Welcome to the Host Club!

"Welcome to the Host Club!"

I apologize for the slight lateness of this episode review, but here it is anyway. In episode 9, we get to meet another character who can see youkai. However, there is something very different about this one.
The episode begins with an amusing sequence of Natsume taking Nyanko-sensei for a walk, since he’s gotten so fat. En route they bump into the heart-throb popular actor Natori Shuuichi; and Natsume is quick to notice an odd tattoo on his neck. (I, however, am quick to notice that he looks remarkably similar to our hero for no immediantly apparent reason) Later, he sees a masked youkai walking about the street with a rope trailing behind her. Ordinary day for him, really.

I like his hat. Very stylish.

I like his hat. Very stylish.

Even realizing that he can see her, the youkai doesnt seem to be interested in him, and seems occupied with something else.  The fact that Natsume paid a bit of attention to her really does show how he is starting to care about the youkai, even if he’s a little slow to admit it.
That evening, Natsume is attacked by a small shikigami-type youkai which chases him out of his house, where he again bumps into Natori. It’s here he learns that Natori can see the youkai as well; and as a matter of fact, he was the one that summoned the shikigami, merely to test if Natsume could see it. The actor seems pretty thrilled about this and takes to following (ie, stalking) Natsume everywhere, even to school, much to the fangirlish delight of the female population there. We learn one major thing about Natori; he’s somehow able to bend the youkai to his will and even keep two as servants, who seem to adore him. He explains why he is interested in Natsume; he wants him as an assistant to exorise a youkai.

I dont think Nyanko likes the idea of youkai being servants...

I dont think Nyanko-sensei likes the idea of youkai being 'servants'...

This was the best moment in this episode.

This was the best moment in this episode.

This guy is like a Youkai Pimp or something.

This guy is like a Youkai Pimp or something.

Natori explains the exorcism job; which involves a sealed warehouse which apparently has a curse on it. Later, when a large youkai randomly attacks Natsume demanding the Book of Friends, Natori quickly attacks it back, sending it fleeing. Natsume is very angry with him, saying that it’s not good to harm them like that. Natori shrugs it off, with seems to disgust Natsume. He really is softening towards the youkai…

That thing is just plain scary.

That thing is just plain scary.

That evening, Natsume again meets the youkai with the rope. We find out that she’s the youkai Natori was talking about, and she says that the rope was put on her by a shaman who ordered her to protect the warehouse. She couldnt escape from the rope, but if she fails to protect the warehouse the rope would tighten and make her head fall off.  She tells Natsume how one day many years ago a boy came and bandaged her hands for her, which were bloody from trying to remove the rope. Apparently, this boy is Natori, and although she knows this, and still wants to thank him for the bandage, Natsume realizes that Natori probably doesnt remember her.

There are so many masks in this show.

There are so many masks in this show.

There are so many flashbacks, too.

There are so many flashbacks, too.

Natsume, feeling sorry for the poor youkai, goes to Natori the next day, to where he is setting up an exorcism circle at the warehouse, to try and stop him. However, he is restrained by one of Natori’s servant youkai and is unable to prevent the masked youkai from walking into the circle as she comes towards Natori. So in an act of recklessness, he manages to break through the bonds the servant youkai has him in and jumps straight into the circle to try to save the masked one.

-bondage joke-

-bondage joke-

All the blue light made this look really cool. I like scenes like this.

All the blue light made this look really cool. I like scenes like this.

Madara to the rescue!

Madara to the rescue!

Nyanko-sensei manages to save Natsume by changing into Madara in order to break the exorcism, as Natori was by then unable to control the seal or stop it. He is, naturally, shocked at what Natsume did, as is Nyanko/Madara. As for the masked youkai…by a stroke of good luck, and due to Madara’s intervention, she wasnt exorcised after all, but the rope on her neck had fallen away, making her finaly free.

Nyanko-sensei looks pretty ridiculously cute all exhausted like that.

Nyanko-sensei looks pretty ridiculously cute all exhausted like that.

Of course, now that she’s free to do as she pleases, the masked Youkai joins Natori as one of his servants as ‘Hiraagi’. Natsume and Natori part again, and although they seem friendlier, they still dont approve of the way the other does things.

Everyone is pretty under their masks in this show.

Everyone is pretty under their masks in this show.

Although this episode had some themes that have been in previous episodes; such as another person that can see youkai, and a youkai who has strong feelings for a person, it managed to put a different spin on things in order to keep it interesting. Natori seems like a bit of a jerk, but an interesting character none-the-less. We also got another insight into exactly how powerful Madara must be if he was able to break that exorcism like that. In any case I enjoyed this episode more than the previous one, so out of 5 the melonpan score is:

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