Lesley Aeschliman

Manga Review: RIN-NE Volume 17

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RIN-NE Volume 17 focuses on a high school girl named Sakura Mamiya who gained the ability to see ghosts when she was a child. She befriends Rinne Rokudo, a boy who is half-human and half-shinigami. Sakura and Rinne work together to investigate strange happenings and to guide spirits whose regrets keep them from moving on to the afterlife. They are joined by Rokumon, Rinne’s Black Cat Contract, and Tsubasa Jumonji, a young exorcist who has strong feelings for Sakura.

RIN-NE Volume 17 cover

RIN-NE Volume 17

Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 10, 2015
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Volume 17 opens with Rinne, Sakura, and Tsubasa investigating a male member of their school’s Folk Song Club who appears to have become a cicada. It takes Sakura and Rinne to come up with the clues they need to piece everything together and to turn this young man back to normal. This was a decent story, although in some respects, it was also a little on the strange side. It wasn’t the worst story to appear in Volume 17, but it wasn’t among the best, either.

The next four chapters all deal with some kind of cursed object. First, there’s a cursed scythe that causes mayhem for Rinne and the other characters. Next is a cursed tatami mat in the Tea Ceremony Club’s room, which is then followed by a story about a cursed cashbox. Finally, there’s a chapter about a cursed straw doll. By the time I reached the chapter about the cursed straw doll, I was getting a little tired of reading yet another chapter about Rinne and his friends dealing with some kind of cursed object. The only positives I have to say about this set of chapters is that the story about the cursed cashbox allowed the reader to get to see Rinne’s father, while the chapter about the cursed straw doll focused more on Renge and Ageha, a couple of characters who aren’t seen as much as Rinne, Sakura, or Tsubasa. While the story about the scythe focused on the characters of Right and Left, I found myself getting annoyed by these two particular characters rather quickly.

The remaining three stories in Volume 17 all involve a spirit in some way. The first of these chapters sees Rinne, Sakura, Tsubasa, and Renge competing in a relay race for their school’s athletics festival, but they have to practice on the lane of the track that’s haunted by the spirit of a student. The second spirit story sees Right and Left building a shrine and trying to summon the guardian spirit of scythe-smithing. The final spirit story sees Rinne, Sakura, and Tsubasa investigating a stray komainu shrine dog spirit and encountering the disembodied spirit of a shrine maiden who has a past connection with Tsubasa.

Of these final three stories, my favorite was the one about the stray komainu shrine dog spirit and the disembodied spirit of a shrine maiden. This particular story provided some character development for Tsubasa, and it makes him have to start seeing that perhaps he shouldn’t just set his sights on Sakura. The spirit haunting the school’s track was a decent story, and the other story featuring Right and Left just felt rather weak in comparison to most of the other stories that appeared in RIN-NE Volume 17.

When it comes to Takahashi’s character designs for RIN-NE, she seems to be relying on more blatant recycling of older character designs than she had in her previous works. Just off the top of my head, I can see that three of the major characters seem to have had their designs based on characters from Inuyasha, while another character looks rather similar to Kodachi Kuno from Ranma 1/2. Unfortunately, I find that these recycled character designs tend to distract me from what I’m reading, because I have to remind myself that the person I’m seeing on the page isn’t one of the characters from other series who had their design modified for RIN-NE.

So far, I have to say that RIN-NE hasn’t grabbed me like Ranma 1/2 or Inuyasha did. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something that those two series had that seems to be lacking in RIN-NE. I also can’t help but think that the concept of Rinne guiding spirits whose regrets keep them from moving on to the afterlife could have been inspired by the Bleach franchise. To me, it feels like Takahashi has gotten a little lazier with both her character designs and her writing for this series. There really was no good reason to have four chapters back to back that focused on cursed objects, and then having three stories back to back that focused on spirits. While this probably wouldn’t have been as noticeable during RIN-NE’s weekly serialization, it becomes obvious when these chapters are grouped together into a single volume.

Readers who have been reading and following the series up to this point may enjoy reading RIN-NE Volume 17. Long-time fans of Takahashi’s work who haven’t read RIN-NE yet could potentially be distracted by the noticeable recycling of character designs or be disappointed in the fact that the series seems to lack the ingredient that made Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha so endearing to manga and anime fans alike.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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