Sunday, October 16, 2011

FINAL THOUGHTS: Natsume Yuujin-chou San

For someone who's new into the Natsume series but marathoned the first two seasons to get a better grip of the Natsume Yuujin-chou San, I think I'm in a good position to say that out of all three seasons out so far, this one's the weakest. Have hope. Apparently, there's a fourth season coming up in three months' time.

Funny thing about this anime. When I watched the first season, the one gripe I had was the Mushishi-style episodic approach to the series. I craved continuity where there was clearly none and loved every episode that featured recurring characters, even if their presence in a particular episode are only negligible, at best. For that reason, I enjoyed Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou more than I probably should because the second season featured more episodes with recurring characters, and yet, my all-time favorite episode from all three seasons was the one with Hotaru/Kiyo in it (Season 1, Ep. 6) -- an episode so different from all the rest that even its BGM was different and seemed totally chosen only for that particular episode. So...why do I not like this season?

I can't put my finger on one thing. Yes, the continuity aspect does factor in. While I love that the season focuses less on the youkai-a-week and more on Natsume's back story, that inevitably meant less Reiko, and let's face it, Reiko is way more awesome than Takashi. While I love that the man-hating lesbian youkai Hinoe made a cameo in the last episode, none of the youkai this season are interesting or have stories that came even close to Hotaru of Season 1. The season's theme seems to be acceptance, which itself is just a continuation of Season 2. But where Season 2 focuses more on Natsume's acceptance of youkai as beings much like himself, Season 3 is all about Natsume's assimilation into his human family and friends. That's all well and good, but dammit, want more Reiko. It doesn't help either that the art seems a bit off although the music is still pretty good. Again, it's the ED theme that did me in.