Nurarihyon no Mago
A Manga Review
by McCamy Taylor
Yes, this is a manga review. I know that the
anime version of
this series is licensed by Viz Media (under the title of Nura:
of the Yokai Clan . However, I like the manga better than
animation. Too bad it won’t be coming to the U.S. any time
soon, even though it is one of the most popular series in Shonen Jump
The title may be part of the problem. If your manga is named
“Bleach” or “One Piece” or even
“Naruto” American readers can get their tongues
around it. But how do you say Nurarihyon no Mago? How
embarassing it would be to go into your local bookstore and ask for it
by the wrong name!
I may not be able to say it, but I know what it means.
“Nurarihyon’s Granchild.” Nurarihyon is
the godfather of a yokai/yakuza family. His specialty is the
“eat and run”. If this sounds like a
joke, it is. But it isn’t, too. Grandpa has mastered the art
of masking his presence so that he can get the drop on his opponents,
natural and supernatural.
His grandson, Rikuo, is only one quarter yokai, which is
Japanese for demon or monster. By day, he is an annoying
spectacled little do gooder in middle school. By night, he is a
seriously kick ass yokai, whose specialty is defending his clan from
other yokai with the aid of a demon killing sword.
Viz Media may not want me to tell you this (since I am sure that they
plan to license the manga if the series is successful) but I am going
to tell you anyway, because I am a writer and I believe in reading the
source material before watching the film adaptation. Nurarihyon no Mago
can be read online, in a translated form at any one of a number of
Internet sites. And the scanlations are beautiful! The cleaners really
know their job. The black ink is black. That is
because the black and white classical Japanese inspired art in this
series just keeps getting better. And the story gets better,
too. In the first few volumes, way too much attention is paid to human
Rikuo and his silly little middle school friends. As time goes on, the
focus becomes the yokai who are involved in a major war much like a mob
war. You have the “good mob”, Rikuo’s
family which wants to get along with mortals. And then you have the
“bad mob” which wants to wipe humans from the face
of the earth.
Did I mention the beautiful art? Except for its tongue twister title,
this one has everything needed to be a success in the U.S. Classical
Japanese themes, great art, cool anti-hero, engaging side characters
(villains as well as heroes) with lots of backstory. Exactly what does
it take to turn a human being into a
“monster”? What about the
onmyouji, traditional Japanese exorcists who are
hate all yokai equally? And most important of all, which girl
will Rikuo chose, the “girl next door”, Kana, the
onmyougi, Yura or the ice yokai, Yuki-onna?
One potential problem may be the rating. The story starts out
strictly G for all audiences, but later, there is occassional nudity
(that is necessary for the plot) and extreme violence (that is
necessary for the plot). But there is not enough nudity or violence for
the publisher to aim the story at an “adult”
audience, like Gantz . Maybe they could strike a
call it OT for “older teens”.
© 2010 McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor is the long fiction editor for Aphelion Webzine.
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