OP Sequence

OP: 「僕にできること」 (Boku ni Dekiru Koto) by HOW MERRY MARRY
Watch the OP!: Streaming ▼

「妖しきものの名」 (Ayashiki Mono no Na)
“The Name of a Monster”

Years ago, Roger Ebert (from my hometown of Chicago) wrote the following review of the abysmal film “North”: “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie.” Well, I love Natsume Yuujinchou. I love love love love love Natsume Yuujinchou.

Therefore, I won’t claim for a moment that I can be impartial about this series. Months ago, before a third season was announced, I wrote a recommendation detailing why I think this is such a great show. So while I’m going to try and give balanced criticism, be forewarned – I’m biased to love Natsume Yuujinchou San.

The first episode of the third season feels, in every way, thematically and spiritually tied in to the first two. If anything, we see an extension of what was happening towards the end of the second season in that the lifelong loner Natsume Takashi (Kamiya Hiroshi) is starting to feel more attachments than he ever has in his life. He loves the Fujiwaras, who have taken him in. He’s made friends his own age for the first time in his life. And his relationship with the irreplaceable (and incorrigible) Nyanko-sensei (Inoue Kazuhiko) has developed to the point of mutual affection, though Madara (his ayakashi form) himself would deny it. Natsume recognizes that emotional involvement is a weakness, for danger follows him everywhere – but he’s no longer able to stay the isolated person he was.

The plot of the first episode is very much in the classic mold for the series. Loneliness is always at the heart of the matter with Natsume Yuujinchou, and the lonely and abandoned of the youkai world seem to be drawn to Natsume. This time there are two – first, a tiny teacup which Nyanko-sensei informs us has taken on some of the Earth’s power and become animate, as particularly well-crafted ones sometimes do when discarded. They take up residence in a house, craving company, and warn the owners of impending disaster. Sometimes, they even sacrifice themselves to save them. The second is an old lady, nearly blind, who tricks Natsume into assisting her at the roadside. Actually a God, she threatens to curse him unless he helps her find the “youkai” who gave her a mirror many years earlier, which helped her save a tree that was her sole joy in life – her own shrine having been abandoned and forgotten.

Natsume and lonely Gods are kindred spirits – he just can’t seem to resist helping them. He even prompts the frail old God into remembering that her name is in the Book of Friends, the collection of Youkai’s true names that Natsume inherited from his Grandmother Reiko. Reiko is the other character always present in this story, though she’s long dead. Like Natsume she could see and interact with youkai and Kami, and like him she was lonely. Though she was meaner and rougher than he, more often than not her involvement ended up helping the youkai she interacted with – and very often it is finding Natsume decades later that brings closure to their meeting with Reiko.

Everything I loved about the first two seasons is still present. The beautiful animation from Brain’s Base, the background music, the terrific work by the voice cast. Most of all, the same sense of wistful sadness that instantly makes the viewer feel emotionally connected to what’s happening on-screen. This anime is a perfect marriage between a great mangaka (Midorikawa Yuki) and a great director (Omori Takahiro) and the result is a timeless, genre-busting modern classic of anime that has deservedly found a huge audience world-wide. You probably don’t need to watch the first two seasons to be able to follow the third – but as great as they are, why wouldn’t you? If you love good anime, there can be few better ways to spend twelve hours of your time.

ED Sequence

ED: 「君ノカケラ feat 宮本笑里」 (Kimi no Kakeru feat Miyamoto Emiri) by 中孝介 (Atari Kousuke)
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼



  1. I kinda felt saddened at the end of the episode. To find that the teacup sacrificed itself to protect Natsume actually moved me as it protected him from that youkai’s attack. Just for a moment at the end, I felt the teacup’s emotions of wanting to protect those dear to it.

  2. Loved the soundtrack except for the OP and ED songs. I probably just got used to listening all op and ed songs from season 1 and 2.

    Just as I expected, I was feeling weak after watching this episode, which is a good thing.

  3. Once someone thats never seen Natsume (it didn’t get too much love here the 1st 2 seasons which was a shame) watches it, and if they liked what they see they will want to go back and watch the previous seasons. Its just that damn good.

    As far as Enzo’s review: “Truer words were never spoken”.

  4. I am yet to watch this episode but I am so SO happy the new season finally came out! Ever since the last season ended I was waiting for it to come out!

    And I agree with your post. The essence of the 1st season is still there (I can tell just by looking at this post and watching the OP and ED). Never lost. Unlike other typical anime, despite something funny happening in the episode there is always a sense of loneliness to this anime. Probably because most times Natsume is often all by himself with only Nyanko-Sensei around him, so I guess this anime, in a way it’s like from his point of perspective, and I guess that sense of sadness is needed to highlight his character.

