With the Maou’s Hammer now complete Tamazuki holds the power of an entire Hyakki Yakou in his hands with the ones he had killed visible behind him, Shoei steps up to take him on yet Rikuo tells him how this is something he should put his life on the line for.
Their fight then begins with Rikuo nimbly evading Tamazuki’s strike and leading him upwards, the Kiyo Cross finally makes it to the scene of the battle but Yura tells them how it’s dangerous to go any further. Kana isn’t afraid of Rikuo’s nightform since he still protects humans while Yura still sees him as just another Youkai with Kiyotsugu agreeing with Kana, even mentioning how he was once saved by one like him as well. Rikuo and Tamazuki’s fight continues on the rooftops where Rikuo feels compassion towards his friends while Tamazuki just wants to stand above them and everyone else. The others make it up and are amazed at the aura that the two are emanating, with Keijourou telling Yuki-Onna that she should just have faith in the man she loves.
Back on the rooftops however, the wounds that Rikuo had taken earlier seem to be acting up and if that wasn’t bad enough dawn is approaching fast, meaning that he’ll revert to his human form. Inside the Nura household, Gyuuki appears to be able to sense the battle, telling Rikuo not to fear as the moon can still be seen in the sky in broad daylight, a way of telling him that he can still maintain his night form if he embraces both of the sides to himself. Back on the rooftop, Rikuo refuses as his friends are counting on him and because he doesn’t make it clear about the friends he’s talking about, Tamazuki invokes the power of the Maou’s Hammer and while it may be faint Yuki-Onna can see Cherry Blossoms around him.
The others try to see it and inside Rikuo’s mind both his night form and day form become one just as Tamazuki grabs him to land the final blow, yet Rikuo says the same thing Gyuuki had talked about and slips out of his grasp. Tamazuki then swings his blade only for it to go right through Rikuo each time as he uses a new technique of his, Kyoka Suigetsu, with this he evades his last strike and in telling him how he only needs to surpass himself he cuts him down, releasing all of the hatred within the Maou’s Hammer.
His mask then falls and shatters but before Rikuo can strike the final blow, none other than his grandfather blocks his blade but even in defeat, Tamazuki refuses to give up as he grabs the Maou’s Hammer once more to kill his own father. Before he can get close enough however, Rikuo hits him back, ready to finish the job as he tells him that while some Youkai had chosen to follow him, all he ended up doing was betraying them. Inugamigyoubu then picks up his son and raises his fist as if to crush him, but instead he bows down in forgiveness begging Rikuo to forgive his son, so he agrees on one condition.
With the battle over Rikuo is recovering from his injuries and luckily he doesn’t have school today, after being told by Yuki-Onna how his mother hadn’t asked any questions he then leaves her to go with Natto-Kozu to meet his grandfather. Keijourou then appears to ask her about which side of Rikuo she really likes, and while she denies it at first she admits that she liked the way he was during that morning. After meeting with his grandfather, Rikuo learns that Inugamigyoubu and Tamazuki made it safely back to Shikoku and as he had been prepared to watch his son die that day, Inugamigyoubu will never forget the compassion he showed and hopes to instill it to his son. The condition that Rikuo gave was for Tamazuki to erect a grave in honour of all those that he had betrayed and killed in the battle, and as he stands in front of this a young puppy appears behind him intent on following him, as he tells him that he won’t treat him. Regardless though the puppy follows him home.
Back at the Nura household everyone welcomes Rikuo home as they celebrate their recent victory, as everyone drinks he speaks with Gyuuki, telling him about how his fight with him had helped him and with Gyuuki telling him that it’s both of those sides that make him strong. Having drunk enough Keijourou feels like dancing with Kubinashi egging her on but she changes her mind when Kurotabou gets up as well, on the rooftop the Tengu tell Gozumaru and Mezumaru that they’ll be needed in the future and as Natto-Kozu tells the Youkai about his adventures with the Nurarihyon in Shikoku. Rikuo finds out that his friends are waiting for him in the dojo, with everyone except Kiyotsugu seeing the Youkai run around behind him while Yura senses something like them, Kana then gets up looking as if she’s going to confront him before telling him how he kind of looks like him. As the episode ends Rikuo’s night form can be seen drinking sake in the cherry blossom tree.
And so this season comes to an end, and while there’s already another season on it’s way it’s still going to be kind of sad until then. As while it may have changed a few things here and there it was still fun to watch, and as this season’s finale I thought that this episode was pretty good. Managing not only to show Rikuo and Tamazuki’s fight in it’s full glory but also Rikuo becoming far more in touch with his Youkai side and powers, while still showing what was being felt as the fight took place. The way the series had ended was also kind of nice as even though the arc itself had ended not long before that, there was something lacking to make it definitive.
While the animation for it may have not been spectacular or anything, the fight between Rikuo and Tamazuki in this episode was still pretty exciting, relying more on the tension between them. With Tamazuki starting to invoke the power of the Maou’s Hammer, allowing all those he had cut down to appear as a Hyakki Yakou behind him, which just had something disturbing about it. Other than that the odds appeared to be shifting against Rikuo, as not only were his wounds starting to hinder him but he was really starting to run out of time since Tamazuki would be able to cut him down with ease as soon as he reverted. So while the animation may have not been amazing, the tension between Rikuo and Tamazuki still made it a good fight.
