Vital StatsTitle: Rinne
JP Publisher: Shogakukan
Licensor: VIZ Media
Mangaka: Rumiko Takahashi
Release Date: November 3rd 2009
The Review (Video)
The Review (Text)Rinne is the latest manga by Rumiko Takahashi, the creator behind some of the biggest anime and manga franchises in Japan: Ranma 1/2, InuYasha, Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, all part of the Takahashi experience. Unlike any of them, however, Rinne was (I believe) the first ever simultaneous manga release in both the US and Japan, with VIZ uploading translated chapters to TheRumicWorld.com every week.[/INTRO]
So, the story is that Kagome from InuYasha apparently woke up one morning and decided no go to to the feudal era anymore, so she changes her name, puts her hair in braids, and heads off to school. Unfortunately after all her time fighting yokai leaves her with the ability to see ghosts, as well as her classmate Rin-ne. Rin-ne is a shinigami, "sort of," with bright red hair, so I assume he's actually the love child of Rukia and Ichigo from Bleach.
Rinne is a shinigami, so it's his job to help dead souls make their way to the afterlife and, eventually, reincarnation. Unfortunately since he's not a full-blooded shinigami-- and here comes the classic Takahashi twist --he has to pay real Japanese money in order to use powers and other items to do the job. Why he's obligated to do this instead of living as a normal human being would be a spoiler, so I won't go there just yet, but Takahashi's classic matter-of-fact comedy style a la Ranma 1/2 or Urusei Yatsura is in full force here, where it was a bit less prominently featured in InuYasha.
Rinne an his troubles are interesting fodder for volume one and presumably volume two, but our heroine, whose actual name is Sakura Mamiya, is a little bit less intriguing. She can see ghosts, and the why of that is explained in volume one, leaving no obvious depths to mine for character development, at least for now. (You never know what twist Takahashi will throw in later.) She looks like Kagome in twin braids and she's kind, thoughtful, relatively nonplussed by the abnormal things that go on around her, and...that's about it.
At the moment the story amounts to several short ghost stories featuring Sakura, Rinne, and a couple of other characters who pop up. They're pretty standard Takahashi fare: with the exception of the surprisingly indistinct (so far) Sakura, the characters are lively, quirky, and fun.
The paper version is a pretty standard VIZ release. The first few pages, which were in color in the online version, are in black and white here, which is mildly disappointing but may have been required in order to keep the print costs at a once-standard, now-low price of $9.99. Currently you can read the first two chapters of this volume, and you can read the second and part of the third volume online, but you can't read the entire first volume anymore-- presumably to drive sales for the book version.
All in all, I can tell you this: if you like Takahashi works, you'll like Rinne. If you don't like her stuff, you probably won't. And if you're not familiar with enough of her work to know? It's probably worth giving this a shot since you can read the first couple of chapters online-- but if the book is your only option, you could definitely do worse than spending $10 on Rinne.
On the other hand, if Takahashi isn't your specific aim, you could also probably do better.