Posts tagged “Natsume Yuujinchou

Top 12 Anime of 2012 – Wheeeeeze

Let the party begin!!!!

This is the first time I’ve watched enough currently-airing anime in a year to actually do a list this long and feel okay about it, and all in all I’d have to say it was a great year to do so. I enjoyed all the anime on this list quite a bit, and I imagine you did too! Or maybe not, but you can pretend you tolerated at least one of them, can’t you?

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Mother’s Day Tribute 2012

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

Happy Mother’s Day for all the mothers who may be stopping by this site today. Hope you have a wonderful day!

To celebrate, I thought I’d pick a few of my favorite mother characters from anime of the past year or so, and have a little spotlight…

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Winter 2012 Draws to a Close, and Spring 2012 Begins to Bloom

First of all, if you haven’t been keeping up with YumeState or Sea Slugs lately, be sure to check out some of my latest posts:

So what are my thoughts on winter anime? There were four shows I watched all the way through, and one of them still has three more episodes left. And I thought all four shows were great! I’ve written a lot on all of them recently, so I’ll just give ultra-mini-reviews here:

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Winter 2012: Favorite Characters

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

I did this sort of post for summer and fall of last year, so I might as well continue that tradition and list a few of my favorite characters from the winter 2012 anime I watched.

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On Friends and Whether or Not We Should Kill Them

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

Just wanted to write up a quick post on the winter anime I’m watching before the season ends! Not much time left for all these shows, so I’m pretty excited to see how they’ll all end! Note that there may be spoilers for Kill Me Baby, Natsume Yuujinchou, and especially for Mirai Nikki and Another. Make sure you’re up to date on these shows before reading on!

I’ll start with Kill Me Baby.

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Natsume’s Book of Friends – Volumes 3-5

Time for another manga post, and this time I delve back into the world of Natsume Yuujinchou. It’s nice to read these stories, and remember all the good times from the first three seasons of the anime. The order of all the stories is quite different from the anime, but either way it seems to work out okay, since the series is episodic (particularly in these first five volumes). I loved all the stories in these three volumes, and as always I think the unique art style is one of the things I think makes the manga worth checking out, even if you’ve seen all the anime.
My favorite stories from volumes 3-5 are probably these three:

The chapter with the snow bunny is just too cute. Definitely one of the most adorable stories in the series. One of the more bittersweet stories.

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How Repetitive is Natsume Yuujinchou Shi? (Ep 3-8)

I’ve had a lot of exposure to Yuki Midorikawa’s works the past couple weeks, as I’ve been catching up on Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, watching the Hotarubi no Mori e film, and reading some more of the manga Natsume’s Book of Friends. Suffice to say I’m a big fan of these stories, but as the Natsume series continues on week by week, I think it’s good to pose the question: Is it becoming a little too repetitive? This is, of course, one of the biggest difficulties in creating a long-running episodic series. If it’s too formulaic, people are more likely to move on to other things after a while. But at the same time, the general atmosphere of the series probably needs to be maintained, since that’s perhaps Natsume Yuujinchou’s biggest selling point.

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2011 Miscellaneous Favorites

Time for some random fun lists to finish off my 2011 Anime Palooza…

Let’s start with my favorites for voice acting in 2011:

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2011 Favorite Anime Characters

Traditionally this sort of post would be done at the beginning of January, but there were a few more shows from 2011 I wanted to try, which I hadn’t had the time to watch before. I feel ready now, so here is the first of three posts dealing with all my favorites of 2011. Today I’ll focus on characters, next time I’ll pick my top 6 shows, and then lastly I’ll cover a number of miscellaneous fun categories.

Let’s start with my three favorite anime protagonists of 2011:

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Cholisose’s Picks for Winter 2012

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

I think I’ve seen all the first episodes for the shows that looked promising to me for winter, and I’ve whittled down my list to two to definitely watch, two to probably watch, and two to maybe watch.

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Off to a Nice Start with Natsume Yuujinchou Shi (Ep 1-2)

Natsume Yuujinchou is a show that I feel improves with each passing season, so I’ve had great expectations for this fourth season. This time we were treated with a two-parter to start things off, which was certainly a surprise. It was a pleasant surprise though, as the show managed to get across the themes we’ve become familiar with while simultaneously moving the plot forward in interesting ways.

