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Manga Mondays: The Master of all Spirits

6 Jun

This week why not take something from the traditional, Shonen slice of the pie. Nurarihyon No Mago, reads like the typical shonen manga. Initially I almost wrote it off as a cheap knockoff Naruto. But this manga surprises you, if only by the sheer depth of its storyline. This comic draws from a lot of folk sources, Nurarihyon is indeed the Master of all Spirits in Japanese folklore. The popular figure of the demon as a bent misshapen man who has the ability to deceive your senses upon his will is cleverly shown as the protagonist’s aging grandfather.
In fact Nurarihyon is not really the hero of this manga, the hero is the young Master of the Nura Demon Clan, the most powerful Demon clan in all of Japan. And like all good Demons, they too are responsible for most of the mischief associated with spirits of such kind in human circles. However therein lies a twist, somewhere along its conception and evolution the Nura Clan took on a unique take on its position as the heads of Demon Scoiety in Japan. They choose to look upon humans as almost their wards. And sometimes their unlucky tormentees. But all in all, they serve to protect the humans from the darker aspects of the demonic realm.
Young Rikuo who is only a quarter youkai has his hands full at running things for the Nura clan allowing for classic Shonen style character growth. Indeed for shonen fans this is a must read. But something more appealed to me in this manga. Its close following of true Japanese folklore for one, and the mystical storytelling of the author. It just draws you in and before you know it, you are in a fable of old where anything is possible. Elements of horror are present too, and a lot of the character designs might leave you feeling…uneasy.
Rikuo has a traditional entourage of colorful demons who guide/aid him on his many quests. Tales and revelations about his father, former head of the Nura Clan who was assassinated in a manner most foul continue the suspense throughout the story arcs. Hinting at a dark past and conspiracy perhaps within the clan. Enemies of a vaerity are present, from your standard overpowered masters of disaster to subtle snakes who sneak about in the shadows. And some of the villains you might even like. All in all it is quite a complete manga with a well rounded story.
Give it a read for some classic fable atmosphere and shonen pace action.