Rinne Rokudō (六道 りんね Rokudō Rinne?) is the main protagonist and leading male character of Kyōkai no Rinne. He is part human and part Shinigami but describes himself as a "sort of" Shinigami. He is classmates with the female protagonist Sakura Mamiya and works with her to guide spirits to the afterlife. His black cat is Rokumon.
Rinne has fire engine red hair and similar red eyes. He's normally seen wearing his old middle school track uniform, which consists of a black pair of pants, along with a black coat that goes over a white short sleeved T-shirt and has a white lining over the edges of the collar.
Rinne's signature Haori of The Underworld outfit is normally seen whenever he's in battle and exorcising spirits. On his Haori is the Red Wheel of Samsara, or Wheel of Reincarnation. He wore a smaller version Haori as a child and the one currently in his possession is assumed to have been passed down from his grandmother, Tamako.
He has been seen wearing other articles of clothing, although these are rare instances and they usually are because he has a job to complete (i.e crossdressing as a maid to trick a Damashigami).
Rinne describes himself as a "sort of" Shinigami, or god of death. He ferries souls between the land of the living and dead, and most of the spirits he encounters are stuck in the living world with unresolved needs. Rinne patiently tends to the spirits he encounters, even when it would be easier to simply banish them into the afterlife.
Rinne is shown to be a kind and light-hearted Shinigami. He doesn't force spirits to pass on quickly, but instead patiently helps them unless, of course, they anger him. He's careful with his strategies and battle plans, unlike Rumiko's previous male protagonists who prefer to quickly attack without thinking. Rinne also respects the female protagonist, calling Sakura by her full name and he also doesn't fight or argue with Sakura whenever Sakura is questioning him.
Rinne is quite the protective of Sakura Mamiya, often wondering about her well being and how she will react to certain actions of his. He falls for Sakura very early on and this possibly due to the fact that she's not judgmental of his social status as some people (Shinigami included) would. when asked about it, Rinne replied that "[Sakura] is as kind as an angel." and he makes it clear that he genuinely cares for her. Even so, somehow Sakura manages to misinterpret their relationship and his confessions constantly. She even, unintentionally, shuts him down by saying that they're just classmates or that she'll pretend to be his girlfriend with all her might.
He also hates wasting money over useless things or when he has to pay an extreme amount, which is why he often takes "emotional damage" and cries tears of blood when his money is wasted.
Rinne is of both human and Shinigami heritage. This originates from 50 years ago, when his grandmother Tamako, a Shinigami fell in love with a human male she was supposed to reap the soul of. She agreed in exchange of prolonging the life span of the man for 50 years, to reap more souls; which meant she had to work ten times more than she normally would, and also agreed that if she didn't reach her goal, her debt will be passed through her descendants. Their half-Shinigami half-human son Sabato Rokudō married a full Shinigami named Otome, who through an accident was dragged into the Wheel of Reincarnation while Rinne was a baby.
Since Sabato was not much of a father, Rinne was raised by his grandparents in the human world. He went to elementary and middle schools for both human and Shinigami, and over the course of his life, Sabato would take his son's savings for his own uses, and even took his Elementary School present.
4 years ago, he teamed up with Chibio Minimegane, who was his classmate since first grade, to find and pop a devil balloon as part of a training exercise. The balloon ended up popping and knocking both of them out. Rinne had awaken first to discover Chibio had wet his pants in shock, and to save him from further bullying as the class arrived, Rinne pushed him into the river nearby to hide the fact. And he took a wasuredama to forget about it himself. Although Chibio under the belief he was betrayed, plotted revenge.
At some point, his License became Silver. When the time for his grandfather to pass on came, Tamako lost her right to live in the living world and had to return to Kyoukai, but Rinne wished to remain in the living world. It was believed that she wasn't able to reach her goal, and her work was passed on to her grandson, but it would be revealed that the original debt was fully paid off, but Sabato had taken out many loans with Rinne as his unwilling co-signer and left the debts to the latter. Thus, burdened by his father’s debts, Rinne left his rented house because paying for rent is waste, and had to pawn his own Shinigami Scythe to live on. He settled in a room of an abandoned club building of Sankai High School, to which he enrolled although he was unable to get a high school uniform and would remain using his middle school uniform.
