I watched this episode over a month ago, and am finaly going to review it now. Sorry about that!

Well heres a good start to the day.

Bulbasaur! Use Vine Whip!

It’s already the second-last episode of the first season of Natsume Yuujinchou, which has already been blogged by everyone else months and months and months ago, but I am still blogging it anyway. Anyway, this episode was pretty damn creepy, and had a kind of nostalgic feel to it that made me think of something that would have scared the pants off me when I was a kid. During one of his ‘walking through the scary youkai forest’ outings (on the way back from school, I suppose), Natsume runs into some super-creepy Youkai tied to a tree which is eating another youkai. It sees him and sends out a shadowy tendril, and although Natsume is able to break free from it, it leaves a peculiar mark on him. When Nyanko-sensei sees it he recognizes it as a curse.

Why did he touch it, anyway? Youd think hed be a little smarter than that.

Why did he touch it, anyway? You'd think he'd be a little smarter than that.

The curse has an odd effect on Nyanko-sensei, however, apparently it causes his powers to fluctuate to the extent that he cannot maintain his proper size, and thus he turns into an adorable mini-Nyanko, which was probably the cutest thing in this episode.

I....I want one.

I....I want one.

Besides knowing its a curse, however, Nyanko-sensei doesnt know much else about the mark so he suggests that Natsume go call for somebody who does. He teaches him how to summon the Youkai whose names he has, and Natsume summons Misuzu, that large horse-like guy who still doesnt seem to be entirely on Natsume’s side.

Seriously I do.

Seriously I do.

Misuzu also has a resemblance to this thing I used to have nightmares about when I was really little so I dont like him that much.

Misuzu also has a resemblance to this thing I used to have nightmares about when I was really little so I dont like him that much.

For all his grandeur, Misuzu doesnt know much about the mark either, but says that he’ll send for somebody who does, a youkai named Hinoe. Something about this name seems to unnerve Nyanko-sensei slightly. Even 12 episodes in, I’m still amused at how different Nyanko-sensei and Madara’s personalities are. I cant exactly imagine Madara chucking a little fit at other youkai and then getting stuck upside down in Natsume’s hood, for a variety of reasons, size only one of them. I still prefer Nyanko-sensei, though. He’s just so much cuter.

Mini-Nyanko are the latest fashion accessory craze.

Mini-Nyanko are the latest fashion accessory craze.

Hinoe turns out to be a rather comical humanoid youkai, for she has a gigantic crush on Reiko, and, as youkai seem to do, mistakes Natsume for her. I was actually expecting something scary that had unnerved Nyanko-sensei so the sudden humour came as a total surprise, and I couldnt help but laugh when Hinoe suddenly realized that the one who had called her wasnt a girl. (“…you have no breasts.” Apparently, Hinoe’s a groper?)

...I thought she was a drag-queen at first, actually.

...I thought she was a drag-queen at first, actually.

She seems disgusted by men, even if they are the grandson of Reiko, and seems reluctant to help him, but eventually and rather reluctantly caves in, after first recovering from the tragic news that Reiko died a very long time ago. She tells him that the curse is something called a 5-day-Mark, which is what the youkai in the forest sticks on its prey as it cannot move. Apparently it will consume his life-force for 5 days, before it will draw him back to where the youkai is to be eaten; a pattern which will eventually set the youkai free. Hinoe decides to look in the matter more, and on the way home, Natsume passes by an odd shadow which stands there doing nothing. According to Nyanko-sensei it’s not a youkai or ayaskashi, so they just leave it be.

With her hair up....she still kinda looks like a drag-queen.

With her hair up....she still kinda looks like a drag-queen.

This is the scariest thing ever. How the hell does Natsume look at this all calmly and just leave it there. Im not sure why it freaked me out so much, but damn, sometimes having no face is way scarier than having a scary face.

This is the scariest thing ever. How the hell does Natsume look at this all calmly and just leave it there? I'm not sure why it freaked me out so much, but damn, sometimes having no face or arms is way scarier than having a scary face and scary arms.

