Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final Thoughts: Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou

Final episode, and my conspiracy theory about Kai and the Matoba (Matsuda?) clan is totally wrong. For shame.
EPISODE 13: Humans and Youkai
More Screencaps from Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou 13

PREVIOUSLY, Natsume finds a boy trapped inside an abandoned house and befriends him. Later, he finds out that the boy is being stalked by a youkai and tries to help him. However, in the course of helping him, Natsume finds out from Natori that the boy, Kai, is actually a youkai and powerful enough to disguise himself as a human.

Despite learning this and Natori's warning to stay away from the boy, Natsume can't bring himself to let the issue alone. He can't even tell Taki what he found out. The next day, Natsume meets up with Natori again and learns that Kai is looking for an ancient well in order to free the demons sealed there. Apparently, the well is rumored to be located near the abandoned house.

Natsume later goes to the house to investigate but falls into a trap set up by Natori earlier. Kai saves him and it is then that Natsume finds out from Kai's own mouth that he (Kai) really is a youkai. Even so, Natsume maintains that he likes Kai, which makes the kid happy but at the same time hate Natori for setting up the trap. Then before Natsume could explain, Kai leaves to go after Natori. Hiiragi and Natori's other youkai servants try their best to protect him with little success until Natsume arrives with Nyanko-sensei. Then Natori reveals that Kai is actually a mountain god but when people stopped worshipping him, he grew lonely. In his loneliness, Kai heard the cries of the demons sealed in the well and decided to free them. But before he could do so, he met some humans and became friends with them. Because of this, Kai forgot about the demons for a while. However, once Kai sees Natsume with Natori, he misinterprets this and takes it for Natsume's siding with the exorcists against him (Kai).

Kai soon finds the well and releases the demons. But instead of being grateful, these demons only want to eat Kai. Natsume uses his own body to protect Kai and ends up getting thrown to the ground, unconscious. Kai then uses his own powers to get rid of the demons. Nyanko-sensei also goes after the ones that escaped and throws them into the trap made by Natori. While Natori exorcise the remaining demon, Kai discovers the Book of Friends in Natsume's possession and realizes that he (Natsume) is Reiko's grandson. Then he wonders if he should play a trick and hide the book but decides against it when he sees a pressed flower among the pages of the book. At the sight of this, he starts crying.

When Natsume comes to, Kai is already gone. Later, he and Taki drop by Kai's house and find out that the human family that live there has finally come home. They soon leave, deciding that they will visit Kai's mountain one day. Some days later, Natsume, his family and friends have a 'flower viewing' picnic. While his friends have fun, Natsume sits by himself and is joined later by Nyanko-sensei, who tells him that when Reiko died, he planned on taking the Book of Friends and that he never expected that there would be someone to inherit Reiko's belongings. He adds that perhaps this is for the best. Natsume thanks him, prompting Nyanko-sensei to call him ahou ('moron'). Natsume then joins his friends, inviting even Cow and One Eye (Natsume's youkai fanclub) to eat with them while somewhere far away, Kai is happily chewing on Taki's homemade cookies.

The series closes with Natsume, Shigure and Touko looking up at the wind chime on Natsume's window and Reiko's spirit sitting there, watching.
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Before I begin my final thoughts, I just wanted to exposit on a recent discovery I made: Satsuki Yukino, the voice of Hiiragi (my favorite side character from the series) is also the seiyuu of Shihouin Yoruichi, the badass catwoman from Bleach. What! Amazing. I didn't even recognize her voice.

That aside, another good episode from Natsume Yuujin-chou. Then again, that's to be expected. One thing I can say about this series is that the feeling I get with each episode has remained pretty consistent. It's not mindblowing, mind you. It's not like you watch an episode of Natsume Yuujin-chou and get your mind blown away by sheer awesomeness. If you expect that to happen with this series, then you are bound to get disappointed because this series isn't big on blowing things up.

Typical of all slice-of-life animes, Natsume Yuujin-chou takes its own leisurely pace in unfolding each self-contained story per episode while at the same time subtly revealing and developing the main characters and their relationships with those around them.IN SUM --

Natsume Yuujin-chou is a slice-of-life anime that tackles the often interesting, scary and sometimes amusing fantasy world of youkai and demons through the eyes of a boy and his cat. It's a gentle story that offers a lot more than it's given credit for. I would recommend it to people of all ages but especially pre-teens who will benefit a lot from the values imparted by this series.

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