The problem I find with this first episode is the lack of middle ground in the characterization. On one extreme the Lord (the black Nyanko) was way too sacrificial in his devotion to befriending mankind while on the other extreme the lynch mob of lesser Youkai’s was too eager to turn an ugly face the moment a slightest wind of treachery blew.
Doesn’t this also go against the common belief that power corrupts and therefore the more powerful Ayakashi should be more evil than the lesser Youkai’s?
Or perhaps a fundamental law in NatsuYuu Universe is that the correlation between evilness and power within the spiritual world is reversed to that found within the human world. Who knows.
On another note, one of the burning questions that I’ve had with the first season is Nyanko’s reason for staying with Natsume. This first episode answers that convincingly: quite simply, a lifetime of a human is to an Ayakashi, such as Nyanko, no more than an afternoon is to a human. This really set the perspective of the grander scheme for me. Just as Natsume is having these numerous short encounters with various youkai’s, so is Nyanko having one of his own with humans, a couple of which is Natsume and his grandmother Reiko. Nyanko is merely spending nothing more than an afternoon with a human.
While this view does seem to diminish Nyanko’s side of the friendship between him and Natsume, it does reinforce the theme of how ephemeral friendships and chance encounters can be, which gives off a melancholy feel that fits well with the snowy backdrop of season two. Like snow fell on warm hands, so are our times with people. I wonder if Season Two will crescendo to a final departure between Nyanko and Natsume, when the snow disappears in Spring. That’ll be such a heart-wrenching finale!