I have only one major flaw with this episode, and it’s the fact that Kubinashi’s descent into anger and self-loathing seemed a bit sudden. I suspect this might have been explained more clearly in the manga, but the transition in the anime was rather abrupt. Other than that it’s a pretty compelling story. If I’ve pieced the fragments together, it seems that failing to protect Rikuo from Tsuchigumo brought back bad memories for Kubinashi – because he was the one who was supposed to be protecting Rikuo’s father when he was murdered. What’s clear is that Kubinashi was once a terrible youkai before meeting Rikuo’s father, who civilized him.
It was also interesting to hear Gyuki tell Rikuo that the strongest period for the Nura Clan had been under his father, not Nurarihyon. That surprised me, and makes me all the more curious to find out more about the hannyo who has appeared only in brief flashbacks in the anime. Gyuki has always been on the tough-love side of Nurarihyon’s brain trust, but it’s clear he’s being so hard on Rikuo because he has no choice. Poor Rikuo – the timing of his transformation back into boy form could have been a lot better, as he’s forced to try and defend himself from Gyuki – and his so-far unnamed cohort – and try to learn the lessons he must about his fear at the same time, all the while having to do so in a seventh-grader’s body.
As for Kubinashi, the timing for his descent into rogue form actually works to the benefit of Kyoto’s human population, as her underlings are intent on using them to supply an all-liver hometown buffet for Hagoromo-Gitsune. Sure he slays a few Kyoto Youkai, but at the same time he’s saving helpless maidens and a busload full of middle-schoolers. He may have finally met his match in Ibaraki Douji (Tsuda Kenjirou, suave and deliciously evil). He may look shy, always hiding his face behind a board, but he’s a badass – shooting thunder everywhere. He’s none too happy to see that Kubinashi has made chicken salad of his underlings, either.
As this is happening the freaky Christian youkai Shoukera (Saiga Mitsuki). Christian demons are a relative rarity in anime and indeed Japanese folklore as far as I know, and he’s a creepy one. He seems to be arch-rivals with Ibaraki, and while Woodface is dealing with Kubinashi, Shoukera has decided to go harvesting the livers of the onmyouji at Keikain’s main temple. With their shikigami useless things are looking grim, and Shoukera is in the process of finishing off the 27th Head of the Keikan when Akifusa (remember him?) rouses himself from his sickbed and takes up his possession scythe to make a last-ditch attempt to save the day.
Wow – what a mess is brewing here. We also got a quick peek at the Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol, still cowering under the Keikain’s protection and watching horrifying reports on TV about Nijo Castle floating over the city and folks going missing. And don’t forget my precious Yuki-onna is still being held captive by Tsuchigumo. Rikuo, human form or no, is going to have to get through this training arc a lot faster than he did the Tono one or his friends are in deep trouble.