Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Natsume Yuujin-chou Shi 13 [Finale]: The Road Home

The bug youkai still has Takashi under its grip, forcing him to slip into unconsciousness. There, his memories as a child returns. He remembers how the family that took care of him after his father died was kind to him although their daughter bullied him out of jealousy. The boys in his school likewise made fun of him for his strange behavior. The solitary Takashi tried to find refuge first in his parents' photograph, but finding even just the happy image painful, he turned to an abandoned shrine for comfort. There, he was free to spin dreams of returning to his real home. One day, he mustered the courage to ask his foster father for his old address. And when he was trapped at the shrine during a thunderstorm and her foster family had to go through all the trouble of asking people for help in finding him, he finally decided to return there -- alone, afraid, sick in his heart with cold and loneliness. He kept calling out for his father but no one answered. No one could answer. In the end, he never made it to that house and it was that moment he decided to forget all about his old home and his old life. 

The bug youkai wants to eat all of these bad memories but, just then, Takashi hears Nyanko-sensei calling for him. And the voice gives Takashi the strength to fight back against the youkai. He awakes to find the youkai hovering over him. Nyanko-sensei then transforms into Madara and destroys the youkai's spiritual energy, saying that it's now a harmless youkai. Takashi thanks him for saving his life. Madara scoffs, saying that he only did it to save the Book of Friends. Later, the two of them continue on their way until they find themselves standing in front of the Natsume house. "Tadaima," Takashi says. But no one answers back. No one could answer. Takashi doesn't have a lot of memories of the place but he sees some crayon drawings by the kitchen sink and Nyanko-sensei discovers another in a closet. Then he and Takashi sit at the engawa, watching the garden, now overgrown with weeds. Takashi remembers his father telling him about the flowers that his mother planted there and wonders if the flowers are still there. The memory brings him to tears.

Takashi returns to the Fujiwaras that same evening. As soon as he opens the door, he greets, "Tadaima." Both the Fujiwara couple are there to say, "Okaeri." Welcome home. 

A few days later, the Fujiwaras take a picture of the three of them together. Spying Nyanko-sensei walking by, humming some silly song, Takashi picks him up and asks Fujiwara-san to take another picture, this time with Nyanko-sensei in his arms. The family picture is complete. The next day, Takashi is out with his friends, still searching for the legendary soda water spring. The girls soon join them. They do find the spring but the water is all red from rust. As the friends argue over this unfortunate turn of events, Takashi's youkai friends watch them from the side.

COMMENTS:This brought tears to my eyes. Honestly. What a wonderful close to a good show. I think the series makers even surpassed themselves this season. Between this and the lackluster third season and the so-so second season, I think this is my favorite installment of Natsume Yuujin-chou.

more screencaps from episode 13: