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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan Impression

Rikuo Nura will be the Third Heir of the Nura Clan … or will he? His answer depends on it being night or day.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan from Viz Anime is rock solid and fun to watch (and read, it’s subtitled). Fans of anime set in modern-ish day Japan with a heavy spiritual angle should check out Nura. Rikuo Nura tries to be a normal junior high student but when you’re the Third Heir of the Nura Clan of yokai, well it’s not always easy. With over 20 episodes available online fans get devour many hours biting into this delicious anime, but is it worth the time? Let’s take a look at the first four episodes as seen on Viz Anime.

Believe in them or not, yokai are real and inhabit the world, rarely interacting with humans. Some humans have relationships with these yokai, form pacts and even lead them. One such human is Rikuo Nura, Third Heir of the Nura Clan, but this junior high student is eager to avoid his lineage and become just a normal student. This is difficult when living in a house full of yokai and with a personality that is human by day and powerful yokai by night. Rikuo has strong blood in his veins, blood which contains a personality of a powerful yokai who can lead the Night Parade of a Thousand Demons, one worthy of the title of Lord of Pandemonium. Yes, Rikuo has quite a dilemma on his hands. His friend at school decide to form a paranormal patrol unit while allied clans take their chances on rebelling. This is not even considering clans of rat yokai and un-associated yokai that are out to do bad things. Throw in a classmate who just happens to be an omniyoji and life is anything but easy for Rikuo. Destiny cannot be avoided, a lesson Rikuo will need to embrace quickly.

Quick touch points on the first four episodes, equivalent of the first DVD collection, and here is what anime fans get. An introduction, some initial action, characters introduced and the stage set for more. Solid folks this is what the beginning of a series like Nura is supposed to do. Rikuo is a strong character in both his forms, truly two different characters with different agendas. His friends, both yokai and human, are also well developed with cheesy classmates and yokai that are both funny, mischievous but also deadly serious when action presents itself. The story so far is a focus on Rikuo’s desire to not be and to be the Third Heir. The split personality is front and center in a political yokai world where there are many agendas, alliances and dangers. The four episode in particular shows off how Rikuo must deal with uprisings and attacks on his human side. There is something larger brewing but the beginning is all about setting the stage which episode 1-4 do rather nicely.

What about the art, animation and sound you say? So glad you’ve asked. The animation carries a style very similar to most shonen targeted titles. Compare to the overall animation quality of a Naruto or One Piece, not a movie quality but a solid TV quality with great character design, action and settings. Seeing the variety of yokai and supernatural characters is fun and part of what makes this genre of anime so great, seeing legend come to life. The Japanese voice work is rock solid with a great range of emotion and the opening track is solid anime fare. The background music was noticeable in a nice way in that it matches the pace of action as needed but does not detract from said action. Well done for a series of this type.

Overall the story is shaping up to be engaging, fun and action packed with demon battling aplenty and awkward school situations to boot. The sound and animation quality are solid, not top notch but well above middle ground. A great online offering which should not be missed and would be very worthy of purchase on dubbed DVD.

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