What They Say:
Sakura Mamiya has been seeing ghosts since she was a child. Now she’s a teenager and they’re really getting on her nerves. But when you’re usually the only person who sees the specters, who can you talk to without sounding crazy?
Well, there IS that guy who sits next to her in class sometimes. Rinne Rokudo. But he seems to be absent a lot. And even when he IS there, other people don’t always see him. Because what Sakura doesn’t know (yet) is that Rinne is part Shinigami and tasked with helping ghosts move from our plane to the next.
Unfortunately, Rinne’s not as powerful as a full Shinigami and could really use a little help. So… is this a supernatural hook-up made in Heaven or what? And if it isn’t, wouldn’t sending lost souls to the afterlife get deity-approval anyway?
Drop your schoolbooks and gear up for an after-school exorcise program like no other as famed creator Rumiko Takahashi unleashes a spooktacular new masterpiece with RIN-NE!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that works a familiar style of mix to it where it’s mostly dialogue based with some physical comedy elements thrown into it as well while providing some action in each episode that works the forward soundstage well. It’s not hugely dynamic but it factors into how Takahashi based shows tend to go so there’re some fun aspects to it. Dialogue itself is solid throughout with some minor placement here and there that helps a bit while the overall design brings everything through in a clean and clear way with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes of this set are spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Brain’s Base, the show is one that hews towards traditional Takahashi design elements with its color style and the character designs so it has a bit of a throwback feeling to it while coming across smoother with the fluidity of the animation. The colors work a somewhat softer palette overall that feels like it’s a bit closer to the manga in a way that works in its favor. The transfer is a solid one that’s clean and solid throughout it where the shading works well as needed. Though the series may not be a standout in terms of design and detail, it’s one that looks good and will definitely please fans of the show.
The packaging for this release brings us a standard sized Blu-ray case that holds the two discs against the interior walls. The front cover works a familiar promotional image that brings the two main human characters together with the clothes that we see them in throughout the series set against a wispy blue and white background that lets the characters colors pop out all the more. With some nice red and orange border framing it all, the cover has a very busy look to it that works in its favor because of the variety and general pop to it. I’m typically not a fan of busy covers like this with all that it has going on and the varied fonts, but the end result is more appealing than I’d guessed. The back cover carries the same framing as the background here for a good part of it while we also get a solid chunk that works the sky blue from the front cover as well. It’s in here that we get the summary of the premise covered well along with some shots from the show and some character artwork of Rinne. The sets extras are also clearly laid out alongside the production credits and technical grid that breaks down the show cleanly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design works a lot of the elements from the cover design into it and it works well, though it’s fairly busy as well. THe background uses blues and purples to give it a softer look while laying various pieces of character artwork for both sets, though it’s amusing that with the first disc the lead characters are pushed to smaller background roles. The logo is off-center here as it brings in its own colors while the navigation to the right works the cover colors of orange and white with a different shade of orange as the highlight. It fits in with the overall design and the logo colors in a good way that, even as busy as the whole thing is, it feels appropriate for the show. There’s not much to the menus in term of navigation but what we do get works well and is quick and easy both as a pop-up menu and as the main navigation.
The only extras included with this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Without Rumiko Takhashi I can safely say that I likely wouldn’t be watching anime today. I had gotten into a lot of anime in the early 90’s when the domestic scene with licensed releases were hitting and enjoyed a lot of it, but there was a limited type of material that was being brought over. I was close to not buying things anymore – as that was the only way to get things – and took a chance on the Urusei Yatsura show. With most releases being action, violence, or horror, getting a show steeped in cultural humor, puns and other kinds of wordplay was like a light went off in my head. It was the show that made it clear that there was a lot more to anime than I had seen at that point and it shifted me to more works, especially from Takahashi, that made me a fan of (early) Ranma ½ and the whole Maison Ikkoku run.
