Natsume Yuujinchou Season 3 Episode 4
What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.
Series Premise: Natsume Yuujinchou, or “Natsume’s Book of Friends” is an anime series based on a long-running manga of the same name. The first 13-part series aired in 2008, followed by a second season in 2008, and a third season subtitled “San” from July to September 2011. Natsume Takashi is a teenage boy with the ability to see spirits; after inheriting a book from his grandmother filled with the names of spirits, he spends his time dissolving the contracts bound within.
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Spoiler-free Episode Summary: A tree spirit has been growing increasingly bored and frustrated that she is invisible to humans, until a younger Natsume comes along. Overjoyed that he can see her, the spirit continually badgers and teases him until the day that Natsume moves away, and they leave on bad terms. Years later, Natsume has an opportunity to stop on by once more, after having matured somewhat and with more understanding, and greets her affectionately.
My Impressions: Welcome to the next episode of Highway to Heaven…er, I mean Touched by an Angel…er, I mean The Ghost Whisperer!
Seriously, this is turning into a “Spirit of the Week” type of show, four episodes, four spirits with four different relationships/problems with Natsume. As far as I can tell, each of the four episodes do not build into any sort of greater narrative, they are just separate twenty-minute self-contained stories and that’s that.
Mind you, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that at all, especially when those individual stories are actually interesting and well-told. And perhaps I’m just being unnecessarily impatient, grousing a bit about the lack of an overarching plot far too early in the game, when we’re still just four episodes in to the season. Oh well, either way I’m still willing to play along, it’s now just a matter of whether or not it will just be an inconsequential throw-away set of unrelated episodes, or become something more meaningful over time.
Also, I suspect this is indicative of the fact that I haven’t watched the previous two seasons, but this episode really points out to me how messed up Natsume was when he was younger. Constantly harangued, relentlessly teased and ostracized by his peers, raised by questionable guardians, or worse by guardians who unashamedly did not want him at all. That sense of trauma was strongly hinted at in the past three episodes at times, but never really hammered home quite so bluntly as in this flashback episode. Now I definitely can see just how much of a “healing anime” Natsume Yuujinchou truly is, and how far he has come already.
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- Info resources:
- If you like this, you might also like: Mushishi or Kamichu
Sampling of Online Reviews:
- “Unlike the last two episodes, I didn’t feel as sad. No bitch tears in this episode, mostly because I felt that this ended more positively than the other two. Natsume’s childhood is sad, but they take good measures to make sure it doesn’t turn into a complete over dramatic mess.” – Hachimitsu Anime Blog
- “This episode was a splendid way of showing the growing pangs of growing up, where there is a world filled with harsh words and bullying, yet at the same time these harsh moments help emphasize the peaceful, happy moments to life…All of these moments were thrown into this very well paced, wonderfully atmospheric episode. I keep forgetting how Natsume Yuujinchou has a lot of great episodic arcs, and this one would definitely be one of them in my book.” – Emory Anime Club
- “This episode was so sweet! Another signature Natsume-episode with the right amount of feel-good sweetness and realization. ” – Metanorn