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Welcome back everyone! If you missed what we’re doing here, please go read the first post of the subject over on 100 Word Anime. You should probably go read a couple of Karandi’s posts just for fun actually!
The Little Fox vs Touko
For this match Irina is defending the Little Fox and Karandi is supporting Touko.
Irina: One word cuuuuuuttttteeeeee!!!! Look whether as a little fox boy or a little boy fox, this yokai is hands down one of the most adorable designs in the show. His mere appearance warms the heart and he is one of the most instantly identifiable characters despite having relatively little screen time. Admit it, you are tempted to go look up pics of him right now!
Karandi: Much like Taki, Touko’s design is pretty ordinary. She’s a normal human with an elderly appearance, though very kind eyes and a smile. She’s the kind of character you would want to meet in real life and sit down and have a chat with over tea, but not exactly striking or memorable.
The Little Fox has to win this one (way too cute).
Irina: As I mentioned, he is probably the character with the least appearances on this list but he maximizes each of them by visible learning and evolving every chance he gets. The lost and helpless little boy we met in season 1 is hardly recognizable as the sweet enterprising and independent Yokai we know today.
Karandi: Touko is one of the characters that isn’t undergoing any great change. She’s lived a long time already and has undergone many changes (as seen in the flashbacks we have had of her younger days). For all intents and purposes she is the rock around which Natsume has built his new life and her remaining the same is crucial to that role.
Okay, so the Little Fox also has the most character growth.
Irina: This one is tough to argue – the Little Fox is a child, you can’t beat those for growth.
Interactions with Natsume
Irina: In a few ways, the little fox boy mirrors Natsume himself. Losing his parents as a child he is abandoned and isolated from both humans and other Yokai and feels completely alone. By meeting and helping this little lost soul, Natsume not only got a chance to confront and deal with his own sadness as an observer but he also met a Yokai that needs and is willing to accept his help without threatening him or burdening him in any way. For the first time, Natsume is given the chance to care for someone outside of himself who completely trusts him. This is a defining moment for Natsume.
Karandi: This is where Touko is going to shine. While many of her interactions with Natsume might seem mundane or even dull, they mean the world to Natsume. I mentioned before that she is his rock and he would do anything to protect her and the home they’ve built since the Fujiwara’s took him in. What I like is that over the six seasons, the way Touko deals with Natsume hasn’t changed but we realise more and more often that she understands he has his secrets and I’m almost sure she knows what they are, but she never calls him on it or disrupts the peace they’ve created. She accepts him and waits for him to come to her. She’s a really brilliant character and one who should not be underestimated.
Touko totally takes this one.
Irina: I can’t argue, Touko is life changing for Natsume but I’m very proud of my argument for the Little Fox.
Impact on the Story
Irina: So far his involvement has been limited to independent episodes. Although there would be potential to have him return and even play a bigger role, I must admit, he isn’t essential. I do always enjoy seeing him though!
Karandi: You mean other than being the one to approach Natsume and offer him a home, looking after him when he’s sick, and lecturing him when he’s been to reckless? It is safe to say that this story would not have existed without Touko’s guiding hand in the plot.
I’m all for Touko here.
Irina: I pretty much conceded the point. You need Touko in the story.
Karandi: Touko vs The Little Fox: This was one of the meanest match-ups we could have gotten because I love both characters, but given her presence across all six seasons, I’d have to vote Touko.
Irina: Oh this one is heartbreaking. Can I just NOT choose. Ok I agree Touko.
Karandi: I agree, it is heartbreaking. I so wanted The Little Fox to make at least the next round but then random chance put him up against Touko.
Matoba vs Tanuma
For this match Irina is defending Matoba and Karandi is supporting Touko.
Irina: Let’s face it, as far as the humans of the series go, Matoba stands squarely a top of the heard. He has the most distinctive yet still reasonable design. The long hair and painted eyepatch make him impossible to mistake and add a certain imposing presence to his character. Even as a young man, before all the more striking elements of his design were added in, his facial expressions and general stance made him stand out like no other. He also wears a huge variety of outfits unlike certain people who seem fixated on plain white shirts…
Karandi: Yeah, Tanuma doesn’t really stand a chance here.Given in the first episode he was deliberately painted as being non-descript and someone easily overlooked, that’s more or less exactly what we’ve got. He’s standard high school boy all over and despite living in a temple we never even get to see him wearing anything other than his school uniform. Oh wait, I’m supposed to be arguing for him…. There was a cool episode where he was possessed and his eyes looked really awesome.
