Meeting a fox-boy shows Natsume just how far he's come, and how far there still is to go.
What They Say
Natsume goes to a hot spring for a school trip, with an errand from Shigeru to pick up Teacups from a near by pottery. While there he meets and helps a little fox spirit, who quickly grows attached to him.
Despite all of the youkai comings and goings in Natsume's life, there's still the daily reality of high school to contend with. The school activity that comes up and gets the ball rolling in this episode is a study group trip to a hot spring resort. If you're coming into this episode looking for fanservice, you're going to be disappointed. But if you're in the mood for one of the soft, warm, inviting stories that Natsume Yujincho specializes in, then this episode should fit the bill just fine.
During one of the study breaks Natsume runs an errand for the folks he lives with, but on the way he sees an orphaned fox-boy getting picked on by a couple of bigger youkai and gives the bullies and good beating up. (And this without help from the Lucky Cat, either.) The fox is at first frighted of the tall, scary, youkai-whupping human, and indeed humans in general, when it comes to that. But he can't help but feel a little grateful for what Natsume did for him, so he watches Natsume from the shadows and tries to help him out whenever he can. It helps him feel needed and maybe not quite so alone. The two become attached in the short time Natsume spends at the resort, but the day comes when Natsume has to go home and the fox-boy is left on his own again.
Eventually the loneliness of the fox-boy gets to be too much and he decides to seek out Natsume, the only person (scratch that - the only being) who's ever shown him any kindness. Fortunately he has enough fox in him to track Natsume by scent. The interesting twist in the effect the visit has on Natsume. It causes him to reflect on the way he was when he was all alone, how it never occurred to him to seek someone out and put the loneliness behind him. If he hadn't come into the possession of the Yujincho, you have to think that he'd still be in the same rut, without the wherewithal to pull himself outof it. Natsume is forced to realise just how lucky he was that the Yujincho turned up when it did.
This story is one of Natsume Yujincho gentlest, and one of its best. It's a bit different from most of the episodes so far, in that this time we see things from the youkai point of view the whole time instead of Natsume's. It's an unusual move, but it works well. I think there's only one other story in the series that has succeeded equally. I continue to enjoy the whole tone of Natsume Yujincho and the kind of stories it brings to the table. I'm looking forward to seeing what else it has in store.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles