「偽りの友人」 (Itsuwari no Yūjin)
“False Friend”

If it’s Natsume Yuujinchou it must be a tear-jerker, and so it is with the third episode. And the title of this manga arc adaptation, “False Friend”, is surely meant ironically.

If you’re new to this property you may be asking yourself by now, “Is there a larger plot here or just individual stories every week?” Well, there’s the occasional cliffhanger and there are a few recurring characters (Natori Shuichi comes to mind) who seem to carry “plot” along with them. But mostly, this is what Natsume Yuujinchou is. It’s snapshots from the life of lonely, often doomed humans and youkai passing through this life, and the impact their brief moments of interaction – and those with Natsume himself – have on them. There’s comfort in these small moments of connection, but it rarely lasts. Ultimately, even youkai leave this world as they come into it – alone.

For all that, as we’re now at 29 episodes there are new themes emerging. I thought the indelible line this week was Natsume’s “I don’t lie as well as I used to.” A lifetime of loneliness as a defense mechanism is starting to break down, and the bonds of love are taking hold in his life. The wrinkle this week is that Natsume is forced to confront his old self when a classmate from his elementary school days, Shibata (Hosoya Yoshimasa, Rat from NO. 6), shows up looking for him. Shibata was one of Natsume’s tormentors, a bully (as most of his peers were) but now he wants help from the strange boy who claimed he could see things other kids couldn’t. Shibata has met and fallen in love with a strange girl he’s met in the park, but he senses there’s something off about Murasaki (Orikasa Fumiko).

The girl fools even Natsume at first, but she can’t fool Nyanko-sensei. She’s a tree youkai, and her yamafuji tree is dead. She’s opportunistically decided to try and stave off her own demise by posing as a human and feasting on some young human flesh. When she threatens to eat Natsume – his “emergency ration” – Nyanko-sensei intervenes directly.

But as ever, there’s more to this tale than it first appears. Turns out Murasaki has had ample opportunities to eat Shibata already, and somehow was having so much fun with him that she never got around to it. What she wanted in the end wasn’t to consume Shibata in hopes of survival – she simply didn’t want to die alone. And by intervening, Natsume does as he so often does – allows the youkai he interacts with to capture a measure of dignity and grace, but there are no miracles to follow. In the process, he manages to make himself another friend, and another anchor connecting him to the rest of the world.

It may just be me, but it seems that Nyanko-sensei is even more irresistible this season. He’s having a harder time disguising his affection for Natsume, and indeed his affection for many things in the human world – as Natsume is becoming more connected, so is he. Industry legend Inoue Kazuhiko has totally nailed this role, bringing Nyanko-sensei to life in a way readers of the manga would scarcely have hoped possible.




    1. I love Nyanko-sensei in his fat pig cat form with his old man voice always looking for food to eat or saki to drink. His true form is pretty bad ass and has a totally different voice. I always wondered if it was 2 different voice actors or the one the series uses is that good to make 2 totally different voices.

  1. I love this episode! Best so far for the 3rd season of Natsume, it reminded me of Hotaru romance story in the previous seasons (the firefly who fell in love with a human similar to Natsume who can see ghosts), NOW THAT WAS A TEARJERKER! So far this episode, the hotaru story, and the sparrow where the best tearjerker stories of Natsume. I myself dont really mind if there is no bigger plot like how Natsume’s story with the Book of Friends will end, because I quite enjoyed how each episode there are short stories that you can simply enjoy.

  2. Nyanko-Sensei was too adorable in this episode. LOOOL Puffy Nyanko. I can’t believe such a fat puffy white pig can turn into something so awesome and cool XD https://randomc.net/image/Natsume%20Yuujin-chou/Natsume%20Yuujin-chou%20San%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2026.jpg

    Didn’t really like this ep compared to what we saw so far but it was still good I guess. I also didn’t feel complete without Natsume returning Yokai his/her name haha

    Thank you for blogging this once again. Looking forward to it next week as well.

  3. I’m just starting on Natsume first season (because too much people give high rating for me to ignore it ).Going to be awhile until i can give proper comment on current episode.

  4. judging from the screen shots i’m considering picking this series up.. but a few questions if i may.. what is the relationship between this series and Zoku Natsume Yuujin-Chou??? or is it a link that cannot be explained without spoiler? and what genre of anime is this? O_o ty in advance…

    1. This is the third season, Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou was the second season, and Natsume Yuujinchou was the first season. It isn’t absolutely necessary to watch them in order, as the stories tend to be very episodic in nature. But I certainly think it helps – the individual stories have a lot more impact if you’re connected to the characters.

      As for genre, I’ve seen it classed as “Drama”, “Supernatural”, “Josei”… I don’t worry about genre too much but I think this one transcends genre anyway. It’s a supernatural slice-of-life, maybe.

      1. What??!! I was hoping for some sort of changes in the future, are you telling me there will be no changes in Natsume in season 1 compared with season 3? Does anyone start refer to his given name rather than just natsume? Does he even have more power to pawn the spirit than now?

      2. No, there are definitely some changes – it’s just that the overall themes of the show stay pretty consistent. I would absolutely watch the seasons in order if I could. But you could watch S3 if you really wanted, because the central characters are the same, and most of the eps are stand-alone stories or mini-arcs.

  5. I’m completely new to this series. And I have to say I’m liking the mellowness of every episode. Can anybody explain why it’s giving off that bros and guy friendship feel all every episode so far. Not that I’m complaining but is the manga* or anything – show a plot direction this story is going to go?

    1. No there is no BL going on. In fact Natsume met a pretty girl in season 2 that drew magic circles on the ground and then when a youkai walked over the cirlce she could see the youkai. They have become good friends and it would not surprise me if they end up together.

      Natsume’s other friend can hear youkai but can’t see them. There is also an exorcist that has a tattoo on his face that moves and his companion is a youkai with a cyclops mask on her face. Her character and story is one of my favorite’s in this series.

      As you continue watching this series (or go watch the first 2 seasons) you will meet a handful of folks that are friends of Natsume’s (something he didn’t have for most of his life). Natsume is kinda like a supernatural slice of life series. Each episode is like a stand alone episode. There isn’t too much of a far reaching plot with a big bad villian that is there for the whole season like action animes have.

      1. I’m reading through the manga now, It’s really incredible story telling. Thanks for the heads up, unlike other manag’s this one doesn’t need a love interest for the main character. I’m looking forward to the parts you mentioned.

  6. Hi, I know it’s totally rude to post something that is completely unrelated, but I was just wondering what anime/manga the new banner was for this site.

    ….I’m just really curious…


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