Nurarihyon no Mago Was, Well, Pretty Good
Full Spoilers Ahead
I finally finished going through the manga Nurarihyon no Mago by Shiibashi Hiroshi. My interested started to wane as I reached the 2nd to last arc so it took me a lot longer to work up the motivation it took to finish this series. But hey, it was a pretty fun one. But you’re here cause you want to see me bitch about the things here and there I didn’t care for aren’t you? This manga had a really crappy start that made me groan a lot. The main character, Nura Rikuo, is the grandson of a powerful Yokai named Nurarihyon. The Nura clan headed by him is an influential gang of 100 Yokai, a Hyakki Yako (Night Parade) and it’s Rikuo’s job to become the successor. Only problem is he’s only a quarter Yokai due to his grandpa and date both mating with humans, and for the first 3 or so volumes Rikuo tries to avoid this Yokai lifestyle. Which was very annoying because whenever night comes his body morphs into an ultra badass, smooth and confident Yokai form… I was REALLY afraid that Rikuo was going to never develop and become like Sawada Tsuna of Katekyo Hitman Reborn infamy (god I hate that series so much). But no, pretty quickly Rikuo gets his ass in gear and starts being cool all the time as a good shounen protagonist ought to. I was very relieved. It’s not that I hate characters who are averse to fighting and responsibility but in this certain situation there was no call for the main character to even be like that. It was just annoying and made me struggle through the earlier moments of the manga.
Besides Rikuo himself the cast of characters he surrounds himself with are pretty decent and entertaining. The number of Yokai under his command always ends up being a visual spectacle to look at, with his higher up servants serving as main characters. In the first half Rikuo still has to go to middle school or whatever and I have to admit, I just did NOOOOOOT care. I don’t know what happened to me, I never skim manga but I got to a point where any time Rikuo’s schoolmates took center stage in the manga my brain just went blank and I started flipping faster through the pages. I just- I dunno I’m really, really tired of generic Japanese school life. Their words almost became blurs to me and I couldn’t be asked to give any less of a shit. Thankfully the series became less and less about Rikuo’s annoying school-life and generic friends (besides Kiyotsugu, who was ok sometimes), and more about him succeeding the role of the 3rd Head of the Nura clan.
The heroine was a character I really did like a lot. The Yuki-Onna Tsurara is just adorable and I really love her design. She also wasn’t annoying. God, I feel so shallow. My only stipulations for liking a heroine are ‘not annoying, cute design, adorable’… But no, I did think she was a pretty fun character and she actually frequently did stuff instead of being the one dimensional love interest. The ending was a really huge cop out in terms of romance. As you know, I like manga and anime romance where something actually happens. Not bullshit does he like me??? Nonsense. The last extra chapter of the series ended on an annoying ‘oops we almost kissed but maybe if we weren’t interrupted…?!’ moment and until then he didn’t really show that much interest in her romantically despite the amazing chemistry they had. I was really, really afraid that the author was going to force Rikuo to be with the random schoolmate girl who had a crush on him for no reason. This character, Kana Ienaga I think, was just the epitome of ‘don’t care’ for me. She had no role in the story and was there just to be his human friend. Thus I was TERRIFIED he would choose her over Tsurara. But he didn’t and in the end he sort of chose Tsurara? Anticlimactic but then again so was the entire ending. I’m getting to that.
The rest of Rikuo’s Hyakki Yako were all pretty cool characters, Kubinashi and Kurotabou probably being the coolest ones. Kubinashi is a Yokai whose head is detached from his body and flies around and he fights with some cool thread movements. Characters fighting with thread or wires is nothing new to shounen manga but I liked it here since he used it by flying his head around carrying thread in his mouth. I liked that a lot actually, it was pretty cool to see him flipping around and crap with his flying head. Kurotabou was badass just for the sheer excess in his combat style. He could basically just shoot a thousand bladed weapons from his sleeve whenever he raised it. No really, that was it, but it was super cool and drawn awesomely whenever he did it. As far as Nura Rikuo himself though, the main protagonist of the manga had some pretty cool powers as well. He focused around illusions and stayed true to the type of Yokai that Nurarihyon actually is in Japanese Folklore. I was sort of skeptical about how the manga would work with such a wimpy and lame sounding Yokai as Nurarihyon (if you don’t know about what it is, look it up) being the main focus but I was thoroughly impressed with the rendition and explanations of its power.
The major storylines are seperated into some pretty interesting arcs, each with interesting villains. I rather liked the Hagaromo no Gitsune villain and found her motivations very unique. Essentially, she was the mother of a powerful sorcerer (Abe no Seimei, the famous Onmyoji from real life) 1,000 years ago and so that he would never have to die she promised that she would give birth to his reincarnations over and over again in some weird messed up ritual. The first rebirth was stopped by the original Nurarihyon, but the rebirth of Abe no Seimei- the Nue- was fulfilled at the end of Hagaromo no Gitsune’s arc. This arc was the high point of the series, the Onmyoji characters introduced here were all really badass and the crazy designs of all of Gitsune-sama’s Yokai were top notch.
And then the rest of the manga was just kinda ok for me. I liked the first part of the arc after that which was a flashback to Rikuo’s dad, Nura Rihan who was probably the coolest of the 3 Nura characters in the series. He had to deal with a clan of Yokai born from urban legends called the Hyaku Monogatari/Hundred Tales clan and I felt that this was genuinely interesting and love the actual history present in this section. But when we got back to Rikuo’s story of fighting the revived Hyaku Monogatari I just felt it was a bit weaker. It started to bring those pesky human characters back and I didn’t care bout that one bit. Then, then there was the next arc which finally promised the return of the actual main villain Abe no Seimei. Just when things started to get good I had a quick look at my progress… and learned there was only 10 chapters left. Yeah. This had a super rushed ending.
I don’t think it was cancelled because they gave it a HUGE blowout ending- three 60 page full color chapters just to show the final battle against Seimei and his minions. Buuuuut Rikuo vs. Seimei was condensed into the last chapter and after how much Seimei was built up as the ultimate Onmyoji he basically amounted to a DBZ villain and only flew around shooting energy balls at Rikuo. That was a terrible final battle. How Rikuo beat Seimei ultimately was cool but it doesn’t make up for the gigantic blue balls that fight gives the reader. Plus, it was so rushed that all of the characters serving Seimei had almost no personality or backstory. What little of it they did have was told very fast and made them all seem shallow…
So, thoughts summed up… Nura was good. You should read it. It’s not the best thing ever but it’s a very solid series that I enjoyed even if it tried my patience towards the final stretch.