Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Set 1 (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 7, 2013 by Dennis Amith
“Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan” is another fun and exciting “Shonen Jump” series. Yes, similar to other SJ titles like “Naruto” and “Bleach”, “Nura: Rise of the Clan” features plenty of characters, action and humor! But definitely a series that I found entertaining and worth recommending!
Image courtesy of © Hiroshi Shibashi/SHUEISHA, Nurari Project. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Set 1
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2010
DURATION: 13 episodes (325 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition, English and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV 14
COMPANY: Viz Media
RELEASE DATE: April 2, 2013
Original Creator: Hiroshi Shiibashi
Directed by Junji Nishimura
Series Composition by Natsuko Takahashi
Music by Kouhei Tanaka
Character Design by Mariko Oka
Anime Production: Studio DEEN
Featuring the voices of:
Aya Hirano/Mela Lee as Kana Ienaga
Jun Fukuyama/Darrel Guilbeau as Rikuo Nura
Jun Fukuyama/Grant George as Rikuo Night
Ai Maeda/Sophie Roberts as Yura Keikain
Akira Ishida/Vic Mignogna as Tamazuki
Ami Koshimizu/Julie Ann Taylor as Sasami
Chikao Ohtsuka/William Frederick as Nurarihyon
Hiro Shimono/Doug Erholtz as Kurōmaru
Hiroki Yasumoto/Kyle Herbert as Aotabō
Hiroyuki Yoshino/Jason Wishnov as Gozumaru
Jouji Nakata/Taylor Henry as Gyūki
Junji Majima/Spike Spencer as Karasu Tengu
Kana Asumi/Wendee Lee as Saori Maki
Kishô Taniyama/Sam Regal as Kiyotsugu Kiyojūji
Most families have a skeleton or two in the closet, but Marika is understandably shocked to learn that what her family has been hiding is a skull and crossbones! While the revelation that her late father was a space pirate would have been earthshaking enough for most teenage girls, discovering that he was the captain of the notorious pirate ship Benten Maru will change Marika’s life forever. You see, pirating is a family business, and she’s just inherited the position of captain – and her father’s former crew is quite intent on making sure Marika accepts the job!
What’s a girl to do? Well, if you’re a high school student whose prior total naval experience has been working at the space yacht club, there’s really only one moral dilemma that has to be resolved: are pirates allowed to wear really short mini-skirts?
In 2008, mangaka Hiroshi Shiibashi created “Nurarihyon no Mago”, first published in Shueisha in 2007 and then received a serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2008. With a total of 25 tankobon volumes as of December 2012, the popular manga series would receive a 26-episode TV adaptation back in 2010 courtesy of Studio DEEN.
The series is directed by Junju Nishimura (“Kyo kara Maoh!”, “Dog Days”, “Ranma 1/2”, “True Tears”), series composition by Natsuko Takahashi (“Bleach”, “Brothers Conflict”, “ATASHIn’CHI”, “Gankutuou: The Count of Monte Cristo”), music by Kouhei Tanaka (“Dirty Pair”, “Ah! My Goddess”, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure”, “Gad Guard”, “One Piece”) and character design by Mariko Oka (“Hell Girl”, “Hetalia the Beautiful World”, “Tactics”).
And now, Viz Media will be releasing Shiibashi’s popular hit anime series on Blu-ray and DVD in May 2012 and will be titled “Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan”.
“Yokai” which means ghost/demon spirits from Japanese folklore, plays a big part in the anime series, as it is said that a head of the Nura Clan would lead the Yokai (who typically see humans as their enemies).
But fast forward to modern times in which the elder Nurarihyon, the Supreme Commander of the Nura Clan has decided that with his grandson Rikuo Nura (who inherited a 1/4 of his grandfather’s blood) now turning 13-years-old, he wants him to succeed him as the leader of the Yokai. Rikuo may look nerdy and weak on the outside, but inside him is great power.
But with Rikuo being raised to live a human life and doing good deeds, unlike previous masters of the yokai, Nura cares about the humans, and not so much of yokai’s evil nature and wants to establish peace, by doing good deeds. And that includes turning into the Third Head, in which his Yokai blood activates and awakens his yokai form when there is impending danger, and turns him to this white hair, brave and powerful individual.
But he knows his role in the family and that he would be the third head of the Nura clan but he intends to live a normal life.
While he joined the Kiyojuji Paranormal Patrol at school, a group of students that investigate yokai, the group does not realize how close they are getting into confront yokai but also be targeted by them.
As Rikuo tries to protect his friend, someone is trying to get other yokai clans to cause problems and eliminate Rikuo, so they can be the next head of the Yokai. Who is responsible?
“Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan” features the following characters:
Rikuo Nara – A 13-year old student and the main protagonist of the series. Because he inherited 1/4 of his grandfather’s blood, Rikuo is chosen by his grandfather to be the next Master of all yokai. But as most yokai do not like to be around humans, because Rikuo has lived a normal lifestyle, he has compassion towards humans and is not thrilled of having to be the next head of the Nura clan. Whenever there is danger, Rikuo’s yokai blood awakens (only during the night) and he is able to switch to his yokai form (known as “Night” Rikuo).