Needless to say, Matoba is going to take this category.
Irina: Tanuma could have a chance if he cosplayed as Matoba.
Irina: Matoba’s presence has been used as a disruptive element and as such his actual personality and background have been left mostly veiled in mystery. The one episode in season 5 that shed some light on his childhood hinted at a character burden with the weight of history and responsibility but he honestly doesn’t seem to have changed much since his high school years.
Karandi: Alright, this is where we might see a bit more of a challenge. Tanuma is in a similar position to Natsume (though he can’t actually see the yokai, he senses them and occasionally sees their shadows). However, though meeting Natsume and seeing how he deals with a far worse situation, Tanuma becomes much stronger. He also actively seeks to have Natsume ask him for help rather than keeping him at arm’s length. I would love to see this develop further in future seasons with Tanuma getting strong enough to actually see the yokai or pursue training that will let him help out, but that’s just my hopes.
I think in terms of growth I’d have to give this one to Tanuma.
Irina: Tanuma’s growth has been lovely to watch. He’s earned this one.
Interactions with Natsume
Irina: As I mentioned, he is a catalyst. Although I think Natsume probably would prefer avoiding him altogether, Matoba’s simple existence and his subtle interferences in Natsume’s life have taught Natsume more about the world of Yokai (and Exorcists) than any other single element in his life. For better or for worse, Matoba has shed light on yet another world that is invisible to most.
Karandi: While many times Tanuma is almost made the damsel in distress, he has also had his share of very cool moments saving Natsume from getting in too deep with the yokai. The interactions between Tanuma and Natsume are always interesting as they both want to protect the other and the both kind of see someone they can relate to in the other. I mentioned earlier that Tanuma was possessed in an episode, however during that possession the yokai allowed him to see the world as Natsume sees it. That was a real turning point for Tanuma as before he kind of thought he knew what Natsume was going through, but then he realised just how far beyond him Natsume actually was. Tanuma and Taki together form an incredible support network for Natsume, giving him a solid connection to the human world and human friends he can be totally honest with.
This one is tricky. Matoba isn’t in it much but his interactions definitely leave an impression, whereas Tanuma has some fairly ordinary friendship stuff going on with occasional moments of brilliance. Probably Matoba?
Irina: Tanuma represents Natsume’s human side better than anyone else. He is a best friend and confident. I can’t imagine Natsume being the same person without him. I’m voting for Tanuma on this one.
Impact on the Story
Irina: Possibly one of the most important characters for plot progression. Matoba is the closest thing to an antagonist in the series and even the mention of his name has a big impact on the story and long term implications for the plot. Natsume’s Book of Friends would not be the same story without him and I can’t see it progressing without bringing his character back.
Karandi: Okay, Tanuma doesn’t do much to the overall plot. He is used as the occasional plot device when someone else is needed in the story who knows what is going on, but basically Tanuma is strictly a support character. He did save Natsume from being stuck in a jar at a yokai banquet but even if he hadn’t, I’m kind of sure Natori would have.
Yeah, Matoba takes it.
Irina: If Tanuma is important for Natsume, Matoba is essential for the plot.
Karandi: Matoba vs Tanuma: I feel bad for Tanuma, but Matoba is the stronger character.
Irina: I’m starting to realize how tough this game is. Matoba by much less of a margin than I would have thought.
Satoru vs Natori
For this match Irina is arguing for Satoru and Karandi is standing up for Natori.
Irina: Well Satoru is the plainest of humans – by that I mean he is just an ordinary high school boy as far as we know and his design reflects it. Average height, weight, short brown hair and brown eyes. You could easily dismiss him on looks alone. But Satoru is possibly the most outgoing and enthusiastic kid in the show and that is subtly reflected with slightly softer more rounded features, a bigger smile and a somewhat sloppier demeanor. Satoru’s design is the most unthreatening and welcoming, if a little plain.
