Natsume Yuujin-Chou: Episode 2
Wow – I am SO sorry for the delay on this! Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I apologize in a post and say I’m gonna hop right on the late reviews, the internet crashes – hard! I mean, the system was DOWN, yo! Anyway, the exceedingly late review of Natsume Yuujin-Chou: Episode 2 is behind the cut…finally!
This episode begins with Natsume being approached by his class rep, who wants him to sign up for a trial of courage – he signs, but has to make a quick departure as his is found again by one of his “friends.”
That night at dinner, Natsume is surprised again (lol) by a small man who helps himself to his dinner. Of course, this is another “friend” who wants his name (Tsuyukami) back. However, when Natsume locates the name in the book, they find that it is stuck to the name next to it as a result of Reiko’s poor table manners. Since they can’t rip it apart by force without dealing serious pain to the poor little guy, they decide that the only way to return the names is to return the names on both pages together, all at once.
While Natsume is out walking, on his way to go visit Tsuyukami, he runs into an old woman who has dropped her bag of peaches on the ground. When he stops to help her, she offers one to him. But that’s not important right now…anyway, he gets to Tsuyukami’s shrine and hears his story. Turns out Tsuyukami is not actually a god – he just entered an empty shrine and (by chance) shortly after that the land recovered from a devastating drought. Encouraged by this, the people began to make frequent trips to the shrine to pray, and Tsuyukami began to feed off the attention. When the shrine-goers eventually stopped coming to pray, he began to shrink in size. Now, with only one faithful worshipper left, he is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand.
In order to return Tsuyukami’s name, Natsume must find the spirit whose name is stuck to the other side. Unfortunately, since the name side is the side that is stuck, he can’t just call the “friend” to summon him – he must find him. Guided only by Tsuyukami’s laughable sketch of this spirit, Natsume begins the search. While searching, he runs into the old lady (Mrs. Hana) who dropped the peaches before – she is praying at Tsuyukami’s shrine. We learn that she is that one faithful worshipper who is left, and that she has been praying here since she was a schoolgirl. She even saw Tsuyukami once, but was afraid that if she talked to him, he would disappear.
The search is fruitless, and Natsume returns home. However, later that night Tsuyukami knocks on the window to tell Natsume that he has seen the spirit they were searching for! Once they are in the woods, the spirit makes itself quite apparent. While it has Natsume in a stranglehold, Natsume gets his vision of Reiko interacting with the “friends.” He learns the story and (more importantly) the name of this spirit, and is able to return the names to both him and Tsuyukami.
Unfortunately, this is too late for Tsuyukami. Mrs. Hana has passed away, leaving him with no worshippers. He shrinks to a point where he eventually begins to disappear. Natsume tells him to wait – that he will come and pray to him, but Tsuyukami refuses, stating that they are friends so that is impossible. Soon, he is gone completely.
On the way home, Natsume stops to pray at an empty shrine, having learned that caring and dedication is what truly matters.
I still love this anime. I thought maybe the charm would wear off, but it hasn’t yet – I love the story, I love the artwork, and I love the pleasant combination of humor and melancholy. Especially in this episode – I thought Tsuyukami’s disappearance was well-handled without being overdramatic enough to ruin the scene; I must applaud that. The only thing I’m not a huge fan of at this point in time is Natsume’s loneliness complex. I know they’re trying to get across the feeling of isolation and such, but it’s really turning me off. During those little flashback scenes, I wonder whether I’m watching Natsume or Shinji from Evangelion – I just want to yell at the screen, “SUCK IT UP, PANSY!!” Maybe I’m being too harsh…
4.5 / 5 (because of Shinji’s Natsume’s crybaby scene)