Review for Re-Kan Collection
This anime gets the presidential seal of approval... “Yes Re-Kan!” Okay, I’m a president late with that line, and I fully acknowledge the lameness of the pun before the hate-mail begins. But once in a while, I get to these opening paragraphs to a review, and just wind up blank. I really do have nothing to say about Re-Kan before I get into the meat of the review. On the strength of the first couple of episodes that I usually watch before I pen these introductions, it’s another gentle anime comedy, a group of characters in high school, hitting the usual anime character tropes, and a particular twist that makes this show relatively unique among its light comedy peers. It’s a combination of ‘seen it all before’ weariness alongside ‘but as long as it entertains’ optimism that renders this opening paragraph a blander piece of waffle than I usually supply.
The Sixth Sense supplies the twist that makes this anime unique-ish (no, not that one). Protagonist Hibiki Amami can see dead people; she’s always been able to, and she’s always stopping off to converse with ghosts that no one else can see, helping out the occasional forlorn spirit, and once in a while getting in a little over her head. She can also talk to cats, although that isn’t a good thing when she’s constantly pestered by a particularly perverted cat that keeps trying to sneak a peek at her panties. It’s an ability that’s going to cause no little mayhem at her new school, Hanazuka High, especially for her new friend Narumi Inoue, who when she isn’t flat-out refusing to believe in the supernatural, is petrified of it.
13 episodes of Re-Kan are presented across 3 DVD discs from MVM. The show is also released on Blu-ray.
1. I Can See Them
2. They Are My Friends
3. Delicious Omelet
4. Summer Means the Beach
5. The Legendary School Festival
6. A Super-Duper Holy Night
7. A Busy New Year
8. We All Play Together
9. The Secret Valentine
10. We’re Now in Our Second Year
11. This is My Wish
12. We Are All Connected
13. Summer Memories
Re-Kan gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC transfer on these discs, progressively encoded. The image is clear and sharp with strong, consistent colours, and there are no visible compression artefacts or aliasing to worry about. Also, given the comparatively simplistic nature of the animation, this isn’t afflicted by digital banding either. Given the simple, but appealing character designs, and uncomplicated world design, this isn’t a show that’s going to set the world alight, but it does enough to tell its story, the animation gets the comic, and occasionally spooky moments right, and it does supply the odd moment of pleasant eye candy as well. Re-Kan is a fairly middle of the road comedy anime, and that does show in the animation.
You get a DD 2.0 Stereo Japanese track with a translated subtitle stream, locked for the duration on this DVD release. The dialogue is clear, the odd moment of action comes across well, the spookier moments getting suitable sound design, and the music suits the show. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos, although you might have to press pause when the production/translation notes flash up.
The discs present their content with static menus, jacket pictures, and each episode is followed by a translated English credit reel.
Disc 1 has the extras, which comprise the textless credits, and trailers for further Sentai product, including When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, RIN-NE, Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time, and Gugure! Kokkuri-san.
Re-Kan is a wholly enjoyable light comedy anime series. It’s also utterly forgettable too. This is okay, as not every anime show has to be the be-all and end-all of the medium. For every hit, there are a hundred workmanlike shows that do just enough to entertain, to take the viewers’ minds of their daily concerns for twenty-odd minutes. Re-Kan is one of these, a show that is recognisable in its story, its format, its characters, and its humour. If you’re an anime fan, you’ll have seen Re-Kan before, even if you haven’t seen Re-Kan before.
It’s another ode to high school friendship, seen through a group of archetypal characters, brought together in an unexpected way. In Re-Kan’s case, it’s in the form of Hibiki Amami, who has the titular Re-Kan ability, the sixth sense that allows her to see and interact with the dead, and vice versa. She’s a likeable, sweet girl who is always ready to help spirits and people in need, while the first friend she makes in school is Narumi Inoue, a textbook definition of tsundere if ever there was one. Hard on the outside, concealing a soft and affectionate inner self, Inoue refuses to believe in the afterlife, only because she’s downright terrified of it. Ogawa is the ditzy space-case who has an odd predilection for zombies, Uehara is the sly schemer in the group, and Esumi is the reformed delinquent. There’s one boy in their group, Yamada, whose sole purpose is to say the wrong thing, and get beaten as a result by Uehara and Esumi.
There are also a handful of ghosts that Amami, and the others encounter and interact with, an Earthbound Spirit, a Samurai, a high school girl, the local equivalent of Moaning Myrtle, and a perverted cat who keeps trying to sneak a peek at panties. Most of the episodes follow these interactions, with Amami helping a spirit, or a person who’s suffered a loss and could use a medium. One of the early episodes sees Inoue’s cousin coming to terms with the loss of his father, and another episode sees the ghost of the high school girl reconciling with her mother.
Generally the show follows the format of such high school comedies, with action centred around school, and there also being a beach episode, the cultural festival episode (they put on a haunted house, what else?), a Christmas episode, the New Year episode, a Valentine’s Day episode, the Tanabata Festival episode... You could set your calendar by this show.
There isn’t much of an ongoing story arc, and indeed at times the show feels like a 4-panel manga adaptation, so short are the story elements. But close to the end of the series, we get to see Amami finally meet the one ghost that she’s always wanted to see, and we learn that there are consequences for such a meeting when she loses her powers. She falls into an isolating depression, and begins to doubt who she is, whether her life actually has meaning without her sixth sense. It’s here that we get the traditional pay-off for the series, where all the connections that she’s forged over the episodes, all the friends that she’s made, the lives that she’s touched and made better, all come back to repay that favour. Shows like Re-Kan can almost write themselves.
Re-Kan is quite funny, occasionally touching and heart-warming, often silly, and thanks to that silly cat, just a touch perverted too. It’s a by-the-numbers light comedy show, but it will keep you entertained over its runtime.