'Rin-ne' looks like another hit for artist


POSTED: Tuesday, June 09, 2009

This week's column was inspired by a Journey song I heard on the radio: “;Wheel in the Sky.”;

Mind you, I have no idea what the actual lyrics are to that song. I just started thinking, “;Wheel in the sky ... Rumiko Takahashi's new manga 'Rin-ne' features a red reincarnation wheel in the sky. ... Hmm, I never gave my impressions of Viz's online manga in depth in the column, did I?”;

Indeed, Viz currently serializes two manga online for free: “;Rin-ne”; (available at hsblinks.com/bv) and Daisuke Igarashi's “;Children of the Sea”; (hsblinks.com/c0). “;Rin-ne,”; with updates every Wednesday, has six chapters available so far; “;Children of the Sea,”; updated Thursdays, has three chapters. I'll cover “;Children of the Sea”; in a future column, but here are my initial thoughts on “;Rin-ne.”;

Consider “;Rin-ne”; a natural evolution from Takahashi's last series, “;Inu-yasha,”; a story in which traditional Japanese folklore meshes with modern life. “;Rin-ne”; follows Sakura Mamiya, a high school student who crossed into the spirit world as a child and has been able to see ghosts ever since. She's also the typical Takahashi heroine in the vein of Kyoko in “;Maison Ikkoku,”; Akane in “;Ranma 1/2”; and Kagome in “;Inu-yasha,”; a dark-haired, street-smart, spunky gal.

Within the span of a chapter, she meets Rinne Rokudo, a “;shinigami”; (death spirit) of sorts who helps spirits, bound to the world of the living by lingering regrets, cross into the spirit world. Why he's only a shinigami “;of sorts”; has yet to be explained and likely will be the overarching mystery for a while. In any event, Sakura ends up getting entangled in Rinne's work ... and thus the adventures begin.

Takahashi's stories have a tendency to build slowly over time, and “;Rin-ne”; seems to be content with following that pattern, with story arcs thus far being resolved within the span of one or two chapters. Her trademark lighthearted humor is present throughout; for instance, Rinne crafts an elaborate legend about a shinigami granting wishes in exchange for offerings at a weather hutch just so he can get free money and food from Sakura's classmates. There are also unexpected appearances by large Chihuahua and cat spirits and a T-shirt-wearing bunny.

Viz's online interface for navigating pages is easy to use, with one quibble: I never was able to get it to work with Firefox. Aside from that, it looks like another hit for Rumiko Takahashi ... and it's free online, at that.

Meeting roll call

» MangaBento: Meetings this month for this group of anime- and manga-inspired artists are 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday and June 28 at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. For more information, visit www.manga-bento.com.

'Project B' incoming

Tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I have been throwing around a code name for something that's been in the works for a few weeks now: “;Project B.”; Last week the real name of “;Project B”; was chosen. And next week, as part of the fourth-anniversary edition of “;Cel Shaded,”; I'll reveal what we've been working on.

Follow Jason S. Yadao on Twitter at twitter.com/jsyadao or e-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).