A bit of a return to form for Nurarihyon this week, in a well-paced episode that nicely ties in Gyuuki’s backstory and ties up his arc. While an entire ep of that backstory seemed a bit much at the time, in hindsight it seems to have been necessary for the payoff this week.
The milestones here were several. Foremost, Rikuo – human Rikuo – seems to have finally come to terms with both his yokai side and his responsibilities (I personally think it was seeing Yuki-onna injured that sparked this turn). After Night Rikuo thoroughly defeats Gyuuki but spares his life, the scenes shifts back to the mansion, where the wounded yokai is recovering. Nurarihyon tells Rikuo that he shall be the one to pass judgment on Gyuuki at the next general meeting – the same meeting at which Rikuo will be installed as the Third Heir. While his advisers would prefer he attend in yokai form, Rikuo protests that he can’t switch at will, and besides – it’s necessary for dramatic purposes for Day Rikuo to do it. Day Rikuo does indeed accept the mantle of heir, but declares that Gyuuki is not guilty of treason and thus, will be spared punishment. This sets off a bit of a kerfuffle, which Rikuo decides to disarm with his most charming shota smile.
While his reasons for pardoning Gyuuki were somewhat thinly explained to say the least, I was still happy to see him spared, as I’ve grown rather fond of him. As for Rikuo himself, in addition to owning his legacy he also confides to Gyuuki in a private moment that he remembers everything that happens when he’s in yokai form – which I suspected, though it’s nice to see it confirmed. We also discover, interestingly, that Gyuuki’s two henchmen are coming to live at the main house, much to Yuki-Onna’s (adorable) dismay. Why, I wonder?
There’s a sense that we’ve reached a transition in the series, now. Rikuo has changed in his outlook, but of the exposition has been done and the basic relationships are set. While we didn’t see much of Kana and Yura and the club these last two eps, I suspect we’ll see a shifting focus between eps featuring them heavily and others more action-driven and darkly focused on the demon world. While nothing about the show has wowed me so far (other than a few lovely individual scenes and some great atmospherics) it’s been a good overall package – solid pacing, nice visuals, excellent casting, great music. The next 15 (hopefully more) episodes hold a lot of promise.