Natsume Yūjin-Chō Roku
Episode 10

by Lauren Orsini,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Natsume Yūjin-Chō Roku (TV 6) ?

So let me get this straight. This week on Natsume Yujin-Cho Roku, Natsume is exploring an exorcist's mansion with Natori in order to find out a secret while also hiding the existence of the Book of Friends from Natori—in the first half of a two-part episode. If this sounds familiar, it's because it's the same basic premise of “Lying Eyes” and “The Bound Ones” earlier this season. This episode covers very little new ground, but what it suggests is promising to any viewer who's hungry for more information about Reiko's life. This story is more about Natori's ambitions than Natsume's, but there's still the possibility that it will teach us something that neither of them know.

Touko is so sweet, she reminds me of my grandmother (and perhaps you are reminded of yours too) in the way she thinks a well-stocked pantry will solve any problem a young person could have. It's up to Natsume to deliver Touko's jam to Natori, but of course things don't work out that simply. They're almost immediately whisked away to a reclusive exorcist's mansion. Most of the exorcists present aren't anything to write home about—but the Matoba clan, which once tried to kidnap Natsume, is present. Now Natsume has to be doubly on his guard, or does he? When a yokai point-blank references the Book of Friends, Natori feigns ignorance for the second time, until Natsume offers to tell him all about it later. Is this a wise decision? We don't really know, because it's right before the cliffhanger.

At the culmination of “The Bound Ones,” we saw Natori speaking to his familiars about Natsume's secret in a tone that could be protective or predatory, depending on your interpretation. (Mine keeps flipping.) This is the first time I haven't been rooting for Natsume to open up. I was so proud of him when he told Taki and Tanuma about the yokai-related troubles he had weighing on his heart. I'm hoping he eventually tells Touko and Shigeru too, but when it comes to slippery Natori, I just don't know if it's a smart move. Natori has always had something to gain when it comes to yokai—his job is exorcising them, and we don't even know if the one he exorcised at the beginning of the episode is really evil or just pissed off Natori or something. Natori likes to push the envelope, often making Natsume uncomfortable by attracting a crowd of adoring fans around them. It makes me wonder if he'd also persuade Natsume to use the Book of Friends in ways that make Natsume uncomfortable, saying that it's for his own good.

This is one of those episodes that's especially difficult to pin down in a weekly review because it opened up a lot of possibilities without resolving anything. The other open book is Reiko's mysterious past. For some reason that's not clear to me, Natsume believes that the exorcist's papers will reveal insight into Reiko's life. While that doesn't make sense to me, it is true that some of the yokai in the house seem to be familiar with Reiko, so I'll just go with it. With all these factors in the air—Natori's trustworthiness, evading the Matoba clan, the slight hope of learning about Reiko—this episode zipped by at twice the usual speed, despite a setting and situation that was amazingly similar to a previous episode this season. Once again, Natsume Yujin-Cho Roku has got me hooked, but I'll need to wait until next week to see if it pays off.

Rating: B

Natsume Yūjin-Chō Roku is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.

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