Nurarihyon no Mago is an almost typical shonen show with an almost typical premise. Why “almost” you may ask? Well, the lead character is voiced by Jun Fukuyama, and that magically makes everything look better for the casual viewers. Damn, how easy it is for people to like a show for what is going on behind the scenes and not on the stage. If the above magician’s trick isn’t enough to con you, then you will mostly see this anime as something average with some rare outbursts at good. And by average I am referring to how it follows the basic shonen formula, minus the constant shouting and perpetual on-going training and fighting.
If you look who else is on the production team besides the above wet dream then prepare to encounter a nightmare. The animation studio is THAT PIECE OF SHIT Studio DEEN! I get Goosebumps just by mentioning the name; OH THE HORROR! Nobody with minimum taste is going to like anything that comes out of the back hole of that crappy studio. As for the director, his entire roster is full of mediocrities, with the only exception being Ranma ½ and even there it was rather good because of the source material. They still ruined it after season four though.
So the lead hero is a combo of a harem lead and a shonen lead. And no, don’t believe that this makes a good spin on the formula because it’s not a blend but a disjoined coexistence. He has a split personality! His harem side is that of the archetypical weak dork with glasses, going to school and constantly being ridiculed at every turn of the way with his lame behaviour towards women and his zero power. His shonen side is on the other hand a dark personality living within him, coming out for some hours every night and kicking ass of monsters. Definitely cooler but with very broken powers and eventually nothing but the typical dark hidden personality all shonen leads have.
So he is the son of a very powerful youkai and destined to succeed him one day. Yet all he wants is to have a normal school life, even if he is useless. At this point I was clearly seeing this as a rehash of Hitman Reborn, with some Inu Yasha action with youkai; definitely nothing we haven’t seen before. The support characters are other youkai at his service or human schoolmates and platonic romantic interests that typically head nowhere because of his harem side. In fact, most of the show is not going anywhere for the same reason. Despite him playing it courageous and strong willed, when the time comes he still is completely useless to do anything unless he transforms to his cooler alter ego; something that happens only at specific hours and not at will. Thus he is plain bothersome to follow around and you mostly wait for the action to come along.
The plot is basically him trying to live a normal life and keeping his secret hidden from his human friends, while looking for a killer youkai that is after his family. Sounds ok but the pacing is terribly slow to the most part and the rest of it follows the typical stuff we see in shonen. The cast is also way too big in number and most of them are practically background decoration. Furthermore, the story is very light and often comedic thus most characters are treated as nothing but comedy generators with various silly gimmicks. The youkai for example are named after and defined by a quirk in their look, a thing that makes them all shallow and eventually passable. The humans on the other hand are too normal to stand out for anything particular in whatever they are doing. When the plot feels like it, it provides immersion to some of them and fleshes them a bit with flashbacks and daily activities. Yet to no avail, as eventually nobody’s story is important to the plot or even that special to remember as a stand alone.
The focal point of the whole story is of course the cool lead alter ego and his amazing voice actor. Well ok, even that ain’t anything special as he beats all monsters easily and the action choreography doesn’t excel anywhere. It is simple and, like everything else in this show, slow. There is no true challenge in battle and the search for the killer is simplistic at best. Most problems came to them instead of looking for them anyway.
The production values are… cute. That is the best way to describe them. There were no special in the setting, which was typical school grounds and traditional estates. The colours and the detail in drawings were ok, albeit too commonplace in most anime and thus again rather boring. Make that too boring if you add the slow plot. In all the artwork is typical but nice, while the animation is scarce as a cheap way to save money and slow down the plot. As for the soundtrack, well, it’s a mess. The openings are good, the endings are ridiculous jpops, and the BGM is soft to the point you don’t even notice it. Overall, nothing exciting, or atmospheric, or memorable. As for voice acting… WHO CARES; FUKUYAMA IS HERE; ALL HAIL LELOUCH!
