Kyōkai no Rinne
by Lauren Orsini,
There's a reason shows continue doing school festival episodes—they're always lively. It's a chance to see the characters and school setting we've grown familiar with in different costumes and decor and with new energy. Likewise, there's a reason that Rumiko Takahashi continues to revisit her trademark deadpan style of humor—it works. Like the whole of Kyokai no Rinne, this episode doesn't present anything groundbreaking, but it is ruthlessly entertaining, with more of the jokes hitting their marks than usual.
Of course Sakura is a maid in her class's cafe this episode, but Rinne as a maid is more surprising, though nowhere outside the bounds of Takahashi's usual fanservice. Along with Rokumon and a trigger-happy Tsubasa trailing behind, the pair spend their day solving supernatural problems that spring up around the school festival. It's a marked difference in the pacing from last week's two-parter, and I think it works better this time around. The problems that Rinne and Sakura face are so harmless and trivial that they work better the more quickly they are resolved—the better to keep viewers from over-analyzing if these problems are more serious than they seem.
The first troublemaker this week is a wig with an attitude. Tsubasa wants to violently exorcise it, but Rinne wants to reason with the wig and determine its demands. Just writing that sentence was ridiculous, so you can imagine what it's like to watch that unfold. The wig wants to be worn by a girl, which means Sakura of course, even though our unfazed-as-usual Sakura warns the wig that she can't act. I love this—take a character who is obviously bad at something and highlight it for laughs. If anything, they could have focused on Sakura's terrible acting under a closer lens for additional humor. The joke reaches another level when Sakura is suddenly whisked away by an evil spirit with a totally unimpressed expression.
This episode is called “The Wig's Disappointment and the Pumpkin's Temptation,” but it's not the pumpkin being tempted, instead establishing a temptation for other people. We find that the pumpkin spirit has stolen the face of deceased mega-hottie Kimura-senpai and is using it to lure girls into the afterlife. Rinne's solution? To dress in drag and trick the pumpkin into revealing a weakness. Somehow this works, despite Rinne's decidedly ungirly attitude with statements like “I like you, Kimura-senpai” delivered in his manliest voice while holding the evil spirit in a headlock. Rinne's outfit comes complete with a wand, completing the look for a silly mahou shoujo parody. Rinne has free reign as the pumpkin attempts to give him “service,” while the other boys are caged. I think the funniest part of the episode was when Rokumon cried piteously for help, before discovering he could fit through the cage bars.
Kyokai no Rinne is far from this season's deepest or most game-changing anime, but it is so consistently funny that I forgive its lack of substance week after week. It doesn't hurt that Takahashi continues to play on her previous hits. (Be sure to look for Lum and more at the school festival drag show!) Takahashi sets the tone by forgiving her own plot holes loudly and often through jokes, and it gives the viewer clearance to do the same.
Kyōkai no Rinne is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.
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