Episode 13 (END) – 人と妖 Humans and Youkai
Humans and youkai.
Another wonderful heartfelt episode with an intermingling of bittersweet and fuzzy feel good ending to the series. Once again, my eyes felt watery at the end. There’s so much swirling emotions being brought out that I just can’t help it. Sob :”(
Natsume found the answer he was looking for and one that I had expected as well from our young bishie. We’ve seen how his character has grown and changed gradually over the entire series to hazard a guess on the kind of path he’ll choose to tread. Both humans and youkai are important. He does not think it’s fair to choose between the two. It really depends on how he deals and live with both in the equation. There are people he deeply loved and he’ll do everything to protect them but there are also youkai who sought his help and he’ll do what he can to help them. In the end it doesn’t matter whether he has to chose one or the other. What counts is how important both are to him and what he truly feels in his heart when he is with both humans and youkai. That’s the bit of maturity I’d expected to see and I’m glad Natsume displayed such a wonderful development albeit he still has a long way to go in terms of reaching out to his friends and finding trust in the right place. But he did take a tiny step towards that direction when he eventually revealed Kai’s true identity to Taki near the end.
This episode again highlights the recurring theme of loneliness and the changing tides of time where new generation abandons old practices. As a result, spirits like Kai (who is a water God from the mountains) were affected by these changes and were forgotten by people. His loneliness drove him down from his dwelling place to seek the company of others. He heard voices of what he thought was his youkai kin and tried to find them. However, along the way he met humans and appeared in human form to befriend them. In the process, he ended up meeting Natsume and Taki. But because of a little misunderstanding, Kai ends up releasing a powerful demon which was sealed in the well, one that has no intention to be his friend. It was cute seeing him cry at the end when he discovers that Natsume kept the pink flower pressed in the Book of Friends and realizes he is connected to Reiko. He can’t bring himself to hurt Natsume afterall, that Natsume had really meant it when he said that he liked him as a friend.
To be honest, I almost thought Natsume would end up ignoring Natori after he asked that question and let Kai have his way. Natori was seriously in danger and could have died because Kai wasn’t just any youkai. There’s no way he and his helpers stood any chance of going up against something with powers that’s akin to a God. Fortunately, Natsume understood the meaning of friendship and that he can’t stand to lose an important friend in light of the dangerous situation they’re caught in. I think Natori is beginning to understand more and more of Natsume’s feelings. And because of this, he too seems to be gradually changing. His youkai helpers particularly Hiiragi, appears to be overly protective of him and he noticed it. That little surprise look he gave her when she brushes a leaf from his hair probably had him thinking of his own stance in the situation. Again, another beautiful and subtle development is shown there…at least that’s how I see it.
There were amusing moments as well, especially the delightful banter between Natsume and Nyanko-sensei. Nyanko finally came right out and said it…indirectly…haha…he loves and enjoy being with Natsume, that it’s probably the best thing to happen to him since Reiko died…muahaha. Well then, Nyan Nyan sensei…it ain’t about the book anymore, is it?! 😀 Natsume naturally feels a little overwhelm upon hearing that and warmly thanked him for being with him all this while…which immediately elicit a typical Nyanko retort…calling Natsume dumb and creepy. I love that neko and I’m certainly going to miss his funny antics and wise-cracking retorts.
As I said at the beginning, the series concluded in a heartwarming manner where Natsume, his guardians and his mates came together to enjoy a backyard picnic. We see Natsume having a quiet moment by himself, apart from the crowd reflecting on his thoughts of what makes him happy and gives him joy. And then there’s the little bit about the old wind chime hanging by his bedroom window. He had thought of taking it down a long time ago but never got round to it. Shigeru asked him about it but Toko-san tells Natsume that it’s alright to just leave it there as it makes a lovely sound when the wind blows. The significance of that probably has something to do with Reiko. It’s as if he felt a gentle presence looking out for him at that instant when the wind chime tinkles. Sure enough, we were given a glimpse of Reiko’s spirit sitting on the window sill looking down at the merriment below. It’s such a poignant way to end the show.
**Final thoughts after the cut
A chat with Natori who tries to find an old well and prevent Kai from releasing the sealed dangerous demon which is luring him to unleash it. He does not want to involve Natsume in this job. But Natsume feels Natori should not harm Kai whom he sees as a friend and because Kai hasn’t done anything yet. Natori responded that it will be too late if that happens and then questioned Natsume about making choices… which is more important, humans or youkai? An upset Natsume runs off. Nyanko says Natsume is being such a pain again but perhaps Natori should consider his feelings too, leaving Natori to ponder over situation he’s in!
Taki found a depressed Natsume and asked if anything is bothering him. He tries to tell her something but hesitated. Taki says she baked home made cookies to give to Kai and wonders where he is. Natsume replies that he is not home and sought her help to find the location of an old well in the area. She agrees to help him look for information as Natsume promises to pass her cookies to Kai when he finds him.
While searching for Kai, Natsume met Tanuma on the way and ask if he’s seen Kai. Tanuma said he saw the boy somewhere up ahead. Upon hearing this, Natsume quickly runs off, thanking him for the information. Nyan-Nyan sensei complains to Tanuma that Natsume is a fool and is shouldering everything on his own again. How troublesome! 😀 A bewildered Tanuma looks on as the neko went after his charge. It’s cute that Tanuma refers to Nyanko as Nyan-Nyan. xD
At the old house, Natsume accidentally got caught by Natori’s paper doll, almost fell through the hole on the floor but Kai grab hold of his hand and pulls him up. Natsume looks up at the boy and ask if he’s a youkai. Kai nods and question if Natsume dislikes youkai. Natsume said he likes Kai. Happy at Natsume’s answer, he vows to get rid of the exorcist for causing hurt to Natsume. Natsume is alarmed but before he could say anything, Kai flew off to find his target. Natsume remembers Natori’s question and is distressed because he knew Natori is in danger. He runs off to find him.
