Forget about Maid Guy, when I’m in trouble, I’ll take Nyanko-sensei any day.
Natsume and his classmates head to the old school for the test of courage that he signed up for a few days ago. The class president, Sasada, tells him the tale of the God of Fortune, who was locked away by a greedy merchant until he turned into an Ayakashi due to his hatred of those who imprisoned him. The old school was apparently built on the same ground he was imprisoned. Natsume is paired up with another boy from his class for the test but after seeing another one-eyed Youkai (there are way too many of those), the two, surprised, fall down a flight of stairs and are knocked unconscious. Natsume wakes up to see a Youkai with an umbrella covering it’s head, but at this time, Sasada arrives and it disappears, along with Natsume’s partner.
Sasada then claims she realises that Natsume can see spirits but before he can reply, Nyanko-sensei knocks her out, believing she’s an Ayakashi. As there’s a barrier surrounding the school, Nyanko-sensei transforms into a young girl (who looks quite similar to Reiko) and goes about the school to see if he can find a way out out. After he gives a quick excuse for the girl’s sudden appearance to Sasada, who’s just woken up, Natsume goes with Sasada to continue towards the courage test’s destination, during which time Sasada tells him of the time she lost her charm during this same test when she was in middle school. A hostile man with a bucket on his head had returned it to her holding it out to her with a stick, claiming something as impure as him couldn’t touch something as pure as her charm. She had wanted to tell him that he was wrong but he disappeared before she could say so. She then looked up the story of the God of Fortune, and believing that she had met it, had wished to tell him he wasn’t impure but couldn’t find him again.
At this time, Nyanko-sensei appears and tells Natsume the ghosts’ name is Shigure, he’s on the roof with the rest of the students and Nyanko-sensei says tha they should simply think about getting out of here, but Natsume doesn’t wish to abandon his classmates. It turns out that Shigure’s name is also in the Book of Friends. Sasada overhears them and tries to rush up to the roof, but is stopped by falling debris. Telling Nyanko-sensei to keep her safe Natsume himself heads up to the roof and confronts Shigure, who has brought all the students, asleep, to the roof. After an altercation, Natsume returns his name and tells him of what Sasada wanted to say; Shigure then remembers how Sasada returned day after day in an attempt to thank her. At this time she appears on the roof, only to see a bright flash of light as Shigure disappears, lightly touching her on the head, thanking her for her kind words and what she had tried to do. The next day, Sasada and Natsume act ignorant of the supernatural occurences that happened last night and Natsume wonders if she noticed Shigure herself.
Though I don’t feel that this was as good as the previous episodes, the story was still interesting. The dialogue felt kind of forced at times, especially from Sasada. But this may just emphasise how important the memento of her mother was to her; why else would she return constantly to try and get into contact with Shigure? However, I do welcome her greater role in the plot which will hopefully be continued through the show. She already claimed she wouldn’t say anything to about Natsume’s ability and this places her as a future ally in my eyes. Natsume himself continues to take steps forward in become more sociable with people (though not large steps, as shown by the way he conversed with his courage partner, just saying “Yeah” half the time) and the show made him seem less apathetic and more kind-hearted; he hasn’t let his childhood experiences have too much of an impact on his view of people in general and believes that helping the students is just the right thing to do.
This is refelected slightly in the nature of Shigure. If we believe (which I’m strongly inclined to) that he is the God of Fortune mentioned in the story, his experiences also led him to detest people; in his mind, they are the reason he has descended from a God to become an “impure” ayakashi. But after detesting himself for so long, the encounter with Sasada, and how she continued to return even when she had gotten her charm back, led him into a conflict within himself. His impurity meant he shouldn’t be able to touch or meet such a kind being as her, but had he done this, he believed she would never come to him again, and he’d return to those days of self-loathing, which he secretly does not want to do. He’s caught between what he thinks he is and what he really is; he thinks he’s an impure being but all he really is is a lonely soul. Finally hearing what Sasada had to say makes him realise that he isn’t impure.
What I’ve come to notice (possibly a bit slow on the uptake) is that the returning of names seems to cause some of the Youkai to regain important memories, without which they become hostile and bitter (at least in the main cases we’ve seen; perhaps they had lost them over time or had covered them up through denial, but either way what Natsume does helps them to define their sense of self just a little bit more. Perhaps there could be something deeper to the nature of the Book of Friends.
One thing which bothers me is that we don’t see how Reiko gained his name. I wouldn’t mind but he specifially said that only Sasada and Reiko didn’t fear him for being impure, so seeing the reason why he said this may have helped. And for some reason the music stood out to me more than in previous episodes seeming to really resonate with what was being said during certain scenes, especially with the retelling of the God of Fortune’s tale.
The Fanny Pack.
God’s gift to men.