What this mini-arc was for, in the end, was to set up the events of the present day and Hagoromo-Gitsune’s return. While it took a little more time in doing so than I might have thought best, these last few eps have certainly done justice by the story. Clearly established is that Nurarihyon was a badass of the highest order, and while we pretty much knew that already we hadn’t been given such an extended example of it. It was the love of a human woman, Princess You, that drew him into the Hanshin conflict but along the way Nurarihyon established himself as the top boss among all the youkai in the country, and made himself an important (if uneasy) ally.
That would be Keikkan Hidemoto, the head of the onmyouji clan that would later give us Yura. He gets a much longer look this week, and reveals himself to be a somewhat bold and sarcastic man not terribly well-loved even by his own family. Above all, Hidemoto appears to be a practical man – and it’s this quality that allows him to see the benefit of helping Nurarihyon win the battle at Osaka Castle. If Hagoromo-Gitsune – and thus Hideyori’s claims to rule the country – a new age will be ushered in, where the humans are ruled by the Tokugawa. It will be a less friendly time for ayakashi in general, and Hidemoto sees in Nurarihyon something of a kindred spirit – like himself powerful, practical and whip-smart. If Nurarihyon rules the youkai world coexistence is possible – if he’s dead and a far worse youkai steps into his place, he probably isn’t.
In the end Nurarihyon did most of the heavy lifting in stopping Hagoromo-Gitsune’s reign of terror, feasting on as much pâté de fois princess as she could get her mitts on to draw power to her unborn child. She managed to eat Nurarihyon’s heart, too, and he’s one hell of a tough dude to still be walking and talking after that. But though he clearly weakened and wounded her severely, Hagoromo-Gitsune seemed on the verge of finishing him off when Hidemoto stepped in and turned the tide of battle. A very smart and practical man, indeed. With Youhime as his bride Nurarihyon heads back to Edo with his Night Parade, leaving Keikkan free to seal off the demons of Kyoto for 400 years.
Cue the present, where it looks as if we’ll finally be returning next week. With Hagoromo-Gitsune apparently having escaped the seals confining her, the seeds of a new partnership between Rikuo and Hidemoto’s descendants is obvious. This has certainly set up an interesting dynamic on the relationship front as well. Yura was a complete non-factor in S1, but with her clan being such a huge part of the story now she’s stepped up in importance, and at the same time showed a clear interest in Rikuo at last. Tsurara is, like her ancestor, intent on “stealing Rikuo’s lips” from any human wench who gets in her way, and then there’s Kana – always as the center of the three girls in the ED. Is it possible that she could be Youhime’s descendant? The way things are going this season I wouldn’t doubt it – just about everything seems connected by an unbroken line to the past.