After one month of absence, he finally starts setting foot in his class, although on his first day, he had to wear his Haori to help a Chihuahua ghost pass on, and he was noticed by classmate Sakura Mamiya sitting next to him, who has the ability to see ghosts. As the Chihuahua ghost fused with another ghost, who would go mad when Sakura refuses to date him, he had to bring her to Kyoukai to lure them both there, and he reveals her about his work. He makes a living by making fake roses to sell, but also making use of the instrument shelter at the school yard, suggesting people to write a letter about their problem and place an offering and money inside to have their problems solved with his Shinigami Skills.
Tamako helped him get offers at the instrument shelter from the students, by donning a scary mask and threatening them in their dreams, and she shows up to him and Sakura to ask him to come live with her, but he still refuses to leave the human world and is not grateful for her trick. He learns that Sakura had met his grandmother once long ago, who saved her from a Damashigami and carelessly accepted to buy a candy for her, which explains why she became able to see ghosts.
Thereafter, he shared the story of his grandparents with Sakura to explain his origin, and then meets Rokumon, who claims to have been sent by Tamako to form a contract with him, to which Rinne refuses, having no resources to support the helper. But upon finding a letter, which reveals that Tamako actually fired him and advised him to get Rinne's support, the two form a contract, on the grounds that Rokumon covers his own living expenses.
He would keep having the company of Sakura, who would voluntarily aid and support him in many ways including informing him of any paranormal activity she’d come across and giving him money, as he may encounter various circumstances in which Shinigami Tools can be required to achieve something. While struggling and trying to overcome his penury, he would go through various occurrences, which most are comical, concerning his poverty and his promise to pay Sakura back.
He encounters Masato again, having planned for revenge to lure him to Hell using a spirit as hostage, and throw him to the absolute lowest level of Hell called debt hell, rendering him unable to ever leave Hell. But Rinne used his counterfeited bills that Sakura and Rokumon brought in a different unexpected way against him, and by forcing Masato to cover for Rinne’s intrusion and damages in exchange for not revealing to the authorities that he printed the fake bills, they were all able to leave Hell with the captured spirit, which returned to his body. Although Masato would plot against Rinne again many times.
An old elementary classmate of Sakura named Tsubasa Jumonji would surface, as a transfer student to Sankai High, and his love for Sakura resulted a bit of jealousy from Rinne, which Rinne described as 'a disgusting feeling, like stepping on a caterpillar in hell'. They would argue about their differing philosophies on how to deal with spirits, and compete for Sakura’s affection as he developed feelings for her.
Sabato showed up to his “house” and lured him along with Sakura, Tsubasa and Rokumon to the Damashigami Company, to force him to marry a Damashigami and take over. But not only Sakura and Rokumon, but Tamako came to Rinne’s aid and everyone could return to the living world.
Right after, he meets a Shinigami called Ageha, who at first thought that Rinne was working for the Damashigami Company; but he explained that he is also against it. He agreed to help her find her sister, and Ageha begun to like Rinne, eventually, developing feelings for him, but upon discovering her sister has fallen for Rinne's father and became the Damashigami Company's mysterious secretary, Ageha at first doubted Rinne, but she was convinced when Rinne attempts to aid her in taking back her sister from his father. That unexpected fondness is not favorable to Rinne, as Sakura gets to see them together many times in wrong impressions, and he always does his best to clear the misunderstanding. Sakura states her disinterest toward Rinne, yet Ageha, having seen how Rinne and Sakura acted with each other, sees Sakura as a rival over Rinne, and disbelieves that Sakura doesn't have feelings for Rinne.
