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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the wheel, 24 Mar 2010
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E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rin-Ne Vol 1 (Paperback)
Imagine a series like Tite Kubo's "Bleach," but sort of flipped around -- some of the same elements are there, but done in a very different style.

In a nutshell, that's "Rin-Ne," and it's a pretty massive departure from Rumiko Takahashi's prior fantasy works (gender-flipping boy/girls, dog demons, mermaids and so on). Fortunately "Rin-ne Volume 1" is a smooth introduction to the story of two kids who find themselves suspended between this world and the world of the dead, and displays a brand of comedy that is much subtler than what we've seen from Takahashi before.

Ever since she was "spirited away" as a child, Sakura has seen ghosts. But one day in class, she also sees Rinne Rukudo -- a scarlet-haired, robed boy who's invisible to everyone but her, wrestling with a giant chihuahua ghost. Yeah, it gets weirder after that.

It turns out that Rinne is a "sort of" shinigami with a magical Haori of the Underworld, who ushers the souls of the dead onto a giant red wheel of reincarnation... for a fee ("You now owe me five hundred yen!"). And after a failed attempt to hypnotize Sakura into forgetting all she's seen, Rinne finds himself sitting next to her in class, and reluctantly working with her on supernatural matters.

And there are a remarkably large number of them -- a cell phone that keeps receiving ghostly calls from long ago, and a ghost that is stuck in a cycle; a strange black kitten who really wants to work for Rinne; and a girl haunted by a fallen samurai's ghost. And when Sakura encounters Rinne's strangely youthful (and strangely familiar) grandmother, she's accidentally swept off into the world of the dead -- and unless he can rescue her, she might end up reincarnating way too early.

"Rin-ne Volume 1" is a smooth introduction to Takahashi's new imaginary world. And while at first it feels a bit like a quieter, less action packed "Bleach," it's redolent of Takahashi's previous works (the tiny animal-footed troublemaker, the high kicks). At the same time, it's also a very different kind of manga from her previous two series -- not much action, a mellower hero, and a focus on dealing with ghosts and supernatural critters rather than on fighting.

So Takahashi deftly juggles both the weird ghostly cases (which are more perplexing than scary) that Rinne and Sakura have to solve, and mellow humorous moments ("Booo, I'm going to get yoooooou, woooooh!"). At the same time, she gradually drops little bits of info that answer some overhanging questions -- Rinne's true nature, how he ended up becoming a shinigami, and the reason he's crashing in an abandoned building with only the clothes on his back (which we never see getting washed... weird).

Rinne and Sakura are also quite different from Takahashi's previous protagonists -- she's a very earnest, sweet girl who seems more puzzled by her sixth sense than frightened by what she sees, and gradually we find out just what happened in her childhood. He's a very professional and mature guy, albeit an excessively frugal one ("If I spent money on such a luxury... I'd be sent to hell"), and has a cute if dumb little black cat, Rokudo, that is determined to help him whether he likes it or not.

"Rin-Ne Volume 1" is a nice start to a promising manga -- the reverse flip of "Bleach," with a likable hero and heroine and lots of supernatural weirdness. It will be interesting to see where it goes next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun start to the series, 4 Oct 2011
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This review is from: Rin-Ne Vol 1 (Paperback)
Rumiko Takahashi's Rin-ne series opens with the main female character, Sakura Mayami, attending her high school. Sakura is a practical teen who happens to have a rather unusual ability. She can see spirits of the dead. Sakura has no idea why she can, although she connects it to an incident of getting lost on holiday when she was a young child. In the first chapter; Sakura's unusual power leads her to meet a very strange character. Rinne Rokudo is a male high school student with a terrible attendance record who just happens to have his desk next to Sakura's. One day he suddenly appears in class and this sets off the series of events that bring Sakura and Rinne together to face a ghost dog, a haunted mobile phone and the Wheel of Reincarnation.

Book One mostly concentrates on the back story of Sakura Mayami and Rinne Rokudo as to why they have the powers they do. Most of the stories are self-contained within one chapter, only a couple are written over two. It serves well in establishing the two main characters of the series, both of whom are likeable and interesting. While not heavy on action it does have humour (Sakura and Rinne have some really funny and sarcastic lines at times) and makes entertaining reading in the inventive use of mythology and the spirit world. With the introduction of Rokumon, a black cat helper for Rinne, you have one of the cutest animal/human characters that Rumiko Takahashi has created. He's just adorable (if not always very helpful to Rinne!)

I particularly value the translation work for this and with the added plus of cultural notes at the end of the book that explains some of the word play and meaning in the original Japanese.

I find this an enjoyable manga series and one which is suitable for children and adults.
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Rin-Ne Vol 1
Rin-Ne Vol 1 by Rumiko Takahashi (Paperback - 26 Nov 2009)
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