Rikuo and Gyuuki clash blades just like what was shown before with each showing how easily they could kill the other, Gyuuki calls forth an illusion of those that Rikuo had cut down before and when asked what he would have done once he killed Rikuo. He answers that he too would die, upon hearing this Rikuo cuts him down.
In a time when the country was in poverty a young noble fell in love with and married a womn however no matter how much they prayed they couldn’t have child, until one night where an orb of light came to the woman while she slept. She tells the man how there was a scent of plums when she awoke which they took as a good sign and in the following spring she gave birth to a baby boy who they named Umewakamaru.
The boy grew up happily with his parents until he was seven years old when his father was killed due to political strife, forcing his mother and him to leave with him promising to become strong and study enough to protect her when he saw her cry.
He was placed in a monastery on Mount Hiei to study while unknowing to him, his mother remarried to survive. So he studied and trained hard, eventually being proclaimed as a prodigy until he learned that his mother was ill. This caused him to throw everything he had worked for away to try and see her again.
While he was resting he was approached by two women who claimed to be looking for a boy named Umewakamaru and that they were his mother’s servants. They tell him that his mother is waiting for him at Mount Nejireme and lead him there, however this was a trap to lure him up the mountain as the Gyuuki’s prey.
The sword that once belonged to his father was useless as he ran away hoping to see his mother once more, when the Gyuuki cornered him and decided to fulfill this wish by showing him his mother who he had devoured earlier. From the emotions that this invoked he suddenly changed, diving into the Gyuuki’s mouth, killing it from the inside and tearing his way out. He returned with his mother’s body cursing everything, swearing to be a demon from this day forth. The women beg for his forgiveness only to become the first offering to his mother.
Over the years he attacked travelers and brought the youkai in the area under his command, eventually becoming known as Gyuuki until a man arrived with a Hyakki Yakou at his back, the Nurarihyon. Gyuuki and the Nurarihyon’s forces clash with Yuki-Onna’s mother, Setsura fighting alongside Aotabou and Rikuo’s grandfather, and Karasu Tengu fighting Gyuuki alone. The fight continued for three days and nights until the Nurarihyon defeated Gyuuki in a duel.
As the commander of the losing side he was set to be executed however the Nurarihyon offered him the option of fighting by his side, he was given two days to think this over and when this passed came to his camp alone to pledge his loyalty by sharing Sakazuki. The words that the Nurarihyon said to him after this are still clear in his mind to this day.
Seeing Gyuuki’s past as Umewakamaru was really one of the things I was looking forward to seeing before this series started airing and I must say that I liked how they built on to Gyuuki’s back story which when compared to this was really skimmed over. Where we got aside from the loneliness and the love he had for his mother we also got a fair understanding of the times that he grew up in and how his birth was something of a miracle to his parents. After they had tried again and again to have a child to no success and even a reason for his name as Ume (梅) means plum. However unlike the manga it didn’t give a possible explanation for why his hair covers one side of his face and I did prefer the scene where he became a demon in that as well.
It was also great to see the battle between Gyuuki’s clan and the Nurarihyon’s Hyakki Yakou elaborated onto as well. Where it was great when we got to see Rikuo’s grandfather when he was younger as the arc which explains a few things as a lead up to the Kyoto arc is easily one of the things that stands out in the story. Aside from that it was also great to see how some of the members of the Hyakki Yakou were like back then, with Aotabou fighting with a treestump and Karasu Tengu taking on Gyuuki while Tsurara/Yuki-Onna’s mother, Setsura replaced her back then.
However aside from showing Gyuuki’s backstory one of the important points of this episode was Gyuuki’s pledge of loyalty to the Nurarihyon and the words he said to him afterwards that are still with him. Which serves as one of the main reasons for the actions he’s taken and how his answer that he too would die after killing Rikuo.