Natori comes face to face with a powerful youkai’s wrath. Hiiragi and the other helpers fell, unable to do much against Kai’s godly powers. Smokescreen deviation. Hiiragi managed to drag Natori and escaped! Kai’s not relenting. It feels for a moment that Natori is ready to give up his life when he tells Hiiragi that it’s no use to run because Kai will just find them anyway.
Natsume feels relief in finding Natori, expresses his concern, tells him to get away cos Kai’s coming after him, tells him his choice – both Natori and Kai are important to him, Natori understood – reveals Kai’s a water God with the power to release a dangerous demon trapped in a sealed well, demon must not be released! Natori leaving it in Natsume’s hands who in turn is surprise but grateful, agrees to help him re-seal the well. Kai found Natori but saw Natsume talking to him. Misunderstanding ensues. Kai angrily flies off, vent on releasing his friends from the well. Natsume shocked, flies off with Madara to stop Kai and talk to him. And yeah, Nyanko got accidentally clobbered again…lol
Madara and Natsume spotted Taki from the sky. With Tanuma’s help, she found the location of the old well and yells for Natsume to be careful as he goes in search of Kai and the well. Low level sneaky youkai (previously creepy axe-wielding) meets Kai and leads him to the sealed well.
Kai refused to listen to Natsume, releases the evil oni which tells him that he’ll be eaten as a gesture of gratitude. Natsume tries to block oni from attacking Kai but got thrown off. Kai uses his godly power to dispel oni. Oni’s spiritual powers weaken by Kai’s powerful spell, tries to escaped but Madara’s waiting in the skies above.
Madara caught oni and throws it down to a waiting Natori with the demon sealing circle on the ground, oni is trapped and exorcised! Another job done. Meanwhile, Natsume is down and out and Kai spotted the Book of Friends besides him.
Kai recognized Reiko’s Book of Friends and realized Natsume’s related to her. Decides to hide the book as a prank but flipping through the pages, he saw the wild pink flower pressed on the last page, cries because he could never brings himself to hurt someone like Natsume, who treats him as a friend. Kai’s gone, so is Taki’s cookies. Natsume finally revealed to Taki that Kai’s a youkai. Taki worries that he’ll get lonely again. She’s such a sweetie. But Natsume tells her that they can go find him as Natori mentioned he came from the mountains. Taki’s happy to hear that.
Everyone of Natsume’s mates got together with his guardians for a backyard picnic at his home. Sitting by himself, Natsume ponders on the things that made him happy and Nyanko admitted he likes being with Natsume…can’t be help cos where else can he enjoy free board and yummy food all the time…haha. As he joins in and enjoys the gathering with his friends, family and youkai, he heard the wind chime rings. A sudden feeling came over him as he looks up at the wind chime hanging on his window. Toko-san tells him it’s okay to leave the wind chime there cos she loves the sound that it makes when the wind blows. As they all looked up enjoying the tinkling sound, Reiko’s spirit looks down on them from the window. I guess that she’s been watching over her beloved grandson all this while and is happy that he finally found a place to call his home.
What more can I say except to affirm that Zoku Natsume Yuujin-chou IS my favourite series from the Winter 2008/09 season. A series with plenty of charm that never fails to incite some kind of unexpected emotion from me. There is a feeling of contentment in seeing the way its intricate little stories and delicate plots unfold. They aid and tell of the protagonist’s continuing journey of self discovery, growth and gradual change. The lead character’s development was subtle, not jarring. Each encounter he experienced be it with humans or youkai, good or bad, brought new found depths in his character, which is wonderful to see. It never gets corny or deviates from the main themes, unlike many other series that started out great but got lost midway towards the end.
I enjoy seeing Natsume’s interactions with Nyanko and the other supporting/guest characters. There were some sweet cheese moments but they are not in any way distracting to the main theme of the story. There’s hardly any fault in the animation. The lovely backdrop scenes they featured in this Season are among my favourites. The music rightly reflects the nature of the show and some of its pieces are among the loveliest tracks that I’ve heard from any soundtrack released in recent times.
There were also more than one memorable episodes that really tug at your heartstrings. But overall, my personal favourite out of the 13 episodes aired is…tada, episode 10 where Reiko’s connection to Shigeru is revealed and Natsume realizing his place and home in the heart of his guardians. Awesome and touching moment just hits you in the heart. Watching it still brought out a silent tear to my eyes. Favourite animal cum spirit – Nyanko-sensei of course. Nothing beats the wise-cracking neko which I’d mentioned before, spewed out some of the series best lines. Favourite recurring supporting character – Natori-san, bishie exorcist with creepy lizard mark. Favourite new character – Tooru Taki, cute and adorable with a cuddly disposition towards a certain round fluff of ball. Favourite recurring flashback character – Reiko, always awesome, mysterious and cunningly powerful. Favourite featured youkai – Tama a.k.a Eggy, oh sod it…that cute little chick stole even Nyanko’s attention and is about the cutest creation since the little kitsune boy from Season 1. So much love...♥♥♥ And lastly, favourite music – Zoku’s main theme ‘Haru wo Shiraseru Mono’ and ED song ‘Aishiteru’ ftw.
I also thought this is the one series which stood itself apart from the manga that it is adapted from. You certainly don’t have to read the manga to enjoy the anime on its own. It is just that magnificent. I have no idea whether there’ll be a new Season in the future but regardless of that, I will certainly miss it now that it has ended. Goodbye Takashi-kun and Nyanko-sensei. It has been a wonderful journey from the beginning till the end, one that I enjoy immensely.