    The OP seems to focus more on the people around him and I hope that is the case here. There are so many beautiful human characters in this series which I would like to learn more about so I hope each one of them gets a focus, whereas in previous episodes, it was all about Natsume dealing with the Youkai’s himself.

  5. I <3 this episode so much!! Been looking forward it to like forever!!!
    First episode was basically a recap of what Natsume does put in a new different plot…
    and it was so touching :')

  6. Just curious but would one have to watch the previous seasons to understand whats going on with the current season? Not sure if I would want to watch the previous seasons to pick this one up yet since I’m a lazy fuck.

      1. I disagree. The two previous seasons are very important. First because we have a lot of characters who are introduced during the first two seasons. They are going to appear at some point in this season, so he needs to know these people to no be confused when they come up. Also, we can clearly see that Natsume has changed a lot since the very first episode. So he needs to see how Natsume was originally and what made him to change that much. Actually, that’s the whole point of the show to me: to see the evolution of the Natsume’s relationship with his friends (both human and youkai).

        And, well… Why you wouldn’t watch the first two seasons? They’re easy to find and there’s no reason to not watch them.

    1. You just need to know this…. Natsume had a grandmother that had very powerful spirit energy and she used it to defeat Youkai. When she did she had them put their names in a scrap book she had to show that she beat them (in essence a scorecard). Now 2 generations later her grandson (Natsume) found her scrapbook of names.

      Ever since he was little he could see Youkai and because of that other folks thought he was weird. His parents died when he was little and because of his “gift” of sight relatives thought he was weird and shuffeled him around and other kids did too so he had no friends.

      The elderly couple he lives with were friends of his parents and took him in to live with them in this forest town and they treat him as if he was the son they never had but always wanted. Nyanko Sensei is a powerful wolf/dog spirit that wants the “Book of Friends” so he appearsd as a fat ugly cat and guards Natsume until Natsume decides to give him the scrapbook of names.

      Somewhere along the way in the 2 previous seasons they became good friends and I dare say they care for each other very much. There are also a bunch of side characters like a boy who can hear youkai but can’t see whem and a girl that draws magic circles on the ground everywhere so she can see what a youkai looks like when it walks over the circle (both are Natsume’s classmates and friends) as well as a scary looking glasses girl that you saw in todays episode. Another side character is a exorcist that has his own Youkai that works with him exorcising spirits (a woman with one cyclops eye named Hiragi (sp) that like Natsume).

  7. I just realized that Takashi had the same experience Reiko did with the confusion of a human as a youkai and the disappointment that took place after. Why didn’t I realize it before? Anyway, this wasn’t much of an episode in terms of advancing the plot, but it did a great job settling viewers into the third season after a long break. I missed this show so much; here’s to another great season!

    Also, I will now name that teacup “brocup”…nevermind, that sounds vaguely wrong.

  8. Okay just finished watching the episode and I LOVED it so much!
    I’m so glad it gave us more insight to Reiko’s character. And that poor teacup…

    The ending is so beautiful and the OP, I love how there are flashbacks of the events that happened in the previous episodes

    1. I guess it’s a mix of Totoro and Mononoke Hime in terms of aesthetic and youkai behaviour but thematically it’s much lonelier and contemplative though nonetheless often heartwarming (like teacup-kun, I was hoping you would stay a bit longer T-T).

      Glad they brought back Atari Kousuke to sing the ED. Also, it seems that Natsume facefaults a lot more now, sign of him opening up?

  9. Glad to see someone who is biased in favor of Natsume, like me ^^
    Its always been able to make me feel emotionally attached to simple characters that don’t ever appear again, such as the teacup. I have never watched an episode and felt even slightly displeased with it. The episodes range from pleasant to being emotionally beautiful, none are frustrating.

  10. first off Mother “F” Roger ebert! how can u not at least smile at “NORTH” a movie that features the concept of setting your old folks who’ve outlived their usefulness Adrift on glaciers….and its got Bruce Willis! i had to do a triple take when this show came out, i mean the cat looked familiar “the repulsive design, that is” but i just couldn’t put my finger on it. then i read the summary & comments.. AHHHH! that show!?!? i believe i enjoyed the show, yet it remained utterly forgettable..then i watched the NEW ep, and liked it. wonder why this show was so easy to forget then??

    BROOKLYN otaku
  11. It’s not often that you can watch a series and feel emotionally moved by every single freakin episode.

    This episode started a bit slower than I expected, but it picked up by the end and reminded me why I love this series so much.

  12. I loved this episode, a really great example of why this series is so great.

    On another note, I really hope we get to see more of Madara’s softer side this season. They did a great job of building that up in the second season. Of course, his good old toughness will never leave, but I always found it touching whenever he acted genuinely nice.

  13. I’m afraid I’m with you in your biased love for the series. I don’t know what it is that makes me love it so. I’m so glad someone else here does since I didn’t think it would get blogged at all here.

