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Natsume Yuujin-chou San – 06

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「人ならぬもの」 (Hito Naranu Mono)
“That Which is not Human”

I’ve had many things said about me over the years, but never let it be said that I’ve taken the pleasures of squid away from a middle-aged man.

No, I have no idea what that even means either, Natsume. But I do know what the arrival of Shuichi Natori (Ishida Akira) means. Natori means plot, and how much you like Natori likely depends on how much you like conventional plot in your Natsume Yuujinchou. Like squid or moe, I like mine in small, measured doses. I wouldn’t want every episode of this series to have villains, brisk pacing and a rather conventional structure – even a cliffhanger – but it makes a nice change of pace every once in a while.

Along with the familiar Natori comes a new face to anime fans – Matoba (Suwabe Junichi). He’s the head of the Matoba family of exorcists we met last season, and like Stagger Lee, he’s a bad man. Suwabe-san is a good seiyuu but I’m not crazy about him for the role – he’s too old and a bit too slithery for a youth I pictured as having a seductive, almost feminine air to him. That aside, the Matoba’s are trouble – they make even Natori look like a softy when it comes to youkai, never mind Natsume. They’re in Natsume’s prefecture attacking youkai to drain their blood for as yet undisclosed purposes, as Natsume discovers when he inadvertently rescues a winged female youkai (Nakamura Chie). Natsume is about to be taken down by one of Matoba’s tame demons when Natori’s familiar Hiiragi (Yukino Satsuki) shows up to save him.

This is an unorthodox episode of Natsume Yuujinchou not just for its danger and pacing, but also for some unusually broad humor that’s quite effective. The winged youkai’s pronouncement that Natsume is “less impressive than I thought” and a “wimp” put me in mind of the jibes he received from Kai’s schoolboy friends in the last arc of season two, and Natsume mind’s eye picture of Matoba as a yakuza boss was hilariously inaccurate. Natori still sparkles and has the girls cooing over him, and that darn Kappa who always lets his plate dry out shows up yet again.

Still, at heart this is till the same story and Natsume the same boy – as he goes against Nyanko-sensei’s advice and gets himself involved yet again, it’s as he says “This is who I am, just give up”. As always when Natori is involved the stakes are higher, though, and bringing the Matoba Syndicate into the mix raises them even higher. These sorts of eps generally lead to Natsume having to confront a difficult dilemma about where his loyalties lie, testing his ability to have a foot in both worlds, outsider in both but emotionally disconnected from neither.

 

Preview

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August 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm
25 comments »
  • August 8, 2011 at 9:30 pmdiaz

    I want to see the next episode NOWWWWW!!!

    I was almost all the time NOOOOOO… It seems so dark and misterious those guys, they are trouble :x

  • August 8, 2011 at 9:54 pmVT

    Natsume got attacked so many times in this episode that it kept me on the edge of my seat!! ><

  • August 8, 2011 at 10:12 pmGuardian Enzo

    Natori always picks up the action level when he’s around, doesn’t he? ;-)

  • August 8, 2011 at 11:32 pmheijihatsutori

    On top of the ‘UNLOVED’ billboard (that’s Natori himself on the billboard right? Or is it just me?) there’s a (somewhat) preview of Hotarubi no Mori e. Way to promote the film I guess~ :P

    • August 9, 2011 at 7:31 amwandering-dreamer

      *squints* I think you’re right actually, nice catch!

  • August 8, 2011 at 11:45 pmFaye

    I swear that advertisement of Natori is an homage to Kaworu from Eva because of their seiyuu connection.

    This was a great episode. The winged youkai was cool, and I like that darned kappa for some reason. It really says something about Matoba that he even gives Nyanko-sensei the creeps. What does it say about Natsume (or Matoba) that Matoba couldn’t tell Natsume was a human and not a youkai, I wonder. As much as I appreciate Natori visiting Natsume because he was worried about him… he always means trouble, lol.

    (I mostly lurk on RC, but I decided to comment simply because Natsume = <3 and deserves more comments than it gets, haha. Thanks so much for covering it for us, Enzo! As a huge Natsume fan, I look forward to your post every week :])

  • August 8, 2011 at 11:49 pmGuardian Enzo

    You’re welcome, Faye. If you like T.D. Kappa and are a general kappa fan, you should check out “Summer Days With Koo”. It’s by the same director as “Colorful” which I reviewed on this site. It’s not quite as magnificent, but it’s pretty damn good.

    • August 9, 2011 at 12:25 amdeafvader

      ?? Why is your post not blue? Why are you not listed as the author?

      • August 9, 2011 at 7:12 pmFallenrock

        Don’t complain! Just nod.

  • August 9, 2011 at 1:26 amkazukifafner

    The strongest foreshadowing of Matoba’s importance definitely came when Madara looked so completely rattled when he walked by. I mean, this is Madara. He’s never intimidated by anything, so seeing him act like that is quite a big deal.

    The one thing I’ll never understand about this show is the concept of Natsume’s power. Now, against a human is one thing, but it’s so inconsistent against youkai. Again, Madara is very rarely intimidated by youkai, and takes them out quickly. Then we have Natsume, who’s “power” allowed him to fend off Madara with a punch to the face. Yet, from then on, we sometimes see him stand up to youkai effectively, and other times not. It always seemed weird to me.

