Yay, another season down. Two more to go.
I wasted no time in getting into this series and went right into this after re-watching the first season, finally relieving it of it’s place near the bottom of my plan to watch list. I have to say that my feelings about this installment are pretty much the same as the ones regarding the first season. This season built more on Natsume’s character and also started going more into his feelings about himself, the people around him, and youkai. Although lonliness remained a prevelant theme throughout the show, it was sort of balanced out by the generally happier and more uplifting spirit of the season. One of my favorite things about this season was seeing the introduction of youkai that were pretty menacing in their own right and really put Natsume in a tight spot. Overall, I would have to say that I loved this part of Natsume’s story just as much, if not more, than the first part.
The story follows pretty much the same kind of format as the first season, meaning it was pretty episodic. Though, this season there were one or two mini-arcs that a nice change-up and usually allowed for more Natsume development. Despite remaining epsidoic, as with the first season, every episode was pretty effective in building Natsume up as a character even more. There was a lot more focus, I think, this season on both Natsume’s feelings about his relationships with youkai and humans. We continue to see snipets of his past that show he didn’t exactly have a stellar childhood, but we also see how his current family makes an effort to let him know that he belongs and that they love him. Honestly, some of my favorite moments in the show were seeing Natsume grow closer to the Fujiwara’s, despite his fear that he may inconvenience them sometimes. In addition to Natsume growing closer to people, this season, he continued to help out and grow to like several of the youkai/ayakashi he ran into. I think that Natsume’s current feelings about youkai were pretty much summed up at the end of show where, when he was forced to think about which group he cared more about: humans or youkai, he found out that he cares about both and that they both have equal importance to him.
However, not everything was sunshine and roses this season. As with last season, Natsume was somewhat harrassed by various youkai either due to his meddling or just because. As I mentioned previously, one of my favorite parts of season compared to last season, is the introduction of more menacing youkai. Although there were only really two that proved to be a major problem for him, these youkai were still pretty neat to watch and led to some great developments for Natsume. The first one, though, was probably the best. Here we had a youkai that, for no reason at all other than for the fun of it, decides to torment this poor girl, Taki, after she happens to see him by telling her that she has a certain amount of time to find him again, or he will eat her and the first ten people whose names she says. Well, Natsume gets dragged into this, partly because he was curious, a good person, and his life ends up being put in danger too. The best part about this mini-arc, other than the youkai which really showed that not all youkai that Natsume will run into will be at least mildly nice, was that Natsume got a taste of what his life would be like if he were to lose his ability. And he realized that it sucks and it makes him realize that he would actually miss his ability, despite all of the trouble it causes him, because he would loose sight of a world that he has been connected to and made connections in for so long. The reason I liked this bit is because I’m sure that given the opportunity earlier on in his life, Natsume would have jumped at the opportunity to not see the beings that are causing him to be thought of as a weirdo and a liar. However, now that he has grown to see that not all youkai are bad and now that he has even made connections with a few, he realizes that he is just as connected to the world of youkai as he is to the human world.
Another interesting bit about this season is that there was a lot more focus on Reiko. Specifically, there was a lot of comparison and juxtaposition between her and her grandson. We saw how, despite claiming to not like neither humans or youkai, she still cared about them and was shown to actually be quite kind if she wanted to be. In fact, that was where a lot of comparisons were made in terms of her and Natsume. They were both shown to be really kind to both humans and youkai despite any backlash that may come to them as a result. However, there was a clear contrast between the two. Reiko was more open in terms of showing her ability and, as a result, was more ostracized by the community. She was also shown to be alone a lot as result of the community not really liking her. Natsume, on the other hand, is not as open about his ability, but has a few people who know about it and accept it. He is also surrounded by both people and youkai who care about him. I thought that the compare and contrast between the two was interesting to see especially since they are both really similar in terms of the situations they were in as younger people (ability to see youkai, orphans, etc).
Speaking of similiarities and Natsume. Natsume sort of had a bit of a rude awakening when it came to relating others who were like him and had shared his kind of pain. He was forced to realiize that not everyone has the same sort of kind attitude regarding youkai that he does and that people will toy with the lives of youkai without a second thought because they just don’t care. Now, when I say people, I really mean exorcists, a group of people who Natsume is coming more and more in contact with. Natsume has sort of maintained this idealized picture of them as people who are like him, but finds out that, in reality, can be horribly cruel to youkai because they think youkai are evil by nature. Seeing these kinds of people also made Natsume realize that, as the holder of the Book of Friends, he as a responsibility to protect the youkai in it, meaning he can’t go willy nilly and reveal that he holds such an item to others since he now knows that they won’t necessarily have the same benevolent attitude he does.
As for other characters in the show. Nyanko-sensei continued to provide his usually witty side comments and make me laugh with his blunt and sarcastic manner, as well as show his caring side when it comes to Natsume and those he’s grown to like. In addition, the Fujiwara’s had a bigger role this season, and although they continue to be left in the dark about Natsume and his ability, they were shown to definitely be great pillars of support for Natsume and provide him with a lot of the much needed love and caring. Natsume’s group of friends, especially those who know about his ability were fun to watch and it was great to see them provide support for their friend despite his efforts to brave everything on his own. Although the side cast doesn’t get a whole bunch of focus or development, they remain a great bunch.
The animation was slightly improved over the last season in terms of fluidity and the music was still really good, although the ED wasn’t as great as the first season.
Overall, I enjoyed this series a lot. It put more focus on Natsume and his relationships rather than the Books of Friends and the youkai connected to that. Natsume continued to grow as a character and become more comfortable with his position in his family and freinds. He also came to realize that he is connected to both the human world and the wold of youkai, and that he cares about both humans and youkai. At the same time, he also gets more of a taste for the darker underbelly of both worlds. All in all, this series certainly didn’t disappoint and has only impressed.
10/10 (Yeah, there really shouldn’t be a surprise here) Looking at the show in retrospect and on an overall note in comparison to the first season, I think I may have gotten a little carried away with my Natsume Yuujinchou fangirlness. As a result, I’ve decided to change the score to 9/10.
On a random note: Having completed this series, I have officially watched 200 anime. OTL… :D