What They Say:
Sakura Mamiya’s life was odd long before she started helping her fellow student and half-Shinigami Rinne Rokudo assist lost souls in reaching the land of the dead. However, as strange as the various spooks, specters and other other-worldly entities that Sakura has encountered on a daily basis may have been, nothing is as out and out bizarre as finding herself and Rinne involved in a complicated web of perceived romantic relationships that also include a former childhood friend and now frustrated exorcist, Tsubasa Jumonji, and the air-headed and extremely gullible Shinigami Ageha. After all, Sakura’s not really sure she’s even attracted to Rinne!
On the other hand, given the dangers inherent in foiling the efforts of the soul-stealing Damashigani, worrying about anyone’s love life is going to have to take second place to avoiding becoming part of the afterlife herself. It’s a second round of second thoughts and second chances in the second stunning collection of RIN-NE!
Contains episodes 14-25.
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’s 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 twelve episodes of this set are spread across two discs with nine on the first and three 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 another familiar promotional image that brings the two main human characters together with the clothes that we see them in throughout the series while the rest of the supporting cast with Ageha and Tsubasa having fun in the background. With some nice blue 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 red and orange 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.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of the first season of Rin-ne was one that I enjoyed overall though in a bit of a limited form to some degree. I’ve been watching anime and reading manga for quite some time now so there’s a certainly familiarity with certain types of shows. While Rumiko Takahashi can do some really good short work as we’ve seen from specials and one-offs years ago, when it comes to ongoing manga like Rin-ne, there’s a certain formula at work. I can’t begrudge her of it because she has largely mastered it and has a built-in audience that keeps coming back for more and new fans coming in when a new property launches. Rin-ne, with thirty-two volumes published since beginning in 2009, essentially makes it clear that we won’t get big changes anytime soon.
Which is fine. There’s something about a show like Rin-ne largely being comfort food when you get down to it because it hits certain marks and you like just seeing the adventures of these characters with what they do. The show does want to give us mild expansions, but these are the kinds of things Takahashi does in the early parts of the manga to put all the relationships into focus. The main one that happens early on here is that we get Ageha doing a bit more to get closer to Rin-ne as she’s convinced he’s the one and that naturally gets Sakura bothered since she didn’t quite expect it, leaving her to the basic reaction of just shutting down. Which, admittedly, is better than flying off the handle that we usually get in these situations. Rin-ne, who doesn’t like Ageha in that way, is stuck trying to figure out why Sakura is like this since he believes he’s made it clear that he doesn’t think of Ageha in that way while she continues to try and win him over. It’s all standard boilerplate kind of interactions but it’s all put together with an ease by the production team here because Takahashi, in the original, executes it all so easily.
This half of the first season works a lot of familiar standalone tales as the group in different configurations has to deal with the spirits that cause trouble and the way that Rin-ne, Ageha, and Tsubasa either make it worse or just screw up along the way. Sometimes it’s with a curse going in reverse that makes it worse, other times it’s just not really paying attention to what’s going on and taking longer than it should to resolve the issue. On a weekly basis I can imagine this being a very fun way to pass the time and even marathoning it I got enough out of it to enjoy the individual aspects of it and the way this group works together. Through the course of this set we see that they’re getting closer together as well, though poor Rokumon continues to be used and abused by everyone to varying degrees even as he does so much good for the them all, and by the end of it with the Christmas episode and then the kotatsu episode you really do feel that they’re all really growing closer to each other and forming a family unit of sorts.
Family doesn’t play into the story for most of the characters across the season so there’s not a lot to connect with there as most everyone is on their own. Where we do get some family time is with Rin-ne and his father, which is pretty much an exercise in frustration as the man is just annoying as hell. Sabati appears numerous times – too much, to be honest – with different scams that he’s either running in the present or events from the past that are now catching up to Rin-ne, such as getting a loan by faking Rin-ne’s signature and having his life flame repossessed and taken to the next work. There are some decent bits that come along the way, notably with his wife and her obliviousness to what Sabato is up to as well as his stepson that’s trying to keep it that way while dealing with Rin-ne as well. It’s not a complicated situation but the number of ways it impacts Rin-ne just left me a bit frustrated along the way.
With a cute nod at the end noting a second season that’s airing as of this writing, Rin-ne is the kind of show I won’t be surprised to see going on for a few seasons. There’s an ease about it that’s great to see because even after all these years it looks like Takahashi hasn’t missed a bit while adjusting and growing things just enough. Rin-ne feels more like the older works than Inu-yasha, which is a plus since that was just a drawn out adventure story, as there are story elements here but they’re not the driving force of it all. It’s episodic with welcome threads across it. Sentai’s release is a solid one with what it does as we get a clean and problem free release, though I’ll still wish that it got a dub as there are a lot of Takahashi fans that only watch shows in that form. Beyond that, there’s a lot to like here, though I do recommend not marathoning it.
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: September 6th, 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.