Title: Nurarihyon no Mago aka Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan
Company: Studio DEEN
Format: 26 episodes
Date: 5 Jul 2010 – 27 Dec 2010
Synopsis: Rikuo appears to be an ordinary middle schoolboy, but he is actually the successor to his grandfather’s powerful demon clan. However, only a quarter of him is demon and this causes him to only be capable of turning into his powerful alter-ego during nightfall. Furthermore, he hasn’t come to good terms with his other self, considering it more of an obstacle to his human social life. However, clan unrest both external and internal causes him to change his mind and reconsider his post as the clan’s next Supreme Commander.
Rikuo-Nura: Lacks charisma and respect to back up his role in the story.
Characters: Plot puppets whose roles don’t develop at all; Kana’s passive role is annoying.
Pace: Painstakingly slow.
Storyline: Unengaging, dull, boring… any synonym will do; many unanswered questions.
Gyuki Arc: The peak of the story, albeit only mildly interesting.
“Dull” seems to appropriately describe Nurarihyon no Mago, an anime that had potential to be an entertaining series but opts for the wimpy route by offering a run-of-the-mill show. The storyline is mostly unengaging, the plot development drags itself for too long and the characters are shallow puppets to the plot, undergoing nigh character development even as the show comes to an end. Worse, there are numerous plot holes, and even the titular character lacks the personality to make himself interesting enough for people to follow. Nurarihyon may have all the right ingredients from the onset, but it fails at making any impact on the viewers.
Nurarihyon‘s premises initially appear to be similar to Natsume Yuujinchou‘s, with the references to demons and their not-so-sweet relationship with humans, but it deviates from the latter because of its shounen theme and plot-driven story. Shounen anime and action are rather synonymous and plot-driven stories should be intriguing to follow, but Nurarihyon doesn’t even come close to achieving both aspects. The bland fights are further marred by the “Name that Movie” trope, and the pace is so painstakingly slow that viewers would simply lose interest even as the plot thickens. What adds more to the show’s wounds are the presence of two needless recap episodes and several unanswered questions that render the show incoherent and unbelievable.
For any anime, the story and the characters are the two general aspects, and for Nurarihyon‘s case, the poor handling of its characters is just as dissatisfying as its ho-hum storyline. The cast is huge – as large as fifty by the end of the series – so character development for each and every one may not be feasible. However, Nurarihyon doesn’t even focus enough in exploring the background of its main characters, particularly Rikuo’s social circle and clan members. Rikuo’s human friends are nothing more than a liability especially in the midst of the clan rivalry, Yura is always the “lone ranger” in the series, and Kana is always that ignorant worrywart sitting by the sidelines.
The story basically revolves around the main character Rikuo-Nura and his interaction with those around him. For a person that is supposed to be the fearsome leader of one of the most powerful demon clans, the show doesn’t portray him under the appropriate light. He lacks the charisma that the story and his clan members claim he has, and his one-two interaction with his demonic alter-ego was too one-sided and static. For most of the time, the character of Rikuo’s human self is often overshadowed by his alter-go in the more important events, such as the fight scenes and his clan’s climatic battle with the main antagonist. It doesn’t even matter if he is voiced by the talented Fukuyama Jun, because he ultimately lacks presence, when he shouldn’t as the main character.
Perhaps the only hightlight of Nurarihyon is the Gyuki Arc, an above-average subplot that is spearheaded by a character impeccably voiced by Nakata Jouji. But even so, a single subplot isn’t enough to reel this series out of the mediocrity pool. Boring, dry and uninspired, Nurarihyon insists on being a forgettable shounen series in which even the basics in good storytelling and character development are disappointingly overlooked. The second season is currently in the works and it may address some unanswered questions and develop its characters better but this series has been, bluntly put, a waste of time.
The Rating: 4
Reviewed by: AC