Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 11

Review – Some spoilers:

Can we get a season 7 announcement, please?

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This episode resumes the hunt for the study and as usual Natsume’s keen eyes and a deeper understanding of yokai and those who can clearly see yokai find the necessary clues that eventually lead the group to the study door. That said, Natori does have a moment of doubt about whether he should hear what Natsume has to say regarding the Book of Friends later in the episode.

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So as much as Natori continues to play the understanding guy they are leaving his character and his relationship to Natsume ambiguous right to the end. I find it fascinating how this show didn’t resolve this point but still made this feel satisfying. We did take another step in this relationship with Natsume ultimately explaining the situation with Reiko to Natori and we heard Natori’s response. First the one he said clearly to Natsume:

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And then the one he made sure Natsume didn’t hear:

It isn’t exactly a declaration that Natori is going to try to take the book or destroy it, but it kind of indicates Natori isn’t just going to say, ‘cool, you’re grandmother left you a really dangerous book’. It will be interesting to see how this progresses, assuming of course we get more of this show.

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The other point that has to be mentioned is that for the first time a yokai has suggested knowing a male relative of Natsume. We kind of knew he had to have family other than Reiko and his dead parents but they’ve never been mentioned. And as Natsume wonders later, what connection did a former relative of his have with the exorcists? It is obvious that Nanase of the Matoba clan had some sort of relationship with Reiko other than the one childhood encounter we’ve seen, but is Natsume more closely tied to the exorcists than he realises?

So this season is done and I’m really happy with how it has gone but will do a full review soon. That said, this is a show I always want more of.


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Natsume Yuujincho Roku Episode 5

Review:

I love this show. I always have and this episode really hit every reason why I love this show. The relationship between Natori and Natsume has always felt real and quite complicated this so much left unsaid between them (though the same could be said of every relationship between major characters in this show).

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There’s no doubt Natori actually has some genuine worries for Natsume’s safety but he is, first and foremost, an exorcist and one who does not trust the yokai. It has been a point of contention between the two from the beginning in how to deal with certain situations and last week Natori overheard that Natsume has something (apparently he doesn’t know what it is but he kind of knows it has to be powerful). So, his final line this week is kind of concerning in terms of where this relationship will go in the future (but at the same time kind of brilliant in terms of what it could do for the story).

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However, if that is too much drama in the Slice of Life, cavity inducing cuteness that is Natsume, focus instead of Nyanko and how adorable and compliant he was being this episode.

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Can I have one?

Natsume Yuujincho is available on Crunchyroll.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 4

Review:

I really do love the episodes where Natori or the other exorcists are involved. The added conflict Natsume faces not just between yokai and human but the different ways humans approach yokai really does give this series a little bit of drama and usually it comes with some a bit more tension and danger than the other episodes of this mostly sweet show.

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Once again, Natsume has stuck his nose into Natori’s business and there’s a good chance Natori has overheard a yokai stating that Natsume has the Book of Friends, one of the few secrets Natsume has kept from Natori because of his torn emotions when thinking about how Natori might react. It will be interesting to see next episode (it was TBC) whether they choose to finally get into this given its been a continuous point of contention for Natsume in regards to his friendship with Natori or whether they decide to put that conflict on the shelf for yet another season given both the characters seem happy enough not to address it.

Looking forward to the next part of this particular story (which actually concerns some ex-exorcist’s house and his daughter, but to be honest I’m finding the relationship between Natori and Natsume more interesting than the current monster of the week).

Natsume Yuujinchou is available on Crunchyroll.


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Blue Exorcist Season 1 Series Review

Okay it occurred to me now that the second season of this show has started that I hadn’t review season 1.

Overview:

Rin Okumura and his twin brother Yukio have been raised by Shiro Fujimoto, an eminent priest, so it comes as a shock when Rin discovers their biological father is actually Satan.

– From AnimeLab

Review:

I remember this was huge when it came out. Not quite Attack On Titan huge but still it was a pretty big deal. And when you watch the first episode which is wonderfully dramatic and Rin learns the truth about his parentage and his actions get Shiro, who has acted as his father, killed and all of the other things that happen in that action packed introduction, it is pretty amazing.

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Then there’s most of the rest of the series.

