Is it a Moribito sequel?? No, dammit…
After a pretty decent combat sequence between Night Rikuo and Gyuuki for the first few minutes, episode 8 is devoted entirely – and somewhat surprisingly – to Gyuuki backstory. And it isn’t finished, at that! We were promised more backstory than the manga provides, and it appears we’re going to get it. As a result, we’re presented with an entire episode without a single appearance by any of the main characters apart from Night Rikuo. And Nurarihyon, of course.
While the backstory for Gyuuki was perfectly fine, it wasn’t particularly exciting and had a somewhat obligatory feel to it. It’s a good fable – Umewakamaru is a human boy conceived under odd circumstances in the distant past, perhaps the 11th or 12th century. Tragedy befalls him in the loss of his parents, and he ends up – through means we’re given a few hints at but no clear answers – a demon, sworn on revenge against humans. He ends up taking the name of Gyuuki, the demon who devoured his mother and was in turn slain by the 12 year-old Umewakamaru. After centuries, an invading army of demons arrive, the powerful Nurarihyon at their helm. After thoroughly defeating Gyuuki he gives him the opportunity to join his clan, which Gyuuki eventually does.
What this ep didn’t really tell us is why exactly Gyuuki decided to rebel against the Nura Clan and try to assassinate Rikuo – that was left as cliffhanger material. We certainly know a lot more about Gyuuki now, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have found a five-minute flashback followed by a resolution of the conflict with Night Rikuo more involving. I haven’t read the manga, but those who have seem to harbor a worry that 24 eps isn’t going to be enough to do justice to the material. If that’s the case I don’t like to see an entire ep (and counting) devoted to the backstory of a side character, even if we did get to see Yuki-Onna’s mother (or grandmother?).