So ends season one of Nurarihyon no Mago – sort of. Apparently there’s another recap episode next week, though I’m not sure if it’s officially the end of S1 or the beginning of S2.
On balance I would have to say that ended in a fairly predictable fashion. The battlefield pretty much cleared and Tamazuki and Rikuo went at it one on one. Tama seemed to be getting the upper hand, but when the sun rose Rikuo – rather than turning back into chibi form – remembered something Gyuuki had told him about the moon always being in the sky, even in daylight and turned into some kind of indestructible vaporous form. He turned the table on Tamazuki and appeared about to dispatch him when the Supreme Commander and Tama’s father arrived at last, just in the nick of time, to stay his blade.
As this point the life’s lessons come into the picture. Tamazuki-daddy begs for forgiveness for his son and promises to instill a sense of decency into the lad, and make him atone for his sins. Day Rikuo and Night Rikuo have a nice conversation where they pretty much agree that they’re both the “real” Rikuo, and both are necessary for him to be strong. There’s a council session that pretty much turns into a party, Yuki Onna blushes adorably when Rikuo gets too close and we get a closing credit sequence where we touch base with pretty much every character who appeared for more than a moment or two, including Tamazuki. The romance element remains understated, though Yuki-onna and Kana each have their backers – Yura pushing Kana’s case, and Kejoro – apparently having conceded to the slightly less age-inappropriate shotacon Yuki-Onna – backing her fellow youkai.
While I enjoyed much of the first season, it never really bore out the potential apparent in the first few episodes. It was never offensive, but the series seemed to drift a bit when it came to plot and character development. Pacing was sometimes an issue, with some episodes featuring little real action and others crashing through too much manga material in 30 minutes. Some of it no doubt stems from the fact that a 2nd season was not a guarantee when the season was being plotted out. The strengths of the show for me were twofold. First, the look – I loved the character designs and I found the backgrounds extremely appealing and richly detailed. The characters were also interesting and likable. I enjoyed the antics of the Supernatural Squad for the most part and I think the adaptation did a nice job integrating them. Yuki-Onna was a favorite of mine, of course, both for Horie yui’s delightful performance and for the determined loyalty she showed. And I thought that the series – eventually – did a nice job of showing how the two halves of Rikuo’s nature related to each other. The transformation in the final episode was a bit of anime-original mumbo-jumbo, but that will come out in the second season.
In some respects S1 has to be scored as a mild disappointment. I fully expect S2 to be better. The source material is better, and the writing staff should know exactly what they have to work with in terms of time. Hopefully, the anime viewers will get a better idea of why so many readers love this manga so much.