As a child, Sakura Mamiya mysteriously disappeared in the woods behind her grandma's home. She returned whole and healthy, but since then, she has had the power to see ghosts. Now a teenager, she just wishes the ghosts would leave her alone! At school, the desk next to Sakura's has been empty since the start of the school year. Then one day, her always-absent classmate shows up, and he's far more than what he seems!
Kyoukai no Rinne is a terrific manga with well-written characters and a fun and engrossing story. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of any of Takahashi’s previous works. I had a great time reading and was laughing and smiling throughout.
*This review will make comparisons to other Takahashi works including Ranma ½, Inuyasha, and Urusei Yatsura. Prior knowledge of mentioned manga might help the review make more sense but is not required to understand what I’m saying.
The plot has been compared many times to Inuyasha, but I find that’s not a fair comparison. Inuyasha was much more serious, and had the whole
different-world setting. Rinne is set in the modern day, at a school, and the difference in setting already plays a different mood. The characters, while having similar archetypes, were defined in an entirely different way in each respective manga.
In Rinne, you get an episodic sort of Shonen. A lot of the stories are one-chapter occurrences that follow a basic formula. Rinne gets a request, Rinne follows the request, Rinne has a misunderstanding with Sakura, Rinne cries about being poor, and the ghost case is solved. So yes, after a while it does get a bit repetitive, but that’s ok. I don’t expect many people to binge read Rinne so reading it in chunks makes the stories more appreciable. Plus, each story builds to the "endgame" of the series, so reading each one is definitely worth it.
The characters in Rinne may be some of my absolute favourite out of all of Takahashi’s works. Sure, you have your cast of traditional characters- lead female, lead male, cute sidekick, unrequited love comic relief, etc. which are apparent in many manga by Takahashi. But these tropes are portrayed immensely well in these unique characters.
Mamiya Sakura: The lead female protagonist has some big shoesto fill if she’s starring in a Rumic world, but Sakura is easily my favourite Takahashi female, both in design and character (Sorry Kagome, Akane, and Lum). Art-wise, her design is both simple and unique, but her character is what really drew me in. Sakura is the most blunt, unbothered, poker-faced person there could possibly be. She’s not easily scared, and treats everything with a calm and collected attitude, completely different from any other Takahashi female- she isn’t that “damsel in distress” seen in Kagome. Sakura only really needs to be saved when literally falling to her death occasionally. She’s also not a tsundere, jealous, “it’s not like I like you or anything” sort of personality you can see in Akane or Shinobu. Sakura’s reactions to situations are always funny and refreshing to read.
Rokudou Rinne: Rinne has a lot of tough competition, compared to Inuyasha or Ranma, both iconic Takahashi boys who I personally have soft spots for. But I think he deserves recognition. He’s not as brash as Ranma or Inuyasha, both of whom I picture in the same vein. Maybe it’s Rinne’s longing for money and food which seems to outweigh anything else, or his tears of blood, or his rivalries with Masato, Jumonji, and Kain. Perhaps it’s his perpetual bad luck in food and misunderstandings. Whatever it is, Rinne is a pretty sweet guy. Not sure how else to explain this one.
The other cast members: Obviously, I preferred certain side characters over others, but each character has defined character design and personality. Ageha, for instance, a character reminiscent of Shampoo, has a really nice design and her thought process makes sense. Or, Jumonji, another character who I think has very nice and cohesive art as well as a fun Ryoga/Mendo- type of personality. Something about the way Jumonji just shows up with his sacred ashes I always find quite amusing.
Rumiko Takahashi has been called the queen of romantic comedy, and Rinne wouldn’t be her work if there wasn’t a fun romance element. There’s the standard main-characters romance, the boy-who’s-in-love-with-the-female-protagonist, the girl-who’s-in-love-with-the-male-protagonist, and more and more little love triangles. But the romance in Rinne is just so- light. Inuyasha’s romance played a lot into the story and there was a lot of weight on the decisions regarding the romance. In Ranma, everything was comedic and silly, but there were still those romantic moments (and tons of fiances!). Urusei Yatsura practically revolved around each character’s romantic feelings. Enter, Rinne. It’s immediately established who likes who (So I wouldn’t call this a spoiler). Rinne and Jumonji like Sakura, Ageha and Matsugo like Rinne, Sakaki likes Jumonji, Renge likes Kain, etc. etc. But we never, really get to see a peek into Sakura’s feelings. In fact, Sakura is the main character and the story is told through her eyes, but her feelings are never revealed. In fact, we barely see Sakura’s thoughts, which I think is a unique dynamic.
