Foreign Friday: Rin-Ne

“I’m a shinigami. Sort of.” – Rin-Ne

This week’s Foreign Friday title is Rin-Ne by Rumiko Takahashi.

The Story

After a mysterious encounter in her childhood, Sakura Mamiya gained the power to see ghosts. Now a teenager, she just wishes the ghosts would leave her alone! Then one day she meets Rinne Rokudo, a boy who is far more than he seems.

The Characters

Apart from her ability to see ghosts, Sakura Mamiya is a practical, normal girl, which stands out oddly against the backdrop of the bizarre and sometimes ridiculous supernatural events occurring around her. Rinne Rokudo, part human and part shinigami, has an even more practical mindset due to his circumstances (extremely poor and working off debts), with an attitude that can come off as cool, disinterested, or professional. The two, along with whatever ghost/exorcist/demon/etc. that’s caught up in the affair, make an entertaining team as they attempt to move spirits on…without spending too much money.

What I Thought

Rumiko Takahashi has a knack for humor and the ridiculous, and this series brings it out splendidly. The unusual supernatural issues brought to the “weather hutch” (i.e. Rinne) can be anything from unrequitted love, overwhelming guilt, a grudge, or a misplaced item. The world of the undead is depicted as a last-chance shopping spree before taking a ride on the wheel of reincarnation. Shrewd money skills are essential, as it takes cash for tools to send souls to the afterlife, especially if they need some persuading. Takahashi makes good use of comedy and an interesting plot to engage readers into the next adventure. The characters are fun and straightfoward. (This would be a good series to read if you didn’t take my advice on Tokyo Babylon last week and need something to cheer yourself up). The art is simple and easy to understand, while still expressive. Rin-Ne currently has 5 volumes available in English in the US.

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