This was the weakest episode of the series by far, but going from six back to back episodes that were near A-grade level of amazing to a B-grade is still outstanding for this show. A look into Matoba’s assistant was much more intriguing than I originally thought and once again this series does its very best to show us the old woman’s past, with very specific similarities to Natsume’s evolving view on the youkai. What this series does amazingly well is tell such a wonderfully heartwarming story that only takes one episode, and yet again this was the case as I definitely felt sad for Mikage and am anxious to know more about the ever elusive Reiko.
What made this episode quite special was how it was told: the older exorcist wasn’t in the middle of a exorcism and suddenly said “Oh, hey let’s talk about my past!” like practically most series do, it was a simple almost fireside chat-like experience with Nyanko-sensei, both of whom were stuck in a well that holds special powers to purify evil youkai. Indeed, it was probably the best way to give a very minor character like her some much needed development but I felt that this was more about showing how Natsume could choose a more darker path as shown here and the allusions to Reiko are even more annoying, I just wish we’d get an episode about her already! Perhaps that may happen some time in the future, but for now we’re getting small pieces to the grand puzzle of Reiko’s identity and personality.
Mikage was a very interesting character, and the whole reveal that he was a youkai definitely shocked me. I really felt bad for the exorcist having to seal Mikage away, but it was more or less his own decision trying to protect her before his power turns him completely evil. That right there is something Natsume would definitely do, and I really hope this isn’t foreshadowing a darker turn to the series but I have confidence that this isn’t the case. For an episode that featured very little of the title character and still delivered a really good episode, I have to give the anime staff props. This episode definitely showed the huge improvement in animation quality versus the past seasons and the music was once again spectacular in setting the tone and mood quite well.
P.S: Was this originally in the manga or was it anime original? It definitely feels like filler.