His troubles because of Sabato would become even more troublesome, as Shirushigami Kain came to seize his Life Flame, considering him as guilty as Sabato for conning his mother. But after recovering his elementary school present which contained the Hoop of Judgment, Rinne could no longer suffer injustice, although Kain would still resent him. They would at some occasions cooperate especially when it comes to subdue Sabato.
He got invited to Sakura’s house, when numerous spirits appeared there all of a sudden, much to his delight, although Tsubasa, Ageha and Rokumon followed him, much to his dismay. After getting them out of Sakura's house with discontinued Shinigami tools, he discovers that the Exorcism Hourglass she received long ago after Tamako saved her from the Damashigami Rabbit, which precluded spirits to enter her house, expired and so he refills it, only for Ageha to destroy it out of anger, so he had to pay 20000 yen for another.
When Tamako gives Sakura a prototype candy that would reverse her ability to see ghosts and spirits for 3 days, Rinne claims he doesn't care if she can see him or not, and he wonders if she is happier not being able to see ghosts. After stopping the 5000 evil spirits that targeted her as part of A-1 Grand Prix, unbeknownst to her, he felt lonely. But Sakura grew bored by not seeing Rinne, and as soon as she sees him again, she gives the other candies back saying she doesn’t need them, meaning that it's okay to see ghosts and to see Rinne.
It is hinted that Rinne and Sakura starts to fall for each other, considering that they find each other's presence.
A raise on Shinigami Scythe Repair Fees leads Rinne to the Crescent Moon Shop, which is currently owned by twins named Refuto and Raito and has business trouble. He would sometimes take the risk to entrust them his scythe for repair, and also reluctantly agree to help them increase their reputation and keep their business going in various ways, although it often turns disastrous as these two rabbits mostly come up with flawed products and are sly, going as far as using Rinne for their profit.
He encounters the prodigy of the Damashigamis named Renge Shima, who's been changing schools and lastly got enrolled in Sankai High. After ruining her latest scheme, she remained in Sankai High and became his next-door neighbor. Rinne took pity on her, considering that his father ruined her life, and so would not bring her down at once and would help her hide her Damashigami activities from Kain, whom she has a crush on, but still tries to neutralize her schemes.
Chibio Minimegane resurfaced in a new look and with a new name Matsugo, and dragged Rinne to a Shinigami elementary reunion that he held at Hotel the Beyond, for the sole purpose of humiliating Rinne. But upon learning the truth about what happened 4 years ago, Matsugo decides to stop dwelling in the past and shouts out that he likes Rinne, leaving everyone shocked. Since then, attempting many times to “deepen their friendship”, Matsugo became a pest to Rinne.
When a High School Shinigami mixer is held with a fun networking event, Matsugo invites Rinne, who grows tired of Matsugo's constant attention, so Rokumon gets the idea to ask Sakura to come with them as Rinne’s girlfriend, in hopes of convincing Matsugo to stop being such a pest, to which she agrees. But with the assistance of his black cat Kuromitsu, Matsugo would keep them apart many times to be alone with Rinne, although his secret crush Anju would tag along as well, trying to interfere. And when Matsugo asked about what Rinne found attractive in Sakura, Rinne’s comment on how she kindly helps out with his financial end gets twisted. Sakura felt heartbroken believing that she is being used for money and food and that Rinne doesn’t think much of her like she thinks of him, but Rinne clears the misunderstanding, by stating that he wants to eat her lunch with her. Matsugo eventually learned that Rinne and Sakura are not really dating, but his own plans backfired as well.
He learns from Sakura about a lost Shinigami tool called the Scrying Orb at the hands of Hitomi Annette Anematsuri, who would become their new teacher. As it is a must-retrieve Shinigami Tool for the Shinigami association, he tried to return it to get a prize, but he ended up sending it to repair and returning it to Annette. It seems he’s not bent on trying to seize the orb again, certainly since it would always go back to its owner, and he would experience many upsets because of it and the immature witch.
