Yes, recap episodes suck and this was a totally anti-climactic climax, with no new footage of any consequence. So I’ll proceed as if the series ended at episode 24 and treat this as a series review post. In short? Good. This season was a definite improvement over the first one, with much brisker pacing and a more compelling overall storyline. Frankly, the tone of the series was so different as to be almost recognizable at times. Some of that is straight from the manga, no doubt, but a lot of it probably comes from the director shift from Nishimura Junji to Fukuda Michio. Nishimura seemed to slant the story quite a bit in the school-life direction, focusing especially heavily on the Kiyo Cross squad and Kana.
Sennen Makyou, by contrast, was effectively a shounen battle series. Not only were Rikuo’s classmates mostly absent, but his human form – probably 80% of the screen time in the first season – was mostly absent as well. With a shift to Tohoku and then Kyoto came a shift to youkai Rikuo, with Kana’s continuing role in the story due to her connections with the Keikain onmyouji clan in Kyoto. We got a lot of shounen chestnuts such as the training arc, and a series of confrontations with mid-bosses leading up to the final showdown with Abeno Seimei, who was the driving force behind the conflict that drove the season. Even Hagoromo-Gitsune, who looked like the main villain for a while, was effectively a mid-boss herself.
All of this was rather more fast-paced and exciting than most of the first season, though I would have like an occasional change-of-pace episode for a break from the heavy main storyline. The plot was complex and well-constructed, with the mysteries kept pretty close to the vest for most of the season. Minagaroshi-Jizo was behind much of that mystery, and he turned out to be the instrument of the murder of Rikuo’s father Rihan, in a truly vile and cruel plan that used Rikuo’s stepmother as its instrument. The ending itself was a bit of a letdown, frankly, in that the actual battle with Nue ended in a draw and the resolution was kicked down the curb until some indefinite future date when Nue rouses himself from Hell again. In terms of romance, the revelation that Nine-tails’ curse prevents the Nura men from continuing the line unless interbreeding with a human seems to bode ill for Tsurara’s chances with Rikuo, which would be a shame as she’s my favorite character on the series. That leaves Yura and Kana, seemingly, and while Kana was a favorite of Nishimura-sensei, Yura seems to make more sense within the story itself.
As to whether the anime will continue from here, I suppose like always it depends on commercial factors more than creative ones. The fact that DEEN elected to preserve the manga’s non-conclusion and finish with what effectively mounts to a setup clip episode seems to indicate that they’re planning to go back to the well at least once more. S1 mostly focused on Rikuo as a human child, S2 on his training to be a great youkai, so presumably S3 would be an opportunity to see him actually functioning as leader of the Nura Clan. Nurarihyon seems to have ceded control to his grandson for good, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a third season that was something of a mix of the first two – mostly this season, but with a few slower episodes and a hint of the comedy from S1.