Natsume Yuujinchou

Title:Natsume Yuujinchou
Natsume Yūjin-Chō
Natsume Yūjinchō (Japanese)
Natsume's Book of Friends
夏目友人帳 (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Brains Base
INOUE Kazuhiko
KAMIYA Hiroshi
R1 License - NIS America
Natsume Takashi has the ability to see spirits, which he has long kept secret. However, once he inherits a strange book that belonged to his deceased grandmother, Natsume Reiko, he discovers the reason why spirits surround him. Containing the names of these spirits, a binding contract was formed between the spirits and the owner of the book. Now, Takashi is determined to free the spirits and dissolve the contracts. With the help of a spirit cat, his days are filled trying to return the names to these spirits. (summary from ANN)

[TV series, 2008, 13 episodes, 24 min; Animation by Brains Base]
"夏目" ("Natsume") is the family name of both Takashi and his grandmother Reiko. "友人" ("yuujin") means "friend, acquaintance"; "帳" ("chou") when used as suffix usually means something like "-book".

Voted Best Slice-of-Life series of 2008 by AnimeReactor Community Awards (Jury's Pick).
[edit] The ↗Natsume Yuujinchou franchise:
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 8 8 8 8 8 Dreamer [series:1839#2279]
So after thoroughly enjoying the 2nd season, I decided to pick this one up to catch up on what I might have missed. Ya, I watched the 2nd season first, not realizing that this one was around.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork and animation was good... if not slightly unusual. (see my review on the 2nd season here).

The OP was a nice light alternative piece with male vocals. Although not my flavor, it fits perfectly well with the series as whole. (see my review on the 2nd season here). As for the ED, it was a beautiful piece with male vocals and acoustic guitar. Unfortunately it was awfully short.

Series and Episode Story
Love that darn fat cat (sensei)! And the voice is just too perfect for that little butterball. This series is light hearted and cute. All our characters, including our "monsters" were fun and lacked any real evil intent.

But as mentioned earlier, I actually watched the 2nd season first so check out my review there for further details.. 2nd season review here.

Overall, I love this series. Would love to see a 3rd season.

Last updated Monday, March 07 2011. Created Monday, March 07 2011.
Rent 8 7 7 8 8 8 Ggultra2764 [series:1839#1552]
This was a decent little gem. Natsume's Book of Friends puts focus on Natsume's interactions with various youkai as he deals with their dilemmas and returns their names from the use of his grandmother's notebook. The show retains a mellow mood where many of the show's episodes, Natsume gets in a situation where he must help a youkai with their problems or stopping a youkai from inflicting harm upon him. The youkai are fleshed out enough where you get a sense of the problems they face and they aren't as evil as they may seem at first glance. Natsume's character comes across as someone well-adjusted to his circumstances despite often feeling annoyed with the frequent interruptions in his daily life by youkai seeking his help or the antics of Madara's cat form (a youkai being his bodyguard). The series also does look into how Natsume's abilities affect his human relationships, particularly with his family and friends. He is able to confide in some people to an extent who has similar abilities as he does yet due to his hesitation to trust people fully, he puts some distance in the relationships that he establishes with humans. However with the focus on the series being more on Natsume's interactions with spirits, there isn't much focus on the people he normally interacts with as they are around only to confirm the desire he has to interact with both spirits and humans. Still, this is a worthwhile title thanks to how the youkai encountered by Natsume are fleshed out and the interactions that he has with each of them. Because of the focus on Natsume's bonds with spirits, I give Natsume's Book of Friends a strong Rent rating.

Last updated Monday, October 04 2010. Created Monday, October 04 2010.
Rent Stretch [series:1839#628]
(All episodes watched):

I would say that Natsume Yuujinchou was the single show of the Summer '08 season which most surprised me with exceptional quality. Going in, I neither knew nor expected much, but was delighted with what I got. My final conclusion, based on the number of "hits" this webpage has gotten, and the lack of reviews besides my own, is that this is a seriously underappreciated series, at least in the West.

At first, this was one of those shows which I was reluctant to enter a review of at all, because the first episode has left no particularly strong impressions with me. That is, I noticed nothing outstandingly good nor terribly bad about it. After three episodes I was starting to get a handle on this show. I realized that I kind of liked it--it's a moving, touching sort of show rather than the usual battle against evil demons. Demons aren't all bad, I was surprised to learn, and that made this interesting. I decided to watch 'til the end.

Afterwards, my appraisal of Natsume Yuujinchou rose steadily. In some series you can practically predict the plot ahead of time, but this one has a good deal of originality to it. Conflicts between Natsume and demons tend to be resolved by as much negotiating and compromising as out-and-out fighting. Natsume has absolutely no combat skills anyhow, and relies on "Master Kitty" (Nyanko Sensei), a demon who can take the form of a terrifying gigantic wolf, but usually appears as a silly fat cat shaped like the good luck statues that are common in Japan. He often steals the show. The way the two get along is amusing and the series as a whole has a laid-back feel to it.

This is one classy show. each time I watch another episode my respect for it is reinforced. The plots have a bittersweet flavor to them, being infinitely more about love and tragedy than fighting. You can even feel sorry for the Youkai (spirits) at times--in fact, how couldn't anyone with half a heart feel that way, given how emotionally intense it sometimes gets? One interesting twist came when Natsume encountered an amateur exorcist who was carelessly injuring harmless spirits. Whereas I'm glad to move on as many, if not most, shows near their ends, I found myself wishing that this one had turned out to be a 26-er (indeed, later a second season was released). At one point my thinking was that being as thoroughly Japanese as it is, Natsume Yuujinchou is unlikely to be R1 licensed, but seeing the exceptional quality it features makes me think that perhaps it will be after all.

My favorite line: "Technically, yes (I'm a spirit), but I'm much more refined and noble. Don't lump me in with the rest of them" --Nyanko

Last updated Sunday, March 01 2009. Created Thursday, July 17 2008.

Other Sites
Official (Japanese) Series Web Site

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