Weird cat-thing ftw.
The episode opens with Natsume Takashi, our male lead, being pursued by some creatures through the woods. He stumbles into the road, surprising two of his classmates, and asks them where there is a shrine. After they answer, he begins to run again, and they remark that he is a bit strange.
Before Takashi can reach the shrine, though, the creatures manage to catch up with him. They appear to have him mistaken for someone else, but he manages to escape, and makes a mad dash for the shrine. As he runs, he thinks about the fact that he can see this creatures, youkai as he terms them, and how he’s always been able to, although it is not something he necessarily enjoys, as people have long deemed him odd as a result over the years.
At the shrine he is confronted by another strange creature, this time in the form of a lucky cat. The cat-thing also initially mistakes him for another, Takashi’s grandmother Reiko, but realizes his mistake, and admits that youkai do not perceive of gender very well. Cat-thing also reveals that, like Takashi, Reiko was thought of as odd by those around her, and wasn’t understood by anyone since she saw youkai, too. Cat-thing also tells Takashi that Reiko collected the names of youkai, which he refers to as Ayakashi, in a book, the Yuujin-chou, by defeating them. And guess who wants the book?
Back at his current home, Takashi is greeted by Touko, a female relative with whom he is staying. In his room, he thinks about how he has lived with many relatives since his parents passed away, and that he is now living on the land where his grandmother once lived. He looks in a box of his which contains things she left him, and picks up the Yuujin-chou, and begins to flip through it.
Cat-thing appears again, and demands the book, before attempting to attack Takashi. But he ends up going through the paper screen-door for the closet when Takashi dodges. Although Takashi debates leaving him there, he pulls him out to repair the door, and gives cat-thing some watermlon. He also begins referring to cat-thing as ‘Nyanko-sensei’, even though Nyanko-sensei insists that he is not a cat, and that his true form is ‘elegant’.
Nyanko fills Takashi in on some more details about the Yuujin-chou itself – mainly, that having possession of the book means essentially having control over all those named within. Takashi wonders if Nyanko is also named by the book, but Nyanko denies that, and they are interrupted by the earlier Ayakashi.
Takashi bolts, while Nyanko manages to latch onto his back. He helps him hide, but then attacks Takashi when Takashi reveals that he wishes to free all the named Ayakashi. Somehow, though, Takashi manages to fend off the attack, and then convinces Nyanko to help him – if he promises that, should he die, Nyanko will gain possession of the book. Nyanko, who wants the power of controlling all those Ayakashi, agrees.
While Takashi hunts down one of the Ayakashi, who is apparently named in the book, Nyanko dispatches the other. Takashi follows Nyanko’s instructions on how to release the Ayakashi from the contract, and in the process sees a vision of how the Ayakashi came to be under his grandmother’s control. The Ayakashi, Hishigaki, was lonely before she met Reiko, and became even more lonely after she and Reiko lost touch, hence her anger at whom she thought was Reiko, a.k.a. Takashi. Although Hishigaki addresses Takashi as Reiko, Takashi thanks her for being his grandmother’s friend.
Walking home with Nyanko, Takashi thinks that he will never come to like the youkai, but that he can appreciate what they meant to his grandmother. Then, Nyanko runs off at the sight of steamed buns.
I was impressed by this in a subdued manner that I didn’t even notice until afterwards. What impressed me was that this show seems to have a lot more depth to it than I had been expecting from it, what with how much we learned of Reiko, and the emphasis that she never really fit in (in fact, Hishigaki asks her what a mark on her face is in a flashback, and she states nonchalantly that it was from having a rock thrown at her for being “weird”), along with the fact that it is also emphasized that Takashi is a lot like her. So, while on the surface, kind of Shounen Jump-ish sounding, this seems to promise something more in terms of character development and depth of story.
Also, Nyanko? Totally awesome. I couldn’t figure out what was up with his appearance by the promo art, but that his borrowed form is a lucky cat is priceless. I also enjoyed his less-than-illustrious nature; he looks like a mascot character, but he has this fantastic edge that is rare amongst them. While, certainly, mascot characters have in the past been known to have an edge on their personality, it rarely is in such sinister fashion.
Dammit, Day, you stole my thunder.
I also enjoyed this episode, and was also suprised by the depth this has. But Day already said all the good analytical crap and left me with nothing.
Nyanko reminds me of Kero from CardCaptor Sakura, because he goes on about how wonderful his real form is, much like Kero did in CCS. This is kinda weird since a few bloggers were saying that this show reminded them of CCS because it seemed like a reverse version of that. That is weird because this show really doesn’t resemble that one at all. If anything, this reminds me a lot more of Tactics. Takashi is like a younger Kantarou, both being seen as weird and being a bit ostracized because they can see youkai, and both ending up with a youkai of their own (although the youkai in questions are very different).
Unrelated, but the ED worked very well with the feel of the show, and the end segwayed into it perfectly. So nice not to be suddenly smacked upside the head by hard-rock Engrish after a mellow scene.
Looks like we’re joint-blogging this. This should be bizarre.
EDIT: Oops, left this out of the summary, and it’s kind of important – Nyanko’s real name is Madara, as revealed by the Ayakashi he fights, but Takashi doesn’t know this.