Nurarihyon – The grandfather of Rikuo and Supreme Commander of the Nura Clan. He likes pranking humans and wants his grandson to succeed him as head of the clan.
Tsurara Oikawa – One of Rikuo’s protectors with the power of freezing things. She is disguised as a school student and is often overprotective of him. His friend Kana wonders how close he is with Tsurara.
Aotabo – A degenerate priest and the strongest yokai in the Nura Clan. He has become one of Rikuo’s protectors.
Zen – A poisonous bird yokai and childhood friend of Rikuo. He is disappointed that Rikuo has become soft and not sure if he Rikuo has what it takes to be the next head of the yokai.
Kubinashi – One of Rikuo’s guardians and is known for his head floating on top of his body, without a neck.
Kana Ienaga – Rikuo’s childhood friend and neighbor and also a member of the Kiyouji Paranormal Patrol. She likes Rikuo but is jealous of Tsurara always around him. She has a history that involves a yokai from her past.
Kiyotsugu – Obsessed with Yokai and the leader of the Kiyouji Paranormal Patrol.
Yura Keikain – An onmyoji of the keikan House who specializes in shikigami. She was raised to see yokai as evil and her goal is to fight and destroy Nura (not knowing that Nura is the master of the yokai). She is also a member of the Kiyouji Paranormal Patrol.
Gyuki – A yokai who is a high ranking subordinate of the Nura clan but can he be trusted?
“Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Set 1” is presented in 1080i High Definition. The animation is vibrant, well-detailed and the art backgrounds are painted with great detail and for the most part, this is a very colorful anime series which I didn’t detect any banding issues, nor did I see any artifacts or softness. Colors are sharp, black levels are nice and deep, line detail is very good and the series looks fantastic on Blu-ray!
The lossless soundtrack for “Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Set 1” is in Japanese and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. As one can expect from a front channel driven soundtrack, dialogue is crystal clear but I wished the soundtrack was given the 5.1 treatment because it’s an action-driven series with many characters. But that’s how TV series are in Japan and the overall soundtrack provides clarity and good dynamic range. As for the acting, acting on both soundtracks are magnificent. The Japanese soundtrack features veterans such as Aya Hirano, Jun Fukuyama, Ai Maeda, Chikao Ohtsuka, while the English dub features great voice acting from Darrel Guilbeau, Grant George, Kayla Yesratsian and Mela Lee and many others.
“Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan: Set 1” comes with color production art, production art, clean opening and a trailer.
When it comes to anime that deal with yokai, there have been interesting series in the past. From “Ghost Sweeper Mikami”, “Ghost Hunt”, “Phantom Quest Corp.”, “Haunted Junction” to name a few.
But what makes “Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan” stand out from the other anime series is the fact that its protagonist is a 13-year-old boy named Rikuo who was chosen to lead yokai, despite not exactly wanting to help them because he has lived a human life up to now.
But when he turns 13 and his grandfather wishes he succeed him as the Supreme Commander of the yokai, not only has Rikuo’s life has changed, but he now knows that because of what he is, what will he become, makes him a target for other yokai clans wanting to rule, but also them targeting his innocent human friends.
The first half of the series is more about character introductions. How Rikuo Nura is now being forced to take on a position he never even wanted and wanting to remain human. This is different from any previous Supreme Commander who are yokai and have caused problems for humans through eternity. Rikuo wants nothing of that, he wants to help yokai but also help humans, he does not want to be evil or to do anything to hurt or scare humans.
The series carefully builds up by introducing us to Rikuo’s human friends and are part of the Paranormal Society that he belongs to but then introducing us to a few yokai characters, those who are there to protect Rikuo from harm.
So, the series incorporates action, a love triangle as his classmate and childhood friend Kana is jealous that he is often around Tsurara (who is a yokai protector of Rikuo), you also have an onmyoji named Yura (who comes from a family of onmyjoji and taught that all yokai are evil) who eliminates yokai but yet hangs out with Rikuo (not knowing that he leads the yokai clan) and then you have a group of high school classmates that seem to seek out yokai and end up confronting them and getting themselves into trouble.
The storyline is also exciting and fun. The first revolves around a rat clan that has caused problems with the neko (cat) clan and have kidnapped both Yura and Kana and Rikuo must save them. It’s the first time we also see his yokai blood activate and transform him to the deadly and serious “Night” Rikuo.
And soon after, the storyline picks up with more yokai clan targeting Rikuo and his friends, as someone mysterious is responsible for the attacks on Rikuo and friends.
So, while these first 13 episodes are character driven episodes, the writers do a great job in character introduction (because there are many) but also making a storyline that is exciting, action-packed and a lot of fun.
Overall, “Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan” is another fun and exciting “Shonen Jump” series. Yes, similar to other SJ titles like “Naruto” and “Bleach”, “Nura: Rise of the Clan” features plenty of characters, action and humor! But definitely a series that I found entertaining and worth recommending! I’m looking forward to the 2nd set!
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