Nurarihyon no Mago 26 and Wrap-up

As I should have expected, this final episode wasn’t really a new episode at all in that it didn’t really offer any new material, only new narration over a summary of the Shikoku arc. That’s alright though; the series had already ended properly and in hindsight there wasn’t any point in stretching out the epilogue any longer.

If it goes a second season, I don’t think I’ll watch it. The animation wasn’t particularly outstanding, the character designs were hit-and-miss, and the battles were often poorly orchestrated. There’s enough on my list for Winter 2010 as it is, and I’d rather move forward with new and series than continue waiting for this to meet its full potential.

Nurarihyon no Mago 25

All’s well that ends well for Rikuo, his night parade, and his human friends. Tamazuki is defeated once Rikuo embraces both his night and day selves, after the realization that the moon is always in the sky, regardless of the time. Kana also seems to convince Yura that while some yokai may have lost their human hearts, others like Rikuo haven’t, and fight to protect both humans an yokai.

Rikuo is about to deliver the killing blow to Tamazuki when gramps intervenes; he and Big Tanuki have finally arrived.  Tamazuki takes this chance to try to kill his father. Rikuo stops him, but spares his life. Tamazuki was a bit stupid-evil there, but he isn’t beyond reformation. The threat to the Nura clan has passed. Now it’s time to party!

Rikuo has certainly won over his interclan critics and doubters by defeating the Devil’s Hammer, but the tricky balance between his yokai and human lives remains, and he still seems reluctant to mix them too much. I’m a bit disappointed he never truly explained to Kana that Night Rikuo is really him. After all, he himself is the product of human-yokai pairing; what would be wrong with him taking Kana as his eventual wife? Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 24

In this, the penultimate episode, the Nura clan proves its superior strength and defeats much of Tamazuki’s night parade, but he expected this, and starts finishing off the rest of his comrades, all to add power to the Demon’s Mallet / Devil’s Hammer. He speaks of fear, but really all he has is this sword, and without it, he’d be pretty powerless. Unfortunately, he has it. Rikuo, and his gramps, meanwhile, are not just feared, but admired by their followers. You cannot lead the yokai if you draw power from their slaughter.

If this series had more time I’m sure it could spend an episode (or a Bleach-like 10-12 episodes) on each duel between Nura and Shikoku elites. But because at the end of the day none of them are all that interesting, I’m glad all of these battles are over now, and we can focus on Rikuo and Tamazuki. Yura springs into action again, but her summons are defeated so quickly its almost comical. Which is a shame, because I thought she’d grow somewhat as the series progressed into a serious threat against tough yokai, which didn’t happen.

Kana decides it’s a good idea to follow Yura, and its simply standing around when Inugami grabs. I’m a bit baffled by her stupidity, since at least Yura has some powers. But Inugami just as inexplicably tosses her aside and is killed by Tamazuki to be the piece that will complete his hammer. In all, I feel like the exposition could have been better handled than it was, but I’m still looking forward to actually finishing a series by Studio Deen for once. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 23

The battle for Ukiyoe town begins, as Tamazuki’s and Rikuo’s armies meet in the middle of a shopping district. Rikuo’s friends are also aware of the disturbance this is causing, particularly Yura, who races to the source. Not everything goes swimmingly, however: Gozumaru and Mezumaru are unable to infiltrate the enemy band and steal the Demon Lord’s Gavel.

But if it weren’t for his escort Yozuzume and that sword, this battle would be over. Rikuo clearly has more “fear”, as he’s not only able to make himself invisible to all of Tamazuki’s lesser yokai, but to him as well. I have an inkling how this goes, having seen a lot of Bleach in the past: while a couple tricks have kept him around the same level as Rikuo, Tamazuki will start running out of these (Yuki-onna negated Yozuzume, for starters), and become more desperate and reckless.

I imagine the power of the gavel will consume him, or his father and the old Nurarihyon will intervene. Otherwise, Tamazuki didn’t have a good showing here, and, save a few more shifts in momentum, we’ll be looking at his demise sooner rather than later. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 22

When I thought last week that the talking was going to be over…well, I jumped the gun a bit. There was more talking – and more build-up – in this episode. On the other hand, there were some nice sage exchanges between the Tanuki and Nurarihyon, and we learn why his son Tamazuki is so confident – he possesses the Devil’s Hammer, a sword that gets stronger with each youkai it kills. At this point it may as well be Sauron’s mace.

Meanwhile, just for kicks Tamazuki bumps into Kana to try to figure out why Rikuo wants to protect her (she’s cute, duh.) Kana and Yura (who again comes to the rescue but is all bark and no bite) are the only two of Rikuo’s friends we see this week. You can’t have too many weakling humans hanging around a youkai war, after all. By episode’s end, Rikuo is leading a much larger parade of demons than he started with, and they’re marching out to meet the Shikoku, not waiting for gramps. Maybe next week there will be actual combat. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 21

We have what looks to be the last calm before the storm, as both sides have resolved to attack the other with as much force as they can muster. In Tamazuki’s case, he’s lured an enormous army of Shikoku yokai into Nura territory and are itching to start the war. The hot-headed Shoei can’t wait, though, and storms the Shikoku’s tower alone. He is nearly killed before the crows show up and rescue him.

This is a revelation to Rikuo; simply waiting around while his clan’s defense gets shakier is not an option. He can’t let the fact he’s a weakling during the day be an excuse anymore. The elder youkai tell him it’s time for him to start a night parade of his own, so he does; starting with Yuki-onna and his other bodyguards. He also makes a pact with Night Rikuo. He’ll handle protecting the humans, while Night Rikuo will protect the yokai.

When Shoei, wounds still fresh, insists on going back to finish his fight; Rikuo stops him. But not to keep him from going, but to join him. The enemy is serious about wiping out the Nura clan and conquering its territory. The time for talk is over…hopefully. With only four episodes remaining, there’s plenty of time to deliver a satisfying resolution. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 20

Inugami gets a little back-story, albeit a bit late into his little rampage. He apparently tried to mingle with humans, but everyone despised him as a freak (well, he does have a freakishly long tongue that’s always sticking out…) He then met Tamazuki, who taught him that humans can either dispise you or fear you. Humans are something to rule over, not coexist with – basically the opposite of Nura Rikuo’s philosophy.

The battle with Inugami is fairly predictable; as soon as the sun goes down, Night Rikuo carves him up until Tamazuki shows up to rescue him and then retreat himself with the threat that next time they’ll meet, he’ll take Rikuo’s “fear” and life. The pacing kinda sucked in this episode, as not only are the girls running through the school seemingly for hours, but the sun decides to set extremely quickly before Day Rikuo is crushed in Inugami’s paw.

Meanwhile, time seems to have stopped in the projector room, as Kiyojuji and Shima seemingly spend hours changing a light bulb. Just very odd and uneven pacing. Super Inugami had gobs of daylight to kill off all the humans and day Rikuo along with them, but he spent too long reminiscing and expressing his hatred in no uncertain terms, and generally wasting all of that time. That’s what we call dumb enemies. And dumb enemies are rarely interesting. Rating: 2.5

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Rikuo’s had his friends cooped up in his house for a long time, because everyone is starting to suspect something. Then Kiyotsugu decides to drag everyone back to the abandoned school to investigate a youkai sighting. The post he reads on the internet is a trap set by Inugami, who very annoyingly always has his tongue sticking out. I know he’s a dog, but sometimes dogs close their mouths.

The other thing I don’t like about Inugami is, he’s a bit too one-dimensionally evil. Yeah, he resents the fact that Rikuo is accepted by humans, but if that’s true, why is Rikuo keeping so much information from his friends. Granted, if Yura found out he was a youkai, she might attack him, but the rest of them probably wouldn’t be to shaken up about it. After all, plenty of hints have been dropped, and they’ve all had to deal with youkai at one point or another. Kana has a crush on his night version, fer cryin’ out loud. Just spill the beans already.

Anyway, back to Inugami. He’s jealous of Rikuo, and wants him dead. So he uses his humans as bait, lures him to the school while it’s still daytime, and makes his move. Meanwhile, Nurarihyon chinwags with a really big tanuki in Shikoku whose son is Tamazuki. I’m thinking that as Tamazuki’s disciples fall one by one, eventually daddy is going to intervene to right the wrongs perpetrated against the Nura clan. First things first though, Rikuo has to somehow stop Inugami from killing his friends. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 18

When Sodemogi grabbed Natsumi’s sleve, I thought she was a goner. Luckily for her, Kuro tailed her when she went to offer paper cranes to the Senba shrine. Sodemogi is destroyed and the curse is lifted, but her life is still threatened until Senba gets enough attention to heal her.

