Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review

DVD cover

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan
Season 1 - Part 1


Starring (voice): Jun Fukuyama, Aya Hirano, Yui Horie and Ai Maeda
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 15
Available 08 April 2013

Rikuo Nura is three parts human and a quarter demon and lives in a house of spirits with his grandfather, the current clan head of the Nura yokai. Rikuo is set to be the next clan head, despite the fact that he dislikes his demon side. He soon comes to terms with his demon blood and decides to take his position as young master of the Nura house. However there are those who will certainly not allow it to be easy...

Drawn from the pages of the evergreen Shōnen Jump comics anthology, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan is the latest adventure series to make the leap to a TV anime adaptation – this initial DVD set collects the first half of the 26-episode run from 2010. (A second series followed in 2011.) As so often with SJ adaptations, our main character is a naïve, upbeat, courageous boy making his way into a world of dangers and challenges, facing and overcoming progressively more dangerous opponents, both alone and with the aid of a group of steadfast friends. While the Jump formula of 'friendship, hard work and victory' can lead to repetitive plotting and predictable results, Nura at least on first examination has enough distinctiveness to merit closer attention.

The key to Nura's interest lies in its social positioning of the protagonist. While Rikuo, in his innocent 'day' persona, is a typical modern-day Japanese schoolboy of the type found everywhere in manga, his more mature and powerful 'night' alter-ego is fully in possession of his powers and status as a high-ranking noble in the supernatural society of the yokai. As such, Rikuo doesn't begin his saga at the bottom, facing foe after foe to advance like One Piece's Luffy: he's an acknowledged lord with social status and responsibilities, beset by all manner of threats from jealous usurpers and enemies of the clan. Rikuo's determination to live as an ordinary human and cast off his responsibilities as leader is the source of much of Nura's narrative tension, as he quickly finds normal life impossible, particularly when his human friends are inevitably targeted by his enemies.

This thirteen-episode opener sets out the series' merits admirably, with Rikuo and his human and yokai friends pitched into numerous struggles with those who object to his vacillatory attitude to his inheritance, as well as those eager to dispense with him altogether. While the colourful supporting cast, drawn from the ranks of the innumerable grotesque beings who populate Japan's sprawling yokai folklore, receive relatively little explanation, the story is busy and involving enough to make up for it.

The comedy and character development are somewhat slight at this early stage, but the battle set-pieces have their moments: Night Rikuo is a predictable deus ex machina, however, and his appearance usually signals an uninteresting end to the conflict. The most enjoyable character, plucky young human sorceress (and anti-yokai crusader) Yura gets the best of the action scenes in this volume, and I hope she continues to be a decisive presence in the rest of the series.

Nura is an offbeat entry in the Shōnen Jump anime catalogue, its superficially sunny tone often overcome by the gloomy twilight presence of the yokai, to frequently atmospheric effect; the elements of horror, violence and the uncanny mean the 15 certificate is well-deserved. The animation and music are of standard quality, but the voice acting from the Japanese cast is effective and memorable, particularly from Yui Horie who steals many scenes as the endearing Yuki-Onna. While the decision to close this release with a recap episode leaves it feeling a little anticlimactic, the episode before is an effective cliffhanger and points the way to a potentially excellent second half. An intriguing and enjoyable new series.


Richard Hunt

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£21.50 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.