Kyōkai no Rinne
by Lauren Orsini,
I have a feeling Kyokai No Rinne would do well with British viewers, because this is dry humor on par with the UK TV comedies I've seen. Understated responses to boisterous situations characterize this latest episode even more so than last week's.
Titled “Welcome to Hell,” this episode is the tail end of a two-parter, picking up where we left off last time. The clever conceit of the week is the idea that Hell is a government building, filled with grumpy goblin officials who subject sinners to bureaucratic tedium. We're touching on Western religion once again here, as Rokumanchan points out that Hell has nothing to do with the Rinne no Wa of Buddhism. (As we've all learned from last season's Death Parade, in Buddhism, bad people go to the Void.) To further underline the Christian connection, this episode even introduces a dog named Lucifer.
Regardless of this supernatural realm's origin, it gets the typical Rumiko Takahashi treatment—heavy on slapstick and hilariously juxtaposed with scenes from ordinary life. We learn that there's a Hell supermarket, a Hell dentist, Hell schoolkids and neighbors, the Hell Yen and the Hell Dollar, and of course, a Hell Ministry of Health. “That sounds really livable,” is Sakura's typically deadpan reaction to the hellscape around her. Never underestimate the humor that comes from simply putting “Hell” next to ordinary words.
We're in Hell in the first place because Rinne is following the demon Masato and his captive, the still-living bottled soul of a high school student. Rinne doesn't have the time or money to deal with Hell's bureaucracy so he has to break in, causing enough damage to land him in Debt Hell, while Sakura and Rokumanchan attempt clean-up duty in his wake. As usual, money is a major plot point: who has it, who doesn't, and where it can be found. Finances are both the cause of Rinne's problems—“You're going to be defeated by poverty!” Masato quips in one of the episode's funnier lines—and the solution, as he literally utilizes a storm of bills as a weapon. Among Rinne, Sakura, and Rokumanchan all serving as straight men, Masato is the comedic life of this episode. I can't get over him “casually” leaving bananas where Rinne would find them. Each of Masato's other ploys follows suit, causing the three main players to ask “Is this a trap? Is he stupid?” each time. Masato and Rinne do come to an understanding in the end, proving that blackmail is the sturdiest base for any friendship.
This week's art looked distinctly different, and it took me a while to determine the reason—in Hell, all outlines are drawn in purple instead of black. I understand what they were going for, but it made the animation look unfinished and sloppier than usual to me. Nobody is outlined differently in the Rinne no Wa, so why here? It's a strange choice.
As usual, a series of happy accidents wrap up the plot for a lively half hour with a few good laughs. There's no substance or distinct character development this time around, but Kyokai no Rinne is still shaping up to be one of the most consistently entertaining shows of the season.
Kyōkai no Rinne is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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