So is it a good show? Well, it could have been if it had a faster plot, better action, more secondary character impact in the story, and if Fukuyama wasn’t the one and only thing the producers based on for the show to sell. Plus the premise is a rehash of other shonen which are more enjoyable in overall (not by a lot but they are). So no, I don’t consider this a worthy anime unless you are looking for an average time killer or you are Fukuyama fangirls. There are many people who loved this show by the way and recommend it like it’s some sort of masterpiece. In my eyes they are all nothing but Narutards who got bored of fillers and eat up any mediocrity that pops up and fizzles away. Don’t pay attention to them.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 1/2 (slow)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (cheesy)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (nothing worth to rewatch)
Memorability 1/4 (nothing worth to remember)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Seen it all before, in a much better way, by a studio that is not DEEN.
I have seriously no idea why anyone would like this series. The pacing is terrible (24 episodes that with cutting out entire filler could have made a above average 1 season), characters are bland and there's just too many of them, lastly - the story, "character development" and ending itself is just plain dumb...
"Story" and Characters
SPOILER ALERT - do not read next paragraph if do not enjoy spoilers.
Anyway, the "story" you can read in summary above but how does it look in reality? For first half a season (or something close to it) you watch as the main protagonist wines and wines about he does not want to lead demons and wants to live a normal* life, how does he end? After few of his friends and his grandfathers minions are in danger and he rescues them he like "Aw well, might as well accept it" without "much effort" making his initial refusal just pointless. In the meantime we see his comrades yapping in the background and getting their handed to them just to be saved in the pintch only later on for them to overcome their enemies without any real effort (maybe in the first fight everyone had a cold or something...). When there is no fighting in the night amongst demons we have BY THE BOOK school anime with pure CLICHE to the point where you can puke with that stuff (most common offender is leader of the occult reaserch club protagonist and his friends belong who wishes to see a demon BUT FAILS TO SEE AT EVERY, i mean EVERY DAMN TIME!!!).When it comes to indiduals each and every is bland and boring. If anything, the only nice enough characters I liked were the Crow Siblings but their screen time was so sparse that I didn't remember about the until they popped out again. Besides that - too manyand history/background we get in story or flashbacks nut is not really relevant to the story so it is just a pointless filler. Lastly the ending which made me puke rainbows and friendship. Imagine badguy seemingly starting a war in which during climax he slaughters his minions and precious comrades and when the good guy is about to finish him - someone stop his and everyone is like "Awwww the daddy says to forgive his son who just had a bad day, yeah lets do that" the end... Who the hell wrote this crap?...
END of the SPOILERS
Spoilerless version - both characters and the story presented is a crap an unispired 10year old could have written.
Wouldn't say they were bad but nothing breath taking either. Both are average at best with Audio having that only one redeming (and overused) track, besides that - nothing memorable.
Don't watch it unless you're starting with anime but even then, there are far better to watch instead.
Summary - This is a mafia version about yokai (demons). Nura, who is a young teenager, has been obligated to become the successor for his family's clan of 100 demons. He tries to avoid it, but cannot deny that powers and responsibilities that he will soon have. As the heir (he is 1/4 demon, 3/4 human), he can awaken his demon counterpart for 1/4 of a day. Though he can only do this at night, he has guardians with him at all times regardless. Nura and his clan fight against other groups of demons for territory. Nura's demon counterpart is considered to be one of the strongest demons, and is highly charismatic.
Story - 7.5 - it is pretty straightfoward and easy compared to the names that some of the characters have. Nura is to become successor for the clan of 100 demons that his grandfather has. Already at this point, the 100 demons refer Naru as their "master", so he has authority but does not really use it in the beginning. As story progresses and conflicts emerge, Naru plays more of a leadership role as the potential heir for the clan. Since Naru is part human as well, he is able to bond with few of his classmates. Not only becoming friends, but they form a demon club, dedicated to investigating demons (a little too easy-going if you ask me). But this club (even if it IS conveniently placed), provides some intel for Naru.
