25 CommentsAnime Analysis, Hype Building / By Scamp /

What I’d like to see from the fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou

Possibly my favourite episode of the third season of Natsume Yuujinchou was the flashback episode to Natsume’s childhood, just before he got taken in by his caring aunt and uncle. He had all but given up on the world of humans and ever feeling love, deciding instead to hand himself over to a yokai that was only intent on using him as a plaything. Long story short, he rejects the yokai and goes to live with his caring aunt, blah de blah lovely story. What made the episode work so well though, is when he sees this yokai again in the future, and it has become this pathetic creature living in the past. It highlighted how much Natsume had grown since the start of the series. He now knew the love of both humans and the love of yokai, putting him far above his past self where he only knew loneliness.

It was also rather telling, though, that the best episode of the third season required them to flashback to Natsume’s past.

Let’s backtrack for a second here. I don’t think Natsume needs yet another bloody season. But since it’s getting one, they might as well evolve the story. Yes, it is an episodic show, where a single plot gets introduced and resolved within that one episode. But underlying the show is Natsume’s story. The one about how Natsume, one who knew only loneliness in his childhood, has grown under loving foster parents to become a more confident and happier man. His relationship with yokai changed when he discovered his grandmothers Book of Friends, showing that he could interact with these creatures rather than running away from them and causing him harm. The key difference between Natsume and his grandmother is that Natsume actually befriends the yokai rather than controlling them. The flashbacks to Reiko have the same sense of loneliness, that Reiko tries to control her surroundings because she’s angry at them.

That key part to Natsume Yuujinchou is how Natsume sees the yokai differently to everyone else. Comparing his approach to those of the exorcists has been a running plot thread so far. The exorcists see them only as tools, creatures to be controlled. While Reiko at least saw them as people in a sense, she still tried to exert her control over them like they were her followers, rather than just tools. Natsume is the first person to see them as equals. That’s the direction I want to see the new season go in. I’d like to see more confrontations between the ideals of the exorcists with what Natsume has learned over the course of the series. It would be a natural progression of his story. He has now learned to be ‘real’ friends with yokai (rather than what the Book of Friends gave him), so now he has to use this newfound knowledge to directly challenge the head of the exorcists.

To pre-emptively strike at manga readers, I don’t care what actually happens in the manga next. The manga is not a holy grail of what should happen in the series and whatever it says is correct. This is the direction the series should go in. Continuing the standard Natsume stories of him confronting a yokai and learning to trust his friends or his family or easing the loneliness of another yokai to learn further about how they have feelings too, we know all that now. That story is over and covering it any further gets boring, as the third season started to do. If the manga does continue with these types of stories, Brains Base should know to skip over the less interesting ones and cover those that advance the underlying conflict between Natsume and the exorcists. I’m willing to be surprised if they take the story in a new and more interesting direction, but as far as I can see, the usual Natsume story is over. Let this story develop naturally, or else this fourth season will do nothing but stagnate.

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  1. lostsage
    Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    “The manga is not a holy grail of what should hap­pen in the series and whatever it says is cor­rect”

    Oh god thank you. I wish people doing these adaptations would realize this too. The adaptation is a chance to strengthen the the story and cut out some of the fat, rather than fall into the same pitfalls the original did. But they have these retarded belief that if they stray even a tiny bit, everything will just crash and burn. Or maybe it’s the original author being a massive, elitist prick giving these companies zero leeway because its HIS work and has no faults. I wish I knew how these things were made

    • Flawfinder
      Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      I thought the author was female. And as for what the fourth season will entail, we’re see. Seriously though, where is that second season of Durarara?

      • mcm38
        Posted December 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget Baccano.

    • Someone Else
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think the author has any power, its probably the director instead. At least that’s what I believe from what was shown during a certain episode in My little sister can’t be this cute

    • Scamp
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      I doubt the author is hard to work with, or they wouldn’t be making 4 seasons of the thing, as well as a short movie based off another one of her manga

  2. Posted December 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    So where’s Mushishi season 2?

    • Someone Else
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      I second this, it’s just too good but why no another season! DX And it’s also episodic with mushis instead of yokais but much cooler!

    • Scamp
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

      Never to be made

  3. Posted December 11, 2011 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    I never thought this day would come. Scamp making a post about something I really like. Now, you only have to make one about Aria and I’m happy. Perhaps one about how Arakawa 2 failed too would be nice.