    Reiko’s disappointment to discover that the old lady was youkai was really hard hitting. I hope that we get to see more of her story.

  14. What a wonderful first episode. I was all moved at the end.
    It’s nice to hear and to see Natsume & Nyanko-sensei again. ;;
    I really, really missed Natsume Yuujin-chou.

    Thank you so much for blogging this series!

  15. This episode is so nice, I love everything about it: Reiko’s history with the old woman, and the subplot with the teacup. I watched Natsume ss1 and was bored to death with most episodes, so I don’t expect a lot from the 3rd season’s 1st ep, but it was touching beyond my expectations. Will definitely keep watching this.

  16. Hey there Guardian Enzo I was wondering if you ever watched mononoke? not the movie the series which is completely different I feel that you would love it but watch the bake neko story first which are the last three episodes of ayakashi japanese classic horror stories. anyways ^_^ i’m so happy your recapping this I loved the first two seasons and I can’t wait to see what new things this season will bring

    Show Spoiler ▼

    But over all this this series makes me smile and I love how the theme of loneliness is ever present in this series and how helping those be they humans or youkai move on from their sad past.

  17. Firstly, I have to say I had been following your other blog ‘Lost in America’ for quite some time now, and I was also thrilled to find a blogger who obviously loved Natsume Yuujinchou as much as I did.
    When I heard you were going to blog here, my first thought was ‘OMG I’m pretty sure Natsume S3 will be covered here then!’.
    Thanks for this post. I love this series, but am not quite drawn into S3 yet. I can’t wait for more though. 😀

  18. I’m glad to have been able to fill a niche here with my love for NY – this is a show I find has fans hiding everywhere, just waiting to be exposed!

    Liz, Mononoke somehow got lost for me in the flood of legendary series that was 2007. It’s been on my must watch list for a while and when I can find a few hours somewhere, I definitely plan to watch it. I admire Kenji Nakamura as a director (though not so much with C) and the show has always gotten strong reviews. Given how much I love NY and Mushishi, seems like a great fit.

    1. C was flawed from the very beginning. I doubt anyone could make a decent show from a drug-inspired delusions of the creators-gamblers of the original story and plot. It would have to be reworked and considerably changed several times before the actual production or at least have any references to economics removed – just to make some sense. It would require at least a few months of time and considerable expansion of the budget of the editors/story creators. The analogy would be an anime about professional language education in English with their typical “profound” knowledge of it – everyone with some above-average knowledge of English even as a foreign language would find it incredibly stupid and delusional – and it would require external consulting to make some sense. He made a great deal of work making a popular show from the original (incredibly stupid) story, but it stupidity remained almost intact, which leads to formula [ great story + great production = great show ], [ utmost stupid story + great production = average popular show ] (which is still stupid).

    2. I agree with spoilermarker C was not the best of Kenji Nakamura I highly recommand you watch the last three episodes of ayakashi japanese classic horror stories to get a good taste of what mononoke the series is about and since then I highly believe its a series that will be difficult surpasses I set the bar high for him after I saw it ^_^ anyways I have been rewatching natsume yuujinchou so that I can feel the groove again and I did! I was reminded why I love this series so much and I can’t wait to share my opinions with you for season 3 ^_^

  19. I just want to know if Shuuichi Natori will be back u know the adult who had a tattoo that would move around. I loved his character and would love to see him again in this new season!!! On a side note I loved this 1st episode, a little sad towards the ending, but im happy to see another season XD

  20. Dat Teacup … There even was a huge thread on /a/ about people being surprised they tearfully mourned a teacup some days ago 😀 and then I didn’t get it, nor did I know it was from Natsume, but I sure shed some tears over that little fella as well T_T …

    To everyone who is hesitant to watch this episode because they haven’t seen Seasons 1 and 2 yet: Definitely Watch It!

    I liked it so much I instantly went back and started watching Season 1, whose first episodes had been lying on my hard drive for months … I had tried to watch episode one back when I got Season 1, but the yokai were to scary :D. Also I was afraid it would be too unbearably sad, with its lonely protagonist and all … After I got a better sense of the overall – at times quite heartwarming – tone of Natsume from Season 3 that very first episode wasn’t so scary anymore nor was it too overly sad and now I wanna watch S1&2 as quickly as I can (though I can only take so many tearjerker episodes a day, even mild heartwarming ones :D)

    So thanks for converting me, Guardian Enzo! 🙂

  21. Man it’s just like I remember it. I can never get over the fact that every single episode gives me goosebumps at the end. Everyone that works on this show must be a genius.

  22. (insert generic comment about Natsume Yuujinchou’s awesomeness)

    Now I’m trying to accept the fact my old crush from Digimon Frontier, Kouji Minamoto is also Natume’s voice actor! Completely different voices o_O


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