Natsume Yuujinchou Go – 03

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One wrong move and he’ll assassinyate you

This is where things could get a little troublesome for those of you who might be watching this without having seen the previous seasons. It’s not that it’s harder to follow, per se, it’s just probably a lot more difficult to care about characters who seem like randos, but to me are familiar faces.

I was quite happy to see Natori again, and no, it’s not just because he’s voiced by Akira Ishida. Over time, Natsume has met a handful of other people who can see youkai – but not all of them are friendly. Natori is a rare, safe haven for Natsume. He’s someone Natsume can talk freely about youkai with, since he fully understands what Natsume is going through. Since Natori is older and more experienced (especially in exorcisms), he’s actually a good source of information as well. So while Natsume may be at the stage where he can tell Tanuma about his hard day, that conversation may not be as educational as if he said the same thing to Natori, who can actually see youkai. It’s just nice for him to have options for dialogue depending on if he wants to to hear comforting words or practical advice.

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“Leave it to me and my weirdass lizard thing”

His conversations with Natori are especially fun in comparison to other, less pleasant individuals who can see youkai. Matoba is one of them. Natsume Yuujinchou went for quite a while without needing a villain like Matoba, and I feel like it worked just fine. In the more recent seasons he sprung up as a kind of anti-Natsume character to make things more dark. Frankly, I thought it was a bit of an unwelcome change, and I enjoyed the one-off, cute youkai episodes more than anything involving him and his sketchy society. This show doesn’t need a villain, and trying to throw one into the mix just detracts from the aspects of the show that I enjoy the most. I liked that this show was never about good people or evil people, but people who just did what they personally thought was right. Matoba may not be pure evil, but he’s the closest thing this show has to an obvious bad guy who walks around smirking and threatening to harm little old ladies (which he did a lot this episode). It’s a little too blatant for me.

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So I’m not too happy that Matoba is back for an arc that will span more than one episode. He’s just an all-around annoying dude and Natsume’s too nice to tell Nyanko-sensei to use his jugular as a chew toy. I guess Matoba stays and I have to put up with him. On the bright side, Natori is there, so not all is lost. Still, most stories about exorcising youkai tend to show the youkai in a much less friendly light (since they’re being sealed away in a pot, they want us to not care as much for these guys as the cute towel girl last week). It’s not as touching, so the exorcism business turns the sweet, somewhat original aspect of the show into another shounen, gotta seal dem youkai! shows.

To be fair, this episode did touch on a tender issue that I thought was pretty interesting. Natori mentions that sealing youkai by their true names is somewhat of a taboo technique – with many negative side effects for the human performing it. At this point, Natsume clams up because he’s secretly holding a giant tome of real youkai names that Reiko collected using this method. It brings to mind a number of questions, such as what kinds of consequences Reiko faced for performing such a forbidden technique so often. It’s yet another reason why Natsume has to keep the book a secret from as many people as he can. This subtly ties everything back to Reiko again and this long journey Natsume has partaken in order to find out what kind of person she was.

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Actually, you know, that thing makes a stylish rug. It really brightens up the room.

There may be some interesting things that lead to Reiko in this arc, but I’m still not totally on board with having Matoba back to muck things up again. I’m just so much more content with the arcs that focus on the plights of cute lil youkai…or even one-off stories. They just hit home for me so much more. I wasn’t too happy with this episode, but this show ranks high on my list of anime so I can’t exactly say I’m entirely disappointed either. Whatever happens, I’m sure I’ll still enjoy it to some extent in the end.

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Getting lectured by the master



A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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One Response to “Natsume Yuujinchou Go – 03”

  1. skylion says:

    he’s secretly holding a giant tome of real youkai names that Reiko collected using this method. It brings to mind a number of questions, such as what kinds of consequences Reiko faced for performing such a forbidden technique so often.

    This could be the lead to a youkaipocalypse!?

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