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 is wonderful for this title considering it is only available in Japanese with subtitled Dolby Stereo 2.0 encoded at 256 kbps. While this set does have some problems with background music, 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 become 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 of this would be as effective if not for the themes of the series, and since this is a collection of both cours, we are treated to two sets of opening and closing themes. Each one either sets the mood of the episodes or closes it with a melody which solidifies the effectiveness of what we just saw. The first is a charming declarative J-pop dance tune called Melody by Pile sung from Sakura and Ageha’s point of view to Rinne, both trying to reach him through their actions and words. The ending theme Hanashi wo Shiyou sung by Glim Spanky is a gentle solo guitar solo, giving the audience a closing that everyone needs the courage to speak up to make their feelings known, as opposed to how the characters keep it all bottled up. Then to start the second cour, we switch to a new opening song, Ainii sung by CreepHyp, an upbeat soft rock ballad which lays out the relationships of the series, how uncertain and shaky they will continue to be unless someone acts upon them. Finally, the closing theme Beautiful Life, performed by Shiggy Jr. is a happy dance beat sung from Rokumon’s point of view of no matter how many times you fail, you have to pick yourself up and keep trying. This ending song is a joyous closing for the series and a positive declaration for life too.
This collection is broken down into five disks expanding the closing of the second 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.
But at the same time, this second set also splits time within Kyokai, so the studio is able to show off more of this fantastical world. I appreciate how they incorporate the feudal era with modern technology, such as using laptops to keep track of census reports of the dead and yet still use pawn shops, especially for the poorer characters. 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 an amusing portrait of the current cast, while adding a comical touch with the newer actors in the background. You cannot but notice the Wheel of Reincarnation subtly placed as a backdrop, not letting us forget the supernatural premise of this series. But at the same time, this cover is a bit understated when compared to older collections, the studio opting for a plain display since we know the characters so well, assuming we will pick up the set so that we can continue with their misadventures.
This muted decoration design continues within as we see the same motif used to carefully apply the Wheel of Reincarnation via silk screened upon each disk inside the case. While they try to differentiate every one with a new pastel color as a background base, each disk is shown the same consideration while adding a new character portrait as the main focus. 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 a golden fringe along the disk edge. A simple yet elegant decoration for this collection.
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 a pastel background with white stars and the same Wheel used on the disks. But what makes everything stand out are the variations in colors: a rich vermilion menu bar, a solid crimson block with the white episode titles plus a flaming gold cursor for selection 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 Melody 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, the first minute of the closing theme Hanashi wo Shiyou echoes in the background. Although I can understand this appropriateness for the main, why put it in a side section when most other studios usually have silence? The soft rhythm beat quickly gets on your nerves since it is so soothing, all it does is chase you away before you fall asleep. This is no way to promote other series when the melody is so calming you want to close it and get back to the show. 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 Sakura is walking to school early one morning, she notices a number of slender wisps floating through the morning air. Confused as to the meaning, she spots Rinne and is told there was a mistake at the Wheel of Reincarnation which caused a batch of snake spirits to be released and all young shinigami are supposed to help catch them. However as usual, Aegha is goofing off applying makeup in a desperate attempt to charm her poor friend. It is only then do the two hear her panicked scream from Rokudo’s apartment, but at the same time, they also spot what appears to be a humanoid black cat running from the scene. As they split up to find out what happened, Rinne tries to capture the feline with one of his precious tools, only to watch it viciously shredding before his eyes, much to his extreme anger.
With due malice of financial prejudice, the rowdy black cat is quickly subdued, only to find out this teenager is Ageha’s contact black cat and troublemaker Oboro. It seems he was the one who released all off the serpentine spirits to get his master’s attention due to one of her callous mistakes. As they were hunting a corrupted phantom within Kyokai, there was predictable accident due to the shinigami’s overenthusiastic actions causing an avalanche, bringing down the whole mountainside. While it trapped the ghost and made its capture that much easier, Ageha did not notice the rockslide also buried her partner underneath and thought he got tired and left her behind, fuming at the aspect of having to do all the work by herself. After a long time of not being able to move, Oboro finally freed himself and vowed this was the last time he would accept her uncaring attitude. After years of being mistreated, he finally hatched a plan to either break his contract by making his presence intolerable that she would be forced to free him. Either way this would be the last day and no matter what, he would make her so miserable she would have no other choice. But which one is more stubborn: the rebellious black cat or the spoiled shinigami too rich and clueless for others’ feelings? The contest has begun and unfortunately Rinne and Sakura have been caught in the middle … all for the worst of consequences.
While I have always been amazed by the stories created by mangaka Rumiko Takahashi, there are of course times when even the best of creators have ideas which do not fully conceal, and Rin-ne is unfortunately one of those series. Although she does present us with memorable characters, humorous stories and outrageous problems which seem impossible to get out of without great financial sacrifice, there is a time when even these comical solutions can get tiresome … and this show had been dragging it out for far too long.
Even if some of the new characters introduced this season do peak our interest due to their amusing antics or backstories, everything eventually blends back together into a melange of old jokes and situations. The same underlying premise of using Rinne’s poverty as the fallback makes it seem most of the show has been rehashed when they ran out of ideas. A majority of the show follows the same formula: open with Rokuro lamenting about his dire situation, add some kind of spirit element, a problem within Kyokai or one of the characters trying to take advantage of him, stir in a joke of having to spend money to solve the situation with him crying tears of blood … and you have the synopsis of most of the episodes. Although on their own each scene is funny and can be taken in small doses, when you watch more than a few, eventually everything blurs into one confusing mess. And to make matters worse, with no plot or foundation to guide everything to one cohesive junction, there is sadly not much to make the show memorable.
Rin-ne is a fun show if you are a fan of Rumiko Takahashi, but if you are looking for a series which has memorable characters and/or story which drives it forward toward a certain destination, then you would be better off with another of her series. Although the first season was humorous, to use the same tired jokes over and over eventually wears your funny bone raw until you become numb to the gags. If there was something underneath which tied everything together aside from the cast, then the collection might be worth it, but if you seen one cour, then you sadly have seen it all.
Features: Clean Opening & Closing Animations, Sentai Filmworks Trailers
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Running Time: 625 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i mpeg-1/2 video codec
Aspect Ratio: 16×9
Review Equipment: Sharp LC-42LB261U 42” LED HDTV and Sony DVP-SR210H HDMI CD/DVD Player