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 Damashigami, 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!
The audio presentation for this release is wonderful for this title considering that it is only available in Japanese with subtitled Dolby Stereo 2.0 encoded at 256 kbps. While this set does have more background music than the last collection, you are not overwhelmed by a studio’s need to cover the dialogue with unnecessary music – they allow the characters to speak powerfully for themselves with the tranquil sound of an average school day chattering away in the background. However, there are exceptions when those same melodies do muffle the voices, although it is not very often, but when it does happen, it does get irritating very fast. And when it is needed, orchestral accompaniment or soft rock ballads are only used to emphasize awkward moments or some other emotional situation which needs to be interrupted to break the tension.
But of course, none if this would be as effective if not for the themes of the series. Each one either sets the mood of the episodes or closes it with a melody which solidifies the effectiveness of what we just saw. But in this set, I do find the songs a bit displeasing. The first is an upbeat J-pop dance tune called Ura no Rua by Passepied in which the singer has a high nasal tone which does get unnerving after a time, and sung from Rinne’s point of view to Sakura. He wants to open the portal to the next world to show her and all their friends what lies in store, even if they must keep it secret from the rest of the world. The ending theme Futatsu no Sekai sung by Quruli is a charming alt-rock melody which sounds more like it should belong to a children’s show than one about spirits. Once again it is sung from Rinne to Sakura, stating that he still loves her even if they have to keep their two worlds apart, but they are still connected by the red thread of fate. Sadly, this is one of the few times which I skipped both songs after the first listening, not since they had nothing to do with the series, but their tunes got very old quite fast.
This series is broken down into two disks expanding the breadth of twelve episodes for second cours of the first season, encoded in standard MPEG-1/2 DVD media format and 720×480 anamorphic resolution. The 16×9 aspect ratio playback is very welcoming for the panoramic views of the school grounds and its facilities, all brilliantly illuminated by sunlight and other luminary sources. You are brought into the life of Sakura and Rinne through the diversely colored environments, even in the enclosed spaces of the classroom, they are extensively lit due to ample windows and the open spaces of the scenes.
While the first collection was more preoccupied with introducing the cast of characters, this second set is located predominately within Kyokai, so the studio is able to show off more of this fantastical world. I love how they incorporate the feudal era with modern technology, such as using washing machines to cleanse spirits, and yet it all fits together so solidly. Dirt roads on the outskirts lead into the main commercial and residential areas, all appearing to be standard Japanese buildings with some Western influences, but when you look inside, the shōji only serves to isolate European furniture and fixtures. Creatures from folklore wander the streets as merchants with mystical animals pulling wagons, they dress themselves in traditional haori and hakama or kimono and yet if you look down, some will have nothing but a wispy tail of ethereal matter.
Although one might mistaken this place as a something from a samurai drama, once you look up to the sky, you acknowledge that this is not the earthly plain with a beautiful menagerie of glittering clouds scattered amongst the pastel tinged sky; however the thing which stands out the most is a bright red wheel accents with gold, the Wheel of Reincarnation, slowly revolving as the spirits board it to begin their final journey. All of these elements so brilliantly incorporate within the series so as to create a dual existence, only accessible the Spirit Road, a shimmering kaleidoscope of colors which speeds by as you leave one and enter the other.
Sentai Filmworks created a marvelous design for this collection’s cover, immediately grabbing your attention with a comical portrait of Sakura, Rinne and Rokumon in the foreground, all displayed upon a pastel orange graduated background, with Tsubasa and Ageha playing around behind them. But they do not stop there and continue the welcoming scene with a traditional kimono decoration of chrysanthemum blooms, white sakura blossoms and wind wisps, all configured atop a sky blue cloud pattern. The title is emphasized on this busy display with alternating red and black letters, making it stand out and proudly declaring itself for all to see.
This enthusiasm continues with the elaborate care applied to the two silk screened disks inside the case. Each has the same kimono pattern, but this time shown upon a pale indigo white cloud pattern background with chrysanthemum blooms and white sakura blossoms and a selection of character portraits lounging on top of each. Then to carry on the identification to this title, aside from the alternating colors used in Rin-ne itself, Sentai also adds a flaming icon for the disk number, connecting it to Rinne’s Haori of the Underworld and completes it with an azure fringe on the disk edge. This case’s decoration is definitely one of the better design incorporations for any series that I have reviewed.