As I said, this is the mafia with demons. Territory and relationships consists of the important parts of the plot. Yes, this is about demons fighting each other for control, instead of demons vs. humans. Some humans are affected, but not much. There are a bunch of groups that follow the 100 demon clan, in which case I see a few types of demons (deities, animal types, certain abilities). In turn, the 100 demon clan protects the other groups. The main conflict of the series is a group of demons, called the 7 travelers, who fights for control of the city and 100 demon clan.
Looking at the show's tone, it is not very dark. it is viewed that the demon world has an organized society like that of the human world. Most of the demons are civilized. The show had brought up some points about demons, such as they like to play tricks on humans or eat them. There's only one or two points where such a situation occurs. There was a scene where even a good-hearted demon wanted to play tricks on humans. Since this character had mentioned it, I wanted to know what kind of tricks these demons supposedly play on humans, but they never show it. But the nature of this series show the good side of the demon world: A controlled and good-natured group of demons, who either follows or are part the 100 demon clan.
Animation - 8.5 - At first i was impressed because it had that smooth but odd transitions when the perspective changes. It was a nice touch but it does not occur that often (nor is it always necessary), but other than that the visuals are as expected to the year. The most noticable graphics change is the viewing of the cherry blossom tree that is located at Nura's home. More effort went into this tree because it is more animated in comparison to most other animes. The branches and leaves are more flowing, which makes it more realistic.
Characters- 7- Talking about the human cast first, they dont really serve much purpose besides providing some humor or being valuable to Naru (the "They are my important friends, i Shall protect them"). This makes up some of the dialogue, so i guess it is somewhat important. There are very small backstory behind the human characters. One or two flashbacks of how demons affected two of the human characters in the past. This makes up 2 episodes, which i consider to be the filler episodes. It feels like the "random monster of the week," as hardly any information is given about the characters. The humor of the show comes from one source, and that is the leader of the demon club. The consistency of his bad luck when playing demon poker with his friends is unbelievable. As the demon club founder, he always wants to see demons with his own two eyes. Despite his unbelievably accurate intel, he always looks away at the wrong time or arrives too late to see the demon. So the irony is that humans who are scared of demons always see them, but those who WANT to see them, won't. I thought this kind of humor was too consistent and only brought a chuckle once. Other than that, the other normal friends of Nura are just there for show.
Then there is yuri, a formidable demon hunter who travels to that area as a test to see if she can handle tough demons. She joins Nura's circle of friends later on. Once again, it is unbelievable that her feeble little mind cannot piece together that Nura is involved with demons, despite always saying that there are demon auras around Nura's house.
A quick note about Nura. I felt like punching his face since the first episode because of his innocent/'make everyone happy' personality. All the time do i see this type of personality, but I leave it as it is. I suppose its the easiest way to show maturity in a character when there is such a wide difference between beginning and end.
i thought many of the demons were too civilized. Since they are seen in their human form most of the time, I sometimes forgot they are supposed to be demons. The focused cast of demons that serve Nura are likable, but they did not make an impression besides just being Nura's guardians. The only one that stands out is the snow woman, who is one of Nura's personal guard. Her personality is distinguishing because of her cutey attitude. So the only downside for most of the demons shown is that they are not very memorable. Maybe some backstory on few of the characters could have fixed this.
Overall- 8- This show is enjoyable because i like the supernatural genre. Some aspects of the story was a little too consistent but the rest of it flows properly. Despite most of the characters are not exactly memorable, their special abilities helped diversify their character. My final thoughts, "Shouldn't have more humans died?" If a normal human is walking through a dark trail on a isolated mountain infested with demons, you'd think she's just die off. But hey, that would be depressing! None of that seriousness here.
There are alot of ways this series at least attempts to differentiate from the standard anime cliches. Sure the main character is 12 years old but they work around this by giving him a form he changes into which appears to be anywhere from 17 to 28 or so. Sure it takes place in part at a school, but much of the story drifts away from it to involve clashes with other monsters. It has parts at school but it doesn't focus on it exclusively. Many of the monsters look like cheap teletubby rip offs but some look decently cool as monsters should with strong abilities. One slight miss however is between this and the second season, he does not seem to remember he has the power he develops by the first season's end. I find that abit puzzling and similar to Fairy Tail (which is a great show but it has a serious rinse and repeat problem where each group of new enemies renders all the power they gained from the prior clash useless as if they never had power and gives them no where to go but back down since they get great power then seem to give it up over and over again.) Well this one appears to have a little of that though in a far more subtle way.