    Oh well.

    Season 1 was about loneliness and Natsume getting to know humans and youkais.
    Season 2 was about Natsume growing up and deciding what’s more important to him: humans or youkais.
    Season 3 was about family, friendship and faith in others. The new Natsume, not that sad one.

    Season 4 should be conflicts if we follow this path. So yeah, I agree with you.

  4. fathomlessblue
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    My main wish for Natsume season 4 is that it ends. Obviously that isn’t a slur, but as you and many others have commented, four seasons is at least one too far.

    I personally have no interest in the rival exorcist plotline; it feels like the show is trying to introduce its equivalent of ‘end boss’ characters into the mix. Whether or not that bears any truth, drawn out conflicts isn’t what I watch Natsume for. Personally, I’d like the fourth series to focus on Reika’s back-story; how she grew up and grew apart from the yokai, and how her story causes Natsume to come to a decision regarding his own future with the spirits. That’s how I feel the anime should end. If the show continues to maintain its current path, no amount of tight writing will encourage me to watch season 5… well, unless it’s devoted solely to Taki.

    • Someone Else
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Need moar girlz! o wait, this is shoujo animu. fat chance of having neu girlz *cry*

      But yeah I would totally hate it if this become a shounen style battle anime and inserting an evil exorcist doesn’t help, after all this is more of a drama anime. Still, I would love to see Natsume kick ass from time to time, after all a single punch from him could send a yokai flying

      • Scamp
        Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

        But the exorcist storylines so far have been not shouneny at all. It’s hardly difficult to be like those episodes except more so.

  5. madox
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    oh man you should comment on fate zero ep 11 …..

    • Scamp
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Rider is awesome

      /end comment

  6. ojisan
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I second what you said about Natsume’s development, and bid one higher: underlying Natsume’s story is his grandmother’s. He inherits the storyline and the main McGuffin from her. We get tantalizing glimpses of her strengths and weaknesses, her similarities to Natsume & differences. We get no (that I remember) idea how her story was resolved: clearly she didn’t die young, since she has grandkids. Why not wrap up the story of Natsume’s development using his grandmother’s story as the vehicle?

    Assuming that the anime can and should go wherever it wants, which I also agree with –

    • mcm38
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      I want this.

    • Someone Else
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Yeah and she’s pretty and hot too

    • Scamp
      Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure how much there is to go with Reiko’s story. In a way, we already know all we need to know. That she was lonely and fought that by trying to control the yokai

      • Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

        But at the same time, they still keep on mentioning her. And didn’t especially the first season have memories about her in almost every episode? The third one barely had any. Just feels weird to drop that part when it hasn’t had any real conclusion yet.

      • mcm38
        Posted December 11, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        Idem, Marow. Remember the episode of the young human yokai, who wanted to see the sea. She helped to it, by hanging the paper with his name on it to a tree. 50 years later when Natsume helps him get the paper, the yokai climbs the tree which has grown over the course of 50 years and had a marvelous scenery on the sea.

        Reiko didn’t only control them. She interracted with them for other purposes too.

  7. kay
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Manga reader here. Just want to say you could expect what you are expecting especially from this season. In anime they shuffled some of the arcs that touched upon those conflict to put them in 4th season. Manga wise, the first episode of season 4 should have been the first episode of season3. So I guess it depend on the theme they choose for each season.

    The author know what she’s doing. It’s not drastically changed, but you could feel the ship of focus in recent volumes. Natsume in particular has become more complex, and it was amaziing to see how the adult like Natori, or Matoba effect him.

    • Dana
      Posted January 7, 2012 at 3:09 am | Permalink

      I will second the author knowing what she is doing, and I personally think Omori knows what he wants as well. He changed the stories around so that the current arc appears later, and I appreciate how it turned out. We have a fitting conclusion to one life stage and the beginning of another. One where a more healed human being will be thrown into new and more complex adventures and relationships.

      This is really only the equivalent of two long seasons, don’t make it sounds like it is more than it is. I am not sure if I want it to end for good, but I hope it ends for now at least:)

      • Dana
        Posted January 7, 2012 at 3:11 am | Permalink

        My second paragraph was in response to what people had said earlier..

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