Today, we return to an author I mentioned previously, but not for the manga she’s best known for. Rumiko Takahashi’s Rin-Ne claims to be publishing volumes in America at the same time as volumes in Japan, but this is blatantly false since was being published overseas starting in 2009 and we just started getting it. Not that I understand why this was a major selling point in the first place: I don’t think anyone honestly cares outside of the publishing companies.
Regardless, if the readers of Rin-Ne are longtime Takahashi fans, they’ll know what they’re getting into. Takahashi is known for her romantic comedies mixed with other genres and this manga just marks her foray into the supernatural genre (which she already dabbled in during InuYasha, but I digress). Indeed, the two main characters are, again, a boy and a girl that will obviously end up together by the end.
High-schooler, Sakura Mamiya, is not as normal as she seems. When she was younger she was tempted by the spirits to board the passageway to the spirit world. She was saved by an elegant shinigami, but ever since the experience she has been able to see and interact with the spirits that live among the living. Despite this, she lives a rather dull life until the new student, Rinne Rokudo, finally makes his appearance. Not only is he extremely cheap (finding even an 100 yen – about $1.30 – bun extravagant), but he is also a shinigami. To further increase his oddness, Rinne’s grandmother is the previously mentioned elegant shinigami that saved Sakura’s life and his father? Well, he’s just the lord of hell, no biggie.
There are the usual romantic comedy hijinks and a slew of other humorous characters/ romantic rivals, but there’s one glaring difference in this series that sets it apart from most other one’s I’ve read and that is the female lead. You see, Sakura just doesn’t give a shit. She’s pretty cool with everything that happens around her and has the most level head that I’ve ever seen in just about any manga. No, it’s Rinne that takes up the over-emotional, over-analyzing “I have a crush” mantle. It’s great! I love seeing the roles reversed like that and with a veteran like Takahashi, you know it’s done entertainingly, if not well.
Outside of that, the story and the mythos is interesting and the characters are humorous. The only problem I have is that it’s almost exactly the same as Ranma ½ except maybe taking place in hell sometimes. I can’t help but feel a little bored by it. However, if you haven’t read any of Ranma ½ or looking for something with more ghosts and less martial arts, then I’d give this a try. There are only about five volumes out at the moment, but it’s an enjoyable read.