Natsume Yuujinchou Roku Episode 3

Review:

There’s something very cyclical about the nature of Natsume Yuujinchou. Events have a way of repeating and characters who have long disappeared from the narrative return at the most unexpected of times. Admittedly, Shibata wasn’t from that long ago, but he had a decidedly single episode air about him so his return this season is something of a surprise though perhaps shouldn’t be when this season has so far been about connections. Shibata knew Natsume back when everyone still thought he was a liar and only called on him for help when he was in trouble. Unlike Tanuma and the others who now know Natsume’s secret, Natsume regards Shibata with a great deal of suspicion and it is hard to take his overtures of friendship as anything other than being driven by guilt of past wrongs.

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As a result, I quite enjoyed this episode as it brought Tanuma and Shibata face to face and made the contrast between them clear, even while it has moved Shibata closer to becoming an actual friend.

Natsume Yuujinchou remains a sweet and pleasurable viewing experience and I have no complaints about how this season is going so far.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Season 6 Episode 2

Review:

I don’t even know why Natsume reiterates the point that getting involved with unknown yokai is a bad idea. After 6 seasons we know he’s going to get involved so he may as well just accept that fact. Still, after last week really only mentioning past characters in passing, this week Natsume’s school friends, Touka, and the mid-level yokai all play a role as Natsume helps locate a missing stonewasher.

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While the hunt for a missing yokai is standard enough, this episode continues to look at Natsume and the fact that he doesn’t just blindly help whoever. Once again, Natsume relates to the yokai way too well as he thinks about his own loneliness and how happy he was at finding a home. It is that emotion which drives him to help find the lost yokai.

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Throw in another Natori reference and the fact that the yokai only got lost because of an exorcist and I’m still hopeful we’ll get more of the exorcists in general later in this season. Really enjoyed this episode.


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Natsume Yuujinchou 6 Episode 1

Overview:

Okay, if you haven’t watched the previous 5 seasons, there’s very little reason to care about season 6. However for everyone else, Natsume is back and he still sees Yokai and he is still stuck with Nyanko-Sensei. Let’s see what they get up to this season.

Review:

Episode 1 is as true to the formula of Natsume as you would expect. Natsume and Nyanko are out running an errand (yep, the cat ate the snacks again) and they run into a yokai. Natsume being Natsume helps him out and then gets turned into a much younger kid (too adorable).

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We then get one of the better recaps of the main characters of a series I’ve seen as Nyanko-Sensei mentally runs through the options when seeking help before Taki and Tanuma show up (part of me wishes he’d gone to Natori because that would have been hilarious).

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I’m sure I’ve said this before, but Natsume needs smarter friends. Their hearts are in the right place but sometimes they are a little thick. Despite that, things get resolved and we end on a happy note with Natsume and Nyanko having a nap side by side.

Anyway, this is a sweet and fun as it has always been so a great start to another season provided you are up for more of the same.


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Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 11

Review:

As far as season ends go, this one is pretty average. Natsume get’s sick due to the mid-level Yokai dragging him out to see some flowers and then both yokai and human friends spend the episode worrying about him and feeling helpless. Meanwhile Natsume reflects on a few things before having a dream that features Reiko that essentially tells him not to attach himself to anyone because then he won’t need to protect them. On recovering, Natsume rejects this idea and regrets that he can’t tell Reiko. As an episode it does what it needs to but it just doesn’t quite have enough charm to pull off these ideas. I’m glad we have another season announced for next year because I’m still in love with this show but this episode was strangely disappointing after last week.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 9

Review:

It’s been awhile since we’ve started an episode of Natsume with Natsume running frantically away from a yokai and even longer since he’s had a nightmare about whether or not he can stay with his current family. This was a very pleasant return to form with a yokai of the week appearing and Natsume generally getting caught up in things he probably would have been better off walking away from. I like these episodes because they work on their own with only limited knowledge of the story needed to follow the events and while the final message of the episode is predictable the story still brings itself to a satisfying enough conclusion. What is more important is that Natsume continues to internalize these encounters to fuel his own growth.

That said, I love how Nyanko-Sensei can just switch off and go into full cat mode when the occasion calls for it.

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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.

 

The Morose Mononokean Series Review

Overview:

Ashiya Hanae picks up what he thinks is a bag on the side of the road, however it turns out to be a yokai who becomes attached to him (quite literally for awhile). Desperate to be free of it, Ashiya turns to an exorcist (who turns out to be a class mate). Now, Ashiya has to work to pay off his debt and in the meantime he is learning about the yokai who live in the world.

I reviewed this week to week so if you are after individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

It’s never fair to judge a show by comparing it to others. Mostly because even if it is not as good as another show, that doesn’t stop it from being a good show. Unfortunately, right from the beginning this show reminded me of a cross between Natsume Yuujinchou and Ghost Hunt and it didn’t really do either of those shows justice.

So, other than my disappointment that The Morose Mononokean didn’t follow along with my predetermined view of what it should be, what is there to say about it?

Ashiya and Abeno are both kind of interesting characters. Ashiya’s a little shouty at times and suffers from that affliction that hits so many protagonists of having to have everything fit within their narrow view of the world or fight against it (leading to awkward apologies when they realise that not everyone who isn’t following their moral compass is actually doing something wrong). Abeno on the other hand is a little too stoic and needs to try communicating occasionally to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. That said, the two together kind of balance each other out nicely and if the show had only had one or the other it could have been a train-wreck right from the get-go. Both of these characters are needed.

