After watching this scene, I could not get myself
near a window for a good few nights.
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.)
The thing about Natsume Yuujinchou 3 is that its world is already getting a bit stale. It is not just the yet again another one-eye monster for the third episode in a row, but it is also that the new youkai who showed up do not bring anything new to the table: they either came peacefully to ask for their name’s return, or they came violently knocking on the front door, stridently demanding the abnegation of the Book, just like what they’ve been doing since the first episode.
However, Youkai are supposedly beings outside the normal experience of people, and hence should exhibit traits that should surprise us.
One thing that made Mushishi worked was that each episode featured a different kind of mushi that differed not just in forms but also in purpose and behavior that sometimes are similar to human but often so radically foreign that we simply cannot identify them as anything but a completely different life-form. We could never figure out what Mushi are.
So, stop giving us helpless Cyclops, but instead, throw us off our chairs with some sharks armed with frickin’ lasers.
I’m waiting for that too!
We’re all just misunderstood.
Even though the theme of loneliness is being reintroduced with some variations—first episode about a consequence of loneliness: anger; second episode, a cause of loneliness: disconnects; and this episode, a nourishment of loneliness: misunderstanding—however, these variations are being portrayed with too much simplicity.
In this episode, every person or youkai were simply misunderstood: young Natsume, that youkai who faked as a girl, the creepy classmate Tanuma, the youkai “exterminator”—all turned out to constitute not a single bone of malice after all, but instead were just a bunch of artless, all around “good guys.” Where is the shade of gray?
No lasting impression
OK. I will first admit that there were three scenes that raised my eyebrows and dropped my jaw.
First was when young Natsume realized that girl was no girl. I was moved by both the betrayal Natsume abruptly felt as well as the rejection the girl/youkai cruelly received.
Second was when Natsume jumped in between the monk and My Little Pony and yelled out his name to stop. It surprised me that the rumor of the Book’s power over the youkai’s names was real.
Third was when Natsume realized that the creepy classmate was just shy and scared of approaching him. It felt good to see that Natsume was able to break through the misunderstanding and tear down the wall between two kids who were otherwise of the same introverted, confused spirit.
Having said that, I will say that all three scenes failed to give a lasting impression. Scenes with good lasting impression is like intense weight-lifting exercises: after they are done, your arms continue to feel sore for the next few days. Natsume Yuujinchou 3 did not do that for me. As soon as the episode was over, I immediately went to search for mecha musume’s pantsu that is Strike Witch 4.
I suppose the reason why they didn’t work for me is the same as the title of the post by Maipeisu mentioned at the beginning: All’s well that ends well… or not!? The episode just ended too well. As Maipeisu had said, there is no tension to nudge the viewers to yearn for a resolution in the next episode.
But all is well
Lastly, I will also say what Maipeisu has said: I will come back for more in the next episode.
There are still open, interesting questions.
The two biggest ones are Nyanko-sensei’s motives and Natsume’s grandmother Reiko’s story. It’s quite a contradiction that Nyanko-sensei on the one hand cries for a powerful youkai to come and finish Natsume off but on the other hand rescues him on the dime, not to mention that he himself is that powerful youkai already. So, as much as I have griped about the show, I still consider it full of potential. Hopefully, the writers hasn’t run out of steam already.
Why do I keep thinking of Kyon?