As I have said before, the design for this collection is one of the better ones which Sentai Filmworks has put out, and these captivating menus are no exception. While the displays may still be static, the character portraitures still stand out amid the background of traditional kimono patterns – swirling wind, chrysanthemum blooms and geometric block mazes. But what makes everything stand out are the variations in colors: rich vermilion highlighting the actors, a solid crimson block with the white episode titles plus a flaming gold cursor for selection and then the graduated pastel orange on the right side of the screen. While it may appear to simplistic, this classic Japanese theme ties everything together into one elegant package. However once again, the most discomforting flaw in this area is the first minute repetition of the opening theme Ura no Rua echoing in the background; though this may have been done to get the viewer ready for the show with its energizing J-pop beat, it quickly gets tiresome once it restarts at the end of the cycle. Sentai should have given us an option to turn off the music, but they might not anticipated the viewer to spend much time in this area by driving us away with this endless, if however charming cacophony.
This section is the most disappointing area for the whole collection. While they did a great job decorating it with the same aesthetic sense of rich colors and traditional Japanese patterns, after that it falls short. Most sets would include some material concerning the series itself, but for some reason, all Sentai did was include trailers for their other properties. And then if that wasn’t bad enough, first minute of the closing theme Futatsu no Sekai blares in the background, just like in the previous menu. Although I can understand this appropriateness for the main, why put it in a side section when all of their shows have silence? The energetic childish beat quickly gets on your nerves so instead of wanting to look at the samples, all it does is chase you away. This is no way to promote other series when the melody is so annoying you want to close off the menu. Sentai should have once again given us an option to turn off the music, but they might not anticipated the viewer to spend that much time in the area, which is another mistake.
Content: (please note that Content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As Aegha becomes more infatuated with Rinne and his connection to the damashigami, her constant antics are starting to get on his nerves and that of Sakura. Plus it does not help that every time she comes to the human world, there is some ulterior motive to have him go on a date, disguised under the deception of it being a mission to cleanse some mischievous spirit. Of course, since she does not understand this plane of existence, Rinne is always forced to pay for her behavior, causing tears of blood to be shed from his distress. While Sakura may say that it doesn’t bother her, the piercing stares and cold shoulders she gives the couple declares something otherwise, however Tsubasa does not mind his rebuff. The more she ignores that bothersome shinigami, it will give him plenty of chances for a romantic relationship. But try as he might, every time he attempts to get closer to her, inevitably there are phantoms he cannot exorcise with his heavy handed tactics and thus, has to rely on Rinne to send along to the next world.
However, when someone named Kain shows up one afternoon to collect on Rinne’s debts, this causes the group to unify to fight this bothersome intruder. Of course, the financially distraught student has no idea what this person is accusing him of, until the invoice in question is shown. Once they see the crudely forged vermilion seal naming Rinne as co-signer under Sabato, everything falls into place. His father’s conniving habit of using his son as the payment designator for his enormous loans has once again landed Rinne in more trouble. That irresponsible parent and leader of the Damashigami Organization has again taken his money, thus leaving him with the promissory note and all of the fallout from his wild spending sprees. Although they try to explain the situation to Kain, he will hear nothing of the excuses and will take what is owed him … Rinne’s Flame of Life. The shirushigami states that this glowing orb and his Haori of the Underworld will be sufficient to pay off the loan, but if they want to save his life, they have until next sunrise to pay what is due. Should be no problem, right?
Even within all of this joyous entertainment, the minor drawback once again is that this series does not have much of a plot and this becomes ever more apparent within this cour. Although Rumiko Takahashi does a marvelous job of keeping us interested with peculiar characters, comical situations and wondrous themes of the supernatural, even the most dependable jokes do become stale after a time. You can only laugh for so long from Rinne crying from spending too money, grin from the narrator introducing a new shinigami device, chuckle as Tamako gives someone a double noogie for calling her Oba-san or Sabato trying to slip away after swindling another victim.
Although there are some highlights in the show, it only occurs when a new person is introduced and we therefore need a backstory. It is during these refreshing moments when this show shines, such as when we are presented Kain and his sorrowful involvement with Sabato. But therein lies the problem: all of the problems in this show can be traced back to some member of Rinne’s family. After all, the main reason he is in his current situation is to pay off Tamako’s debt for not collecting enough souls to secure his grandfather’s extended life. Then we have his father always spending his son’s money and extending a new line of credit by forging his signature seal; to add to that dilemma, Sabato’s endless philandering leads to more humor about him borrowing from jilted girlfriends. So to keep the show going, you just need a new spirit problem plus one of these situations, rinse and repeat.
While I do appreciate these tangents to keep our attention focused on Rinne and his attempts to stay ahead of the bill collectors and his father’s newest scheme, it is amazing that Takahashi-sensei has kept the show going for so long. The same formula has managed to please us for this whole season, but it probably would be better to enlighten us with some goal by which he can get escape this endless cycle. But then again, it wouldn’t be Rin-ne if not for all of these goofy situations and jokes. So, when does the next collection come out?
Japanese 2.0 Language, Clean Opening & Closing Animations, Sentai Filmworks Trailers
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i mpeg-1/2 video codec
Aspect Ratio: 16×9
Review Equipment: Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony BDPS3200 Blu-ray player