Nurarihyon is back for a second season with a new director and a sharply different look and feel to S1. I enjoyed the first season, but it was startlingly inconsistent and based on the premiere, we seem to be headed for better things.
We open with the first chapter of the manga, omitted from the first season. It covers the story of eight year-old Rikuo (Kitamura Eri) – how different he was then, how he came to be the Third Heir, and the incident (referred to via flashback in S1) that caused him to release his inner demon.
Never has there been a more dramatic seiyuu entrance than the moment Rikuo transitioned from Eri Kitamura to Fukuyama Jun, but it served it’s purpose well. This story has always been about the two sides of Rikuo’s nature, always existing in a kind of uneasy truce, so it’s important to understand how it came to be that way. We also see that the loyalty Rikuo’s core yokai show to him – a personal loyalty that exceeds their loyalty to the Nura Clan itself – has always existed. The vehicle for the conflict here – a rival youkai lord (Gakose) wanting to off Rikuo so as to take the Clan for himself – is pretty much the standard M.O. for this series. But this was the first one, so I guess it’s important for that reason.
The bus incident that was referenced via Kana’s flashbacks in S1 in the key driver to make Rikuo realize that leading the Clan isn’t such a bad gig after all, as it’s his desire to help Kana and not be a group that preys on the weak that propels him forward when he’d been ready to quit. I’m more of a Yuki-onna fan myself, but this story seems pretty cagy in tipping which way that battle will go. Rikuo is of mixed blood himself, after all, and no doubt each girl appeals to a different side of him.
|I am…Fukuyama Jun!!!|
I would say the overall pacing of the show was sharper based on this first ep, and the tone less “cute” and more edgy. The look of the show hasn’t changed dramatically, as this is still a DEEN series with the same A.D.. But the characters seem to have a few more sharp-edges to their faces, a little more lean and little less cherubic. New director Michio Fukuda has a long resume but no stints as a Director of a major series before, so it remains to be seen how he’ll fare.
The buzz from the manga readers is that the really good parts of the story are still to come, which gives me a lot of hope for S2. As mentioned I did like S1, but it never got past the mild interest stage to me barring one or two very strong episodes. If they can raise the overall quality level, it’ll be much easier to keep Nurarihyon in my blogging rotation for a very busy Summer/Fall stretch.