Ask Dr. Rin!
Blessed with supernatural feng shui powers at the age of three, junior high school student Kanzaki Meirin is considered more superstitious than your average student--she insists on carrying a "lucky item" wherever she goes depending upon what her horoscope says for the day, and imposes her views on all of her classmates. This gets a little annoying for some, especially her long time crush (who she claims to be her "fated lover") Yuuki Asuka, who loudly protests any sentiments of fate or fortunetelling.
Little does anyone know that Meirin is actually "Dr. Rin," the famous feng shui master who maintains one of the most popular websites to date! Several of Meirin's classmates praise Dr. Rin for her practical advice, giving them success in their otherwise unlucky love lives. So why is it that Meirin's--or Dr. Rin's--advice works so well for everyone around her, but nothing seems to go well in her life?
Things get even more difficult for Meirin as a mysterious stalker begins sending Dr. Rin threatening e-mails, claiming to be her true "fated lover". She must follow his commands in order to prevent disaster from befalling Asuka and all of her friends!
Yay! Another magical girl show that gets it right! After plugging through some pretty bad stinkers of magical girl shows (Wedding Peach, Pretty Cure, et al), it is so nice to watch a modern-day magical girl show that doesn't fall into all of the normal cliches, and the ones it does use, they use correctly.
Where to begin? Starting with the animation, it is a television show, so I am not expecting miracles. There is a fair amount of CG animation, even at the title screen of the opening. It doesn't blend in as well as it could have, but the offense is minor in comparison to some of the other titles that have done the same. The colors and character designs are bright and cute, but nothing really inspiring. Outside of Meirin (who, looks-wise, looks like a mix between Usagi and Miaka--but only in looks, I swear!) the character designs are fairly uninspiring, Asuka looking like a mix between Aoyama from Tokyo Mewmew and Kyosuke from Wedding Peach. At least his voice and character is more interesting, but we'll go into that later. Overall, it looks a lot like the character designs were done by the same people who did Akazukin Chacha, so I can't complain there, since I am a fan of nearly all anime of that "vintage".
The characterization of the cast, though, is one that has me currently hooked on this series (a pity, too, the releases are ridiculously slow). Meirin is silly, yes, but not in a whiny crybaby way. She is ditzy, and definitely determined that Asuka is "the one". The best thing about her though is her enthusiasm for her hobby, feng shui. You can't help but take part in the fun. My only complaint is that she is still a little dense (but aren't all shoujo heroines at some point?), not figuring out that her stalker is--ta-DAH!--the new transfer student (ah, the cliches...) Tokiwa-kun. Her friends are equally engaging--definitely not the space-fillers that some other supporting cast members fall into being. Yue-chan is the cool, popular one (who teases that she is really Meirin's "fated one") and Shuuko is the boy-crazy (or maybe boy-band crazy?) awkward girl who really relies on Dr. Rin's fortunes. According to the theme song, there should be at least two other key characters yet to be introduced, but seeing as I have only been able to review what has been released on fansub, we will all have to wait and see how they play into the overall story.
As mentioned before, while there are several cliches you can name within the first few episodes, they are all executed well so as not to be offending to the viewer. For example, the cute mascot in this series is Tenshin, a mischevious pet monkey that never really takes up so much screen time to be annoying, but appears just enough to scatter some cuteness all around. There is a bit of stock animation for whenever Meirin reads feng shui fortunes, and the music does sound rather Sailor Moon-ish. (I only wish they had similar music for later on, a lot of the BGM sounds a lot like it could be my cell phone ringer.) Another cliche is of course the villainous love triangle between Meirin, Asuka, and Tokiwa that is established very early on in the series. But is there an ulterior motive behind Tokiwa's interest...?
Dr. Rin really has what it takes to be a five-star series, especially if the rumors are true and it develops a deeper storyline further into the season. However, there is one thing that really took away from the experience for me, and that was the music. The opening theme song lacks the energy that I have come to expect from opening theme songs, and the ending theme (both sung by Maeda Ai of Digimon fame) is unforgivingly forgettable. Add that to MIDI-sounding BGM (with the exception of the feng shui sequence in every episode), and you have got what probably makes one of the lowest-budget sounding soundtracks to ever grace my eardrums. A pity really, everything else was going so well ...
The offense is enough of one for me to overlook though, and I still give this title high marks. For those of you looking for another cute anime that doesn't make your head hurt (or doesn't make you cringe at the cardboard cut-out characters ... Da Capo, here's looking at you!), Dr. Rin is a fine choice from what seems to be a shrinking selection of good girls' anime. I can only hope that more will be made available in the near future.
Fun characters, a dash of whimsical romance, a cute monkey (she's got the monkeys! Let's see the monkeys!), bright colors, lots of teenage girliness--what's not to love? I just pray that the soundtrack is spruced up later on. This is also one of seiyuu Chiba Saeko's earlier roles--I am holding out for when Yokoyama Chisa makes her debut in the series. — Melissa Sternenberg
Recommended Audience: Very mild violence, even less so than in Sailor Moon. Meirin actually hasn't done any fighting in the episodes I have seen. Suitable or anyone above the age of 7. Strongly recommended for any fan of shoujo. It's like strawberry ice cream. Not your favorite, but is a nice change from the expected.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Partial (6/51)
Ask Dr. Rin! © 2001 TV Tokyo / Studio Comet / Nippon Animation
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