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Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: Rin-Ne by Rumiko Takahashi

Well, today is not your average Monday in that it is a holiday and I don't have to work. And so because I am feeling carefree and not at all stressed out, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite Manga-kas, Rumiko Takahashi. If The Hobbit started my obsession with fantasy books, Star Wars - A New Hope with fantasy / sci fi movies (Definitely Han over Luke, at least after the first viewing), Gundam Wing with anime ("Mission accepted!"), Rumiko Takahashi has done as much for me with manga. I was in a comic book store, where my now husband was working. I used to frequent the store buying comics for my little brothers and occasionally something for me. I'm not certain who put Ranma 1/2 in my hand or if I picked it up on my own, but I could not put it down and it definitely changed my life. I mean, come on, a boy who is on a training expedition to China with his father, one they had to swim across the ocean to embark on, brings them to the cursed pools of Jusenkyo where in every pool there is a tragic tale of how some person or creature drowned in the pool x number of years ago. While training on top of bamboo over the pools, Ranma Saotome falls into the pool of the drowned girl and becomes cursed. How, you say? Every time he is hit with cold water, he turns into a girl. As if that were bad enough, his father falls into the pool of the drowned panda and you can take it from there. In order to be restored to their normal selves, they must be doused with scalding hot water.  It is martial arts mayhem to be sure. The cast of characters is one odd assortment of people. First you find Ranma's dad has promised to marry him off to his lifelong friend's daughter Akane Tendo. Because of the betrothal, they move in with the Tendo family. Ranma and his dad cannot move back home because Ranma's mother comes from a martial arts family and if she thought her son were not manly, she'd kill him. So they are on the lam to keep Ranma's curse from being discovered by his mother. The Tendo family has a dojo which Ranma will one day inherit by marrying Akane. Although there are three Tendo daughters, Akane is the same age as Ranma, so she is the poor, unfortunate, I mean, lucky, lucky girl. They two of the don't really get along. He keeps calling her un-cute because she works out and she thinks he's a jerk. Enter Tatewaki Kuno, self-proclaimed Blue Thunder of Furinkan High. He has a crush on Akane, but Ranma keeps getting in the way. Now enter Kodachi Kuno, self-proclaimed Black Rose of St. Hebereke Girls' Academy and also younger sister to Tatewaki Kuno. As the series progresses, we find the list of oddball characters getting longer. There's Sampoo, the Chinese girl who followed Ranma and fell into the pool of the drowned cat, Mousse who is in love with Shampoo and followed her and fell into the pool of the drowned duck, Ryoga who has a grudge against Ranma and followed him falling into the pool of the drowned pig, Ukyo who is also another of Ranma's fiancees (his dad promised Ranma for some food and then ran away with him), Principal Kuno who thinks he is in the Hawaiian Islands and is also Tatewaki and Kodachi Kuno's father, Cologne who is Shamppo's grandmother, Happosai who is the master of Anything Goes style of martial arts which both the Tendos and Saotomes are practitioners. The list goes on. Ranma is promised to Akane, but Shampoo, Ukyo and Kodachi are in love with him. Tatewaki Kuno and Ryoga are in love with Akane. Mousse is in love with Shampoo. But who ends up with whom? All the while, Ranma is in search of a way to break the curse and become 100% male. Warning: mild nudity.

Her newest endeavor is a series called Rin-Ne and it is every bit as wacky as Ranma 1/2.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for audiences T+.
Ever since a strange encounter when she was a child, Sakura Mamiya has had the power to see ghosts. Now in high school, she just wishes the ghosts would leave her alone! When her mysterious classmate Rinne Rokudo shows up, Sakura finds herself following him into the amazing world between life and death!

Publication Date: March 6, 2012 | Series: Rin-Ne (Book 8)
Rinne finds himself acting as a mentor for the shinigami Shoma, an elementary school student from the afterlife. Although Shoma is supposed to be learning how to help spirits pass on, he only wants to go after the biggest evil spirits he can find—despite the fact that he’s never done it before! The devil Masato offers Shoma an easy road to success, but can Rinne show the young shinigami the right path?

