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Natsume Yuujin-chou San – 11

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「映すもの」 (Utsusu mono)
“The Picture”

Natsume Yuujinchou has been consistent in its third season. With few exceptions the episodes have focused on Natsume and his relations with the human world, and the conclusion of this two-parter is no exception. It was probably a necessary evolution for the series, though in general I think it’s produced a season somewhat less compelling than the first two. In simple terms, I find Natsume interacting with humans and dealing with human problems less interesting that Natsume interacting with youkai.

This week was a step-up from last week I thought, and although the demon searching for the mirror wasn’t one of the more arresting guest characters, she added an interesting element in possessing Tanuma. We saw the beginnings of that angle last week and the second part really explored this in depth. Natsume was more concerned with Tanuma than himself, of course, even trying to get her to possess him instead – but given the soft-hearted boy he is that’s no surprise. It’s when the youkai gave Tanuma the use of her eyes that things really got complicated.

One of the core elements of Natsume Yuujinchou has always been that Natsume is fundamentally alone. Though he has Nyanko-sensei and his encounters with youkai, not to mention the occasional visits by Natori, among his friends and family he (like Reiko) has always borne the burden of his gift alone. Empathy is at the heart of what makes Natsume do the things he does, and it was empathy that caused Tanuma to ask the youkai possessing him to allow him to see what Natsume sees. For the first time one of Natsume’s friends could truly understand his world, and that’s a pretty important moment for the series. In her own gentle way that youkai was trying to push Natsume to allow others to share his burden more, and their “private” conversations while she was in control of Tanuma’s body were the most interesting part of the episode for me. This whole season seems to be building towards the crucial moment when Natsume tells his foster parents the Fujiwaras – the most interesting of Natsume’s human companions – about his gift, but whether that long-awaited event occurs in the last two episodes remains to be seen.

The story of the youkai herself, while well-crafted, never achieved the heartbreaking pathos of some of the better youkai tragedies that this show has offered. There just wasn’t enough done to flesh out her character and her relationship with her sick friend last week. As a result, while I sympathized with her desire to help him, it never totally grabbed me on an emotional level. As for the hammer youkai, there was pretty much nothing to elevate him above the level of a plot device. It was interesting to see Nyanko-sensei take charge of the situation and flex his ayakashi chops, gathering almost all the mirror fragments in less than a day using an army of lesser youkai to do the searching. when he spends all his time demanding chestnuts and squid, it’s easy to forget what a powerful and feared being he is.

Next week – only two eps to go – Natsume gets an anime cold and it looks like we have an episode full of youkai and focusing on loneliness. That sounds pretty damn promising to me.

 

Preview

Natsume Yuujin chou San   11   Preview 01 Natsume Yuujin chou San   11   Preview 02 Natsume Yuujin chou San   11   Preview 03
September 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm
11 comments »
  • September 12, 2011 at 9:33 pmsatuors13

    So one or two more EP and the series ends huh…. guess it’s back to reading the manga

  • September 12, 2011 at 9:56 pmCorn

    Once again beautiful episode :)

    So sad how we only get 2 more ep and this season ends. But I’m so glad Tanuma got a lot of focus and I’m sure there will be another season.

    Thank you for blogging this.

  • September 13, 2011 at 3:30 amMomogoldfish

    Finally a non-’filler’ episode I can get behind! Maybe its because of the gradual build-up this season but the human character development this episode stood out a lot better than before. It was great that one of Natsume’s friend is finally able to see what Natsume sees. Also, the youkai trek through the snow mountain made me realised again how much of the series’ charm comes from the compelling, beautiful otherworldly surroundings and youkai that occupy them. Here’s hope that the last 2 episodes will make me fall even more in love with the series again. ^-^

  • September 13, 2011 at 12:36 pmLitho

    Boo… there was no singing from Nyanko Sensei this ep!! :(

  • September 13, 2011 at 12:48 pmZaku Fan

    The part where the youkai were bringing Nyanko sensei all sorts of mirrors but the one he wanted was amusing. Not as touching as the other stuff like the funny tree spirit or Taki’s granddad youkai friends.

  • September 13, 2011 at 8:10 pmRingo

    Natsume being with his friends is just as important as the scenes of him being with yokai, and both can be very touching and amusing. I found this arc enjoyable.
    And as a devoted reader of the manga: Show Spoiler ▼

  • September 14, 2011 at 1:25 amKay

    I love this season for a different reason I love season one and two,
    but love it nonetheless. This season is excelent in its own right.
    But I admit whole heartly I miss this kind of beautiful scenary where the Youkai
    travel around the mountain. This eposode remind me of the past season when we have
    is kind of scene a lot.

  • September 14, 2011 at 10:50 pmYukie

    13 episodes always fly by, especially with a series like Natsume Yuujinchou. :(

  • September 15, 2011 at 7:55 pmLyndine

    Next episodes will about meeting the Fujiwaras?! Damn I was hoping it would be about the Northern Forest Arc. I hope there WILL be a fourth season.

    • September 17, 2011 at 2:59 pmRingo

      That’s what I was thinking too because of some promo images :-/

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