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Sunday 29th June 2014

Hugh David has liver-ripping fun with Japanese ghosts

Nura - Rise Of The Yokai ClanThe battle to destroy the eight seals dominating Kyoto steps up in this second half of the second series adapting the manga of the same name.  Nura, our young hero, here finds his desire to use the supernatural to protect humans means he has put his clan in the way of much greater harm than ever before – and before series’ end, yokai, onymyoji and humans will have all spilled blood....

It feels rare after all these years to follow such a cheerful anime down the path of darkness, but it has been worth the trip.  Fans of the first half of this series will not be disappointed; the shift of tone from series 1 has been a good thing, as the extent of horror possible within magical myths and the individual back-stories of the many characters combine to deepen the show.  Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan – Demon Capital truly earns its 15 rating this time out, with a quest by the villainess for human livers which she will happily kill for, leading to her demonic birthing process in an underground sea of fear and human blood.  Meanwhile, fights in the present and past shed ample blood and paint the stories of many favourite clan members in tragedy, fuelling their sense of self and giving their often sacrificial actions a heroic dimension.

There will be tears by the end of the series, but also still a few laughs here and there, and definitely cheers at wicked action moves; this is still a shonen show first and foremost, and the fights are still a key element of Nura.  Unlike other shows, they are balanced nicely with the character moments and side dramas, something that has led some commentators to accuse the show of being slow or taking its time.  It is actually a refreshingly mature approach to the genre, making use of the weekly episodic format to dole out key information just when it will benefit the bigger storyline the most. It is that part of the serial TV craft that keeps us watching week after week, binding the viewer more closely to the story, rather than just keeping things ticking over until the next battle.

In fact, as we come to the end of the second series, it is clear that the show’s extended cast is not a negative either.  Nura is a typical juvenile lead, but his older Yokai self is far more interesting, especially after all he goes through.  His friends and followers, however, have gone from occasional comedy cameos to individualised followers with their own stories, strengthening both them and the show.  Some of the show’s best moments come from them, not from the lead, and this bodes well for future animated adventures, of which we can be certain (given where this adaptation leaves the manga storyline) there will be many.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai 2.2 is out next week on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

Buy it now


Nura - Rise Of The Yokai Clan Season 2 Part 2

was £29.99
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!



Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, and Japanese ghouls

Daniel Robson on Japanese ghost and ghouls
Spirits figure heavily in Japanese folklore, ranging from the mischievous to the downright evil, and feature in everything from ancient stories to classic paintings to modern-day manga and anime. Following the exploits of its half-human/half-ghoul hero and his monstrous family, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan takes these traditional stories in all new directions.

Nura Rise of the Yokai Music: LM.C

Tom Smith on the rise of the UK clan
LM.C are amongst a very elite type of Japanese musician. The clan they belong to is so exclusive that its numbers barely reach into the double digits. And its members are also a diverse bunch, including a guitar legend named Tomoyasu Hotei, a boiler-suited new-wave trio called POLYSICS, to a dark, heavy noise making machine dubbed Dir en grey. There’s even pop goddess Hikaru Utada in there too to balance things out.

Nura Rise of the Yokai Music: Monkey Majik

Tom Smith on a Canadian-Japanese pop outfit
Monkey Majik first shot to fame in Japan in 2006 when their second major-label single Around The World became the opening theme to TV drama Saiyuuki, an updated version of the famous Chinese tale Journey to the West. A fitting introduction for the band, considering the story is widely known as Monkey in English. Magic.


Code Geass vs Death Note

If you liked that, you might like this
At heart, Death Note and Code Geass tell the same story. A teenage Tokyo schoolboy with a towering intellect, railing against the world, is given fantastic powers by a supernatural agency. He finds he can manipulate people like puppets and kill with ease. His power is bound by rules and restrictions, yet still seems godlike.

One Piece Movie Collection

Sailing through Luffy’s first three films
Fans who are fully up-to-date and casual viewers and newcomers alike can both enjoy the One Piece movies! Each is entirely self-contained, with entirely new plots not found in Eiichiro Oda’s original manga, but are every bit as enjoyable.

Blood versus Blood

The live-action Last Vampire against the anime
With the animated versions of Saya’s vampire-slaying adventures now into its third incarnation in both TV and feature versions, most recently featured in the release of Blood C: The Last Dark, one feels compelled to ponder in some depth the abject failure of the 2009 live-action version one of Sony’s few key 21st century animated franchises.

Satoshi Kon Exhibition

The late animator celebrated in a Tokyo museum.
The Suginami Animation museum’s current exhibit should be of particular interest to British fans. It’s a showcase of the art of Satoshi Kon, who built an international reputation as a truly adult, often bitingly satirical anime director before his tragically early death in 2010
Commuters that pass through Shinjuku Station in Tokyo this week are treated to a fantastic wall display of 7,649 Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.
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