Natsume Yuujinchou San 6 and 7 gives us a two-parter, and a departure from the show’s mood we’ve seen thus far, at least this season.
The mood is darker than usual, and unlike most episodes, the greatest threat comes not from youkai, but from humans who are connected in some way to them. Natsume discovers that a human is taking youkai blood in order to perform a big spell. It turns out the culprit is the Matoba clan. Alas, I don’t remember why exactly they do the things they do. The long-haired, parasol wielding Seiji says he wants strong youkai to protect people, why we don’t know. Considering how youkai are interested in Matoba eyes there’s probably a long feud going on. But the Matobas aren’t the only returning characters: there’s Natsume’s old friend Natori.
He’s also in the exorcism business, which sometimes puts him at odds with the ever-humane Natsume, but he’s the opposite of Seiji. He works for safety and mercy, and he treats youkai with respect, even kindness, so much so that his youkai servant Hiiragi worries and pines for him when he’s late. And there’s another character who presents a fresh angle, the witch who was in love with her youkai servant and will stop at nothing to get her revenge on the Matobas for killing him, even if it means killing others. AND the youkai who gets Natsume involved in this mess in the first place, and then spends the rest of the two-parter worrying about him. The show dwells on these relationships at the very end, from the Matobas’ cruelty, the witch’s shattered love, to Natsume’s compassion and sense of belonging. That’s one place where the story does not deviate from the norm: as usual, Natsume gets a few sentences to sum up.
As for the story itself, it’s more exciting than most. More is at stake; it’s not often we see Nyanko injured. And now that Seiji is “interested” in Natsume and Nyanko, we can expect more out of them in the future. I almost think this is a shame. I prefer the show when it’s quiet and tranquil. Bringing in such big conflicts knocks the series off-balance.
Watching No.6 6 brought up questions in my mind, but only one of them had to do with the Sion/Rat dysfunctional not-yet romance (that being, of course, will Rat tell Sion that Safu got snatched by security?). First, I’m more interested in how the security works there. I would guess that any person who even thinks about knowing a suspicious person would have tracers and spies following their every move. And indeed, Safu is “arrested.” But why did they arrest her then? Was it because she visited Karan? It’s quite natural for a person returning home to want to visit an old friend. Are they bugging Karan’s home? Most likely. But then they ought to know something about the communications with Rat. Maybe they’re using Karan to out more unfriendlies? It’s interesting that this show doesn’t show any of the people in power. We don’t have their perspective.
Another thing I find interesting is Safu’s reaction when she returns. Apparently other cities don’t require identification bracelets, and don’t have a problem with Picasso (what was that all about?). Do people in the other cities think “Ugh, I wouldn’t want to live in No.6. Fucking police state.”
As for the Sion/Rat story, Rat is such a dick that I don’t really care.
My backlog is getting bigger, so I dropped some more shows (Kamisama Dolls, Prince-Sama, etc), and I keep thinking that I’ll drop Kami-sama no memochou, but then I watch another episode and think “That was pretty good,” and I keep it. The plot hops from here to here, and you’re never quite sure where the next big moment will be. The latest one has a guy named Kenji who befriends Narumi (who seems to know him from somewhere), t-shirt theft, Yakuza, and who knows what else, tossed in the air as Narumi goes around doing promotion for a band (and why does The Fourth want him to do that?). I have no idea where the plot is going and I like it that way. Also, Alice, the stereotypical genius loli whom the show’s supposed to be about, sits on the sidelines, unable to snark at anyone until the scene enters her den. Not that I dislike Alice, but she’s only good in small doses.
No subtle, episode-spanning story arc for Nekogami Yaoyorozu. Instead, episode 5 takes all the characters and their weirdness and throws them into a beach inn episode, except that it’s raining and a typhoon is on the way. Gonta, the lone male god in the cast, is determined to see Yuzu in her swimsuit. Yukina the manga artist is, by an incredible coincidence, is also at the inn, tossing out bits of story in her desperate struggle to make a deadline, leading to perhaps the line of the week. “Someone is trying to show me how to stop a typhoon through the easy-to-understand panels of a manga.” Gonta hasn’t gotten much screentime before now, but all I learned about him is that he’s a hard-luck character, as lone males in a cast often are, and that the voice actress playing him has done trouser roles before. The best bits, unfortunately, are looking at the rejected manga sketches, which were as entertaining as the actual story.
Yuru Yuri 6 happily ignores the stuff that happened before and continues on its stupid way. The girls make up stories full of suppressed feelings and then they model suggestive things out of clay, except for Yui, who molds dumplings. This is why I like Yui. Then Yui’s deadpan little sister comes to visit. And once again great pains are made to remind us that Akari is a completely useless character. Though I feel a little sorry for her, these bits are often the funniest parts of the show. Okay, Kyoko’s figurine was pretty good. Too bad they had to drive that gag into the ground. Episode 7 has more sustained action as the girls pair off for Christmas dates, the couples chosen by lottery. Since no two girls actually have a thing for each other, no one is going to be particularly happy, but it gave some of the one-gag side characters a chance to interact. The Himawari/Sakurako pairing worked the best, since they hate each other anyway, and it produced the best line: “Your breasts have ruined my Christmas!” And Chitose spends almost the entire episode with her reverse yuri-goggles on, and has a thoroughly nice, albeit dull time with Akari.