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Summer 2011: A Slice of Life

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

I wanted to write one more article for some of the great summer anime of this year, and decided I’d compare and contrast three of my favorites–which all happened to be slice-of-life shows! Whenever you’re in the mood for an anime that’s a little quieter than the rest (AKA not too dramatic or silly), it’s nice to watch a series like Natsume Yuujinchou San, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee, or Usagi Drop!

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Natsume Yuujinchou San – Ep 12-13

One-Line Review
A wonderful season draws to a close with two of the best episodes of the whole series.

Spoiler-Free Section
You know you’ve found a great series when episode after episode, the show is consistently enjoyably to watch. And season after season, Natsume Yuujinchou not only succeeds at delivering a charming or bittersweet episode each week, but the series overall seems to improve with each passing season. As Natsume continues to develop as a character, the stories become even more charming or bittersweet, all while giving a real sense of progression from season to season. Natsume’s character has come a long way since the very beginning of the series, and he’s developed relationships with his foster parents, several of his classmates at school, and even a wide variety of amiable yokai.
Bottom Line: If you haven’t watched any of this series yet, you really ought to give it a try. It only gets better with each season, and I have a feeling this trend will continue into season four, which has been announced to air this upcoming winter. How fortunate we won’t have to wait too long for our next batch of Natsume Yuujinchou! Now I just need to keep crossing my fingers for the anime to get licensed and released onto DVDs over in North America.

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Natsume Yuujinchou San – Ep 9-11

One-Line Review
A more lighthearted episode, and then a two-parter that moves a little slower than usual–but is still nice to watch.

Team Yokai

Spoiler-Free Section
While Natsume has a literal book of friends (with the names of yokai), he is also in the process of filling his own life story with a group of close friends. These episodes focused a lot on his relationships with his various classmates. There’s Nishimura and Kitamoto who serve as “those two guys” for the series, then there’s Sasada who acts as an acquaintance Natsume often runs into, and then there’s Tanuma and Taki–the two who know of Natsume’s connection to the world of yokai.
Though episodes nine to eleven feature these friends a good deal, we don’t really learn anything new about them. At first glance, this sounds like there isn’t much depth to the characters. How can we care about them when we know so little about them? There aren’t even too many facets to their personalities, to be honest. But somehow they feel like real people, and the way they interact with Natsume feels true to life. And when I think about it, how much have I actually known about my friends? If I were asked to write down each of their backstories, would I be able to write more than a paragraph? And how much of an acquaintance’s personality do we really grasp from our brief, everyday interactions with one another? Hi, how’re you doing? Fine. How’re you? All right. What’ve you been up to? Just work. Just schoolwork. Stuff. Nothing much. You see what I mean? Fortunately Natsume Yuujinchou is never this banal, and the characters are all interesting in their mannerisms, thought processes, and reactions to the various situations of the story. When all is said and done, they all care about each other, and are willing to help one another with anything at all.
I guess my point is–we may not know too much about Natsume’s friends, but how much do we actually know about anyone? We’re all human beings, and in many ways we’re all very similar to one another. It’s really in the little things that we find what makes us all so unique and peculiar, and I think Natsume Yuujinchou is able to tap into that concept really well.

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Summer 2011: Favorite Characters

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

Who are your favorite characters introduced this season? I thought I’d share a few that I’ve found interesting.

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Spotlight: Yuki Midorikawa

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

One of my favorite manga creators out there is Yuki Midorikawa, best known for Natsume Yuujinchou (or Natsume’s Book of Friends, as it’s titled in English). The Natsume manga is an ongoing series, and so far eight volumes have been released in North America by Viz in their Shojo Beat lineup. The anime adaptation is currently airing its third season, and you can find the latest episodes as well as everything from the first two seasons on Crunchyroll. The anime has not yet been released on DVD in North America, but I’m really hoping it will be soon!

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Natsume Yuujinchou San – Ep 5-8

One-Line Review
Natsume continues to develop as a character, and we get to see more characters from the past two seasons–as well as new characters who also prove to be very interesting.

