What They Say:
Black cats might be bad luck, but did you ever think that the cat might have a reason for causing trouble? Rinne Rokudo quickly finds out that it’s more than possible, especially when the “cat” is the mostly humanoid Oboro who’s stuck in a contract with spoiled Shinigami Ageha… so now Rinne’s derelict house is suddenly filled with snake spirits! That’s just the slinky start of the latest set of missions for perennially broke half-human, half-Shinigami exorcist Rinne; his contracted black cat/demon Rokumon; and Rinne’s human classmate, partner in paranormal activities, and possible paramour Sakura “I see dead people” Mamiya. From ghostly class reunions to a flu so bad that you get it AFTER you die, the only thing you can be sure to expect is the unexpected in the second season of Rumiko Takahashi’s 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’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 twenty-five episodes of this set are spread across three discs with nine/nine/seven format to give it all plenty of space. 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 two discs on a hinge with the third against the back wall. The front cover works another familiar key visual from the broadcast season that runs with a lot of the supporting cast while keeping our leads in the foreground. 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)
Sentai Filmworks shifted gears with the release of the second season of Rin-ne in a way that works out for the best for fans in that instead of two half-season collections coming out that will eventually be collected they’ve opted to bundle it all up at once. There’s certainly something to be said for getting it all done at once and not working with spacing it out and then bundling it together later, though one imagines they might be missing out on a few sales that way through the traditional approach. For the fans, they just get to dig into their favorites in high quality quickly and burn through it at their own speed. For those still getting into it, well, it may be a case of too much too fast to some degree, though this is sometimes a reviewer’s lament.
The opening season of this series didn’t do a lot for me even as it worked familiar Rumiko Takahashi storytelling designs and approaches. I “grew up” in the 90’s on Takahashi’s work and have a real fondness for some of it, but not all of it. Rin-ne is one that leans toward the formula that has allowed her to kind of coast for years instead of really digging into some of those flashes of creativity and silliness that worked so well so long ago. Sadly, in some ways, it feels like Takahashi hasn’t changed with the times in terms of storytelling. That’s good and bad in different ways because you can still do the same thing and find success in it, such as Sergio Aragones with his Groo property. Takahashi, however, suffers more when you end up watching a lot (or all) of it at once. You just see the threads of how it’s put together and that ends up becoming more distracting.
As one can expect, Rin-ne doesn’t really change with this second season and I’ll hazard a guess that I’ll be able to say the same about the third season as well. With the manga going on since 2009 in Weekly Shonen Sunday and having thirty-seven volumes where it’s mostly just one-off chapter material that translates into standalone episodes in anime form, it’s not a show that’s going to challenge. It plays up some of the supernatural/shinigami elements with the tropes from time to time but largely relies on sticking to the traditional things. Rin-ne is cheap, Rokumon works hard but can’t get ahead as he suffers through things, and Sakura tries to keep the peace while dealing with things that most people can’t see as she’s got one foot in Rin-ne’s world. And, naturally, there are a lot of supporting characters that flit in and out with various stories that lean on their particular needs.
After watching this season over the space of two days I’m actually hard pressed to really remember any of the stories unless I check my notes. Often, you can find various arcs and threads for some of the characters to touch upon and talk about but character growth is a non-issue here for the most part, with the closest we really get coming in two areas. One is the brief time that Sakura ends up standing in for Rin-ne a bit and she gets a taste of what it’s like but that’s a small piece overall. The bigger piece that covers over a couple of episodes in different forms is Rokumon attempting to deal with his rank test and get a bit higher up there, which involves some cost and a lot of time and effort. Rokumon is one of those characters that you tend to feel the most for so you want to see him succeed because he is so put upon in general. But even this just feels like it’s passing the time because it won’t really change anything with the dynamic as the show goes on.
While I may come across as pretty down on Rin-ne I will say that in the moment I have some fun with it. But when you realize that so little of it so memorable right after watching it you kind of have to come to the conclusion that it’s pretty disposable. This is the kind of show that really works best in weekly viewings, isolated from the rest of it, and experienced in the moment with what it does and how it operates. It’s well animated, has some nice little nods toward the shinigami and other cultural elements (but nowhere near like we used to get from Takahashi decades ago), and is competently and solidly put together. But it does feel like it’s from a different time and hasn’t aged well even though it is relatively fresh in many ways. Fans make out the best with this release as a whole collection in getting it at once and that’s a big plus that we can’t look past either.
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 25th, 2016
Running Time: 625 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.