Yeah, I’d call Rinne a comedy. It genuinely made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions, and some of the running gags always makes me smile and chuckle. Sakura’s poker face expressions turning to disgust, Rinne’s bloody tears and vomit (kind of nasty now that I think about it…) . Rinne comedy relies a lot on how ludicrous the story is if taken literally (ie. very specific shinigami tools, how Rinne never gets to eat food). More comedy elements lie in character motives and the way the stories are played out. It’s funny. I promise.
The style is undoubtedly Rumiko Takahashi’s, although I regret to say that the overall art and page spreads are not as detailed or unique as her past works (Ranma’s page design and art comes to mind immediately). It’s not a trend that I believe started with Rinne, I believe that you can see the beginnings of a change in even Inuyasha. However, the art is still nice and classy to look at, and it doesn’t detract anything from the story and content. In terms of panels, I find that the layout is different to earlier works (see: Ranma ½) as there are less panels per page, and these panels tend to be wider. In my reread of Ranma, I noticed that this seems opposite, with more detailed panels and smaller boxes. This new style for Rinne really makes the story feel lighter, if that makes sense.
THE END OF THE REVIEW
I initially picked Rinne up on a whim but I am so glad. What a journey reading it has been! It’s definitely made the ranks as one of my favourite manga. Now, time to experience the anime!
Takahashi-sensei's works are a bit of a hit or miss for me. I loved Mermaid Saga, Inuyasha was okay, and Ranma was some of the stupidest drivel I've ever read. Rinne falls somewhere around Inuyasha on the continuum, I would hazard.
I've finished nearly one hundred chapters of this manga, and I'm still looking for a plot. Thus far the series has been completely episodic: a supernatural problem arises, and the main characters deal with it within, maybe, five chapters tops, and it is forgotten. There have been an endless number of characters introduced to bring these problems to the
cast's attention, and then they're gone. They're plot devices, nothing more.
As for the main cast, they haven't grown much over those hundred chapters. Now, they are interesting characters, with strengths and foibles and problems, but none of those problems seem like they'll be solved anytime soon, or that they are even trying to overcome them. Rinne is still broke, and the love polygon is rather stable.
The art is instantly recognizable from the author's other works. While unique, it's not spectacular.
This isn't to say the manga isn't enjoyable. It's a pleasant enough diversion, but like cotton candy, it's lacking in substance. At the same point in Inuyasha we knew many of the major plot points of that manga. Rinne seems to be here for a long haul like so many other Takahashi works. It's certainly worth a little light reading, but you might find yourself wanting something with a little more meat.
I'm a huge fan of Rumiko's work and I would say Rinne is a return to the style of Ranma and Urusei Yatsura. Which, depending on if you liked those works, could be a good thing or bad thing.
Personally I'm a huge fan of Ranma so I'm really enjoying this series! Just like Ranma, it has a unique and likable cast of characters and lots of comedy/hi-jinks. However, there's not much plot or character development. Don't expect much to happen with romantic development or any over arching plot lines. There's a lot of ghost-of-the-week type stories, and a couple recurring storylines about Rinne's father or
some other characters but no major developments really.
But I don't expect Rinne to be more plot heavy like Inuyasha. It's definitely a comedy series first and foremost and it succeeds at that. I find it very funny although it may not be funny to everybody.
Last comment that I'd like to make is that I've also seen the first season of the anime adaptation, and imo the anime is not as funny as the manga and a little more boring so don't let that stop you from reading the manga! I think it's a lot better and the pacing is not as slow.
This is a review for those who have read Ranma 1/2 before and wonder if they should give Rinne a try!
I absolutely loved Ranma 1/2 for the humour, crazy stories, characters, and overall feel it gives.
Then Takahashi made Inu Yasha. One of the most boring mangas I have ever read. I was so dissapointed...
Well, Rinne goes back to Ranma 1/2 like story telling! The humour is as enjoyable as in Ranma 1/2, Takahashi has preserved ther unique style of building humour and I'm glad to say that the manga doesn't take itself seriously at all.
For the feeling, for me it isn't quite on par with
Ranma 1/2 yet but that's probably only because I prefer the setting of Ranma 1/2 a bit more. The shinigami stuff is fun though, too, and the manga keeps getting more interesting as it keeps introducing new characters at a fast pace.
Well, Takahashi's style was never "great" looking, but I like it and it gives a nice feel to the manga. It's definitely nothing to rant about, and you will definitely not read this for the art.
Not story, writing. As funny as Ranma 1/2. This is pure comedic GOLD.
One of the most enjoyable mangas out there, if you want more Ranma 1/2, read this.