Spoiler-Free Section
I feel that if a writer can create characters likable enough for fans to rally around, the story is a winner, even if everything else about it may not be as well-crafted. Fortunately I feel everything is handled well in Natsume Yuujinchou, but looking through comments on message boards, it seems clear that the fans truly care about the characters of this series. When Natsume is sad, the fans are sad. When Natsume feels he’s grown closer as a friend to someone, the fans can’t help but smile a little. And when Nyanko-sensei is hurt, the fans gather their torches and pitchforks and set after the fictional character that hurt him! And when Natori walks in, the fangirls scream with delight.
In other words, it’s reached the point where the fanbase is thoroughly concerned for what will happen to these characters. They’ll be genuinely upset when things go wrong for the main characters, and they’ll be genuinely glad when the characters grow in new ways and/or achieve their goals. This isn’t something you’ll find in just any fandom. The characterization has to be handled very well to bring about this level of emotional attachment.

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Summer 2011: Favorite OPs and EDs

(Note: This post first appeared on YumeState.)

This week I thought I’d do a fun post listing a few of my favorite opening and ending themes from this season. I’ve noticed in the past how most anime reviewers will note how much they like the OP and ED of the shows they critique, but personally this has never been a big deal to me. I’m much more concerned with things like plot, character development, art style, animation quality, music, voices… etc.

However, OPs can be great, and serve well to get viewers in the right mood for the show. They can also spark interest, serving as a sort of trailer or advertisement for what the story will entail. Meanwhile EDs are generally nice as a bit of a breather to follow the episode, or to experiment a bit in terms of art any music style. Below are some of my favorites this season–I’ll start with the EDs first.

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Natsume Yuujinchou San – Ep 3 and 4

One-Line Review
The show does a good job fleshing out Natsume’s past and background a bit more.

Spoiler-Free Section
Natsume Yuujinchou is a series about Natsume, who is easily one of my favorite anime protagonists of all time. He is unique in that he can see yokai, but this is not what stands out most about him. Natsume is a thoroughly likeable boy, and his personality develops bit by bit with each passing episode. This is not a series where sudden, dramatic events change its characters. Most of Natsume’s decisions involve everyday choices that are easy to relate to, and his development as a character feels realistic because of the storyline’s slow, methodical pacing.
It’s not something you see in stories very often, especially in a day and age where everything needs to be EXCITING! Action needs to have explosions the size of eastern European countries, romance needs not love triangles–but love dodecahedrons, comedy needs to leave Buddhist monks in stitches, fantasy stories constantly need the whole darn world to be saved, etc etc.
So when I’m in the mood for something a little more calm (and I most always am), I like to watch shows like Natsume Yuujinchou, where a boy is simply trying to fit in with his family and friends.

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Natsume Yuujinchou San – Ep 2

One-Line Review
A nice, feel-good episode.

Tanuma is shocked to find that annoying fish-feeding game installed on his ceiling.

Spoiler-Free Section
Now that the premise has been reintroduced, this episode jumps into new yokai-themed concepts that I found pretty intriguing. As far as story goes, this episode is a lot like many other Natsume Yuujinchou plots, but I thought this one handled the whole friendship across two worlds theme rather nicely.
It’s also nice to see Tanuma take part in an episode again–he hasn’t done much for most of the series, but he seems like an interesting character. He’s a lot like Natsume, very polite and rather quiet. I kind of wish we’d learn something more about him though, outside of his yokai-sensing ability.
And more Reiko flashbacks are always nice, too.

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Natsume Yuujinchou San – Ep 1

One-Line Review
A pretty generic episode, but works as a reintroduction to a well-anticipated series.

Left: Natsume, the whipped child
Right: Nyanko-sensei, the overbearing cat overlord

Spoiler-Free Section
For those who haven’t seen Natsume Yuujinchou, you should really give it a try. You can find my reviews for the first two seasons on my anime review page, or you can go straight to Crunchyroll and try watching an episode or two. It’s a very calm show, and has a lot of charming characters. The episodic tales are often heartwarming or bittersweet–or some kind of mixture of both.
The first episode of the third season is very much like the episodes of the first two seasons, though much of it is dedicated to reintroducing the characters, premise, and general tone of the series. For those that don’t know, Natsume can see yokai (creatures and spirits). He also has his grandmother’s Book of Friends, which holds the names of many yokai (and thus much of their power)–Natsume’s goal is to return these names to their original owners. Much of the series is about Natsume gaining friendships amongst both humans and yokai–something that doesn’t come easily to him.