They do an excellent job of foreshadowing between seasons 1 and 2, which is something sadly rather rare in many anime. I did wish and still do hope that there will be some sense of closure with respect to which of the 3 or so girls in this mini harem set up he winds up with and hopefully see that his childhood friend realizes or sees that he has another side to him. We get constant hints and near misses of one or more of his totally human friends seeing him in action or realizing who and what he is. It is never good to constantly tease your viewers with such a thing without having some end point to it. Since it is so often teased and hinted at, i expect rightfully to see some conclusion with respect to that. Maybe the best solution would be at least the girl, Kana finding out who and what he is and accepting him. Technically one already knows and one sort of finds out later but it doesn't quite feel like there is a solid resolution to that realization due to the action. Though, this is not fully realized til the next season it still feels a bit of a let down at the impact. I always think after something big is revealed you would have some sort of a get together to discuss it or see how it changes things if it all between you and the friend or friends. Too often this sort of settling is missing. It is something that I always look forward to seeing whenever this sort of thing occurs but rarely get to see it executed. It is not too late for this series they may add something of that nature by season 3 or later.
I have mixed feelings about the good guys and bad guy ish characters portrayed in the story. My main issue is, there is a certain point essentially of no return. I am however, not completely certain who or what crossed that threshold. Some evil actions can never be undone such as killing someone. If an enemy kills a friend or a relative, I expect there can be no peace between you and no forgiveness without some due justice at least. I just can not tell for sure if that occured in this story as some of those events are a bit fuzzy. I saw plenty of destruction and plenty of humans and creatures getting hurt but how many died and by who, I wasn't certain about. Part of that uncertainty is the reaction of the characters and treatment toward their would be foes. If you do not act like there was a death, then it is hard to determine there was one. I did see fairly clearly one at least die, but again the aftermath of how it was resolved sort of belittles the impact of that or any death or injury which makes that part of the story confusing and difficult to comprehend. Season two is a little clearer about that but not by a wide margin.
Kind of funny that the character Kiyotsugu is a mirror of the friends of Tsutomi from Birdy the Mighty. The same group of friends has quite a few paralells with the Ruins club and their constant/near miss run ins with aliens as the Paranomal group has with Yokai in Nura. There is a slightly better sense of ending and closure by the last season of this over the last one of Birdy but neither feels complete. At least in Birdy, it was clear who he made a connection with, albeit left hanging after a sort of quirk of fate tragedy which left the relationship unresolved again, while it is never clear in atypical harem animes. The harem angle is a bit dysfunctional and quirky in this series however. While at the start, Tsurara, functioned as only a bodyguard with little to no hints of anything more, gradually it is revealed she sees him as more than a master. It almost feels like it was added just for the sake of adding it rather than a planned story arc/ character relation and thus hard to ascertain the true value of it. Though she makes her feelings pretty clear, it almost feels like it wasn't originally part of the story and added as an after thought. There were a few points through the series where this distinction could have been made more clear but failed and a few points where they could have added the strong hint of said interest sooner. The Yura girl, at first seems too dispassionate and also later seems to develop an interest but this too is a tad fuzzy. Kana appears to be interested from the start and with all honestly, mutually so, because it appears very strongly that Nura has a likewise interest in her. Yet she is somewhat pushed into the background later on and a bit more so in season two as they focus more on the monster aspects. It does not feel justified to do so.
So, the way the love/harem angle seems to work here is, a potential love interest appears, they get close, but when they get too close, they drift apart and a new one is added. This may not be intended on their part but the way the story works it feels like that is what is going on. It seems they do not want him to have a love interest and so perhaps the so called harem angle appeared as a consequence to the creators trying to avoid having one. In the end, it is difficult if not impossible to say if he can or will have a future with any of them and that is part of the tragedy of using the harem theme.