That said, Takahashi’s works are both popular yet limited in appeal because of her narrative structure and some of the familiar elements in all of them. With Rin-ne, coming after the extended run on Inu-Yasha, I was certainly pretty apprehensive about the show when the first two-cour season hit and even with a second two-cour season underway. The open ended nature of her works are off-putting because they’re the kinds of things where there’s no real stakes or change that comes into play. I can totally see the appeal of it as more of the same with minor tweaks means a lot of enjoyment ahead, but she’s burned me with some past works where it went on far longer than it should. Rin-ne at least looks like it learned some of the mistakes from the past and is applying it in the right way as we get solid incremental growth here without the usual kind of episode by episode pandering of new character introductions and quasi-harem material. It’s a bit slower paced in this regard yet it feels like we’re getting more story more quickly than usual for a Takahashi work.
The property focuses around Rinne Rokudo, a high school student who is the grandson of a Shinigami that broke the rules and married a human years ago. Through a deal with the powers that be, she ended up having a good life with him until he died recently, which is where it’s complicated for Rinne as he was living with them. Tamako ended up going back to the spirit world whereas he’s now living in an abandoned part of the school since he’s got little money and is cheap by nature. His parents? Well, as we learn later on in this set, his father is actually part of the Dashimigani Company where they go and hunt up people to meet their quotas for souls, something that’s not exactly viewed as the right way of doing things since it brings people to the other side ahead of their time. Suffice to say, there’s tension between father and son, especially as father wants Rinne to join him in the company. Rinne’s not keen on that as he essentially likes being more on the human side and in this part of the world and because there seems to be some real issues between his father and his grandmother that aren’t fully explored yet.
With that in mind, Rin-ne starts off nice and small as we’re introduced to Sakura Mamiya, a fellow student of Rin-ne’s who sees how he seems to appear and disappear when it comes to other students. Through a problematic past herself, she’s able to see into the spirit world and can see him when others can’t. She’s also able to see the other spirits that exist that he helps in their post-death experiences to move onto the next level through the Wheel of Reincarnation. Rin-ne’s kind of the cheapskate that’s taking advantage of the situation, though he has real reasons to do so based on how things in the spirit world have screwed him over, and he ends up with a bit of a forced conscience in all of once Sakura gets involved as she does her best to keep him on the straight and narrow while helping. She’s pretty even-tempered overall, though there are some quiet pangs of jealousy that creep into it later on as a couple of other female characters join the show, but it’s made clear what the plan is in terms of character connections very early on.
So much so, in fact, that the first thirteen episodes of this season covers far more ground than you’d expect for a Takahashi series. The basics cover a lot here with the expanded supporting cast, the motivations, and bringing Sakura into it in a smoother than expected way. She’s not exactly thrust into the situation and she doesn’t freak out about it, instead going for calm and collected, and the result is that you’re more amused by her since she’s nearly deadpan for a lot of it – especially as the weirdness increases. A lot of the show at this stage is all about these kinds of character introductions with who is who and how it all works and a lot of it is admittedly familiar to this kind of setup with shinigami and the like. It becomes a little more interesting as we see the parental side of it and some of the scamming going on there, but once you get outside of the setup and these connections, the episodes are mostly episodic in showing how Rin-ne’s powers works and our understanding of it all through Sakura’s eyes.
Admittedly, I went into Rin-ne with low expectations simply because I’ve been kind of burned out on Takahashi’s works for a while – to the point where I’ve had a hard time revisiting old favorites because of how things are re-used. There’s certainly some familiarity here with the character designs and the movements of some of the characters with the action, but it also feels like things are a bit more compact, not quite as overly drawn out as before, and a bit more interesting because of the way it unfolds. I’m not exactly enamored of any of the characters or the story, but I’m more interested in it than I expected to be and want to see more of where it goes and how it handles things because it’s actually worked it as well as it has here. I’m certainly in a mindset of hedging my bets for obvious reasons but this feels like something that can help me move past the lingering distaste after Inu-Yasha.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.