“for it is a kind of pleasure to know that you will never love less, that you will never be consoled, that you will constantly remember more and more.” – Marcel Proust
The majority of Natsume Yuujinchou episodes are actually an amalgamation of two stories, one that is on the surface, which tells of the one-time interactions between Natsume and the youkai. The other one runs below the surface and is the continuation of Natsume’s struggle to adapt into a normal life, which in all probabilities his grandmother Reiko never achieved.
After saving Natsume from a potential life-threatening situation, Hidaka (this week’s youkai) is disheartened to find out that he’s not Reiko, and that she’s already passed away. Natsume returns home with Madara but he’s lost his voice due to his earlier encounter. Events unfold leading to Natsume getting back his voice after a little help from his long time youkai allies and Hidaka getting her name back from the Yuujinchou.
It was fun seeing Madara getting overprotective of Natsume while having to hold back his urge to drink. No matter how many times he insists he’s in it only for the Book of Friends, we all know that’s hardly the scenario. Natsume, in turn, feels the same about his family and peers. He tries to keep his friends away until he gets his voice back, fearing that the youkai who are after him may attack them; and he literally gets terrified of Touko being in danger while his own life is at stake.
The Yuujinchou has been both a blessing and a curse to Natsume, for he has gained allies in humans and youkai alike, but because of it he also faces mortal danger from time to time. Although it’s debatable whether getting rid of the book would rid himself of the troubles he faces, yet witnessing him as less as ponder over the situation tells us that he is getting used to a normal life, devoid of all these supernatural happenings that surround him, a plot point I already hinted at after last week’s episode. He wants to be able to stand by and protect his close ones more.
Hidaka’s backstory ties a perfect knot into this development. We all know Reiko used to always be lonely, and I won’t deny that in the beginning of this show she came off to me as a mean individual who bullied youkai into having their names stolen. But throughout the seasons, seeing how her simple acts in trying to have fun often ended up in gaining her lifelong accomplices makes one feel assured of the kindness of strangers and of the potential to reinvent oneself upon meeting someone new. Hidaka spent a very long time in that desolate valley, but those few moments of jolliness with Reiko prompted her to search again for a place full of liveliness. It is almost an irony that Reiko never found it herself but inspired so many others to do the same, including her own grandson.
These gestures have dual implications in that they belong to the past and are revived in retrospect. In remembering them, in seeing how his grandmother had been, Natsume advances towards understanding himself. And seeing Reiko trying to have fun takes him another step closer to accepting a peaceful life. In the visions of Reiko, he sees his own dispirited past self and resolves to correct it.
Lots of Nyanko deliciousness this week-