Natsume Yuujinchou San – 13 (Final) Review
I think it involves a poking object, some pain and a lot of screaming. Then again, that just sounds like Blood-C.
Episode 13 (39) – Natsume’s Book of Play
So this episode brings the theme of a series to a full circle but seem to have been struck by the curse of disappointing endings.
The story for this episode seemed all over the place and choppy but the good thing was that the last 5 minutes of the show did manage to bring everything back together again and leave you with that familiar warm and fuzzy feeling before bidding us farewell until Season 4 comes around 3 months later.
It is after exams and Natsume and his friends are planning on what to do for their school holidays. After being unable to come to a decision, the group heads home for the day. Natsume reaches home and is greeted by his relatives before heading into his room. When he enters he is greeted by the his Yokai friends who constantly disturb him and they have invited him to attend a Dog Party with them.
The next day on the way home from school, Natsume gets asked to return a name.
After school, Natsume gets roped into the forest where he gets ushered away to the party by the yokais that were in his room.
Whilst at the party, the group decides to play a game of tag. During the game, Natsume remembers some of his past as a child and how he was always shunned by his school mates after they thought that he was a liar.
During the game, things get out of hand when Nyanko-sensei becomes “it”, as one can expect out of his character, he gets annoyed and goes nuts after which Misuzu arrives and decides to join the game.
Natsume falls into a hole whilst running away and he starts to remember about his past and ponders about the present.
After some time, Nyanko-sensei arrives on scene to help Natsume out of the hole.
The episode and season ends with the spirits partying with Natsume and Natsume’s friends arriving at the shrine looking for him.
Like I had mentioned above, this episode ties off this season’s theme pretty nicely with the episode theme of ‘Acceptance’. The whole episode is a essentially a big farewell party reintroducing many familiar characters in Natsume in cameo-like roles.
The whole season so far has been focusing mainly on Natsume’s relations with the people around him and him coming to terms with their roles in his life whereas this episode is all about Natsume being accepted into being part of other people’s life. For instance, with the Yokai’s, we have Hinoe saying to Natsume that they would protect him because they like him and this bond is shown through the simple and carefree manner in which they played their game of ‘tag’ like little kids without any discrimination. As for Natsume’s friends, we have known for a long time now that they have accept Natsume (or whatever part Natsume reveals to them) and this episode just carried on that point with them planning for a trip that they would be taking as a group during their holidays. There were plenty of subtle instances where Natsume in this episode to justify that acceptance and another example would be how Natsume no longer makes excuses about the Yokais and simply tells Taki that he has something to do.
However, what I did not like about this episode was the lack of coherence in the story. The first part of the story had all the characters sitting around in the classroom talking about themselves and planning for their trip with no real importance to their discussion, and with the way the atmosphere was built up, you would think that a flashback was about to occur, and it did. The issue was that what I had thought would be a long and deep flashback turned out to be one of the many short flashbacks used to convey the contrasting lifestyles between when Natsume was a kid to how he is currently. Although the flashbacks were not that bad, I thought that they could have executed it a lot better and more effectively instead of how they decided to do it – short burst of the past and a monologue by Natsume to explain it all.
The issue with this episode was that many things ended up becoming a mere mention or snippet without any weight to it due to the imbalance in the pacing of the scenes. Some scenes were shorter than what they should be whereas some were too long for no reason, i.e. the yokai who asked for its name back turned out to be a small detail in the episode instead of something proper, the trip gets reintroduced only at the end of the episode and does nothing much development wise except it being used as a way of introducing the flashbacks, the game of tag was much longer than it needed to be especially with the whole Misuzu part.
There were also a few things off about the animation. The animation kept fluctuating between being ‘nicer than usual’ to being plain lazy. There were moments where the scenes were animated really nicely and Natsume’s actions looked really “energetic” and then there were those moments where everything was a simply a still frame. It felt like the animators had the same amount of time to work on the project as usual but instead of spreading out their efforts evenly as they have in previous episodes, they picked and chose which scenes they would like to spend more effort on and which scenes they felt they could cut back some time on. One scene with a decent animation was when Natsume got roped into joining the dog party with the spirits (12 mins in), but a scene that was terrible would be when Madara and Misuzu were talking and their mouths did not even move (17 and 18mins in). Also, maybe I am the only one who felt this way but… there was a new element in the animation style with the whole almost “cartoonish” way in how they decided to portray certain things (e.g. 6:50 mins) that didn’t fit in with the usual Natsume style.
(I am also sad that I did not get to hear the ending theme for Natsume Yuujinchou San one last time T^T)
Somethings that I did like about this episode:
- Nyanko-sensei was hilarious when he was drunk and dancing away
- Natume actually kind-of kicks Nyanko-sensei’s butt
- We get to see most of the characters again
- The last part of the episode settled back into the usual Natsume style
- The chemistry between Natsume and the Spirits were fun to watch
Episode Rating: 7/10
Series Rating: 8/10
Overall, it was still a rather fun and “expected” episode, it would not have been Natsume if we did not see a gathering of sorts in this final episode of the series, and whilst I am glad to see many of the characters again, I did wish that the episode had stucked to more of Natsume’s usual style of nostalgia. I do miss those ‘yokai-of-the-week’ episodes (as this ep’s yokai was more like a passing mention) but we shall be seeing more of it in 3 months time so I shall not sweat over it. All in all, it was a good season of Natsume with a very consistent development of the theme of Natsume’s bonds and relationships with the characters surrounding him. The disappointing thing was that although the first few episodes mentioned Reiko and seemed to want to explore her character, the later part of the season appeared to have forgotten about her.
Since there was no ED for this episode, I decided to add it to this post. =P
Anyway, I shall see you when the next season of Natsume comes around and thank you for reading my reviews of Natsume! It has been a real joy to review this series each week and I hope that you will continue to read the other reviews on the blog! =)