This time he does in fact have a mother and a grandfather so he has a family and at least one parent. This is counter to the most common anime trend which is no parents and in a sense no family. The odd thing about the grandpa is that he somehow shrank to about 1/5 his youthful adult size in his old age and grew a giant tumor on the back of his head. No explanation is offered whatsoever. In other animes with a similar odd physical character change like "Black Butler" it was because he did not have the power to maintain his strong youthful form. Maybe this is some kind of old age joke in Japan. I have seen this sort of young man to short dwarf like old age character often and usually explained as a reduction of magical power or some other nonsense but at least there is an attempt to explain the unexplainable.
Nura's yokai form is I am guessing a samurai warrior? Though how exactly that means a monster, is anyone's guess. With the red eyes, I might have expected that he was in fact a vampire but that is not said either. How his adult human transformation with weird hair and a powerful samurai sword a monster, I do not understand, but it does look kind of cool and he is a cool character. It is just the dichotomy of what monsters are versus humans seems a bit week when so many so called monsters actually look and behave more human than most humans. Add to that the fact that some monsters look like teletubbies, parade float slap together jobs, or random mixes of animals, it just feels the attempt to make a genuine monster atmosphere fairly weak and unimaginative.
Still the action, monster/magic fights, character depth (at least for the major characters), intrigues, and subplots make for a pretty engaging overall story. One thing it has that few anime has since there is family is the sense of support and education one gets from parental guidance and families. This is absent froma great many anime that fail to include any family members let alone parents or for that matter any guidance whatsoever. Some that have family fail to offer any kind of support or guidance as expected of a family. I find it a bit confusing. One of the best scenes in the entire series is when Nura in Yokai form takes Kana to the bar to meet some of his friends. I kind of wish they had a little more of that. That scene alone created a sense of that arc going some where which it is stumbling on at the moment. I would really like to see more of Kana and a sense of direction away from the Harem genre for the sake of having a harem genre. It is kind of sad that it makes me wonder that the only way for anime to get popular in Japan or the world is to frivolously include a harem in it. It is nice the way they develop his character to maturity but at the same time odd that it is even necessary at age 12. Shouldn't he have more time to be a child too? Ya know that is part of development as well and people without enough time to be a child do have a few issues. See Michael Jackson. Overall it is a good story with a strong hidden power of the main character element which alot of us really like. I would also like to see more of his powers such as the blue flames or what else he can do. The reason is it would help define him more for what he is supposed to be, a powerful monster like creature. If we compare this to Beyond the Boundary, there are fewer scenes where the main character monsters out but they are much much clearer of what he is and what power he has. You sort of get that sense in this one but they could make what he can do a little clearer. His rationale, calmness, usually increase many fold but on occasion it drops to his human form levels or lower. I am not always clear how or why that happens when it does, but it makes his monster form perhaps a bit more human and show that he is in fact the same person as his human form.
It is a good enjoyable anime. It may not be quite as strong a series as the Irregular at Magic High but it does share alot of qualites that put it in the same neighborhood of great anime.
The story is basically about Nura Rikuo, who has 1/4th demon blood, and is expected to take over his family's clan of demons, which he does not want to do. The story itself really isn't anything too special. However, the way they lay it out is pretty enjoyable. The progression of the story is a little bit uneven though, as sometimes it feels like it drags a bit, before picking up towards the end.
Nothing about the animation really seems to stand out, outside of the cherry tree, which they had paid special attention too. Everything else was pretty much par of the course.
I have to say that I don't pay too much attention to the sound when I watch anime. So nothing stood out as being too terrible or too terrific. Everything was appropriate though.
All of the characters were more or less generic. Most of them that appeared really don't go through much development either. It feels like only the main character developed over time. Most of the secondary and minor characters did not even develop over time.
I would have to say that the anime is pretty average, but enjoyable. I wouldn't recommend it as a high quality anime, but it is something that can be used to pass the time.