ANIME & MANGA - Article
11:00 - 11th May 2013, by David West

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan

Rikuo Nura just wants to be a normal kid, going to school and being with his friends. However, he is anything but ordinary - the blood of the yokai flows in his veins... and blood will out. David West looks at one boy's monstrous destiny in Nura: Rise Of The Yokai Clan.

Rikuo Nura is 12-years-old and lives in a sprawling mansion with his mother, grandfather and the extended family that comprises the Nura clan. They are an unconventional bunch - Tsurara can project icy blasts, Aotabo can bend steel bars, and Kubinashi's head floats above his shoulders unhindered by the absence of a neck. The Nura clan are all yokai - monsters and demons of different shapes and sizes, ranging from the crow-sized Karasu Tengu, all the way up to massive centipedes and giant Cyclops. Small, sunny and gentle Rikuo is next in line to be their Supreme Commander, for he is one quarter yokai from his father's side of the family. The lad certainly does not look like he has any business taking charge of a legion of monsters, but Rikuo has two very different sides to his personality. At night, he transforms from the small human boy into a tall, red-eyed yokai, a figure that emanates power and confidence. But Rikuo needs to prove that he can command his clan the rest of the time when he's just an ordinary kid, and not a deadly yokai warrior.

It is not a responsibility to be taken lightly. The Supreme Commander of the yokai not only gets major prestige points for generally being a badass, but he also leads the Night Parade of 100 Demons, a mighty army of yokai that fights to defend the territory and reputation of the Nura Clan. The founding of the Nura clan was the work of Rikuo's grandfather, Nurarihyon. The old man is still looking after the family in the present day, waiting for his grandson to step up and assume control when he turns 13. Nurarihyon takes a dim view of Rikuo's insistence on participating in the human world - going to school and hanging out with his human friends after class, but whenever Rikuo's classmates stop by the ancestral home for a visit, grandfather is always on his best behaviour and never reveals his monstrous powers. He may be small of stature, centuries old and more wrinkled than a bag of raisins left in the sun, but people who underestimate Nurarihyon soon discover that the old yokai is cunning, devious and all too dangerous.

Rikuo, as a boy of great importance and potential target for enemies of the Nura clan, has two bodyguards assigned to watch over him at all times. Aotabo is a huge imposing warrior-monk, possessing enormous strength that makes him a formidable foe in battle. By contrast, Rikuo's other bodyguard is the petite Tsurara. Her tiny stature may not be intimidating, but she possesses the power to project freezing blasts of ice. Her powers may be chilling, but she has a warm, squidgy spot in her heart just for Rikuo that goes beyond the devotion of bodyguard to boss. The reason that Rikuo needs protection is that there are yokai groups spread throughout Japan and not all of them support the Nura Clan. In fact, some of the rival clans view the impending ascension of a part-human to the head of the Nura family as a prime opportunity to muscle in on their territory. Rikuo's human form prefers to solve problems with kind words, but his yokai side knows sometimes only cold steel can make a truly convincing case for dissuading would-be usurpers. As lethal as Rikuo can be in his yokai form, there are still plenty of people hungry to knock him off his perch atop the monster hierarchy. While Rikuo has the Night Parade of 100 Demons at his disposal, the yokai of Shikoku have their own squad of elite supernatural warriors known as Hachijuuhakki Yakō - the 88 Demons Of Shikoku. And they are not afraid to get their hands (or indeed claws, fangs and talons) dirty if it will bring them the power they desire.
Explore the dangerous world of the yokai with Rikuo and the Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol when Nura: Rise Of The Yokai Clan is out now from Kaze and Manga Entertainment!

This is an extract from a longer article that originally appeared in issue 109 of NEO.

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