’s just seen making trouble for Rinne as she’s haunted the dreams of all of his classmates, including Sakura. Her goal being to gather more offerings (read: food) for Rinne. While it has the desired effect, it gets Rinne in trouble with Sakura for pulling and of course taking advantage of the stunt. I’ll say this though, it’s all fair as far as I’m concerned. He’s poor. He’s weird. And I’m guessing he doesn’t have much in the way of employment at the moment either. So if the class can sustain him while he cures their woes and ails, then I’m down for it.
The real purpose of this event is to propel the story forward though. As Rinne’s relative, Tamako shows up to see how her tactics have worked. They argue over her tactics and him moving in with her, and it culminates with her confiscating all of his offerings and shooting off into the afterlife. Rinne desperately follows, and a nosy Sakura grabs on to his coat and is dragged off into the afterlife as well. This seems to be a recurring issue, as does Sakura’s stubborn nature. This episode really gets her in trouble though, as she ends up ripping off one of the sleeves and falling off into some random part of the afterlife.
She ends up in some festival-like area, that’s a passing ground for the spirits of those that lived a full and contented life. This is why the tourists passing through are all old. Of course she sticks out like a sore thumb, and soon gets swept up in the flow of things. Before she realizes it, some vacuous-looking pink bunny is whisking her away to the Circle of Reincarnation, and she’s perfectly fine with it because of all the positive contentment vibes of her elderly neighbors. I imagine this is how a cult works. If not for Rinne’s voice reaching her, and the memory of wanting to give the poor Rinne the sleeve to his precious coat back, she would have died.
Later, it’s explained that the creature whisking her away to death so smoothly was a rogue reaper, a unscrupulous spirit that does whatever it takes, including snatching up the living, to meet their spirit quotas for the Circle. Speaking of reapers, it’s also learned that Tamako was the one that saved her as a child (though that was pretty obvious from the first scene of the series), and that the reason she can see spirits is because she ate ghost food during her visit as a child. That ended up being Tamako’s fault. All’s well that ends well. Though at the end, we’re left with an obvious question. If Tamako is a reaper, and she’s Rinne’s grandmother, then what is Rinne? He says he’s human. Well he says he’s sorta human. Are we going the InuYasha route here? Is he a half-breed, too? And that doesn’t touch on his origins, or where his parents are… or where they were.
I find it funny how I had such an easy time explaining why I didn’t like the first episode, but am suffering explaining why I did enjoy the second so easily. Perhaps it’s because this episode felt more unique and less rudimentary. I’ve read and watched plenty of opening chapters to a anime/manga series like that of episode one. But I did enjoy seeing the unique afterlife setting of this show. It’s not really unique mind you. The river crossing, the offerings, the general set up of the after life isn’t unfamiliar to me, however this felt much more like the show’s own thing. I have some fear that the running jokes will wear on me. I don’t know how much longer I can deal with the announce/narrator telling us how much of a deal or scam these spirit items are. And Tamako punishing everyone that mentions her being slightly old may get tired soon as well. Though running jokes and gags are very much a hallmark of a Rumiko Takahashi series. I might just have to get used to that.
In closing, the episode left me with a positive impression of the show. I don’t doubt for a moment the show will get quite a bit more involved soon. Everything seems far too simplistic, so I expect a major main conflict or story arc to pop up soon. If not, this may end up being a terribly plain series. But for now, I’ll remain hopeful that most of the episodes will at least be this pleasant, and that the show will really get moving in the near future.