When a thievery attempt of Sabato at Tamako's house that went awry led Sakura to become the owner of a special scythe, Rinne had the delightful opportunity to coach her, as it won’t leave her hands until she purifies at least 7 spirits, and it allowed her to learn how hard is Rinne’s job.
Upon discovering Sabato got a Gold License, by defeating in a silly way his High School teacher who was a Gold License holder, he challenged Sabato who retrieved his old scythe, to inherit that Gold License. Tamako, Kain, Ageha, Rokumon and Sakura assisted, and it seemed as if Rinne won when Sabato’s scythe broke off, only for the blade to knock on his head, allowing Sabato to escape with his Gold License.
Once, much to his delight and his classmates’ surprise, he got to wear a high school uniform he received at the instrument shelter, only to learn that it is a cursed gift given by Masato, causing food to turn to ashes rendering him unable to eat. It was a painful situation for Rinne, stating he had to make “an ultimate choice” between keeping the uniform or remain able to eat, but he obviously choose to take off his uniform but not without making Masato suffer as well.
He eventually reunites with his mother, lastly reincarnated into a human girl called Ichigo, who had just moved with her parents, and as she remembered her previous lives, she wishes to support him, despite living her new life as a child.
- Flight - Rinne can fly when wearing the Haori of the Underworld.
- Shinigami Senses - Rinne can sense spiritual auras.
- Scythe Fighting - Rinne is skilled with his scythe, despite having it taken away from him in multiple occasions.
- Invisibility - Rinne becomes invisible to normal people when he wears the Haori of The Underworld.
- Exorcism - Being a shinigami, Rinne's true job is to exorcise and help spirits that were unable to pass on and cut their ties to this world, bringing them to the Wheel of Reincarnation.
- Thousand Winds Stream - Rinne can control a thousand bills in a flurry around him and then redirect the winds towards a target.
Rinne makes use of several Shinigami Tools he needs to buy, although he has three that are always with him.
Shinigami Scythe: A tool used by all Shinigamis, and most likely Damashigamis too, Rinne was too poor to to own one in the beginning and eventually bought one for 5,000 yen in volume 3. In the anime, the scythe was his since childhood but he's had to sell it to a pawn shop due to being so poor and later got the money to buy it back.
Haori of the Underworld (Yomi no Haori): A lightweight Haori, or short coat worn over a kimono. On Rinne's haori is a red wheel of reincarnation. According to Rinne, it's expensive. When wore, the wearer is given the body of a ghost and is therefore invisble to humans, when wore inside out the wearer is given back their living bodies.
Hoop of Judgement: a bracelet worn on Rinne's left wrist that transforms into a large hoop when needed. It works as a shield against unjust attacks, a teleporter to the offender, and can capture the wearer's target. This tool was given to Rinne when he was young by Tamako, but Sabato stole it from Rinne before he could open the container. He was eventually able to get it back though.
Rinne hints that he and his grandfather were very close; this more than likely due to the fact that Rinne had no fatherly figure in his life since Sabato was a Damashigami and never was around. He lived with the older man and Tamako in the human realm until the man died.
Despite their identical appearances, these two are the polar opposites. Even in their youths, Sabato was known for his lazy and perverted behavior while Rinne was actually respectable and hard-working. The two can never see eye to eye and Rinne simply cannot forgive Sabato for using him as the cosigner of his debt. Very rarely does Rinne work with his father and, even then, Rinne usually ends up harming his father out of annoyance.
As much as he cares for his grandmother, he greatly dislikes her laidback attitude towards things like cleaning. He also doesn't like it when Tamako grinds her knuckles into his head for calling her Granny. These minor disputes have existed between the two for years and, in a flashback, it shows that Rinne's grandfather was not at all bothered by it (probably because he was used to it).
