The big battle is coming, but we have to spend some more time sitting around in preparation and rallying forces
What They Say:
When the Nura Clan hears about the Shikoku yokai's attack on the Chichibo fortress, its members busily prepare to mobilize their small number of troops.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan has been moving rather well as of late, though the previous episode didn't exactly shine after the stellar Inugami attack episode. The series continues to have an odd feel to it though even at this stage where it's hard to tell who is in charge of the production. Events have slowed down again here at the start and we even get a very odd scene with the train pulling into the station where it's all done through CG and has several stationary people on the platform that just looks bad. Really bad, in fact. Nura hasn't been a high point for its animation but it's been consistently decent to above average in key scenes and in the Inugami episode as a whole that going back to something like this feels like it's gone back about ten years.
This episode spends more time on the setup of events, which is strange since there are only two more episodes left after this, where the Shikoku folks have made their first move and launched an attack on the Chichibo location. We've seen the disarray that the Nura clan has largely been in for awhile with its succession issues and the lack of a really strong leader in Rikuo for a good while that it's no surprise that someplace can be taken down easily. Still, clan bonds are strong and at least one yokai from there has risked it all to get back to the head of the clan so as to fill them in on it. It's a decent enough piece to start things rolling and getting everyone on the same page, and making it clear how close the enemy is overall, but there is such a lack of urgency on peoples parts that it's almost infuriating to watch.
The main visual that works here is when Tamazuki gets his guys in gear for what's about to happen and walks along with his top tier members into the den of those that follow them. Only to slaughter several of them brutally and quickly, raising the level of hatred that everyone feels. It's an interesting approach to rally the troops but with yokai, well, it seems to work. Everything is coming together for the battle that will be fought, but like much of the series with its arcs, it's taking so long to get there that it's sucking the energy out of it. Tamazuki's bit of brutality should have launched right into an attack of some sort afterward rather than more dialogue and then dialogue on Rikuo's side as they figure out that they're about to be attacked pretty hard. There's a whole lot of standing around going on here that just doesn't seem right.
Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan feels like it doesn't know who is driving things here. With the strange production choices in the animation at times and the bizarre pacing, there is a sense of competing teams running the show and turning things in at different times without a sense of continuity. If the show is hewing closely to the manga, it doesn't speak well of the creative vision there in terms of setting up events and following through, but then again, it does feel more like a standard shonen show to some extent, just not as tight as they can be by comparison. Nura is like a big see-saw with how well it works as it can go from an amazing episode one week to one that feels like a chore the next week.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.