Not that Blue Exorcist is actually bad at any point. It’s quite well animated, there’s a series of zany characters who are learning about the world of exorcists and gaining powers while facing a diverse range of challenges. Probably the biggest issue is rather than just have a training group learning exorcism is that they decide to base it in a school with all the usual school setting tropes and to be honest the classroom scenes really drag the pace and serve no purpose in any of the story. Okay, Rin is bad at book studying. We get it. It was funny for about three seconds. Can we please move on and see an exorcist fight a demon now?

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And this is probably why I’ve never reviewed this show even though its been sitting on my list of reviews to write. For every moment of amazing over-the-top action/adventure with its mish-mash of religious tropes and ideas, there’s the sitting in the classroom, studying for an exam, inner-class rivalry, friendship games and all sorts of other things that just aren’t as interesting.

Shiemi is a good example of this. When she’s first introduced she’ a ridiculously shy character but Rin, being Rin, brings her out of her shell and after Rin and Yukio save her from a demon she ends up enrolling in the class. What follows is some of the lamest attempts at bullying and friendship making I’ve ever seen in a school based anime and that’s probably because Blue Exorcist is good at fighting things, cutting things down, strong emotional moments when facing more or less unbeatable odds. It isn’t good at being nuanced in social interactions. The fact that this sub-plot with Shiemi goes on for far too long before it is finally resolved in a ‘you helped us defend ourselves from a demon so you must be kind of cool so just forget all the mean things we did prior’ kind of way, only makes it worse. And after this, Shiemi pretty much ceases to be anything other than someone in the class. That close connection with Rin, the playful is she just a fan because he helped or does she have feelings for him moments just disappear and she literally becomes just another one of the group.

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And all of the students suffer more or less the same fate. They get a moment to shine, they get a moment that makes you want to roll your eyes and then they fade back into the crowd. It’s a shame because some of these characters actually have interesting stories (or seem like they might) to tell but ultimately they are there so that Rin has someone to bounce off.

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What this leaves is a reliance on Yukio and Rin to carry the characterisation of the story and that is definitely a mistake. These characters are good at what they do. They have opposite approaches to pretty much everything, they both have an inferiority complex toward the other, but they both lost their ‘father’ and they have both had to deal with keeping Rin’s secret. They should be interesting characters and yet Yukio is insufferable in his ‘woe-is-me’ attitude holding the fate of the world on his shoulders and refusing to actually talk about what is on his mind. His weak personality is actually exploited which is how we get to the finale so at least it served some narrative purpose but still wasn’t particularly compelling. Rin is just a charge in and hit everything kind of guy. That can work and when the show focusses on action it does work in this, but unfortunately watching this kind of character go about the day to day isn’t very fun. Trying to contrast his rough and ready attitude with a sickly sweet side doesn’t do much to balance him as a character and merely makes the tone of the show even less consistent.

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Okay, now it sounds like I hate the show which isn’t true. It actually is a fun ride with some great visual spectacles. I love the ending of this series (though I know a lot of people will disagree with that) and to be honest I’d have been happy with the show ending there but then there’s the movie and now a second season.

So, should you watch Blue Exorcist (assuming you haven’t)? If you like action with a bit of silly visual comedy, then you will probably enjoy most of what’s on offer here. Plus, Kuro, once he comes into the story, is the one of my favourite anime pets or mascots so he’s a lot of fun. If you are looking for something with a bit more character depth and a narrative that goes beyond ‘beat Satan’ then maybe you should look elsewhere.

Blue Exorist Episode 30

Review:

While I can appreciate a story that takes its time getting to a point, that’s kind of only if I’m finding the set up and opening moves interesting, and Blue Exorcist season 2 is suffering from a severe lack of interesting developments. After barely getting any story so far and wading through a lot of teen angst, we’re now flashing back while reading a letter from the head priest to Rin, which of course Rin can’t read because of how its written so Yukio is reading out loud.

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It isn’t that Fujimoto and learning more about him isn’t interesting and it isn’t that I think this won’t be relevant later, it’s just we’re now 5 episodes into this season and other than two eyes being stolen and people apparently trying to retrieve them, this plot is seriously not moving. I guess if you like the characters more, Rin’s struggle to control his powers and the potential of him becoming a target might be enough to engage you, but to be honest for me that’s just background noise and at the moment most of these episodes feel like background noise.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.


