As the Nura clan fights off the Ikegimo seeking Ayakashi on the streets of Kyoto during the Keichou era, Gyuuki cuts one down and presents it to his ‘father’ as a scarf.
If only the story could be more about Rikuo’s grandfather and his badass escapades back in the day.
Around this point in time the a lord’s daughter by the name of Youhime showed a remarkable ability of being able to heal almost any injury with her bare hands, however her father turned away all those who couldn’t offer them the right amount of patronage. And it was through this that Ayakashi came seeking her Ikegimo, to the point where Omnyouji from the Keikan clan were called in, and among her bodyguards Koremitsu Keikan feared the growing number of Youkai seeking Ikegimo and the growing presence based around Osaka castle.
During this the Nurarihyon heard of Youhime and sought her out, appearing before her in the silence of the night and telling her that he wants her, and when she lashed out to defend herself with the spirit blade Koremitsu gave her, she also healed him. Around this time as well, Yodo-dono resided within Osaka castle as the current incarnation of Hagoromo-Gitsune, intending to use the late Hideyoshi’s son, Hideyori as a stepping stone in her plan while consuming the Ikegimo gathered for her yet to be born child. Once again, the Nurarihyon also continued to sneak past her guards to meet Youhime, and while she considered it her destiny to live like a caged bird, for one night he took her with him to the outside world. Showing her off to his clan, much to the despair of Yuki-Onna’s mother, Setsura when he decided to take her as his wife.
After this though he did keep his promise to return her by dawn and while he declared to her that what he wanted was not her ability but her, Gyuuki and Karasu-Tengu talked of how their leader and his Hyakki Yakou had the potential to stand above all Youkai. And having heard of her, Hagoromo-Gitsune sent some emissaries to seek her out and offer a good amount of gold to make her one of Hideyori’s concubines, however her father greedily declined the offer and paid the price for it. Later the Nurarihyon learned of this when he met Koremitsu and as the two of them struck up an unlikely alliance, he picked up her spirit blade and swore to take her back no matter what.
Another great episode, as simple as it may be there’s something compelling about the story between Rikuo’s grandfather and his grandmother Youhime, it seems to succeed where the one between Rikuo and Kana fails. And with that I should also once more note how I like this temporary change of setting.
I don’t really know how to say it, but by changing a somewhat decent shonen story set in modern times to an almost historical horror set in feudal Japan the story becomes a lot more interesting. It’s as if there’s a lot more magic in the air, where upon freed from the restraints of the modern world and into one where folklore thrives, it’s as if there’s a lot more room for the story to move about. To put it simply a story about Youkai obviously thrives closer to the time in which a lot of the folklore based around them is based, it’s almost as if this setting should have been used in the first place.
With this change I also like the historical background to the story at hand, for some reason historically based anime and manga always seem to grab my attention and even if it doesn’t exactly focus on the historical aspect of the story it’s still great to see the names of figures and places along with the struggles and events of the time being thrown about. However if there’s one thing that I wasn’t really sure of it was how Toyotomi’s side of it was kind of villainised by being in association with Hagoromo-Gitsune, on one side it really fits her role of being a usurper but say what you will of history being written by the winners, it kind of irks me at the same time. I like portrayals of history in anime and manga to be unbiased.
Finally I also love the story of the Nurarihyon and Youhime, there’s quite a few similarities to it and the one between Rikuo and Kana that’s pretty much been dropped from the story as a whole, but it’s all the more better. It may be because Shiibashi didn’t/couldn’t really work on Kana as much as he could have, but Youhime makes for a great temporary heroine. How she’s lived as a caged bird makes her kind of sympathetic and really gives the way that Rikuo’s grandfather took her out for a night a lot more impact, and I should also note that I thought Houko Kuwashima did an amazing at voicing her, she simply fitted her. And alongside her Rikuo’s grandfather in his youth makes for a great temporary protagonist as well, Rikuo himself may be kind of held back by how ‘perfect’ he is but the Nurarihyon’s own spin of badassery kind of redeems what aspect of it he passed onto him. Really, the guy has style for sneaking in and up and declaring that he would take her as his wife, and in a way it’s kind of fits into what you would expect if you were to read a story about Youkai. And even then the story itself is kind of sweet as well.