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Rin-Ne Volume 1

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Rin-Ne Volume 1

Rin-Ne Volume 1

KYOUKAI NO RINNE © 2009 Rumiko Takahashi / Shogakukan

The Bottom Line

Sakura Mamiya has the power to see ghosts, and she's sick of dealing with their problems. But Sakura gets drawn deeper into the spirit world by her eccentric classmate Rinne, a part-time grim reaper.

Lately, mainstream manga has been dominated by stories about teens who can see ghosts or demons, in titles ranging from Bleach (martial-arts action) to Death Note (psychological horror) to Black Bird (gothic romance) to Natsume's Book of Friends (heartwarming drama). Rin-Ne doesn’t do anything boldly original with the concept, but the offbeat characters and spirits reflect Rumiko Takahashi's remarkable skill.

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  • The latest series from the superstar creator of Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2
  • Crisp, appealing art and character designs
  • A witty story with instantly engaging characters


  • Neither as funny nor as dramatic as Takahashi's best, it's shaping up to be one of her lesser works
  • The premise is similar to countless other manga about teenagers battling supernatural beings


Guide Review - Rin-Ne Volume 1

Reviewing Inuyasha for Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson wrote, "Below-average Takahashi is still better than most artists' best work," and that continues to hold true for the newest series by the queen of shonen manga.

At this point it feels like Rumiko Takahashi is coasting; she's not going for the big belly laughs of Urusei Yatsura, the emotional depths of Maison Ikkoku, or the manic invention of Ranma ½. Rather than breaking new ground, Rin-Ne follows the current fad for gothic-tinged manga about ghosts and shinigami (death gods), with a premise similar to the excellent Kekkaishi, which runs alongside it in Shonen Sunday magazine.

And yet, reading Rin-Ne, it’s hard not to be struck by how much better Takahashi is than 99% of shonen manga artists: she's more imaginative, more original in her character development, and more fun. Who else would create a title character as goofy as Rinne Rokudo, half shinigami, half con artist, who haggles over the piddling fees he charges to exorcise restless spirits and uses his supernatural powers to pull low-level grifts on his classmates? Who else would draw a spirit world as simple but striking as this one, its shifting carnival landscape dominated by the vast red wheel of reincarnation? Who else would open a manga with a scene where the hero is swallowed by a giant chihuahua?

Rinne's adventures as a part-time shinigami are witnessed by Sakura, a girl with the power to see supernatural beings. Sakura serves the same function as Kagome in Inuyasha, tagging along mainly so she can stand at the sidelines and provide exposition. At this point, anyone who knows Takahashi's work is just waiting for the super-deformed sidekick to show up, and by the end of Volume 1 we have Rokumon, a down-on-his-luck black cat (but aren't they all?). The stage is set for an indefinite series of episodic encounters with the supernatural, interspersed with character development, slapstick humor, and flashbacks to the mysterious incident that gave Sakura her connection to the spirit world.

So far, Rin-Ne is lighter and funnier than Inuyasha, more grounded than Ranma ½. Takahashi’s genius is in the details: a tableau of ghosts traveling to the afterlife in cartoon-animal boats, a background shot of a woman punching out a rabbit, a pair of teenagers happening across the ghost of a fallen samurai and immediately whipping out their cell phone cameras.

VIZ is serializing Rin-Ne online at TheRumicWorld.com, giving readers a chance to sample the manga before buying. It may be below-average Takahashi, but that’s still more than worth a read.

Shaenon Garrity is a manga editor, writer and comics creator. She is the author of CLAMP in America, and the creator of Narbonic.

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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