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Blue Exorcist Episode 29

Review:

After three episodes of mostly teen angst, we finally get back to the whole someone stealing the eye thing and of course it’s the girl who got told one thing one time and decides it is an absolute regardless of evidence of lack of it. It’s amazing how easy it is to convince yourself of something when you perceive every event through the lens that what you think is true and you find a way to distort all the facts to fit that truth. I mean, she might be right, it isn’t like I think the superiors in the church are actually trustworthy given they all seem to have their own agendas, but it just seems that trusting Todo is a terrible idea.

Rin of course finaly figures out some basic flame control (thank goodness because I’m sick of sitting on the roof with him watching him destroy candles).

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And then of course loses control when confronting Bon about his father issues. It’s great that we’re reminded that Fujimoto was important to Rin and Rin is still harbouring guilt around his death, but when he interprets everyone else’s relationship through that lens it becomes irritating. Just because you’ve been through trauma does not give you the right to dictate the actions of others and while superficially the circumstances between Bon and his father seem similar, Rin is seriously butting in where he’s not needed. This is one of my pet hate character traits when watching anime. In honesty, I was happy when he got knocked out cold.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.


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Blue Exorcist Episode 28

Review:

I shouldn’t be surprised that very little is happening at the moment in this show. Season 1 did the exact same thing. Big opening with lots of supernatural menace and action and then highschool playtime and teens figuring out who they are only occasionally broken up by action sequences.

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Its a weird choice for a show that most people would call an action. The problem is, Blue Exorcist doesn’t really do characters that can pull off emotional nuances so mostly we’re left with lame jokes and obvious emotional fumbling, meanwhile we know there’s this whole conspiracy and demons and amazing things we could be watching and instead we see Shiemi get comforted by being called a weed.

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Not mocking Shiemi too much. She’s my favourite character in this show but as I said the characters aren’t exactly amazing. All and all this is watchable to those who watched season 1 but hasn’t improved at all so won’t be winning any new fans.

Blue Exorcist is available on AnimeLab.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 8

Review:

So not Reiko’s past but Matoba and Natori’s which was kind of interesting but just left me wanting to know more about how they grew as exorcists and why their relationship seems so fractured in the present. Natsume is conspicuously absent for the duration of this episode and most likely that’s because Natori is a very Natsume-like character as a child (though just a little bit more bitter). And this is something we already knew. Natori wanted the life Natsume has but wasn’t strong enough to fight for it and ultimately gave up on it. He chose the path of an exorcist and that’s a path Natsume has so far resisted though Natsume has come to the conclusion that occasionally an exorcism is needed for some yokai. Ultimately this episode brings to life what we already knew and that is that both Natori and Matoba have struggled with their ability to see yokai and we clearly see why they are both drawn to Natsume. As usual, any episode with Matoba or Natori is one of my favourites and these two were the focus this week so I absolutely loved this.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 4

Review:

Part two of Natsume dealing with Matoba was great but as always when Matoba gets involved we get a lot of questions without answers and I wonder just what was in the letter. Both Natori and Matoba know and Natsume is in the dark as always and given the overall theme this season of finding out about Natsume’s grandmother, I’m super curious if there is some connection. That said, even the episode itself acknowledged the similarities between this situation and a previous season’s episode and it almost felt as if dealing with the yokai was merely an excuse to bring these characters together. Plus, how foolish are the rest of the exorcists. They seem to exist only to make ridiculous exclamations and to get in the way. Not complaining overall, mind you, because it was as interesting a watch as ever and I’m glad Matoba was only wearing the suit for a meeting because it just doesn’t suit his character. But, I just felt that they could have pushed this storyline a bit further. Looking forward to the next episode.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 3

Review:

The exorcists being involved always makes this usually sweet show just that little bit dark. Not actually dark because then it wouldn’t be Natsume, but just enough tension to really make an impact in an otherwise very relaxing story. Matoba is a character I just love hating and his appearance is always welcome and this episode was no exception. Even a letter with his name on it was enough to get things moving. I’m trying to recall if we’ve ever seen Matoba wearing a suit before because that was a bit odd. Also, threatening Natsume with revealing the truth to his guardians is just kind of cruel (and so typical of the way Matoba does things). The fact that we also got Natori in this episode just makes it even better and then of course we get a part 2 next week. Also, we find out that Reiko may have been involved in something forbidden when she collected the Yokai names so we’re continuing this trend of learning a bit more about her even if indirectly. Then we have the fact that Taki’s grandfather was also doing something apparently forbidden and I’m wondering now if there is a link but I’m guessing even if there is we won’t find out anytime soon. Loving this season of Natsume.