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Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou

These thirteen episodes are a direct continuation of the first season of Natsume Yuujinchou, so these can also just be considered episodes 14-26 of the series. The entire series can be watched on Crunchyroll.
I really enjoyed the first season of Natsume, and the second season turned out to be even better. Overall the formula is the same–the stories are episodic, heartwarming, and at times bittersweet. Natsume continues to help out yokai, and bit by bit learns to befriend the people around him a little more. The character development for Natume is handled well, and the recurring characters all get to do more too. There are some very interesting new characters for the series, such as Taki and Kai–plus we get to learn a bit more about Reiko, which I’ve especially found intriguing. Every story in this season was nice to watch, and there were even a couple two-parters to spice things up this time around.
So I continue to highly suggest Natsume Yuujinchou–perhaps even more now, since I couldn’t really find anything to complain about in this second season. The art is nice, the music is soothing, and the characters are all very easy to like. It’s a unique series, and I can’t think of many shows that evoke the same sort of quiet, reflective atmosphere. It’s also great for all ages, which may be a reason that it’s getting a third season this summer. (I’ll be reviewing the episodes as they come out, along with several other anime.)


Natsume’s Book of Friends – Volume 2

The next four chapters of Natsume are just as episodic as those in the first volume, but Yuki Midorikawa continues to develop Natsume’s character a little further in lots of subtle ways.
The first story deals with Natsume’s classmates taking him to an abandoned haunted schoolhouse (since there’s always one of those nearby). Of course, there are yokai involved–the question is whether or not Natsume will be able to understand the yokai’s problem and be able to assist. It was nice to see Natsume interact with some more classmates, and to see some more of Nyanko-sensei’s abilities.
The next story is a bit more lighthearted, with Natsume ending up in some more humorous situations with the yokai. I think my bit was when Natsume had to quickly summon a creature to fend off an attacking yokai.
Chapter seven was perhaps the most interesting story, where Natsume meets a man who can also see yokai. His view of the creatures is quite different from Natsume’s, however–and yet he isn’t portrayed as a villain. He is simply someone with an opposing viewpoint. And though his actions are at times questionable, he is still a nice person overall, it seems. It will be interesting to see where things go when Natsume meets him again.
The last story was a rather sweet one. It was a bit more about the yokai rather than Natsume this time around, and I rather liked getting to know the story behind the lute player and umbrella man. This might be my favorite story of the Natsume series so far.


Natsume’s Book of Friends – Volume 1

Having watched and loved the first season of the Natsume Yuujinchou anime, I had to pick up the first volume of the manga when I saw it at my library. Yuki Midorikawa’s series is definitely one of the more unique shoujo manga out there.
Volume 1 includes four episodic stories starring Natsume, who has the ability to see all the yokai (mythological creatures) that roam about unseen to the average person. It turns out that Takashi Natsume’s late grandmother, Reiko, also saw yokai when she was young. Like Takashi, Reiko had trouble fitting in—but she managed to become master of many yokai by beating them up and placing their names in a book. Takashi gains this book and strives to give these names back to all the yokai Reiko conquered, hoping the creatures will leave him in peace.
Though there are plenty of interesting supernatural elements in this series, the story still focuses on Natsume and his struggle to fit in. He is connected to both the human world and the yokai world, and because of this he has a lot of trouble really relating with anyone. Natsume is quiet, shy, kind, and pensive, but he is still a normal boy who is sad when he’s lonely and happy when he manages to help a yokai—or when he has any kind of positive interaction with another human being. And the title of the series, Natsume’s Book of Friends, slowly takes on a double meaning as the protagonist works to create friendships with both the yokai and the people he interacts with, little by little.
The artwork for the manga is also rather interesting. At times it has the feel of old Japanese paintings and woodblock prints, which shouldn’t be too surprising if many of the yokai are based off depictions found in traditional artwork. (I don’t know if that’s the case, but I would imagine that many [if not most/all] of the creatures are found in traditional Japanese stories.) There is a simplistic, sort of “flattened” feel to the art style. Backgrounds usually aren’t very detailed, focusing more on the emotion of the characters. The thickness of lines changes in each pen stroke for the characters, giving a bit of a “calligraphy” feel to them (sometimes even leaving lines not quite connected together, which gives them a bit of a “warm glow”). And yokai are often foreign or grotesque in their appearance (Nyanko-sensei being a sort of exception—at least in his fat “lucky cat” form).
If you’re in the mood for something soft and sweet, Natsume’s Book of Friends would be a good manga to pick up. So far there are seven volumes available from Viz Media via their Shojo Beat lineup.


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