The second season opens with a scene from when Rikuo was younger where he, his father, and a mysterious girl visit a shrine, however when he runs off for a second he finds his father dead with the girl standing over his body.
And Yuki-Onna should have competition to her position of ‘best girl in the series’ this season.
After this we still aren’t at the point where the first season left off as instead the rest of the episode covers what should have been covered at the very start, Rikuo’s childhood and his first awakening as a Youkai. Through all of this we’re able to learn that he wasn’t always an errand boy and was the type to brag about his Youkai heritage and pull pranks when he was younger, showing him and his grandfather running out on paying the bill at a restaurant and the other members of their clan. It even turns out that Kiyotsugu wasn’t always enthusiastic about Youkai and was actually quite the sceptic, painting Rikuo’s grandfather as a bad guy.
Because of this Rikuo lost a bit or the pride he had at the time in his heritage and when his grandfather presented him to the heads as his heir, one of them known as Gagoze attempted to usurp this choice by intimidating Rikuo by bringing up how many children his group had sent to their depths. Managing to make Rikuo start to fear them and cast away his will to succeed him. Following this his class goes on a field trip Rikuo still has doubts about whether Youkai are really good, and while Kana tells them that he could change that by leading them he still doesn’t get o the bus. However when he gets home he learns that the bus his friends are on has been caught in a landslide and resolves to save them, even if it means going against the other members of his clan by transforming into his night form for the first time in order to lead them.
As it would turn out Gagoze’s group has moved in on the bus however, Rikuo and the other members of his clan arrive just in time, each fighting them back in their own way while Rikuo moves in on Gagoze alone, cutting him in two with Nenekimaru as he resolves to lead all Youkai through his Hyakki Yakou. But just when everyone is inspired by this he transforms back. Four years after this we’re at the point where the first season left off as his clan receive their matching jackets and Rikuo learns that the Kiyo Cross is planning an expedition to an old Samurai estate.
“Hoshi no Arika” by LM.C.
The next episode picks up just as Rikuo reveals an Omnyouji to be a fraud and that his attempts to protect a girl called Shinako from Jami were actually quite the opposite, as through his loyalty to his lord Jami transcended death and even now continues to protect his lord’s descendants. Following this the two of them strike down the frauds and Rikuo offers Jami a place in his Hyakki Yakou, and so they exchange Sakazuki. The Kiyo Cross then return with the exception of Yura who’s remained to continue her training, and around the same time Aotabou and Kurotabou find two imposters and teach them a lesson, however these two imposters bump into two strong Omnyouji.
Unfortunately Aotabou also happens to bump into these two and finds himself trapped as they attack him and combine their water and lightning styled Shikigami to take him down. Having arrived back the Kiyo Cross look for Yura who’s still in the middle of her training, and while the others are still searching Rikuo finds her and she tries to put down the thoughts of the Nurarihyon that come to her when she sees him. However the two Omnyouji from before also arrive and reveal themselves to be Ryuuji, her older brother, and Mamiru, her childhood friend, and unlike her they’ve completely seen through Rikuo’s human facade. Also announcing that it’s their mission to exterminate all Youkai.
Ryuuji also forces her to realise the truth about her friend which she’s known from the beginning, but as he sends forth his Garou she steps in to defend him with the promise that he’s human being enough for her. Because of this she summons her own Shikigami, Rentei, to defend him but Ryuuji won’t back down. And while it appears that his Garou has been defeated he tells her about one of the Omnyouji he happens to be good with, words, as by calling his Shikigami Garou his opponent has the impression of a fearsome Shikigami and defend as so. However in truth his Shikigami is known as Gengen, and it’s purpose is to enter their body and run around wildly. But just as he gives her an ultimatum night approaches and Rikuo transforms, pulling her out of his reach and telling them that he won’t forgive anyone who harms one of their own, whether they be human or Youkai.
“Orange Smile” by Katate☆SIZE (Aya Hirano, Yui Horie, and Ai Maeda).
Even though I’m kind of disappointed to see things not immediately start off with the Jami stuff I was pleasantly surprised to instead see it cover what really should have been covered at the start to begin with. In itself making for a nice start to the season.
As while it may have already been covered in the first season or at least mentioned, I can’t really remember it going to all that much detail about it, let alone how different Rikuo was in the past. That he wasn’t always the errand boy with glasses, and that there was a time where he not only looked up to his grandfather but also seriously wanted to succeed him. Next to that there was also a considerable change in the style of the show, it may have just been from it being the first two episodes, but there was a noticeable change to the style and feeling that the show gives off. Notably thicker outlines at some points. Which is probably due to the change in directors, with Junji Nishimura being replaced by Michio Fukuda and the series composer, Natsuko Takahashi being replaced by Hideaki Koyasu. So all up I’m interested to see how this change in staff will affect this season as a whole.
However despite how this episode mainly covered that part of Rikuo’s past what was probably the most interesting part of it was the further look back we had that at the start of the episode. Which may have made for a great way to open the second season but I’m still not sure how to honestly feel about it, on one hand we were introduced to Rihan and the mysterious girl who will go on to be the reincarnation of the main antagonist of this season, Hagoromo Gitsune, but on the other it takes away most of the mystery surrounding not only that event but Rihan himself. I just can’t really remember his face really being shown until a certain point in the manga and the event of his death remained something of a mystery to Rikuo. It may have just been the usual flashback treatment but what we were shown of his funeral was pretty hazy, seeming to indicate that he didn’t exactly remember it all that well. In all it just kind of counters a few things.
I was also slightly disappointed to see that the majority of the Jami stuff was cut out in the second episode, I can understand racing ahead to the good parts and trying to keep the things unrelated to the main plot brief but I really thought his story was pretty nice for what it was. He was a guy who may have been betrayed by his lord’s wife but through the power or sheer loyalty he transcended death and continued to serve him by protecting his descendants, even if it was seen as a curse at first. However with these details being omitted I’m starting to wonder whether this season is going to be an adaptation aimed at those who’ve already read the manga, the first episode may have seemed like an exception but at the same time it was one of the main complaints about the first season.
Following that it was also great to see the arrival of Ryuuji and Mamiru, two characters who I think benefitted from this change of slight style in the show. It managed to give them pretty badass entry into the series while portraying them as the sort of people who wouldn’t be best to mess around with, and if anything were a definite step up from the fodder Rikuo and his friends faced in the last season (except for Gyuuki, we all know he was holding back). And while the episode didn’t really delve into Ryuuji’s feelings about the world being black and white, I also thought that Katsuyuki Konishi did a pretty good job at voicing him, this cool speaking take no shit sort of character isn’t the sort of role I’m used to hearing him play, so it came as something of a surprise when I found out he was voicing him.
Finally the opening theme that we were shown at the end of the episode looks hopeful about how far this season will cover to say the least, and if anything seeing Rikuo march forward with his Hyakki Yakou behind him makes for a fairly cool way to start the episode. It really just makes me wonder how far the first thirteen episodes will cover or even if they plan to change the opening theme at the halfway point, as aside from a good look at the characters from the Touno arc and a few of the characters who will be appearing soon (Jami, Ryuuji, and Mamiru), and the other Omnyouji we’re also treated to a good dose of Hagoromo Gitsune and quite a few of her underlings. On the otherhand having another ending theme sang by Aya Hirano, Yui Horie, and Ai Maeda is also pretty nice as well, the ones in the first season turned out to be pretty catchy and while that almost hypnotic animation style has been changed, to showcase the three heroines hanging out together, it still isn’t really that bad.