There’s a running thread in this episode about Natsume’s foster family, and how we can see how they are gaining in importance to him. It’s quite sweet that he is considering them a real family more gradually now; even if they still dont get alot of screentime. (Sure they’re lovely people, but they’re hardly the most interesting charactres, so this is probably for the best) His aunt worries about him alot; here due to his bandaged-up arm, and he becomes a little distraught over the fact that he has to continually lie about things in order not to worry her. I really felt for Natsume here, because that sort of thing must be really hard on him, particularly when considering the pain his aunt may feel if she thinks that he doesnt trust her and thus keeps things from her.
In the morning, the creepy shadow is now at the gate, and Natsume realizes it is coming closer. Hinoe gives the lowdown on what she’s learnt;  that this shadow is sent out from the youkai to home in on Natsume. No one else can touch it except Natsume, but if he does, he’ll die.  Meanwhile, the curse continues to affect Nyank0-sensei’s size…

Damn this thing creeps me out...

Damn this thing creeps me out...

He got about 10 times as cuddly! I love how his voice went all deep; cracked me up.

He got about 10 times as cuddly! I love how his voice went all deep; cracked me up.

Because of the shadow Natsume thinks it best if he camps out away from the house to avoid involving his foster-family in this, as it eventually makes it way into the house. He gives the excuse that he’s staying at a friends house and goes off to the forest once more, and Hinoe also offers to teach him how to summon a familiar to help protect him. Unfortunately, Natsume’s strength has been greaty drained by the curse, and it is incredibly difficult for him to concentrate on it.

Still trying to decide if Natsume holding the mini-Nyanko or this is cuter...

Still trying to decide if Natsume holding the mini-Nyanko or this is cuter...

Poor guy. He really doesnt have the best luck.

Poor guy. He really doesnt have the best luck.

He eventually falls asleep from exhaustion, and is awoken later in a scene that pretty much horrified me; the shadow had caught up with him and was right above him. This was so incredibly creepy I actually jumped; if I woke up to something like that I’d probably die. Of course, Natsume could as well, so he totally freaks out and loses sight of the scroll that Hinoe gave him in his panic.

No I am not capping the bit where the mouth it suddenly grew was right in the screen, it scared me too much.

No I am not capping the bit where the mouth it suddenly grew was right in the screen, it scared me too much.

I think the episode did a pretty good job of keeping up the suspense and excitement right here, with Natsume trying to get away from that horrifying thing which can suddenly freaking run making it about a hundred times scarier. Hinoe throws him the scroll just as it turns back into the youkai before and moves in for the kill, and so he immediately sets to summoning a servant in order to save himself.

What will it be, something big and badass?

What will it be, something big and badass?

...oh.

...oh.

But wait - dont be so quick to judge!

But wait - dont be so quick to judge!

That little birdy actually packed a pretty powerful punch and did the trick with a blinding flash of light. Where it went after that, I dont know, but it’d be interesting to see if Natsume could ever summon it again, it was pretty cute. With the evil youkai vanquished, the mark on Natsume’s arm also vanishes and he is finaly free from the curse. At this point Misuzu also returns, and it turns out the whole thing was a setup of his own design in order to test Natsume, and whether he thinks he is worthy of having posession of his name. Although he still doesnt seem to be happy, he tells Natsume that he doesnt mind being called by him, and Hinoe too lets go of her manhate to tell him that she too wouldnt mind. The revelation that it was all a ‘test’ felt just a little bit cliche, but I didnt feel that it ruined anything or made the evil youkai any less scary. (as it would have done that anyway, it was just Misuzu that led Natsume to it) Although it definitley didnt make me like Misuzu much more…

Misuzu...what a bitch.

Misuzu...what a bitch.

One other thing that made the episode shine to me, for some reason, was when Natsume returned home to be promptly scolded by his aunt for not telling her where he was. (ie, which ‘friend’ he never stayed with) It created a really heart-warming atmosphere, as though he was her real mother, and it was just so sweet the way Natsume seemed almost happy to be scolded by her, as it showed how much she cared about him.

Nyanko-sensei has to listen to the lecture too, I guess. That cat is -such- a bad influence.

Nyanko-sensei has to listen to the lecture too, I guess. That cat is -such- a bad influence.

As the penultimate episode, I think it was a pretty strong one; perhaps because I think the horror aspect of it was done particularly well, and the last scene quite heartwarming, with a nice balance of cute humour courtesy of Nyank0-sensei.  Only one more episode to go after this, after which I’ll start on the second season. However, I may not be blogging season 2 even if I do watch it; I’d like to focus more on the new anime starting in this month. Out of 5,

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