I had a lot of reactions to my first review of Natsume, my dear Island Guests. After telling I thought it was very good but a fairly predictable first episode I was told the good stuff would start a few episodes in.. so I was fully prepared for this episode to be even a bit bland.. as usually Episode 2’s of series are my least liked episode (exposition and such)… I was not prepared for what I was about to see when I watched the second episode of Natsume!
Natsume and Nyanko-Sensei are growing a bit closer together as Natsume continues to deal with Yokai in his daily life. We begin the episode with what I assume is a potential romantic interest for the boy asking him for a signature to do a Trial of Bravery in the old School building.. a ghost hunt of sorts! A hunt that I am sure will be one of the next few episodes! There Natusume sees a Yokai that chases him and attacks him thinking he is Reiko again. Nyanko-Sensei saves him because the spirit trying to kill the boy wants the book for himself. We see that Natsume’s daily life has changed since he became his lucky cat “pal” . There are two types of Yokai in his life. Those trying to kill him and those who come and talk and ask for their name back. One of these is the tiniest cute little Yokai guy who is described as the “Dew God” A former rain god that has shrunk in size after losing followers. We also discover Nyanko’s real name is Madara.
When Natsume tries to give the little guy his name back, he discovers his grandmother did not take to great care of the book and two pages are stuck together.. if he tries to peel the apart and give Dew’s name back.. he might cause him imense pain or even death. So the only way to solve this is to find this other Yokai that is stuck to his page as well. Natsume lacks time at the moment and will visit the shrine of the guy later. On his way there he meets and old Lady named Hana who is nice enough to give him a peach. She turns out to be Dew God’s only follower.. his lore is told and she experienced it and is thankful for the mircale a man has caught still. Praying devoutly every day.. even though she is sick and doesn’t have a lot of time left on this earth. Natsume searches for the other Yokai..which turns out to be quite hard because the Dew God only gives him a poor drawing to go by.. this causes the hunt to go on for several days but eventually the little guy tracks the Yokai down and Natsume can give them back their names.. the Dew God thanks him.. but tells he is dying. Hana died and with his last follower gone.. a god will die as well. Natsume tells he will be his follower and worship him but the Dew God refuses.. telling Natsume that they are friends.. those should not worship each other… he then fades.. finally coming eye to eye with Hana in a form of afterlife. Thankful for what she has done for him. Reliving their missed opportunity encounter.
I did not expect this episode to impact me already! That was such a sweet but also heartbreaking episode. I mean there is still a lot to be established here but as far as second episodes go I have never been as deeply emotionally affected like this one. I went misty eyed! I managed to not cry.. .but I really came to like that little guy in the span of a single episode. The idea of a god dying without worshippers was something I was quite familiar with by playing the game Sacrifice WAAAY back in the day. I beat that game with every single god and had a blast!… So when I heard Hana had died.. I was afraid for the little guy.. and without remorse he was taken from me! I liked the message he left with a lot too.. friends do not worship each other , they are equals. Even though I am not familiar with Shinto religion and the idea of shrines and paying offers, the end scene of Natsume leaving an offering for something that someday might be in the now empty shrine was a nice little sentiment. If we do not appreciate things they might be gone before we know it.. so let’s already be thankful for whatever blessings might be bestowed upon us in advance!
I like how we are exposed to Natusme’s social life in a rather organic way. Tired from all his adventures and releasing a spirit he ponders over his relation with his legal guardians, telling how much he appreciates them and can not bother them with this little quest of his. It does feel like a fairly genuine string of thinking though.. I am so tired from the job but I can’t bother anyone with what is going on at my work right now for it would make my loved ones worry. The subtle way he wants to sign something to help the female classmate and pronounces her name are all much more subtle cues to tell a story then him going all hearty eyes telling in his mind she is his secret crush.. this also leaves more room for liberties.. maybe I read it wrong, maybe the two are just friends.. maybe something awkward happened between them.. there is so much more you can narratively do with this approach and it also feels a lot more natural than how anime crushes are conveyed normally. This is a great episode that really plays on emotions in a sensible way. Also those peaches Hana was known for and gave to Natsume looked SUPER TASTY! So some nice visuals and creature design as well!
I struggle to find anything negative about the second episode of Natsume. Yet I can’t fault it that much. The comedy with the drawing was funny. The attempts from Madara/Nyanko to off Natsume in his sleep had chuckling and the story elements nicely clicked together. If I had to nag about something.. and I set myself up for that it’s that getting the little guy his name back and him fading away happens fairly close next to each other.. but I am not even sure that is correct. We see a day pass but for all we know it could be several days. Still it felt a bit “coincidental” that the old lady died JUST after the quest had been complete.You know.. storybook pacing and such.. still I probably would have enjoyed the episode if that did not happen.. so it’s not really a negative! Reee! Let me try again! Sound?! No I loved those Cicada’s in the middle of nowhere? The plenty of flashbacks? No those were quite lovely! Darn it! Oh wait maybe this!
So in the school Natsume encounters a Yokai that gets stopped by Dragon-mode Nyanko/Madara it then turns into a fluffy ball with an eye and floats away. That plotline is not pursued at all anymore, it’s just a random fleeing Yokai.. which I would have liked to see addressed a bit more.. but I am sure that it will return in the next episode or in a few so that way it would be more awesome! But if it just vanished from here on out.. that would be a negative. Hey I’ll take a potential negative point over having non in a section where I am supposed to list negatives! I am also sad the Dew God and Hana are gone forever.. I liked both characters .. but that is what made this episode so impressive already. Yeah.. really that is it.. this episode already was quite amazing.
You don’t need to be paranormal to see what grade I am about to give this episode . There is this thing between me and second episodes that always is a bit iffy. There are a few series of which I don’t mind the second episode.. but there are very VERY few series of which I love the second episode. Samurai Flamenco being a Noteworthy exception. However I am going to call it and say this is my new favourite second episode of a series! So that is pretty high praise! It’s my tribute to a show which one day might even become better.. and I am actually pretty sure of it.
Natsume’s Grandma seems like a horrible person though! She steals Yokai’s names and takes bad care of the book and she tricks people into fighting her by offering them food when they need to eat. I am not sure what kind of person Reiko is but she seems like quite a Bit-Choo-Choo train to me! An interesting specimen still and I want to learn more about her.. but I think I would hide a lot of tabasco in her tea if I ever got to serve her some. She’d probably beat my pink face in or send Yokai to deal with me… but yeah! These are just some random thoughts! Really REALLY good episode! .. Now I am off to find some dissapointing peaches in the SuperMarket.. but i really want one!