I find the whole relationship between deities, youkai, and humans fascinating. The Nura clan draws collective power from all the little local deities with shrines all over the city. The Shikoku youkai have been destroying them, which in turn is sapping the clan of its power. Not only that, shrines that are neglected by humans fall into disrepair, the deities simply fade away. It makes you wonder how just many deities there were before Japan got all modern and busy, since are still so many shrines standing today, even in the middle of Tokyo.

In any case, it finally happened: one of Rikuo’s vulnerable friends was targeted by the 88 kiyakou heads (only Yura can actually fight youkai, and she’s not exactly durable). And it was only by the grace of (a) god she wasn’t killed. There’s still five heads out there that need defeating, and they aren’t just going to stay still and let it happen. Rating: 3.5

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Another head of the 88 kiyakou is defeated (Hou-ou, the annoying fire-breathing rooster), as this episode delivers more action and less sitting around. Rikuo’s friends even “escape” his house and indirectly help him discover the Shikoku youkais’ plan.

They’re busting up all of the shrines in Ukioye town in order to rile up all the local deities. While visiting one, Rikuo and Yuki-onna are spotted alone by Yura, hiding in the bushes. She misunderstands their intentions, believing Rikuo to be two-timing Kana. But forgive me, but Rikuo and Kana haven’t done anything to warrant anyone believing they’re dating. It would be nice if that were the case, but obviously Rikuo has his hands full at the moment.

Meanwhile, his gramps, the Supreme Commander, has trekked to Shikoku to meet with a giant Tanuki he’s known for three centuries, likely to hear direct from the boss’s mouth what the deal is regarding hostilities with the Nura clan. Overall, a well-paced episode that involved just about everyone in some way. But as the enemy youkai from Shikoku keep falling so easily, there’s a danger of them losing their worthiness as foes. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 16

The pace picks up as Kejourou fights one of the seven heads of the 88 kiyakou, Hari-onna. It’s a battle of hair, actually, until Night Rikuo shows up with the crows and scares her off. Hari-onna was targeting Yura, who is still badly hurt and can’t fight, so Rikuo had Kejourou keep an eye on her. It’s pretty amazing that Yura still isn’t aware that she’s been helping youkai and they’ve been helping her, but she’s going to learn sooner or later.

Meanwhile, Rikuo keeps all his human friends holed up in the main house, and amazingly, they don’t seem to mind being confined there (mostly because they don’t think they’re confined). Most of them have sensed strange presences, which is to be expected in a house teeming with youkai. Kana even spots Night Rikuo in the cherry tree, but he promptly vanishes before she can speak to him.

Rikuo is being über-pragmatic with the 88 kiyakou; and with six more heads to defeat and nine episodes to do it, I’m ready for more action and ass-kicking and less sitting in rooms discussing strategies. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 15

When a dangerous rival clan arrives at the gate of your mansion, threatens to take over your town and instill fear in its people, then attempts to burn said gate to the ground, what’s the best course of action? Invite all of your friends over for a sleepover, apparently. Then while they’re distracted, slip away and witness a battle between the respective clans’ water specialists, and return like nothings happened.

Rikuo has three major goals: keep his youkai clan united, keep his human friends safe, and keep his clan and friends separate as much as possible. This episode proved how futile it may be to achieve all three simultaneously. Since the mansion’s the safest place for his friends, the risk of exposing them to the yokai and vice versa increases.

Not all yokai in his clan are okay with him having human friends, and if the enemy found out, they’d make all-too enticing targets. So Rikuo walks the tightrope, and the big battle remains on the horizon. Meanwhile, Yura’s the wild card, but she still seems too weak and inexperienced to be a factor. We will see. Rating: 3

Nurarihyon no Mago 14

After a throwaway recap episode, Nurarihyon no Mago gets back on track, as a rival youkai gang moves in on Nura territory, starts terrorizing humans, and even invading the clan headquarters. The shit has hit the fan for sure.

Yet, I keep waiting for the moment in this episode when the talk stops and action is taken. There’s way too much blabbing in this episode. Worse still, many of the scenes of conversation occur in very wide shots with little movement. That said, the many close-ups were well-drawn, and at least some of the conversation was necesary; helping to set the tone for the coming battle and exhibit Nura’s commitment to leading his clan and inspiring confidence.

Some shows like Katanagatari can get away with lots of chatter (and how!) but with this show I prefer action. I also prefer the old opening and ending sequences. The dancing CGI chibi girls were mezmorizing and frightening  at the same time. I’m ready to see some yokai-duelin’ now. Rating: 2.5