ANIME & MANGA - Review
19:00 - 29th March 2014, by NEO Staff

Nura: Rise Of The Yokai Clan; Demon Capital - Season 2, Part 1

The second season of Nura: Rise Of The Yokai Clan takes a little while to settle on a direction as it brings viewers back to the world of school boy Rikuo, next in line to become Supreme Commander of the Nura Clan of Yokai. It opens with a prequel storyline that reveals the very first time Rikuo transformed from his human form into his powerful Yokai incarnation. Then there is a two-episode arc that introduces two new onmyoji - humans who hunt Yokai - one of whom is the older brother of Rikuo's friend Yura. Next up is a double bill set in the past that reveals how Rikuo's grandfather, Nurarihyon, fell in love with a human woman. It is only halfway through this collection that the main plotline emerges, when Hagoromo Gitsune, an old enemy of the Nura Clan, reappears in Kyoto, and Nurarihyon sends Rikuo off to train at Tono Village to make him strong enough to face Hagoromo and her legion of monsters.

Aside from the very first episode, the other subplots in the early episodes are more than just filler, as they introduce characters who have roles to play in the main plotline concerning the threat of Hagoromo. The series can be surprisingly violent in spots - there is a fairly grisly scene in which a Yokai beats someone to a pulp, and, one of Hagoromo's minions likes to steal her victim's eyeballs. The lead villainess herself has a predilection for devouring human livers, which is all very Hannibal Lecter.

Other elements of the show are fairly typical of shonen fantasy action anime. The scenes of Rikuo training in Tono Village to improve his powers have parallels with Naruto, while Ryuji of the Keikain Clan has a habit of announcing and explaining his attacks during battle that will be familiar to any Bleach fan. One big change from the previous season is that Rikuo no longer seems all-powerful in his Yokai form. In the first series, Rikuo's Yokai form was his Get Out Of Jail Free card, but this time he finds himself forced to master new techniques in the face of a deadly foe whose strength surpasses his own. This adds a welcome element of danger to the story now that Rikuo's victory is no longer assured every time he sheds his mortal guise. Rikuo's human friends in the Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol tend to take a backseat once the plot really gets underway, but they still pop up from time to time, mainly to provide comic relief.

The animation quality is decent but not exceptional, and some scenes can be a little stilted in terms of the fluidity of movement. The use of lighting and colour are strong, particularly in nocturnal sequences, and the Yokai designs are varied and inventive. The English dub is good, with distinctive and easily recognisable voices for the many different Yokai that surround Rikuo, including all the new characters from Tono Village. A fun action series that's just a little edgy.

It's refreshing to see a second season that doesn't simply re-hash what came before. There is a noticeable shift away from stories about Rikuo trying to hide his dual nature from his school friends, and a much greater focus on the struggle for supremacy in the Yokai world, which means plenty of intrigue, menace and battles. Battles are good.
SCORE: 4/5
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