Another Amazing Review by Adam Bould 🙂
Second review time, and we are staying with the supernatural/spirit corner of the anime world, with a review of an series I found I randomly decided to watch whilst scanning Crunchyroll. This is Natsume Yujin-cho (English title Natsume’s Book of Friends).
Premise: In a sleepy town in Japan there lives a boy who has been tossed around family members and shunned as a liar or a freak for claiming to see spirits or “Youkai”. This boy is Natsume, and his lies are far from fiction, as Youkai excist all around us, the only relative he had with a similar gift was his departed grandmother, Ritsuko. When he discovers her “Book of Friends”, containing all the names of Youkai she had beaten and formed contracts with, his life all becomes more complicated when those Youkai come knocking.His almost ever present companion is a particular Lucky Cat Youkai called Nyanko-sensei/Madara who lends the majority of the comedy relief in the series.
The entire series is 46 episodes long, split into 4 blocks of 13. If you are looking around for it, the subsequent series are; Zoku Natsume Yujin-cho, Natsume Yujin-cho San, and Natsume Yujin-cho Shi. There has also been two OVAs. (note for Mpro: All series and specials are available on kissanime.com, but I don’t know if you want to broadcast this, please edit as necessary)
Visual: Brain’s Base covers this animation for the series in its entirety, famed for bringing us titles suchs as Baccano!, Durarara!!, and the second series of Spice and Wolf. Direction is handled by Takahiro Omori who also directed the first two of the aforementioned trio, so he’s got some skills. Like Mushishi, this is an anime of soft colours, lots of almost pastel tone, but it remains sharp and looks fantastic.
Audio: The entire span of this series is Japanese audio only with subtitles, but the cast includes Hiroshi Kamiya as Takashi Natsume (see Captain Levi from Attack on Titan) and Kazuhiro Inoue (Kakashi Hatake from Naruto) so some actors with big roles, and they perform very well in this series. Music composition is done by Makoto Yoshimori, who seems to be very popular with Brain’s Base. A lot of melodic tones within the music, again a lot of acoustic and traditional Japanese instruments which lends itself great to this series
Delivery: This is billed as a supernatural, drama, comedy genre wise. The comedy of this series is light hearted, but not in an oversimplified/childish way. I would almost equal it to Ghibli style of comedy, that can make people regardless of age smile.
The drama on the other hand is a bit more heavy, some of the Youkai’s story’s are a little tragic, and the endings sometimes bitter sweet. The ending of episodes either left me smiling contentedly or feeling a bit blue, so for the first time watching the series is Russian roulette with the emotions.
Almost every episode is standalone story wise, but there are some overriding arcs and many recurring characters, particularly Youkai and humans that Natsume meets along the way, so of course once you’ve watched it the first time and need a happy episode you an jump straight to it. It is a slow moving series, there is some action but its brief and spaced out, it is very much focuses on story telling and character interaction.
Once again though since this is a chosen review and not just blind pick, I thoroughly recommend giving this series a go.
Thanks again Adam for this Review
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