My Review:
Rinne Rokudo is a shinigami, a death god. Well, he is sort of. His grandmother is a shinigami, but his grandfather was human. He enters the same high school as Sakura Mamiya who sees him when she realizes no one else can. He is acting weirdly and she follows him to find out why. As it turns out, he is wearing a coat called the Haori of the Underworld and he is a part-time shinigami who helps spirits cross over into the next life. He is shocked to find out that Sakura can see him and other spirits since she had a close encounter with the Wheel of Reincarnation when she was a little girl. She was actually saved by Rinne's grandmother. Rinne is penniless and quite the cheapskate, but we do come to find out through the course of the series that his father is the reason for his financial situation. His father is Sabato, who is the president of the Damashigami Corporation. They also help spirits pass into the next life, but there methods are less than scrupulous and they take spirits before it is really their time to keep their quota up. Sabato is also a bit of a con artist. Well, that is a understatement really, but he keeps taking out loans and getting credit and when he signs his I.O.U.s, he signs Rinne's name as the co-guarantor, well, forges really, so every time Rinne gets any money, he has to spend it on his father's debts. His father continues to scam people and just keeps racking up Rinne's debt as well. Rinne is going to school and lives in an old clubhouse at school. He wears a track suit that was given to him by one of the teachers. Works odd jobs, like creating paper roses, just to earn a living. He started a rumor at school that if a person is plagued by troubles or spirits, they can leave an offering in an old weather hutch and their prayers will be answered, they will receive the assistance they need. Of course, Rinne needs to keep it all on the down low, so none of his classmates except for Sakura know of his part-time shinigami status. They also don't know that when they leave offerings in the weather hutch that they are actually leaving it for Rinne. He helps them, though, but wearing the Haori of the Underworld so as to remain anonymous. Sakura, who Rinne calls by her full name 'Sakura Mamiya', for whatever reason decides to assist Rinne in his duties as shinigami. She can, after all, see spirits and is very useful in helping him solve some of his cases. He is also developing a crush on Sakura, but feels he is unworthy of her. It doesn't stop him from getting jealous.
Enter Tsubasa Jumongi, an exorcist that once tried to send Rinne off to the afterlife while he was wearing his Haori of the Underworld by enveloping him in a cloud of sacred ashes. They become rivals as Jumongi develops feelings for Sakura himself. Sakura seems to be oblivious to this, but seems to be very interested in Rinne's well being. Enter Ageha. She is also a shinigami filling in for her sister because she fell in love with Sabato, abandoned her position as shinigami and left to go work for Sabato at the Damashigami Corporation. Ageha has sworn to bring down Sabato and thte Damashigami Corporation. While Sakura does not seem to be very open about how she feels about Rinne, she does seem to get a little green when Ageha throws herself all over Rinne.
In this volume, Rinne is hosting a young shinigami from the Shinigami Elementary School for a home study program. The young shinigami's must send off spirits to the after life. They usually have them send off the spirits of dear departed pets. Every type of spirit is worth a certain number of points. Rinne gets a child named Shoma who is an obnoxious little brat. He doesn't want to take the time to learn. He wants the flash, the big points, he wants to go after an evil spirit so he can get his 50 points and leave. He is not happy about the fact that Rinne is broke and he has to eat porridge for his meals. He is an arrogant little beastie who causes nothing bought trouble which Rinne then needs to get him out of. Rinne tries to teach him the finer points of being a shinigami, but Shoma is a little know-it-all and doesn't believe someone as poor and pathetic as Rinne has anything he could possibly teach. When Rinne saves him time and again, is he grateful? No, he is not.
On top of dealing with Shoma, Rinne also has to solve cases involving a haunted kitchen counter in the school's cooking classroom and a scarf that strangles anyone receiving a scarf as a gift from another student. Does he save the day?

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