Rikuo is one quarter yokai and tries to live his life as a normal human. The problem is, his grandfather is the former supreme commander of yokai and his house is literally overflowing with them. That and his grandfather wants Rikuo to take over as the next commander of yokai. Despite this, Rikuo still fights to keep his human life separate until some dangerous yokai come to town endangering his friends.
It should be no surprise by now that I absolutely love stories about yokai and Nurarihyon certainly hits the mark. With some silly school comedy elements, some ho-hum romance, but a fair decent amount of action and supernatural antics, this show isn’t perfect by any means but is a pretty enjoyable ride. There is another season, and I will review that separately, but this is definitely a show that’s worth giving a go.
That said, I’m going to start with the negative. Both opening songs are just plain wrong. The first one isn’t too bad. It kind of fits the show, but it doesn’t feel finished. It’s like they get to the end of the title animation and the song just kind of gets cut off. Every time it is jarring and kind of undermines what is a not-great but not-bad song. The second one however does not fit the show. It kind of highlights the silly school antic side of things in its tone and by that stage of the show, the school segments of the show are pretty small. When you are gearing up to watch a yokai vs yokai fight sequence and the opening is some lighthearted tune about sunshine, there’s a real disconnect.
My other major negative is the way the human characters are treated. Rikuo has friends at school and even belongs to a club that apparently seeks out yokai but mostly that’s just one character’s obsession and the others all just kind of tag along. Early on, this is used helpfully to introduce a monster of the arc kind of feel but later, the human characters are pretty useless to the plot and yet just keep hanging around. Realistically you could have halved the number of students and they could have served the same purpose and gotten more development and screen time. Then again, this show wasn’t great at balancing things, which for a show that focuses primarily on the main character trying to find balance in his life, is kind of ironic really.
You could also criticise some of the animation, the choppy pace early on, and a number of other things but mostly these don’t interfere with enjoying the show.
Plus, there is a strong second half. Once we’ve been introduced to the idea that Rikuo has a night form that he can take and we’ve seen him in action a few times, the show finally introduces the main antagonist of the series, a yokai from out of town who has come to overthrow the Nura clan. With Rikuo’s grandfather missing in action and no one else to lead the defense, Rikuo is forced to step up his game and from then on the story really doesn’t take a break.
There’s a great range of yokai and supernatural powers and these are used well to keep things fresh visually as well as provide some interesting moments in the story where they manage to turn things in a fight through an unconventional method. Admittedly, the second or third time that happens you are more or less expecting it, but they still manage to make it feel like something a bit different. Also, the yokai who surround Rikuo for the most part and act as his guards are pretty entertaining though could have been fleshed out a little more.
This show does get dark at times with humans being kidnapped by yokai and a real sense of danger permeating a lot of the fight sequences. Ultimately you know that no one of consequence will actually be killed but they do sustain some fairly substantial injuries. There’s blood and gore to be found but not so much that it is particularly shocking, though I was glad when one particular yokai finally was dealt with because at least it meant I didn’t have to worry about him licking anyone else.
My favourite part of this show though is the central character. Rikuo is pretty stock standard in his human form. All jumps and worry when his friends visit his house as he worries about them seeing some of the yokai who conveniently hide just around corners and the like in a fairly poor attempt at humour. But he does have a more serious side. Even though he wants to be human, he does accept that there are things he has to do, so he isn’t just denying outright the yokai around him. This stops him crossing the line into whiney cry-baby territory that other protagonists of a similar style might fall into. And then we have his night form. I kind of get why the yokai are so fascinated by him. Admittedly, he’s just kind of smug and broody guy when all is said and done but everything about the presentation makes him look cool. The perpetually floating cherry blossoms, the music, the way he stands, everything is just perfect for presenting this ultra cool guy that you would want to follow. It works beautifully.
Anyway, if you are into supernatural stories at all and you haven’t checked this one out, it is worth your time. There are definitely some parts that won’t quite hit the mark, but overall this is a fun show to watch.
Thanks for reading.
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