How he had countered this though was something that was great to see, as even though they were far apart it was as if Gyuuki was coaching Rikuo through it in his time of need. Eventually leading him to the conclusion that both his nightform and dayform were one in the same, so he should be able to transform whenever he wanted to, and how the metaphor of the moon still being in the dawn sky was worked into it was kind of nice. If there was one thing that I didn’t like about it though, it was the way Rikuo had complete control of Kyoka Suigetsu when he had only just realised it so I thought it was something that worked better in the manga, where Tamazuki’s blows only went through Rikuo when he acknowledged what it truly meant to lead a Hyakki Yakou. But even though some aspects to it were changed it was still something nice to see with Rikuo becoming more in tune with his Youkai side and the way he used Kyoka Suigetsu was kind of cool.
The way the battle itself and series had ended was also kind of nice, with Rikuo’s grandfather and Inugamigyoubu arriving just in time and the latter showing just how much he cared about his son, forgiving him when he had only tried to kill him seconds before and even begging Rikuo to forgive him. The only thing it seemed to lack was Yosuzume picking up the Maou’s Hammer and returning it to the one who had originally given it to him as part of the larger plot at hand, and not only that but the wounds Tamazuki took were notably lessened. Only being left with a scar from when his mask had been cut which should be okay if he doesn’t make a return later in the story. The condition that Rikuo had for him was also something that worked out nicely, because it was as if Inugami had reincarnated as that puppy and still chose to follow him, also giving hints that Tamazuki had started to change.
Something that was surprising to see though was how it outright confirmed that Yuki-Onna had romantic feelings towards Rikuo, since if anything at this point her feelings towards him were more along the lines of how she had promised to protect him with anything further than that being more implied than outright said. So seeing Keijourou both convince her to have faith in Rikuo and actually make her admit that she liked him in that way was something nice to see, as in the manga she appears to have overtaken Kana as the possible romantic lead.
The scene that kind of worked in the epilogue was also something that was kind of good for what it was, serving as one of those ends where things appear to go as they had always been without anything ultimately changing, at least until the next season. So the way that Yosuzume’s delivery of the Maou’s Hammer was cut out was something that appeared to benefit it in this way, as it would have acted like too much of a cliffhanger. But still seeing things like the celebration about their victory,Rikuo and Gyuuki’s discussion, and even Rikuo still having to balance out both his human life and Youkai life was kind of fun for what it was, and despite how Kana’s “you kind of look like him” seemed kind of stupid it was still something that I liked. So in all I actually liked how this scene was added in, as it managed to make the episode a bit more definitive as something to end the season on.
End Impressions of the series:
When I first found out about this I was kind of surprised since while I had read the manga it was coincidentally a few weeks or so before it had started airing, appearing to jump out at me among the other series starting to air back then because of this. However considering how much I had enjoyed the manga with it quickly becoming one of my favourite series currently serialised in Weekly Shonen Jump, Studio DEEN producing it was worrying more than anything. Especially since they don’t exactly have a good track record with adaptations and when it comes to them, you can only really expect it to be passable at best.
Because of this though I actually think that this turned out great and I really think that they did a good job this time around, managing to leave me with a better impression of them than what I was left with by some of their other series. Managing not only to cover a decent amount of material befitting of the twenty five episodes it had, but also expanding upon a few things by giving some of the characters the development they needed, such as how an entire episode was devoted to Gyuuki’s back story. Or even how it trailed off a bit from the manga material in order to add more events between Tamazuki’s arrival and the end battle between him and Rikuo. It was really something that was nice to see as it isn’t rare to see such material end up ruining an adaptation, yet it actually added that bit more that the manga didn’t have, even if it did weaken a few things.
Another thing that I liked about this were how the voice actors and actresses suited their characters perfectly, most notably how Jun Fukuyama was able to pull off both Rikuo’s day form and night form so well. Or even how Jouji Nakata simply fitted Gyuuki and if anything actually made him a bit more awesome because of this, easily causing him to leave a stronger impression. Other than that I also thought that Chikao Ohtsuka fitted Rikuo’s grandfather rather well as well, as even though Rikuo’s grandfather was getting old he still had his share of badass moments where the kind of Youkai that he had been in his youth shone through. Aside from that I also thought that Yui Horie did a great job with Yuki-Onna’s character by not only pulling off her serious side well enough but also the cute side she has, marked by her gestures and feelings towards Rikuo. If that wasn’t enough though, there were also the likes of Aya Hirano, Ai Maeda, Nobuhiko Okamoto, and Akira Ishida that also suited the characters they played, with the latter making Tamazuki a bit more memorable as an antagonist in a similar way that Gyuuki was.
So in all I actually liked this adaptation quite a lot and actually thought that Studio DEEN did a great job with it, in how they expanded on a few things and the voice actors and actresses that were cast. Which means that I’m definitely looking forward to the second season that was announced recently, though while I do have a soft spot for Mamiko Noto I’m not sure whether she could pull of Hagoromo Gitsune, so I’m kind of looking forward to how that will turn out as well.