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Similar in some ways, yet also a change of pace
First off, let me start by offering this disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of Rumiko Takahashi. I love her style, her jokes are usually hilarious, and she writes involving stories (although I'll grant she has trouble wrapping them up). Therefore, I'm a little biased when it comes to this series, and I'll grant that those with less taste for her manga won't find this as impressive.

That being said, I do feel that Rin-ne borrows too much from Takahashi's earlier works. As the main article points out, many of the characters are Expys, to some extent, of previous Takahashi characters. Rinne basically borrows his cool nonchalance and half-human nature from Inuyasha, Sakura is a variation on Kagome (especially in appearance), Rokumon strongly resembles Shippou, Tsubasa is reminiscent of Ryouga... Also, the ghost story theme isn't really the most original genre in the world, and some of the episodes are strongly redolent of some of the earlier episodes of Inu-Yasha. (It really takes the most from that series.)

But I feel this is a strong manga in its own right. The key to its charm is that, in contrast to Takahashi's earlier manga, it is far, far more understated. It's hard to think that the writer of Urusei Yatsura 's zany antics has settled down to these sardonic, satirical jabs. Instead of Inu-Yashas roaring action and heroic fantasy, combat is downplayed; Rinne's method is to investigate souls' pasts and help them break their ties with the human world, lending everything a more relaxed tone. And instead of Maison Ikkoku s involved romance, Sakura and Rinne's relationship is only hinted at, though I'm sure that'll change fast.

Their relationship is also more relaxed than usual. Rather than being about "bitchy girls slapping around incompetent guys" (Zac Bertschy's summary of Takahashi's relationships), Rinne and Sakura are both more calm and collected. Sakura doesn't freak out at ghosts, Rinne doesn't bemoan his station, and neither freak out at stupid crap like so many other manga characters.

This understated tone might bore readers looking for more Ranma 1/2-style hijinks, but whatever. It's a nice change of pace and I can't wait to see what sort of weird stuff Takahashi will cook up next.
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