“The Rat of Darkness Devours the Cat”
This episode, deviating from the format used previously, continued the scene from last time showing Yura and Kana getting attacked by several youkai. Even though Yura is able to defeat several with her shikigami, the youkai successfully force her to stand down by threatening Kana. With the intentions of the youkai though, it was probably better if she had kept her shikigami then went to save Kana after (better than both of them dying). It’s very frustrating to see weaker characters dragging down the stronger ones. Since I don’t really feel any connection towards Kana, I just feel annoyed towards her, similar to my feelings towards Inoue Orihime from Bleach. However, no doubt most people would feel terrible knowing they are slowing down someone else, so some pity is warranted.
Kyuuso, the bishounen head of the rat clan, is pretty much a standard clichéd villain— no problem with using dirty tactics, treats subordinates cruelly and doesn’t keep promises. After kidnapping Yura and Kana, he lures Rikuo using a cute little mouse to trick him into coming alone to the clan hideout. It was pretty dead obvious the whole thing was a trap, but Rikuo is still too naive to judge. Kyuuso uses the girls as leverage to make him resign as Third Heir; thinking back now, it’s actually pretty convenient, since Rikuo wanted to break relations with the youkai anyway. However I wish he didn’t acquiesce to their demands so quickly (why do characters think they can trust the bad guys), since he would just end up losing it all. Even if he doesn’t have powers himself, he does have a host of youkai at his command. Rikuo really needs to think things through and get some confidence; just look at Ryota-neko, who was ready to go out alone to avenge his clan (even though it was practically pointless). The whole situation is rather pathetic, especially given Nurarihyon’s comment that the Kyuuso were small fry that got expelled.
Luckily, after seeing the youkai’s feelings, Rikuo transforms into his awesome night form immediately mobilizing his Night Parade of a Hundred Demons to go kick butt and save his friends. Once he transforms, his mindset is pretty much completely changed, as he rips up the resignation letter and declares that he will be master of the youkai. If he really does become clan leader, I could see some problems with his alternating weak and strong spells. But man, when he’s strong, he’s really strong. Immediately there was an all-out battle between the Nurarihyon and Kyuuso, and he himself burned off the small fry big boss in one attack. I’m surprised Kana and Yura haven’t found out Night Rikuo’s identity yet though, considering how the youkai referred to him, but the two versions are quite different. Of course, the existence of youkai themselves is probably solid in their minds now.
In conclusion, this series still looks like standard shounen so far, though it does have its good parts. Of course, the direction of the arc isn’t clear yet (for non-manga readers) so it’s too early to judge. The animation and art this episode looked very nice; the various effects used were cool, and I liked the animated ink drawings, though some of them were a little random. Yuki-onna with red eyes is awesome as well.