The human reincarnation of his mother, whom he could hardly remember since she disappeared right after he was taking his first steps as a baby. He wondered about her, and was worried that she forsook him. When he found her Shinigami Scythe with her Platinum license, he was so eager to learn about her that he pawned his own Scythe to buy it (though he retrieves it). And when he met her human reincarnation, he was relieved to learn that she never forsook him and was moved when she said she'd remain his mother even reincarnated. They occasionally meet.
While they were originally acquaintances who shared a common goal of helping the dead, Rinne and Sakura eventually gain a small friendship that quickly turned into a one-side crush on Rinne's part. This is possibly Rinne's first crush as he has no clue on how to approach Sakura during times of misunderstandings or when he questioned his own feelings for her. Even so, Rinne is actually fairly calm in his affection compared to Tsubasa, Ageha, or Matsugo.
Even though he has tried to show Sakura that she means a lot to him, his message often gets twisted. This sometimes leads him to feel rejected by Sakura while other times, its the fault of misunderstandings.
While he originally planned to not contract any black cat since it meant that he had to pay the cat as an employee, Rinne and Rokumon have a fair partnership. Even with their ups and downs, the two are loyal to each other and are quick to defend each other should the other be framed. Like many black cats, Rokumon thinks highly of his employer but is also more humble at the same time.
Despite their rivalry for Sakura's affection, Rinne and Tsubasa do have it in them to work together. However, Tsubasa tend to either ruin or make things worse for Rinne, very rarely does he actually do something right. Their feelings for Sakura are what mainly keep these two from getting along, other times it's their methods toward exorcisms.
Ageha disliked Rinne at first, because of his father, Sabato, the damashigami company president who was soon to be married to her sister. When Rinne agreed to help her, Ageha grew a crush over him, until it became quite an obsession. She even managed to force Rinne to go out on a date with her once. Rinne considers Ageha as a friend, thus ignoring her noisy statements and turning down her offers. Their relationship is similar to Tsubasa and Sakura's. She usually competes with Sakura by showing off her wealth; however Sakura is unaware of this.
Six years ago, during Masato's time at Demon Elementary School, Masato was given a homework to salvage an unretrieveable soul and bring it to hell. He came upon a lonely rabbit in an elementary school; just as he was about to take the rabbit's soul, Rinne came and told Masato that the rabbit was not ready to pass on. Rinne fed the rabbit, causing its soul to return, and because of this Masato was unable to complete his assigned task. Masato attacked Rinne with a pitchfork but Rinne smashed over him with a large crucifix (shinigami scythe in the anime). And with this, their long-time rivalry started, mostly on the part of Masato who never forgave Rinne.
They are not on friendly terms, for Kain considers Rinne as guilty as his father, thus Rinne doesn’t appreciate him for being judged unfairly. They fight a lot for Kain would seize any opportunity that would be unfavourable to Rinne and would not do anything that would be favourable to him, but they sometimes cooperate for different reasons, especially when it comes to subdue Sabato.
Shoma looks down at Rinne because of his economical statues. Even so at some occasions, he offers to pay Rinne to help him in certain activities that would allow him to show off at school. Rinne obviously has ill feelings toward the spoiled brat, and doesn’t like that he has fallen for the human reincarnation of his mother, but puts up with it since she earns money from him.
They may be poor and neighbours, but Renge would not be friends with Rinne since he is the son of the man who ruined her life and interferes with her activities. Rinne nevertheless takes pity on her, even helps her hide her secret from Kain, which she appreciates.
Back when they were kids, Rinne was compassionate to him, but now he tries to avoid him for his tendency to go to extreme lengths to “deepen their friendship” is really annoying.
Although there is no animosity between the two, Rinne doesn't have any admiration about her because of her irresponsible behaviour and certain glimpses of the future from her scrying orb.
- “If I buy something like that, I’ll fall to hell.” (おれがそんなぜーたくなもの買ったら。。。地獄に堕ちます。) - Chapter 2, when Suzuki asks him why he doesn’t wear the High School uniform
- "He's not taking anything. Sakura Mamiya's not mine." - Chapter 20, when Rokumon asks if Rinne was going to let Tsubasa take Sakura from him.
