Natsume Yuujinchou – Season 1 – 4 Series Review


Overview of Natsume Yuujinchou:

Natsume Yuujinchou, or Natsume’s Book of Friends is the story of a boy named Natsume who has been passed around from relative to relative since he lost his parents and it never works out. As a kid he was strange because he could see yokai and never really learnt not to tell people this or react to the yokai. Now, as a teenager, Natsume moves in with a new couple and tries to start a life in the place his grandmother lived. Only the yokai in the area want their names, which his grandmother kept in a book, returned.

Review of Seasons 1 – 4 of Natsume Yuujinchou:

It might seem strange that I love Natsume Yuujinchou. Given my usual tastes for faster paced stories, stories that are a little bit darker, or stories that do something a bit unexpected, there really isn’t any reason for me to be such a huge fan of Natsume.

While rewatching it recently, I wondered why I liked it so much. Flying Witch, out this season, is a nice, slow piece about a slightly odd girl moving in with family and starting a life and each episode someone new comes with a problem or just to visit and then we move on. And yet, I am finding Flying Witch mind-numbingly boring.

Natsume Yuujinchou - Natsume chilling with Nyanko-Sensei in a tree

The difference, I think, is in the protagonists offered by the two with Natsume Yuujinchou just hitting the mark for me.

Natsume in the early episodes of season 1 is damaged, and that damage doesn’t just disappear. It fades and comes out in different ways at appropriate times, and slowly, ever so slowly, it is being healed, but there isn’t an instant fix.

Wow, you’ve got friends now, emotional trauma solved! In point of fact, it’s hard to even notice how far Natsume has developed as a character until you go from an episode mid-way through season 4 and maybe watch an episode from late season 1 or early season 2. And it isn’t just Natsume.

All of the characters in Natsume Yuujinchou develop slowly but surely in ways that fit with the experiences they go through. You really feel like you are part of this group and watching this show is like catching up with old friends. There’s a strength of writing and character development that you do not normally come across.

Human and Yokai friends - Natsume Yuujinchou

The plot also moves along despite its slow nature. While each episode really is the yokai of the week appears with either a problem to be solved or a desire to get their name back, each season feels like it is moving forward.

Season one helps Natsume overcome his unreasonable hatred of all yokai. Season two sees him developing some actual human relationships that aren’t superficial or simply being acted out. Season three helps Natsume begin to understand Reiko (his grandmother) and her actions. The season four plunges us into finally facing some of Natsume’s child-hood trauma and finding some closure.

The art style is also really pretty. There’s definitely a reliance on soft colours but the nature effects, whether it be sunlight, flowers, leaves, snow or rain are always gorgeous and the characters are simple but easily distinguished.

Music is used well throughout the series but again has a very laid back kind of feel to it. Sound effects are mostly understated which makes the occasional dramatic effect really stand out.

I’m really looking forward to the fifth season of this anime.

If you want something warm and fuzzy and don’t mind watching events unfold at their own pace, Natsume will be a very rewarding watch. And if you’ve read much of my blog, you know this is a series I’ll come back to again and again, and the manga is also pretty awesome.

Natsume is available from Crunchyroll.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

19 thoughts on “Natsume Yuujinchou – Season 1 – 4 Series Review

    1. This I would recommend 100% but that’s because I’m completely in love with it. Some people find it a bit slow, but there’s a lot of love out there for Natsume so it is worth trying to see if it works for you.

  1. I think one of the things they did great in this show was how Natsume started off as a lonely kid with no social skills and developed into someone who was able to finally make friends who accept him for who he is.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, I certainly did!

  2. Gaaahhh! I’m just like you – I don’t really like slow paced anime. BUT there was something about Natsume that I really really loved. I love the anime so much that I am so glad it’s back for a fifth season! Great review :”)

    1. Yeah, you can only watch so many dark anime in a row before you really need to have something a bit more light hearted.

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