After some really good set up and battles, the finale for Yokai actually feels a little disappointing. A combination of good battles but way too many characters and plot points coming together makes this finale a bit of a mess. An entertaining mess, but still a mess.
What They Say:
The Nura Clan faces a new threat: the 88 Demons of Shikoku, led by Inugamigyobu-Tanuki Tamazuki! Tamazuki sets his plan in motion to weaken the Nura Clan by targeting their key source of power-the local deities of Ukiyoe Town. In the absence of Supreme Commander Nurarihyon, Rikuo’s resolve to become the Third Heir is put to the test, as he must unite the clan to face Tamazuki and his malicious weapon the Devil’s Blade!
Set in English Dolby Surround Sound in both stereo and mono, Japanese in standard 2.0 stereo, I was very impressed with the sound quality when it came to the English dub track – I had to reduce the volume a lot more than my standard set because it really shines through in both languages, even the Japanese track I had to reduce my standard volume, which is interesting as it doesn’t specify a 5.1 track but does a Dolby Surround so either way it is still impressive.
No issues with transition between audio and subtitles, whilst the video quality is also superb, supremely colourful and really is a wonder to watch (fullscreen effect) as one of the best shows visually as well with no issues with slowdown or pausing as audio wise I’ve seen in this regard. This has been continuous quality throughout both seasons 1 and 2.
There were no extras on this release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After praising the first three sets of the anime, I was looking forward to how it would conclude in the final 13 episodes, as they had everything set up for a finale with the development of the return of the Hagoromo Gitsune and Rikuo learning more and more for the inevitable final battle. Unfortunately, whilst a lot of the battles were still great to watch, it felt like they included too much…and delivered too little. It felt both too many characters in the show and yet was also a rush job in getting to the ending.
The main issue was quickly obvious from the first episode. The focus went from Rikuo to a character that had barely been brought into the forefront, and with so many members of the clans both helping and hindering Rikou, it was understandably going to put too many to the back, and those that did get focus you barely remember from previous arcs and episodes. Granted the character focused here Awashima does get some moments of badassary and intelligence – and then the added threat of the giant demon Tsuchigumo (which is the first indication of another higher power which is the real main enemy of the Nura clan) gives us some visuals, and even some despair that Rikou may not actually win when he takes Tsurara hostage.
The main problem is that not enough focus was done with the established characters – Tsurara is one, Nura another and even Rikou to an extent. Hell, Hagoromo Gitsune is probably the one that gets the best development as you learn who she was in a past life and how the history of her and Rikou’s father which led to his death actually came about, being not as simple as it appeared at the beginning of the series. The intensity of the fights with the visits to the other temples and the onmyogi headquarters again is really well done, but unfortunately half the characters involved are barely in the show otherwise – even Rikou’s demons bar Tsurara are kind of left behind.
When I said it felt too much and also a rush job, it was like this – the plot revolves around Gitsune breaking the seals with the omyouji and demons resealing to try and trap her. Yura who along with Tsurara seemed to be paired as potential love interests for Rikou as well as being top fighters, yet are almost relegated to damsel in distress roles here. Yura at least does get a bit more action when she becomes the head of the Keikain House and showcases some new techniques and the concept of ‘Fear’ is further explored with Rikuo eventually mastering his techniques. Tsurara on the other hand is literally there as bait and considering she was this ice demon girl to see her be relegated to this combined with nearly killing herself at one point as she thought herself to be useless just felt really not needed for a crew that was quite action packed. Granted, Tsuchigumo is one of the few new characters who did pose a threat and was genuinely interesting because he sees Rikou as a potential challenge, but he is actually not used as much as you’d expect.
It is at this point we learn more about the character Nue, who Tsuchigumo faced and is in fact going to be reborn as Gitsune’s son – hence the devouring livers for energy subplot has been brought to this. Nurarihyon comes back to get involved actually showcases what an interesting character he is and trying to learn the issues of his son’s death as well as helping his grandson out makes the show come full circle so it does at least wrap up everything well. The unfortunate thing is that the last 2 episodes only are set to Nue being reborn, and the first thing he does is kill his mother – as we do learn about Rikuo’s father and Nurarihyon’s son Rihan and his death, which was easily the strongest part of this arc. The ability of the techniques combined with the fact that Gitsune wasn’t actually brought up to be a murderer actually made her slightly more sympathetic, despite the horrid thing she did. However her interesting character is basically very quickly killed off by her son, who is just there for all intents and purposes to be a final boss character, overpowered to stop Rikou and his Night Parade of 100 demons.
And after being near invincible for one episode…Rikou defeats him easily in the beginning of the final episode. To say this was a complete anti-climax is an understatement. No build up for Nue, no interesting battle or team up, and whilst the battle was still beautifully animated (with demons literally sent to hell), it did feel that they rushed the finale. Granted as said it did wrap everything up as well as set Rikuo as a demon protecting humans like previous generations, but with the future not really discussed not sure if there is a sequel in the works, and if there is, hopefully it will go back to how it started so well and then follow through.
I’m not saying the finale is terrible – the battle sequences were great, Rikou does develop as a character both physically and mentally, the main villain was good until she was passed over for a forgettable 2 episode boss, and there was some nice little stories built throughout – it just combined with not enough development as they rushed out the finale with too much…and it felt like too little.
The finale of Nura really is disappointing. Whilst the action sequences are impressive, the fact there are so many characters with few of little interest or development puts the few characters you do know and care about mostly to the back door without enough time to develop the next characters. Gitsune is the best thing of this arc and even she is kicked out of the door for her son for the end which is incredibly forced and rushed. Whilst Rikou at least is a likeable lead and the way he develops is still strong, it ends on a note that if they had just kept the focus on certain people and set the ending with more time to build up Nue, this would have worked out much better.
Content Grade: C+
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK/KAZE
Release Date: July 7th, 2014
Running Time: 66 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.