Natsume Yuujinchou, or “Natsume’s Book of Friends” is an anime series based on a long-running manga of the same name. The first 13-part series aired in 2008, followed by a second season in 2008, and a third season subtitled “San” from July to September 2011. Natsume Takashi is a teenage boy with the ability to see spirits; after inheriting a book from his grandmother filled with the names of spirits, he spends his time dissolving the contracts bound within. The beauty about this particular season is NIS had graced us with another spectacular packaging job. Natsume Yuujinchou is one of the best animes I’ve watched(and I’ve watched quite a lot). I find it very hard to imagine how anyone could miss such a great anime like this. You can start watching Natsume Yuujinchou from any season because you are able to spot the subtle clues on what has happened instead of having to start from Season 1. Perhaps that is what I liked so much about it. It’s accessible! Not too many anime’s you can start on Season 3 and not be lost at all!
Continuing the great story of Natsume and his bodyguard youkai cute cat Madara, this season finally came to give us something really special for the summer. At first when he started pointing out the yokai to others, he did not know that only he could see yokai and everyone else called him a liar for saying such things and thought he was seeking attention. Then his grandmother, Natsume Reiko, that he had no idea he had, died. He inherited the Book of Friends and met Nyanko-Sensei(Madara). Natsume is seeing a LOT of action this season. If you have been following the series, it’s more on the tranquil and feel-good side rather than action-packed. Still looking at the pacing, I love this speediness and a blend of good-evil the arcs are following. Seeing some old friends is always a joy and I have a rather soft spot for Tanuma, he being all broody, bishie and determined.
Each episode gives you a glimpse of his past while still presenting an intriguing current story. The atmosphere and tempo of the series provides the audience with a sense of melancholy or nostalgia and yet remains positive and hopeful. If you ever felt like an outcast, loner, outsider, weird, or insignificant, this anime is great for you because the main character has the same struggles. I really love how you can relate to the characters whether they are human or yokai. That might be a strange comparison, but the third season was dedicated to Natsume’s development, and the fourth season is about Natsume’s relationship with the people around him. Imagine what a wonderful total picture this all creates! It’s really impressive how a series can manage to be dark, gritty and heartwarming in the same episode.
Natsume has 52 episodes of development right now, and this season just continues to add things to his character. The side characters also get a lot of time to flesh themselves out and develop. The downfalls of the series are the underwhelming music, and the artwork. The animation kept fluctuating between being ‘nicer than usual’ to being plain lazy. There were moments where the scenes were animated really nicely and Natsume’s actions looked really “energetic” and then there were those moments where everything was a simply a still frame. The story is central though and those are the only drawback to an otherwise perfect season in a multi-season anime. In the end, he must just accepting who he is, and all the beings that is in his life, and have trust in people again.
Natsume Yuujinchou is very slowly-paced, leisurely and understated, which is a refreshing change from the crash-bang explosions and over-the-top reactions that litter the anime landscape. This arc was just wonderful. Here once again, Natsume’s character gets pushed forward. Before, he kept worrying and worrying about involving his friends in the yokai world, which is why he kept trying to distance himself. This time though, the evolution is clear and it was enjoyable seeing the progress of the story. NIS keeps releasing my cup of tea and this is another stellar entry in their catalog. I want MORE! MORE! MORE! MORE! Recommended.