And then we have this conversation, where Hiiragi’s like “hey people are going to notice you’re not normal if you just like, start talking to me in public” and Natsume’s like “yeah whatever I don’t care if people think I’m normal a lot. I can see you, you’re part of my life, you’re important to me and that’s really all that matters”.
And this is not something Natsume would have said in the first episode. He’s struggled so hard all his life to hide and not appear strange to other people. He’s felt bitter towards youkai for making him look weird to others, he hasn’t wanted to be a part of their world.
But now he’s like “you know what, this something I can see, part of who I am, this is a world I know and care about, so I’m not going to ignore it even if other people can’t see it or understand it and it makes me stand out or look weird”.
And I think it’s the conversation with Tanuma that made him realize it. It’s being accepted by his friend and asked “well, are YOU comfortable with this?” that made him realize that he actually is, and it’s other people who have a problem with it, he’s fine. That doesn’t mean he still won’t struggle with it, but he’s taken an important step here in realizing that his own feelings and thoughts on this are more important than other people’s.
And, as another sign of character growth, we had Hiiragi telling him he’s too soft, and instead of getting annoyed and defensive like last episode, he just smiles like “yep that’s who I am and I’m fine with it.” It could partly be because of the different context, but I think it’s because, thanks in part to the conversation with Tanuma, he’s learning to become comfortable and accept all parts of himself.