    • August 9, 2011 at 2:30 amTan-Tan

      Other times not? Like which one? It’s not like he can really fend them off. His punches are just reflex reaction.

    • August 9, 2011 at 7:25 amHrmmm

      I think the ‘power’ is just his ability to see youkai and less so ‘inner strength’. Similar to the difference in ‘power’ between a blind person and a normal sighted person. So maybe it’s as tan-tan implied.. fluke shots.

      Though.. I do want to see more of Natsume being able to defend himself since I don’t particularly enjoy watching helpless main characters.. but this isn’t the series to expect it in.

    • August 9, 2011 at 3:24 pmkazukifafner

      I don’t know, I would just like more consistency. It confuses me when he’s able to fend them off sometimes, and other times rely on Madara. Honestly, I don’t mind if Natsume has to rely on Madara. That makes sense. I just don’t get why his ability to defend himself is so back and forth in this series.

      • August 9, 2011 at 4:54 pmDana

        He seems strong enough to do some damage, but if Nyanko is there, he might as well earn his middle aged squid.
        HRRRM;Natori shows him how to manipulate paper dolls and he does much better than expected. Perhaps all he needs is proper training.

  • August 9, 2011 at 2:40 amCorn

    Interesting episode. I’m sooo glad Natori came back and things are starting to pick up.

  • August 9, 2011 at 7:35 amwandering-dreamer

    “taken the pleasures of squid away from a middle-aged man” I thought that meant you hadn’t, literally, run up to a middle-aged man eating squid and then stolen his squid, I think that Nyanko is a bit paranoid about his food. XD
    As for Natsume’s power, my theory is that he is just overflowing with spiritual energy (look at how many yokai can’t even tell if he’s human or not) which is why he has such strong sight, manages exorcisms so easily and gives his punches a bit more force.

    • August 9, 2011 at 8:26 amliz

      I agree with you. I’m also left to assume that reiko knew how to use her power. I’m basing this on the flashbacks but in all those events she seems to know how to defend herself and even ward off evil demons (remember the episode when natsume guardian mentioned he met reiko before and his house was cursed). Even in the second to last arc of the 2nd season we see that he was able to use natori paper things in one shot without putting too much effort as a beginner. If I’m right than reiko was extremely awesome to know how to use her power well. As for natsume there are several hints of his pontential and I personally would like to see him learn to use his power better. Not only would he be able to defend himself from youkai and humans but he also still has control of the book of friends. That would make him a powerful dude to deal with indeed.

      • August 9, 2011 at 12:57 pmwandering-dreamer

        I’ve suspected for a while now that Natsume is the most powerful human in the series (with Matoba probably being the second most, not counting Reiko of course) and most of the time he is able to handle the low or mid-level spirits pretty well, it’s just the higher level spirits that give him trouble (and they even give Madara, who I think was the only person to ever beat Reiko in her games, trouble). He does pretty well right now but I agree that it would be nice to see him be even more capable.

  • August 9, 2011 at 8:40 amMyna

    I have been waiting for Matoba since the season was announced.

    Brain’s Base, I love you.

  • August 9, 2011 at 7:25 pmGuardian Enzo

    I agree with the notion that Natsume has extraordinary spiritual power for a human, but doesn’t really know how to focus it. Or, unlike Reiko, he’s not ruthless and his natural kindness acts as a sort of limiter. I think that power is one reason why Nyanko-sensei is so fascinated by him.

    • August 10, 2011 at 12:43 pmliz

      this is an interesting prediction to bring up but in another forum people have been saying that perhaps natsume family has youkai bloodline in it. That is an interesting theory because both the youkai and humans have said that it was hard to tell whether natsume is human or youkai. If this is correct than it would make sense why he is so powerful compared to the other humans who have abilities but not as strong as natsume.

      • August 10, 2011 at 2:37 pmGuardian Enzo

        That idea has certainly occurred to me as well – it’s very possible, and it would explain an awful lot. It would also be a helluva dramatic reveal with which to end the manga eventually.

  • August 10, 2011 at 12:49 pmmike

    I know Natsume is weak before but never thought he is so pathetic weak, after watching this episode I can say he is such a wuss that he can’t even defend himself. He always say he doesn’t wanna hurt those he care for and protect them. Not with that pathetic body of his, is a shame that his grandma would have kick everyones ass with one hand tie behind her back, but to see a wussy grandson like him. I don’t need the main character to be all bad ass like most anime but god, at least have the strength to defend yourself you wussy.

    • August 10, 2011 at 1:29 pmTinxtin

      Lol, bro. He did totally punch that Yokai as he’s done with many over the seasons. If I recall correctly, that’s self defence. And besides, he’s like 15? :\

  • August 13, 2011 at 12:07 amNhelraios

    Finally got around to watching this. This episode jogged my memory of how evil the Matoba clan is. We had a glimpse of that crow servant they used as a bait getting devoured..*shudders*

    Wasn’t it mentioned that the humans are using youkai blood to use some spell? I wonder what that spell is.