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If Life Was A Classroom.

Rin-ne, volume 1

By Rumiko Takahashi 

2 Mar, 2022



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2009’s Rin-ne, Volume One is the first tankōbon of Rumiko Takahashi’s contemporary fantasy manga series Rin-ne. Rin-ne debuted in April 2009 in Weekly Shōnen Sunday. The 398thand final chapter appeared December 132017.

When she was a young girl, Sakura Mamiya gained the ability to see ghosts. This is a gift of surprisingly little utility to a modern Japanese schoolgirl. However, when she discovers she can see her classmate Rinne Rokudo when nobody else in the class can, her gift offers her a clue as to Rinne’s nature. Clearly, the red-haired boy wearing the unusual robes is just another ghost.

This conclusion is clear, simple, and wrong.

Rinne notices Sakura watching him but before he can follow up on that curious event, a giant spectral chihuahua — invisible to all save Rinne and Sakura — manifests in the classroom. Rinne advises the phantom to abandon its regrets and pass on to its next life. In response, the dog wolfs Rinne down.

When Rinne reappears, Sakura does not think much of it. Being dead, ghosts are hard to kill. However, when she tries to stride through Rinne, she collides with him instead. It seems that he is no ghost but as physical as Sakura. 

Rinne is a shinigami. His unusual robe, when worn right side out, makes him invisible to mortals. When reversed, the robe can bind ghosts. He works tirelessly to usher the dead towards their next incarnation. Laudable, save for the fact Rinne keeps a relentless eye on how to exploit his situation for personal gain. 

This should be no problem for Sakura. In fact, Rinne does his best to make sure that it will not be; he hypnotizes Sakura to forget all she has seen. Sakura proves immune to shinigami hypnosis, however, and

she is swiftly entangled in Rinne’s world. 

First order of business (after the chihuahua): deal with a very angry, very dead, crank caller.


Yes, I do plan to sample more of Takahashi’s major works. Why do you ask?

The art in this is … OK but sometimes I wish Takahashi had partnered with a better artist.

One has to admire Takahashi’s work ethic. She produced forty volumes – almost 400 chapters — of Rin-ne in just eight years. There are some authors one could name who struggle to write a single volume of their on-going series in the same time period. While it’s true there are fewer words per manga volume, there is just as much plot, plus Takahashi drew the art as well.

This is, like a lot of modern fantasy stories, something of a mystery series. It’s not always clear what is troubling the ghosts. One cannot resolve lingering discontent without knowing what the cause is. Thus, investigations follow. Has Takahashi ever done a straight-up mystery series?

One has to wonder if Takahashi sets out knowing where she plans to end up or if she just spins out complication after complication until a conclusion occurs to her. I have to admit that while I have been reading her manga for an uncomfortably large number of decades, I don’t think I’ve ever read one of her long-running series to its conclusion. As far as my reading goes, Ranma and Akane are still sniping at each other, Ataru is still being a jerk to Lum, and Yusaku is still pining for Kyoko. 

This is the part where if I had ever read Bleach, I would be comparing this to Bleach. Having not read Bleach, I am of course utterly unaware of the parallels. What I can say is that this is a fairly typical Takahashi beginning. By the end of volume one, one knows who the characters are and the outline of their relationships has been sketched. It’s a perfectly acceptable absurd comedy. It’s just too bad that for some reason I am not in the mood for this just at this moment. If your circumstances are different, you may find this diverting. 

Rin-ne, Volume One is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Barnes & Noble), here (Book Depository), and here (Chapters-Indigo). While Amazon UK offers many volumes of Rin-ne, I could not find volume one in particular.