©高橋留美子・小学館/NHK・NEP・ShoPro

Since her debut, manga creator Rumiko Takahashi has been loved by fans for such acclaimed works as the sweet romance Maison Ikkoku, gender-bending comedy Ranma 1/2, and of course, the long-running historical fantasy Inuyasha. Although the term “Rumic World” began as a title for a series of short stories published by the creator, it is now used by fans all over the world to describe works created in her unique style.

The latest “Rumic World” work, RIN-NE (known in Japan as Kyōkai no Rinne, or literally Rinne of the Boundary) is a story about a human boy in high school with no money who has to work as a Shinigami (a grim reaper of sorts), but has to get help from seemingly normal high school girl Sakura. It has been running since 2009 in Shogakukan’s Shonen Sunday magazine and was finally adapted into an anime series 2015. A second season aired last year, with a third season coming this spring.

Anime Now! got the chance to sit down at a group interview for the third series at Japanese broadcaster NHK’s headquarters earlier this month. In attendance were voice actors Kaito Ishikawa (voice of protagonist Rinne Rokudō) and Kappei Yamaguchi (voice of Rinne’s father Sabato Rokudō), as well as voice actress Marina Inoue (voice of heroine Sakura Mamiya).

Reporters wasted no time asking the question on everyone’s mind—how did Yamaguchi feel co-starring in a Rumiko Takahashi work with Megumi Hayashibara once again? The last time the two acted alongside each other in an adaptation of the manga creator’s work, it was back in Ranma 1/2, which began airing in 1989. Yamaguchi played the male version of Ranma Saotome, while Hayashibara played his female counterpart who he transformed into whenever he was doused in cold water. In RIN-NE’s third season, the two will have a “Rumic” reunion, with Yamaguchi playing Sabato, Rinne’s father, and Hayashibara playing Otome, Rinne’s mother.

“I’m really looking forward to acting with her again. I’ve acted alongside her in other works since Ranma 1/2, but she and I are both excited to act together in another work of Takahashi-sensei’s,” he told reporters. “I want her character to hurry up and appear in the anime! But once her character does appear, she’s probably going to whip her husband Sabato into shape.”

Yamaguchi is also acting alongside other “Rumic World” legends, including Satsuki Yukino. She not only voiced Rinne’s grandmother and Sabato’s mother, but also Kagome in Inuyasha. Yamaguchi likewise played the titular character, who just happened to be Kagome’s partner and romantic interest. Playing off this fact, the two were allowed to do a parody of Inuyasha in one of the anime’s past episode previews, with Yukino saying Kagome’s iconic line “Sit!” at the end of the episode.

Kappei Yamaguchi (voice of Sabato Rokudo)

“When we did that originally, I thought, ‘Wow, NHK sure has gotten lax,'” he laughed, “It was actually at a level where Satsuki and I were like, ‘Um, are we really allowed to do this?’ I’m very thankful for NHK’s consideration in the matter. It would be fun to do something like that again.”

Voice of Sakura Marina Inoue also expressed her excitement to see the duo together again.

“I’ve acted alongside [Ms. Hayashibara] before, but personally, just having her and Mr. Kappei together makes it feel like a legendary duo has come together,” she said, to which Yamaguchi laughed, “Her and Mr. Yamaguchi’s characters’ relationship is something I’m also looking forward to, although I’m betting that Kaito will probably get thrown around by them as a result. Though, that’s also something I’m really excited to see.”

From left to right: Kaito Ishikawa (Rinne), Marina Inoue (Sakura), Kappei Yamaguchi (Sabato)

When asked what he was looking forward to, Ishikawa said that the third series will be giving more time to characters who appeared in previous episodes, giving viewers a chance to get a deeper look at each one.

“Not to mention that Sabato is getting a lot more screentime this time around.” He laughed.

Ishikawa explained that the recording studio for Rinne is a very free one, which allows the actors not to hold back when performing their roles. Although Ishikawa said that he is a bit nervous around the new cast members, he explained that he is trying not to let that change the free atmosphere of the studio that the cast and staff have created throughout the past two seasons of the anime.

Rumiko Takahashi’s works are famous for very, VERY slow-moving romances between the main leads, and RIN-NE is no exception. When asked about the possibility of romance for Rinne and Sakura in the third season, Ishikawa said that despite the hint of romance at the end of season two, it almost seems as if the relationship between the two has completely reset. Rather than focusing on the romance between Rinne and Sakura, Ishikawa suggested that the romantic relationship between his character’s mother and father might be the one to keep an eye out for.

“Well, you know… As long as there’s one hint of romance [between Sakura and Rinne] in the entire season, we’re good.” He joked.

Marina Inoue (voice of Sakura Mamiya)

“For me, personally, the scene at the end of season two with the bento where the two’s relationship developed was an important one. So that’s why it’s kind of like ‘After that, this is what happens!?’ at the beginning of season three,” Inoue explained, “Though, that might be actually more fitting for their relationship; even if nothing big happens, Sakura is always standing beside Rinne and is there to support him if anything happens.”

“Or give him money.” Ishikawa whispered into the microphone with a smirk on his face.

“That’s what you focus on!?” Inoue retorted, “But for the people looking at the two from the outside, it’s like, ‘Will you guys just get married already!?’ They’re like a married couple at this point. I think that these two have a relationship that makes you think that they passed a level of trust of a couple dating, but instead have trust befitting a married couple.”

When asked about his favorite line from the series, Ishikawa laughed.

“I really liked the laugh I did when Rinne was having his daydream during the Oihagizuki arc,” he said, “Rinne was having this daydream of what it would be like to be with Sakura in a certain way, and he laughed so honestly, like ‘Hahahaha!’ When you think that maybe this is actually probably how he really wants to laugh in reality as well, you just can’t help but think that he’s so darn cute.”

“In the first episode of the third season, Sabato looks at an album nostalgically,” Yamaguchi chuckled while giving his favorite line, “Then, he says, ‘I wonder if one of these girls are married to someone rich…'”

“He’s such a piece of scum.” Inoue held back her laughter.

Kaito Ishikawa (voice of Rinne Rokudo)

When asked about how his acting as Rinne differs from other characters he plays, Ishikawa explained that while he first understand the character as a rigid one, he soon came to learn that Rinne actually had a larger amount of emotions than he first realized.

“I’ve started to feel very free. I do what I want as Rinne, and if there’s something that doesn’t work, the director or staff will tell me, ‘That’s going a little overboard.’ Rinne isn’t a character that’s made by me alone—the staff holds me back or pushes me to let out more energy when needed. I feel now that that’s how the character of Rinne is being made for the anime,” he told reporters, “So, when I act as Rinne, I just try whatever I feel fits, whether that be going full-on joker or whatever else.”

For those afraid to start watching RIN-NE at season three—never fear. Because RIN-NE is an anime in which a majority of the episodes are stand-alone, the series can be picked up at any point. The new adventures of Sakura and Rinne sending spirits to the ring of reincarnation will begin airing in Japan on April 8. Sentai Filmworks has licensed the third series for home video release, but also for simulcasting. It will stream the series for overseas audiences on various digital platforms.

From left to right: Marina Inoue (Sakura), Kaito Ishikawa (Rinne), Kappei Yamaguchi (Sabato)

The first two seasons of RIN-NE are available to watch now streaming on Crunchyroll. Sentai Filmworks publishes the anime on home video in North America, and has licensed the third season for digital and home video release (although a digital streaming platform has not been announced as of this time). VIZ Media publishes the original manga in English, and they released volume 23 in North America on March 14.

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