nurarihyon: not so great…

Nurarihyon no Mago is a Summer 2010 anime based on the manga of the same name. After watching the first episode, I have to super underline and bold “based on.” I don’t remember the early chapters super well, but I know they made at least a large number of changes to the early story progression. Nurarihyon no Mago is about Nura Rikuo, a boy who is one-quarter yokai and in line to become the leader of the Nura Clan consisting of thousands of yokai. However, he would much rather live his life as a normal human and tries to fight his fate while protecting both his human friends and his clan from evil forces attracted to his position.

First off, shout out to Phuzy Subs on their first release. If I might provide some friendly criticism, I wasn’t a fan of the font choice (although it’s good enough), and I felt like the timing maybe could use some work (there were some long lines that I felt I didn’t have enough time to read (and I’m a fast reader!), but I’m not sure if there’s a better way to do it :/), but good job on the translation and encoding. I hope to see you improve with every release!

Now, on to the actual episode. Episode 1 was like a giant clusterfuck of the first 2 chapters, not ever really explaining anything but introducing a bunch of characters arbitrarily. It starts out with Rikuo in night form (this is how they refer to him when his yokai form activates) facing off with Gyuuki, a character I was pretty certain didn’t get introduced for like 10 chapters. They talk about random stuff and clash swords, and then all of a sudden we’re warped to a house, where Rikuo in day form is talking to a big group of yokai. Then he’s walking to school and we meet another 50 characters whose names are just thrown out rapidfire. Then they just start jumping into a present-day story, still without really explaining much of the premise behind the show.

Basically, I knew what was going on since I follow the manga, but when I’m struggling to keep up with the characters myself and I don’t know what’s going on in the story, something is wrong. They mention “4 years ago” a bunch but don’t explain what it means; chapter 1 of the manga is all about the “4 years ago” incident and also serves very well as the opener to the manga. If they at least used the bus crash scene as a prelude, I think that would have made things a lot clearer for viewers. I mean, they skipped it all anyway, meaning they’re just going to gloss over it in the future or do a flash back, so they should have just used it as the intro for the anime too.

So then we get to the meat & bones of chapter 2, the exploration of the old haunted school building. They cut a lot of the humor out, which really flattens out the impact. In the manga, you see Rikuo frantically running around getting rid of the yokai so that his friends don’t see them. It works well because you get the feeling of a montage, and his desperation flows well to the reader. In the anime, they only really show 3 scenes; first, he just avoids all the yokai, then they let the one saying “I want to drink blood” have 3 whole lines while his friends are just staring at him. This one might be a bit hard to do, since in the manga it was 1 panel with 3 speech bubbles, but there was kind of a sense of “it said stuff, then he slammed the door on it. Haha, that was funny!” With the aspect of time, it felt really lame since it’s like, “hmm, they’ve been staring at it for like 30 seconds, then he slams the door on them and they have no reaction? wtf…” Then, with punching the one hanging from the ceiling and flushing the one in the toilet, again, it just felt like they expended too much time animating those sequences for what seems like little effect. It’s not like his friends are right behind him or anything either for the one in the ceiling, and seeing them rush into the bathroom makes the timing really awkward rather than humorous. It would’ve been better if they used scrolling stills and showed more scenes.

I guess my big gripe with the anime is that there were no character introductions, not even really for Rikuo. In the first day form appearance, he’s just all of a sudden talking to a group of yokai. They throw around the phrase “The Third” a few times but it doesn’t really mean anything. No mention is made of Rikuo’s blood, where he’s three-quarters human and one-quarter yokai. I don’t actually remember them mentioning it at all this episode, so for people unfamiliar with the series a lot of stuff won’t make sense, starting with WHY IS HE TALKING TO A BUNCH OF YOKAI??? I don’t think they mentioned Rikuo’s grandpa being a/the nurarihyon either. They kind of randomly threw his mom in there, even though I don’t remember her at all in the manga. Kiyotsugu just happens to really like yokai, and his name is randomly thrown out there as they show him for the first time. Same with Kana. I feel like the only characters that the viewer (being me) is compelled to follow are Rikuo, Kana, Tsurara, and Aotabou, and Aotabou was never very formally introduced either. NO ONE was formally introduced. They just put people on screen and expect you to know what’s going on. ARGH, this frustrates me, since I really like the manga.

The voice acting is pretty decent. Fukuyama Jun voices Rikuo; not a horrible choice, but I don’t think his voice is the best for the character. I’d probably rather hear like Inoue Marina or Sawashiro Miyuki (the latter only coming to mind because I watched the Kurenai OVA just before Nurarihyon, so her voicing of Shinkurou stuck out in my head) for Rikuo, Fukuyama Jun’s voice is a little too low and glib. Tsurara is voiced by Horie Yui, which I think is a pretty good choice, same with Hirino Aya as Kana and Nakata Jouji as Gyuuki. Yasumoto Hiroki was a really great cast for Aotabou, though; it definitely helps that some other characters he’s voiced, Elfman in Fairy Tail, Murata in Natsu no Arashi, and Tougou in School Rumble, have the same air so his distinct voice really fits. No other characters really spoke much, so I’ll have to reserve judgment on them until later.

Well, without introducing characters in the first episode, I’m hard-pressed to believe they can really make up for it as the series progresses, but there’s always a chance. The animation is decently solid, and the fights should be interesting, so I hope things redeem themselves for me. I’ll continue watching just because I like the manga, but my hopes have definitely been quite shattered.

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