This episode draws a more solid connection between Takashi’s difficult childhood and his present situation. The connection was a bit unclear at times, but at least we are beginning to get a better sense of how he became the person he is today.
What does it feel like to be able to see things that other people cannot? To be called strange and to be avoided even by those closest to you? How is it that Takashi exists in the lonely rift between the human world and the youkai world, but manages to preserve his sanity? Does he hate humans? Youkai? More importantly, do we even care enough to empathize with him? Episode 3 continues to explore these and other deeply personal questions while Takashi struggles to identify a so-called human “youkai-exterminator” that the Ayakashi are complaining about, and flashbacks add yet another shade to his desolate childhood.
If dropping Wagaya no Oinari-sama didn’t sum up my present mood clearly enough, let me be blunt and say that I’m quite sick of episodic anime at the moment. Would-be animators, take heed! For an anime (or anything, really) to be successfully episodic, each episode must be a world unto itself, unique and engaging, and carve another purposeful notch into the overall story (character development, backstory, etc.) Until another superb episodic show comes along, you’ll find me glued to Itazura and Birdy. Bah!
Episode 3 of Natsume covers two of Maipeisu’s Episodic Criteria (can you guess which?), but as far as I’m concerned, the series as a whole is still skating on thin ice. As usual the first half of the episode took its sweet time to get to the main hook, though this time it amped up the lulz a notch on the way. Watching a drunk Nyanko-sensei waddle into the house in the middle of the night to pester Takashi was awesome, as was seeing a few of Takashi-kun’s random, ‘Kimihiroesque’ moments… actually, Hiroshi Kamiya (seiyuu) really gives himself away as the magic behind Nozomu Itoshiki’s distinctive whine/rant/yell (ZETSUBOU SHITA!) in these parts. It was also fun to meet a new character from the OP. Perhaps Takashi has found a kindred spirit, no pun intended.
Other parts were kinda meh, especially as it wore on and stopped pretending that it wasn’t going to conclude itself nicely and civilly. My least favorite bit was the neatly giftwrapped ending, ’cause NOTHING irks me more than a ho-hum finish. Takashi’s philosophical reflection was… touching, yes, but a few steps shy of profound. Also, they could have at least left a few loose ends for us to twiddle — something, anything to ensure that we’ll all be back for Episode 4. Series in which each episode has a cliffhanger ending are obnoxiously stressful, no doubt (they compel me to engulf them in a single sitting like a greedy anaconda), and yet the opposite extreme can be just as bad.
But let me be honest. I’ll be back for Episode 4. To my surprise, Natsume again succeeded in capturing that fleeting feeling that I wrote about in the first post, even if it was just for the few moments devoted to a flashback of Takashi’s wistful childhood encounter with a youkai that pretends to be a human.
Please forgive my terseness, as this week’s post will be a bit shorter than the previous two. I’ll return to my usual, overanalyzing self next time.
Time for a change. This time around, the plot focuses in on a human being instead of an youkai. Seems a stranger has come to town and is a-shootin everythin’ up, so the little Ayakashi go running to Takashi to do something about it. By “shootin,” I mean releasing dangerous blasts of spiritual energy into the youkai populous, at raondom. Parallel to that, a strange classmate has taken an interest in Takashi, the one with the creepy smile that’s always just around the corner. Is there a connection? Well, that’s what they want you to believe.
“Him? Oh that’s Stalker-kun. No one has ever seen his eyes before.”
Despite appearances, Takashi seems to have made some friends. We’re still not sure where he stands on the social awkwardness scale, though. Having people to talk to doesn’t imply he has someone to connect with.
The plot is in place, flashback quotas have been met, now bring on the LULZ!! Even though the jokes are more numerous and bombastic, they do not go overboard; Natsume wipes the smile off its face with the same composure and impeccable good timing that it used in the past two eps.
I would never, ever fall asleep again.
Even nyankos need a night on the town every now and then.
Enter Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the (doh!)kai of the week. These bumbling idiots were hilarious. they follow Takashi and brown nose continuously until he caves in and decides to listen to their story about the youkai-exterminator who they want, well, exterminated.
What’s with this show and cyclopes? Come on, let’s see a demon with fifteen eyes!!
They can go even lower, ladies and gents!
Rant a la Kimihiro, in public. Natsume needed to play that card at some point ^^.
The episode turns on a dime and inserts more grim scenes from Takashi’s childhood. A few cameos from Reiko may have been welcome, too, but I’m glad to see that the main purpose has been (and hopefully will continue to be) delving deeper and deeper into Takashi’s character.
An unwanted child…
…running from fate.
Takashi finally has his run-in with the so-called youkai-exterminator (is that a technical term?) After being saved from the Exterminator’s energy blast by Madara, Takashi is approached by a massive youkai named ‘Misuzu’, who offers to lend a massive hand. This is is likely the first time that Takashi realizes he may need to actually study the Yuujin-chou, either to protect himself or to protect others from strong youkai. My initial fear was that the Yuujin-chou would slowly be whittled down to a miserable couple of pages before we had an opportunity to witness its true power… but we may still get that chance yet.
Misuzu is another supremely intense-looking youkai, just like the one from episode 2. I’m hoping for one a week!
Behold~ the power of ‘friendship’. And no, that’s not a pause sign up there. Must be camera glare. I’ll speak to my photographer.
There is a bit of dorama in this episode, relating to Takashi’s childhood, but hardly close to the amount that would make me want to vomit. In truth, the sentiment felt sincere, and his lonely tears, well-founded. The visuals also draw a clever parallel between the sunset in the flashbacks and the sunset in the present; Takashi mentally reconciles his tenuous personal relationship with youkai under the same orange summer sky in which he discovered the true identity of the kind onee-san in the park as a child. Again, symmetry.
Trust and Betrayal. Oh wait, that’s Kenshin! ~We need a new title!!
I have no clue what its about, so I’m not even going to take a stab at it! Just check the previews!
Shokkeru’s Humble Opinions
This episode was pretty hilarious thanks to the two spirits that asked for Takashi’s help. Even though they were pretty annoying, the combination of their pestering and Takashi’s reactions made the comedy act in this episode pure gold. However, this was possibly the main highlight of the episode.
The theme of the episode seemed to be the fact that other people other than Takashi may be able to see the spirits. However, if you’ve watched the entire episode, you would know that this fact went entirely down the drain. Not only was the person from his past a “human” that could see spirits, but neither was this mysterious student that stalked him was able to see them. Nope, he went around acting all mischievous-like for the entire episode, but in the end he was nothing more than “normal” with a slight ability to sense a bit of a spirit’s presence. But who knows, maybe he’s still deceiving us and may possibly have a larger role in the later episodes. Hell, if he’s in the OP then he has to have some important role at least right?
I’m not sure why, but the past two episodes so far has been really good at getting to my emotions. It wasn’t as bad as episode 2, but this episode still managed to get me a little choked up during the parts when Takashi finds out his friend from the past was actually another spirit and the part where he was reflecting on it.
Overall, another good episode in my opinion. It may not live up to Maipeisu’s standard of episodic anime, but I find it to still be enjoyable regardless (as I’m sure he does as well).