Karandi: While probably deliberately very similar to Natsume, Natori is an actor when he isn’t working as an exorcist which makes him stand out (even when Natsume wishes he wouldn’t). Regularly using a dorky hat and glasses as a disguise (and the glasses also help him see yokai more clearly), Natori has a dazzling smile and his face graces numerous posters in backgrounds as we travel through the seasons. However, his most striking feature is a lizard yokai that travels around his body. It looks like a tattoo, however it moves around and you can never quite be sure where it will be seen (save one of his legs as apparently it never moves there).
Totally have to give this one to Natori.
Irina: I also vote Natori (even though I had a lot of trouble telling him apart from Natsume at times).
Karandi: Particularly the episode where we get a flashback to young Natori meeting Matoba. I could have sworn Natori and Natsume where brothers if you’d put them side by side.
Irina: Satoru’s growth is rather subdued compared to most and you have to watch pretty much the entire series to appreciate it but in going out of his way to welcome Natsume, Satoru actually matured a lot. It’s not always obvious but he’s also slowly gaining in confidence, being more at ease with laughing at himself. His evolution is quieter but somehow feels very natural and satisfying.
Karandi: When we first meet Natori, he basically treats yokai like the enemy. He finds Natsume’s approach to dealing with them quite frustrating and baffling. However, over the course of the series, he has come to understand Natsume even if he doesn’t agree with Natsume’s methods. And that has led to him becoming even more duplicitous in his dealings with Natsume where he sometimes openly agrees with Natsume while working quietly in the background to have things his way. The end of season six has left me desperate to know what Natori will do next and how that will impact his relationship with Natsume so fingers crossed for season seven.
Again, I’m giving this one to Natori.
Irina: This isn’t fair, I mean Natori is the most important character after Natsume and Nyanko, of course he evolves more.
Interaction with Natsume
Irina: Satoru was in fact one of the first friends Natsume ever made. His gentle insistence on not letting Natsume isolate himself as he always did was what finally allowed him to start accepting others in his life. It was a small first step that changed everything. To this day, he remains a source of comfort and good old fashion companionship that can be relied on.
Karandi: As I mentioned in his growth, Natori has both influenced and been influenced by his interactions with Natsume. Despite his fairly deceitful nature, he’s become more gentle in his dealings with the yokai who serve him even if he hasn’t quite become friends with them. For his part, Natsume sees Natori as a path he might have taken if he had continued to hate yokai and blame them for his isolation. It feels like part of Natsume’s determination to stay Natori’s hand sometimes is as if he wants to undo some of his own past deeds toward yokai. Whereas Natori sees Natsume as a younger version of himself and wants to protect him from being deceived by a yokai. They both have good intentions but their approaches are fairly much mutually exclusive so sooner or later they are going to clash.
Sorry Satoru, I’m glad you made friends with Natsume, but Natori is taking out this one as well.
Irina: Ok ok, Father figure may trump school chum but let’s all agree that we are all really happy Satoru was there.
Impact on the Plot
Irina: Although I don’t believe Satoru has a direct and immediate impact on the plot, he is an important plot element in that his presence is a grounding and normalizing factor for Natsume. The capability of maintaining long terms friendship is going to be important going forth and this is what Satoru represents.
Karandi: Natori has been vital in connecting Natsume to the world of exorcists, to teaching him ways of dealing with yokai, for protecting him, and for providing someone with whom he can argue his case about the need to protect the yokai as well as humans. While Natori is usually only in one or two stories per season, his presence is felt and he usually acts as a tipping point for Natsume to reach another realisation or gain a new strength. All and all, Natori episodes are always amazing to watch.
No contest on this one, Natori.
Karandi: Satoru vs Natori: Natori easily.
Irina: Satoru never really stood a chance here. This said, I feel a little sad that we left Natsume without any friends. You could argue the he is friendly with Natori but they are definitely not friends.
Karandi: I know, we essentially took out Taki, Tanuma and Satoru in one round leaving him with none of his human school friends. Does this say something about how humans are portrayed or about us as viewers? Then again Touko is in, so there’s a candidate for a normal human character and I don’t even want to know who she is facing in the next round because it is going to hurt.
Make sure you check out the exciting round 2 on Karandi’s blog tomorrow, and in the meantime you can always vote for the winner yourselves. Don’t see your favorite? Let us know in the comments!