Kyoukai no Rinne: Season 2
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2016
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Episodes 26-50
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13 January 2017
rinne
The show's getting better. I preferred this to Season 1 and I assume it will improve again for Season 3. It's becoming a show worth recommending, I think.
The thing about Season 1 is that it didn't have many regular characters and that most of them weren't that wacky. They're fixing that. It's just a natural consequence of a long-running comedy series like this. Every time you tell a new story, you're liable to introduce new guest characters. Some of these will be good enough to use again. Do this every week for ten years and you'll end up with one of Rumiko Takahashi's famously huge casts like Urusei Yatsura and Ranma. What's more, new characters make the old ones funnier by creating new relationships and conflicts.
This year's new faces include:
YET MORE CAT CONTRACTORS - just as Rinne has Rokumon, so do other shinigami have their own talking cat employees. These are fun. Ageha's cat, Oboro, is an obnoxious jerk who's bad for Ageha's already short temper. Kain's cat, Suzu, is a hyperactive child with no attention span, which is a terrible fit with the cold, stoic Kain. That's just the start, though, with the cats having their own interactions and even their own cat examination board (eps.43-44). There are businesslike bastard cats, sexy cats, etc.
RENGE SHIMA - an efficient, intelligent Damashigami with no moral scruples. She's basically evil. She's arguably even more of a threat than Rinne's toxic father, since she'll move in next door to Rinne and coolly make herself one of the gang, maintaining enough good manners that people don't just attack her on sight. (That's beyond Sabato.) She'll create some nasty situations, although she has her own quirks too. She's just as poor as Rinne, she hates her boss and she's secretly in love with Kain, in front of whom she'll pretend to be a Damashigami-hating pillar of the community and not evil at all.
RIGHT AND LEFT MIKAZUKI - a pair of twins who run a scythe business. They like inventing new products and trying to test them out on Rinne.
MATSUGO - Rinne's friend from elementary school. He has problems, which means that everyone else near him has bigger ones. Imagine a clingy, possessive schoolgirl in a male body. That's Matsugo. It's not clear whether there's sexual desire underneath his needy obsession with Rinne (although he'll get asked flat-out if there is), but if there was, it wouldn't really make any difference. The guy's a pest.
Many of these people only get an episode or two, but even that much presence makes the universe richer. They'll also often have history with each other, so for instance Ageha and Renge have been enemies since kindergarten.
The show's still basically lots of one-off comedy episodes with no overall story, of course. Don't try marathoning Season 1. This year gradually improves until by the end I'd be happily watching a few episodes back-to-back, but even so you wouldn't want to watch this show all evening. What's more, any episode might contain two or three sub-stories, each adapting an unrelated manga chapter. Their storylines don't get woven together. The show just does them in order, one after another. This works better than you'd think, but it still makes the show a bit bitty and better enjoyed in individual episodes.
Most of the episodes are light relief. A few dig a bit deeper, though, either because Renge or Sabato are causing real problems or because we're exploring Rinne and Sakura's real feelings for each other. The latter's rare. Those two are hard to read, but very occasionally we'll peep beneath their stoic surface. Personally I think someone should point out to Sakura that Rinne's rational action should theoretically be to accept Ageha's advances. Of course Ageha's an idiot, but she's also hot for him and ridiculously rich. Rinne would never have money troubles again. This proves he can't be as desperately poverty-driven as he often makes himself look, surely? Mind you, for her part Sakura keeps turning down Jumonji.
Then there's the premise. If you've got this far into the show, you must be okay with a comedy about Grim Reapers. However it's still capable of pulling out ideas to make you blink. I was mildly disturbed by the wasuredama (aka. Amnesia Balls).
It's still the only major Rumiko Takahashi show to have had no toplessness, by the way. However, oddly, I think Takahashi has a way of drawing sexy women in a way that can actually strike me as sexy. Anime rarely manages that, despite often trying painfully hard. I'm thinking of Matsugo's cat contractor, Kuromitsu, or Pink Leotard Bunny Girl (aka. Right Mikazuki). I think it's because Takahashi he has such a simple, natural style that draws everyone effortlessly but realistically.
Unusual Name Check: Season 2's first opening theme is by Glim Spanky.
I enjoyed it. I really like Rinne and Sakura's underreactions, e.g. Rinne in ep.43 not having a go at Rokumon for letting his scythe get eaten. I also still think it's a masterstroke to have the show only broadcast in April-October every year, instead of having a year-round broadcast schedule and hence lots of filler. Anime filler is the devil. Every so often I'll be slightly surprised that this show keeps adapting all these bite-sized chapters without trying to expand them into full episodes, but it lets the producers stay faithful to the manga while picking and choose the stories they want to use. I hope they keep making this show for years. I want it to rival the other famous Rumiko Takahashi franchises for longevity. No reason why it shouldn't be capable of that.
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