Natsume 5, Dantalian 4, Yuruyuri 5

Ah! After a week off the school decided to make up for it by assigning me a six-day work week with nearly double the normal hours. But it’s done now. Time for another attempt to catch up.

It doesn’t feel like Natsume Yuujinchou San 5 had a distinct theme to it, at least not one that the show hasn’t visited before. Much of it is a simple race to stop Kakura, a nasty kimono youkai, from finding it’s missing body parts and become even nastier. But the variations are rather interesting.

I remember that Tanuma can kind of sense youkai, and so lives comfortably within Natsume’s circle of trust, but I don’t remember Taki being in the spiritual loop. But when Kakura gets loose and Natsume is running all over the place trying to find its body parts before she(?) does, she doesn’t stay astonished for long. Soon, she’s trying to help by finding a magic circle so she can see youkai. Maybe I’ve completely forgotten her, or maybe she acts this way because her beloved grandfather, Shin’ichiro, loved and studied youkai even though he couldn’t see them, either.

This tense scene is actually a lesser part of the episode.

And that’s where the real interest in the episode lies. The adventure part, Kakura searching for its body parts and seizing Natsume to steal his arm, I’m afraid is a little dull. It’s livened up by the youkai who hops on Natsume’s shoulder, and the fact that Nyanko toddles off after being fed, so we wonder how Natsume’s going to get out of this on his own. Alas, Nyanko DOES show up in the end. The climax of the struggle has only one interesting thing about it.

That being the other youkai. They used to hang around Shin’ichiro, laughing at him while he read about youkai, unaware that he was surrounded by them. They help Nyanko dispose of Kakura, and then deny they had any ulterior motives. They’re almost tsundere about it. “It’s not because this was Shin’ichiro’s house or anything …” Which leads us to the episode’s loveliest moments, them showing the genuine, but unacknowledged affection they had for the man, and because of that, the affection they obviously have for his granddaughter, who still can’t see them, but thanks them anyway.

Interesting. Natsume’s human friends include (not counting that exorcist guy) a boy who can sort of sense youkai, and a girl who can’t sense them at all.

Dantalian no Shoka 3 was a letdown, two stories that didn’t amount to much (though the thought of kids gaining wisdom beyond their years not doing anything nefarious like taking over the world, because they had become too wise, was a nice idea) Episode 4, however, got me interested right off the bat, with an interesting teaser, and then this:

I read “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” in the 70s. I don’t remember a thing about it, so I rushed to Google to catch up, gleefully anticipating a Delany-inspired episode. But the episode never goes beyond the title (though I recall that I await a sequel to another Delany book, “Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand,” which he still hasn’t written. C’mon, Sam! You can do it! It’s only been 25 years!) Alas, if the episode is inspired by any work of art, it’s “Misery.”

The first half is fascinating. Huey says Lenny Lents died on the street, but when they visit his home they discover he’s alive, though his sinister “wife,” Paula, doesn’t allow them to see him. But his wife was named something different. What’s more, we saw Lenny die in the teaser. Add to that Leticia, locked in the shed with Lenny’s corpse, begging them to save Lenny (Huh? Wha?), and Huey and Dalian meeting a healthy, smiling Lenny Lents the next day, it’s one mystery after another. Well done!

So it’s sad that it’s all because of a phantom book. The second half of the episode devolves into a bizarre gorefest as Paula repeatedly kills the resurrected Lenny and Leticia in turn (to bring a person back to life they have to sacrifice another). This is a sad, but rather interesting image: two lovers who cannot both be alive at the same time. Sadly, the fact that Paula’s murder methods goes from handgun to shotgun to blows to the head, and the deaths become more and more disgusting (and we see more and more of it) only makes the whole thing comic, and that’s without mentioning Paula’s motives (later mirrored for a laugh by Dalian). Well, never mind that the episode went from intriguing mystery to tragedy to overdone comic horror, not to mention how they get out of it (er, evolution doesn’t work that way, Gainax). The episode was fun to watch, beautiful to look at, even during the disgusting bits. And it was fun to see snarky Dalian go fangirl over what she perceives as a boys love story.

Then, to make sure the evening ended on a stupid note, I watched Yuru Yuri 5. The “Comuket” part was routine, but I liked the joy Kyoko showed when meeting her fans, with sometimes enemy Ayano basking in her glow. After that the show decided that since it’s called Yuruyuri, maybe they should have some additional yuri, which means Chinatsu chasing Akari around to practice kissing, with … interesting results. Oh, and everyone still seems a little surprised that Akari’s still the main character.

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