Thursday, January 2, 2014

short anime review - yokai special: Nurarihyon no Mago, Uchouten Kazoku, Mononoke, Tokyo Ravens

I've already written about Natsume's book of Friends, one of my favourite anime and manga and- much earlier on - Tactics. But like shinigami, yōkai are a common theme and setting for anime. Of course! The possibilities are endless. But there are a few yōkai you'll probably meet in nearly every series: kappa, tanuki or tengu for example.
I liked Kamisama Hajimemashita quite a lot, so I think it'll get its own blogpost. But here are short reviews of some other animes with a yōkai theme.

Nurarihyon no Mago
Rikuo is supposed to inherit the position of Supreme Commancer of Demons - but unfortunately he only sometimes turns into a demon at night and otherwise is a normal human school boy. He wants to live a normal mortal life with his friends, but he begins to realize that he has a duty towards his yōkai family and demon comrades.
Nurarihyon no Mago is in a way typical shōnen - it's about being weak and becoming stronger to protect others, the usual stuff - but without panty shots and boob socks and with suprisingly few fights. There are a few, but they always seem to be cut off early. However, long fights in each episode are boring anyway and there is a huge brawl at the end of the season. I really liked the wide range of different yōka, big and small, ugly and beautiful (some of them would even count as bishōnen). It reminds me a little of Gokusen, with the main character always torn between those two worlds, trying to hide their family background.

I've only seen the first season and the OVAs so far, but I'll definitely watch the second season, too.

Uchouten Kazoku
This one is a bit strange and even after having watched the whole season (in Fall 2013), I'm not quite sure what to think about it.
In Kyoto not only humans live, but also tanuki and tengu. Yasaburou is a tanuki who lives with his brothers and his mother at a temple. His father had been eaten in an annual tanuki hot pot a few years ago by a human secret society called the "Friday Fellows". His older brother Yaichirou wants to follow in their father's footsteps and become head of the tanuki society. The plot follows the dangers this brings to the family and the uncovering of their father's last hours.
Uchouten Kazoku is really creative, refreshing. I especially liked the flying tea room. But one character, Benten, really got on my nerves - she's an arrogant, selfish woman, but everyone still likes her - even though she (knowingly) ate their father! I mean: WTF?! But hey, she's good-looking, so murder is OK...

If Uchouten Kazoku is a little strange, Mononoke is totally weird. I guess it's mainly the artistic style, which is vastly different from the usual anime style. It's very colourful, but not always beautiful, more like a paper collage, a freakier version of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine movie.
Kusuriuri is a wandering medicine seller and exorcist and the anime shows episodes of him fighting yōkai.I haven't watched that many episodes yet, so I can't say much more.
Besides its arty looks, it's creepy and often ugly and gross. But it's also fascinating.

Tokyo Ravens

Harutora is born into a lesser branch of a famous Onmyōji family, but he himself isn't very good at magic and divination and he doesn't care much. After a serious magical incident however, he decides to keep true to his promise to a childhood friend and moves to Tokyo to attend a magic school together with his friend Touji.

Tokyo Ravens will have 24 episodes (still ongoing at the moment) and so it can take it's time for plot and character development, which I really appreciate.Touji was my favourite from the beginning, so I was quite happy when more of his past and the secret of his character was revealed.
Most episodes are entertaining on their own, a good mixture between action and comedy, but there's also hints at a greater plot overall. The only thing that annoys me is the cliché tsundere Loli girl.
The style incorporates a mixture of drawn and computer-generated images. It would have been really cool to have the yōkai computer-animated to give them an otherworldly feel, but unfortunately sometimes also other things a CG, so I think they've wasted a bit of a chance here.

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