The problem is that both of these characters keep being set up to have an interesting past or some sort of secret and none of this is ever dealt with. We get a little tiny bit of Abeno’s history but we are still missing a lot of pieces and any foreshadowing that Ashiya has some sort of hidden power comes to nothing (though would have been actually kind of cool). Admittedly, if the story continues in another season then there is plenty of places to go but if that is it (other then a read that manga kind of finish) then the characters really didn’t go far in terms of development.

The yokai that are introduced are all kind of entertaining in a monster of the week kind of way, however as the show is obsessed with not actually villainising anyone or anything there is little to no tension in the encounters no matter how bad they try to make a situation look early on. After the first two or three false alarms you just kind of expect that there is in fact no danger and that it will all solve itself no problem. That said, Fuzzy is one of the most adorable characters I’ve met for sometime.

There’s also a raft of support cast (including class mates, Ashiya’s mother, the Legislator, etc) who are introduced but have so little screen time that their overall impact is pretty negligible even though some of these characters might have been really interesting to learn a bit more about.

I know I said this a number of times during episode reviews but it always felt like this show was keeping us at a distance from the actual story. It was as though they wanted to give us a taste of this world but then wouldn’t really let us get into it.

From a plot point of view it is very monster of the week. There’s the overall relationship between Ashiya and Abeno and Ashiya working for Abeno but otherwise they take on a job, run around a bit, argue a bit, and then solve the case (usually making a friend) and then they move. This is a fairly standard plot structure for these type of shows and it works well enough but every now and then an actual sense of danger or drama might have helped.

Visually it isn’t anything special but I found it kind of pretty and I liked the character designs. The underworld particularly was quite striking and I enjoyed the scenes that took place there.

All and all, this is a watchable bit of entertainment but it isn’t particularly good or bad. My recommendation is to watch it on a rainy afternoon when you just want to relax and it will succeed at amusing you. That’s about it though.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Special

Review:

Okay, I hate filler and I hate recap episodes but I didn’t hate this – and not just because it is Natsume and so automatically gets a pass on most things. Firstly, they didn’t try to given it a number in the series and pass it off as an actual episode, it was clear it was a special. The second reason this kind of worked was because Natsume is episodic in the first place so having a random stand-alone adventure isn’t really an issue in terms of upsetting the overall pace of the narrative (in fact it is difficult to determine how this was really different from any other episode other than they didn’t actually mention the book of friends or his grandmother for the entire episode). That said, I don’t know if this was actually new or something older and I guess it doesn’t matter given I’d never seen it before.

So reviewing this as an episode? I really enjoyed it. If you haven’t watched all the other episodes you won’t get anything out of this. Essentially they split up Nyanko-Sensei and Natsume for arbitrary reasons and then Natsume spends the episode wandering around looking for Nyanko-Sensei and conveniently runs into and has a conversation with each of his friends from school (which is great because we haven’t seen some of these characters much at all this season). Nyanko-Sensei meets two human kids and for reasons that only seem explained best as Natsume’s influence, he ends up helping them complete an errand and in the process runs into most of the friendly yokai who have met Natsume and show up from time to time (and again, some of these have had very limited screen time this season so it was a nice little nostalgia trip). But that’s all there is to this. If you want to see some old favourite characters, jump right in. If not, wait until next week and a new episode.

(As an added note – if I’d been guiding those kids I’d have left them to the other yokai after the second round of tears. Yep, I’m not great with crying children.)

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 6

Review:

Natsume returned to the normal formula of Natsume getting attacked by a random yokai and then helping another yokai over the course of the episode. He also lost his voice early on which he seemed to find a massive inconvenience. I really enjoyed this episode as it had a very nostalgic feel to it and we had a bit more Natsume and Nyanko-Sensei interaction then we’ve had in the past few episodes. The attacking yokai ended up being pretty much nothing which was kind of the big disappointment of the episode. yeah, it’s true to the show but it just seemed like there was a bit more build-up and that maybe they would actually be something resembling a threat and then they just kind of weren’t. Anyway, this is Natsume being typical Natsume so fans of the show will love it.

 

Natsume Yuujinchou Go Episode 5

Review:

Taki is back with her grandfather’s circle. This of course brings Natsume some angst because he was told in the last story it was a forbidden technique. Fortunately, Nyanko Sensei is about as tactless as a box of hammers and just comes out and tells Taki and that saves us spending the entire episode watching Natsume dither about how to tell her. Instead, we get to see a yokai dealing with their first encounter with a human and the ties that a chance encounter formed. This is interesting as normally we get this from Natsume’s perspective as he encounters the various yokai who end up moving on. This time, Natsume is the outside observer seeing how the yokai and Taki come to terms with their meeting. I love how this show continually finds news ways to explore similar themes. After four seasons it still manages to breathe life into the characters and this setting and there’s something just magical about it. That said, it has gotten to the point where if you don’t know the characters and their histories they aren’t really helping you drop into this story. Season 1 or 2 you could have picked up nearly any episode and made sense of it. Now, there’s so much history sitting behind every encounter prior knowledge is a must. Loving this return to Natsume.