- "And I... I never thought I'd be able to come again..." - Chapter 21, when Rinne had gone on a date to the Amusement park to watch over the ghost to protect him from Tsubasa.
- "That hundred thousand yen... I mean that evil spirit...... Is giving power to Hanako-san?!" - Chapter 24, when Rinne sees that Tōichi is giving power to Hanako-san of the Toilet.
- "Tricking people who aren’t supposed to die into the afterlife yet is dirty." (死ぬべきでないものを惑わしあの世に誘う汚いやり口。。。) - Chapter 25, after saving a girl from a Damashigami
- "Give it back! That's my train fare to go visit mommy!" - Chapter 31, when young Rinne tried to take back his piggy bank from his good-for-nothing father.
- "Thank goodness. Its the old Sakura Mamiya. She's acting like the whole thing with Ageha never even happened." - Chapter 43, when Rinne is happy that the incident with Ageha is now behind them.
- "The Haunted Cedar...eh? The name is intriguing." - Chapter 47, when Rinne gets curious about Tsubasa's "date" with Sakura.
- "That would be bad! Even if it's just hot air..... I have to say that Sakura Mamiya and I are going out!!" - Chapter 61, when the Karate ghost on the beach asked if Sakura would go out with him.
- "The way you handle yourself, she couldn't come to you." - Chapter 65, when Tsubasa insisted that Sakura could have came to him for advise.
- "Yeah, right. You've been having a good time." - Chapter 89, when Rinne goes to save Ageha only to find her in an emergency shelter with a fabulous pool and in her swimsuit.
- “So… So lonely…” (さ。。。さみしい。。。) – Chapter 101, when Sakura can’t see him
- “It seems like all that washing didn’t clean his soul” – Chapter 133, when Tsubasa still says he was being controlled by the Nine Tails Fox after coming back from the washing machine
- “I…want to eat lunch with you, Mamiya Sakura.” (おれは。。。真宮桜と一緒に弁当を食べたいと思ってるんだが) – Chapter 195
- “Damn, even though I know it’s a dream, it breaks my heart…” (くっ、夢とわかっていても心が折れる。。。) - Chapter 217, when a fake Sakura of Tsubasa’s dream calls him “Pervert! God of poverty! Ground beetle! Dirt ball!”
- “I’m rather happy” (むしろ嬉しい。) – Chapter 234, when Sakura apologizes to Rinne who will have to coach her for a long time so she can purify 7 spirits
- “Should I choose the clothes or the food? That’s an ultimate choice!” (衣を取るか食を取るか、究極の選択！) – Chapter 274, when he wears a Sankai High School uniform which happens to be cursed
- Rinne's name is written in hiragana, so it has no real meaning, but when written in kanji, it means either the transmigration of souls (In Buddhism), or samsara, the endless cycle of death and rebirth. His last name translates into the six realms that the cycle leads to.
- Rinne can also be interpreted as a shortened version of re-incarnation.
- Rinne is very different from some of Rumiko's other protagonists. Rinne isn't violent and doesn't have anger issues, and is respectful and polite to our heroine, Sakura Mamiya.
- Rinne's rivalry with Tsubasa is similar to Inuyasha's rivalry with Koga, with a few differences of course.
- Like Ranma Saotome, he is unable to skate.
- In Chapter 7, when Sakura informs Rinne that she is barefoot and without money, having accidentally traveled through the phantom route, Rinne states that Sakura reminded him of Sazae-san, a popular anime character in Japan.
- In a legend a wise samurai executed a convict who swore that everyone present would be cursed, an act never fulfilled due to the wise samurai's replacing the convict's goals. This legend was played with in Chapter 85, where Rinne uses the same concept to trick the Ramen chef spirit into changing his goals so he could pass on quickly.
- His father is half human, while his mother is full Shinigami. Therefore, Rinne is 25% human and 75% Shinigami.