At long last Rikuo marches on Nijo Castle with his Hyakki Yakou at his back, threatening to send anyone who gets in his way of settling the score with Hagoromo-Gitsune for a swim in the Sanzu River.
Despite this bold declaration however, a fight quickly breaks out between the two forces and on his way to confront Hagoromo-Gitsune Rikuo encounters two familiar Youkai in his way, one with a particularly big mouth and another who can read his thoughts, the two who killed his great grandfather and abducted his grandmother, Youhime. Even admitting it to him as they proceed to dance around his attacks, until at least Yura catches up and upon hearing them belittle her grandfather, she hits them with a Shikigami Fusion and swears to send them to hell. After which they make their way inside, however this time in their way they find Kidoumaru.
Who while he commends him, he also states that he doesn’t have a good enough reason to stop their one thousand year old wish, calling forth the Gate of Rajoumon, a home of sorts for Oni. Commenting on how the Nue believed that the dark should rule over the light, an idea Rikuo himself finds attractive but still rejects, leading Kidoumaru to further comment on the nature of Youkai hailing from Edo to those from Kyoto. The former use their fear to fascinate and entrance humans while the latter use their fear to inspire terror. And so he decides to make a match of this to determine which fear is more suitable, however when Rikuo attempts to wear Yuki-Onna’s fear again, Kidoumaru slices through it and draws his second blade, then hitting him with limitless expanding Kengeki Umenoki.
But just before he can take him out, Kurotabou and Kubinashi come to Rikuo’s aid, the former telling him how impressed he is to see that he’s already learned his father’s technique and that he will serve as his teacher. So as Kubinashi is pulled away to contend with Ibaraki-Douji once more, he explains that there are many ways that he can wear the fear of his companions and that he has only been using one of them, allowing him to adapt and match his opponent’s fighting style. Among which is the one he will need now to counter Kidoumaru, instructing his young master to slip into his fear and align his mind with his own. At which point Kidoumaru uses a technique that favours speed instead, Ouka. But before this can hit for a second time Rikuo is able to wear Kurotabou’s fear, countering Kidoumaru’s slashes with as many blades to match them.
To this however, Kidoumaru plunges his blades into the Gate of Rajoumon. With the epilogue explaining some details of the Nue’s past, of how in truth he was the legendary Omnyouji Abe no Seimei, born of the union between a human warrior and Hagoromo-Gitsune, and at one point he seemed to hold a similar belief to Rikuo. However in order to watch over Kyoto and ensure that it remained in harmony he sought immortality, heading to his mother with the intention of being born again to perfect his technique. But before this could happen, some fat lord hunted Hagoromo-Gitsune down and had the nerve to ask if he could make an elixer from her liver. The sight of which shatters his beliefs and as his mother dies in his arms, he kills every last one of them, declaring that darkness must rule over light.
Once more with the season’s end almost at hand I’m still kind of unsure of just how the team over at Studio Deen are going to conclude this, though that may just be because of how close the end, either way I’m somewhat uneasy about it all. There’s just so much and only five or so more episodes to cover it all.
But regardless, this was yet another surprisingly solid episode, I may say that a lot about this season but it really has been amazing through out, where with this episode I guess you could say we’ve entered the beginning of the end. Rikuo and his Hyakki-Yakou have finally marched on Nijo Castle and there really isn’t much stopping him from the final confrontation with Hagoromo-Gitsune, all he has to do is make his way to her while dispatching of any of her retainers on the way, racing against time as he does so. As part of which, we even got to see a fairly awesome attack from Yura, where upon being taunted about her grandfather she snapped, adopting a much more malevolent guise and fusing together all her Shikigami. And on the side, it also managed to show that she could do something other than acting as a conduit for Hidemoto.
After which we also got to see the rematch between Rikuo and Kidoumaru, another one of those fights that really make me reconsider my opinion of the action in this series, where this time the latter had no reason to hold back and the former had picked up some new tricks. Even managing to somewhat adapt that amazing artstyle that Shiibashi had used for the Gate of Rajoumon. The only problem that I had with it was the music, for a fight so fast paced it was just so slow and empty, completely unbefitting. That said it definitely took a change for the better when Rikuo became a walking Gate of Babylon by wearing Kurotabou’s fear, definitely his coolest use of this technique yet, and alongside of which we even got another look at Kurotabou himself as he took on the role of Rikuo’s instructor and even had a sense of pride in being able to have his fear worn by him. Aside from that it also opened the possibilities of this technique further by introducing another of the supposed several methods for it, in doing so increasing the potential that it has exponentionally.
Last of all it was also great to see the Nue’s backstory, really the only part I like about him before he can simply be summed up as Youkai Jesus. In just a few segments it was able to completely and clearly convey his aspirations and his reasons for doing so, that based on the legendary Omnyouji, Abe no Seimei there had once been a time when he wasn’t that much of a bad guy, that he too had once sought after harmony between humans and Youkai, seeking immortality to attain it. However after one incident this completely changed, upon having his mother’s corpse waved in his face he was both sickened and enraged, losing faith in what ever hope he had for humanity. For something so short it was just so powerful. And aside from that, as we’ve seen before, the series itself just lends itself towards Feudal Japanese horror so well, perhaps even better than the modern day tale of coexistance and the occasional urban myth style we have now.