Natsume Yuujinchou Go – 07

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Boys just wanna have fun

You may have noticed that an OVA was released recently for Natsume Yuujinchou. You may also have noticed that I made no attempt to review it. This is because the OVA is absolute garbage. It’s like if you take out all the good stuff about Natsume Yuujinchou, make it aimed at 5 year olds, and then throw in some weird candy bar ad throughout the whole thing. It was 3 minutes of content (and animation) repeated over and over to the point where I just fastforwarded the whole thing. Don’t watch it. Just because beloved Nyanko-sensei is toted as the star of it doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good!


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Tanuma is the person Natsume trusts the most with his secrets, even though he’s an outsider who can’t see youkai. He does happen to have a slight sensitivity to their presence, but it’s very unreliable, and he doesn’t put much trust in it either. The fact that Tanuma can’t see youkai actually makes the friendship more interesting, because Natsume could very easily hide all his youkai troubles and Tanuma would be none the wiser. Natsume’s come a long way since those days of blatant lying, and now Tanuma doesn’t have to pull teeth just to get Natsume to tell him about youkai creeping about and causing trouble for him. This is part of why I love the episodes that bring the two together.

So while the other dudes are oblivious, Natsume and Tanuma share this special bond. I think part of what makes him so easy to talk to is that he sees youkai in a positive light. Natsume tends to waffle around what he thinks of youkai – sometimes adoring them and other times despising the pain he feels from forming these fragile bonds. Tanuma is a little more simple, and he’s quite alright with the concept of being friends with a creepy youkai who pretends to be an old lady and give young boys candy. I thought the ending to this episode was an excellent depiction of that, with Natsume tensing as he waited to hear how Tanuma would react to thinking Ito was a youkai. Upon hearing Tanuma’s favorable response, Natsume’s lips form a thin line and his expression is ambiguous. I can’t tell if he’s relieved that Tanuma doesn’t think less of Ito for being a youkai, or guilty that he thought his friend would automatically abandon her now. It’s likely a mixture of many emotions, as Natsume still doesn’t have a clear idea of how he feels about youkai and humans becoming friends.

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I’d say she’s pretty comfortable making friends too…

It’s an interesting topic for the show to explore. Tanuma starts the ball rolling by blurting out how sad it would be if one of your friends turned out to be a youkai all along. Based on what we know about Tanuma, he probably didn’t mean it in an anti-youkai sort of way. It would just be sad to find out your friend was lying to you all this time, instead of telling you what they were from the beginning. That’s why even when Tanuma has an inkling of a suspicion that Ito is a youkai, he doesn’t change the way he treats her. Yeah, she’s a youkai and she should have told him sooner…but youkai are still cool, and humans can still be friends with them.

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not ALL youkai

Tanuma’s simple, pure-hearted approach is a nice contrast to Natsume. Natsume very obviously wants to help youkai, but he’s seen so much depressing shit in his errand-running day-to-day life (5 seasons of it) that he’s not sure it’s worth the pain sometimes. Tanuma is one of those reminders that close relationships can still be formed, despite the species difference. I think Natsume wants desperately to believe that youkai can be friendly with humans, which is why he tries so doggedly to get Ito to stay. This is a rare, special friendship that is beautiful and shouldn’t be broken. And Natsume protects it splendidly.

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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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