It’s Here: Thoughts on Anime 2018 Book Launch!

There’s a definite sense of excitement when I see so many of my posts from last year coming together into a single form.

For the second year in a row I’ve compiled an ebook with the content from my blog though this time I’m selling direct via PayPal. You have your choice of PDF, EPUB or MOBI formats and you will receive your copy via email after payment. Patrons, if you haven’t already got your copy, go to this post on Patreon and it should allow you to download the version you want – if it doesn’t work let me know ASAP and I will email you a copy.

Thoughts on Anime 2018 ebook

Thoughts on Anime 2018 ebook

Collection of reviews, features, and top 5’s from the blog in 2018 including reviews completed for patrons only. Available in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF forms. No images.

A$6.00

Buying the ebook helps support the work I do on 100 Word Anime and hopefully I’ll be able to continue to grow the blog and produce content people would like to read. Though I would like to take this moment to ask that you consider becoming a patron.

Now before we get too much further I do need to do a major shout out to all of my wonderful patrons and to those who have donated to 100 Word Anime during 2018. In particular I’d like to give a special thank you to:

So, what’s in the book?

Well, almost all my Top 5’s from 2018, including my best of 2018 Top 5 lists that technically haven’t finished coming out on my blog just yet with my top 5 males and top 5 anime of the year still to be published.

Almost all of my Features are included.

Now if you are wondering why some Top 5’s and some Features have been left out part of that is because the book was starting to clock up a massive word count, and the other part is that occasionally I write a feature directly related to something happening during a particular week and it really isn’t relevant to anyone a month later. Also, a handful of my Top 5’s last year were on horror movies rather than anime so they thematically didn’t fit.

As for series reviews:

  1. Cells at Work (Summer)
  2. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens (Winter)
  3. March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 (Winter)
  4. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (Autumn)
  5. Dakaichi (Autumn)
  6. DamePri Anime Caravan (Winter)
  7. Goblin Slayer (Autumn)
  8. How Not To Summon a Demon Lord (Summer)
  9. How to Keep a Mummy (Winter)
  10. Lostorage Conflated Wixoss (Spring)
  11. Phantom in the Twilight (Summer)
  12. ReLIFE Final Arc (Winter)
  13. Rokuhoudou Yostuiro Biyori (Spring)
  14. School Babysitters (Winter)
  15. Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San (Autumn)
  16. Space Battleship Tiramisu (Spring)
  17. Spiritpact – Bond of the Underworld (Winter)
  18. Steins;Gate 0 (Summer)
  19. Tada Doesn’t Fall in Love (Spring)
  20. The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Winter)
  21. Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary (Autumn)
  22. 100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams (Summer)
  23. 3D Kanojo: Real Girl (Spring)
  24. A.I.C.O Incarnate (Winter)
  25. Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion (Summer)
  26. B the Beginning (Winter)
  27. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (Spring)
  28. Cute High Earth Defense Club Happy Kiss (Spring)
  29. Darling in the Franxx (Spring)
  30. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (Winter)
  31. Devilman Crybaby (Winter)
  32. Doreiku (Spring)
  33. Jingai-San no Yome (Autumn)
  34. Junji Ito Collection (Winter)
  35. Kokkoku (Winter)
  36. Libra of Nil Admirari (Spring)
  37. Record of Grancrest War (Spring)
  38. Release the Spyce (Autumn)
  39. Sanrio Boys (Winter)
  40. Caligula (Spring)
  41. Devils’ Line (Spring)
  42. The Master of Ragnarok (Summer)
  43. Tokyo Ghoul RE (Spring)

Well, there’s just a few series reviews. Also episode reviews are included in the appendices for a large number of shows covered last year and all patron only episode reviews are included. Plus, episode reviews of Dakaichi and Goblin Slayer that I never published on the blog because I was reviewing after every four episodes with Arthifis so I just wrote up my episode thoughts for the book.

Hopefully the contents page works in all formats so you should be able to easily navigate between sections and reviews are arranged alphabetically by season. Obviously if you have any issues with the ebook or the format, please contact me and I’ll send you another copy or a different version. This is my first attempt at doing this alone so it may not have worked out perfectly. However, I’m fairly confident I’ve got it.

But, if $6 is seeming a little too much for a year’s content (actually I get it, we’re all working on a budget), I have a slimmer version of the book available.

Short Thoughts on Anime 2018

Short Thoughts on Anime 2018 ebook

Smaller selection of features, top 5's and reviews from 2018 on the blog. Available in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF forms. No images.

A$3.00

For the price of a ko-fi you can get the short version of the ebook. The only episode reviews included in the short version are for anime series that were reviewed exclusively for patrons or did not appear on my blog at all. A number of series reviews were removed as were a handful of top 5’s and features.

Basically instead of 220,000+ words that you get in the whole ebook, you only get 130,000+ words. It still makes for a pretty good read if I do say so myself, but it is definitely the trim version.

This is a one-off way of supporting 100 Word Anime throughout 2019. I’d really love to see this blog grow and I am continuing to work on producing content for people to enjoy. Consider lending a hand and getting a compilation of the 2018 content.

By the way, if you can’t make up your mind, or can’t right now but think you might want to buy the book later, it is available in the bookshop which you can access via the sidebar.

Karandi's Bookshop Feature Image

Thanks again and happy reading.

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Karandi James
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Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 7 Review – Matoba Makes the Scene

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 7 Manga Cover

No surprise that I got excited when I saw the cover of this volume. Natori has been hanging around for awhile but in volume 7 we finally get introduced to Matoba. And what an introduction. With four chapters worth of story, this is certainly an entrance worth paying attention to.

There’s also another special episode which features the yokai and Natsume playing a game of tag and then another separate story at the end, but I’m not going to review it because this is definitely all about Matoba.

Chapters 23 – 26

One odd thing that I noticed with this volume is that the back of the book that does a quick chapter summary actually only lists this story as chapters 23 – 25 but then there are definitely four chapter markers in the story (and these are some of the most beautiful the series has given us so far). It isn’t really a problem, it is just a bit odd as I’m wondering where chapter 26 disappeared to when they went to write the summary.

So other than pretty chapter cover pages, what do these chapters brings us?

Well, I finally understand why Irina loves Matoba so much. While I found him an intriguing character in the anime, his presence in these chapters of the manga is amazing. He’s a force of nature and a blast of darkness into Natsume’s life. Where most of the characters we’ve encountered have been at their core nice people or at least frequenting that grey area in between right and wrong, Matoba is an incredibly rational and cold character and he does not like yokai or view them as anything more than tools.

Given the story is framed entirely from Natsume’s perspective and Matoba’s view is so at odds with his, it puts these two against each other. It also re-positions Natori as the middle ground and so it is vital that Natori is present in this story. Natori is the exorcist we are most familiar with and up until has been the one we’ve been a little wary of even though he has helped Natsume in the past. Particularly after volume 6 where Natori and Natsume go more or less head-to-head, these chapters really help to bring Natori back into the kind of an ally point of view particularly when contrasted with Matoba’s relentless pursuit of power.

Even in the anime, Matoba’s stories were always some of the darkest and most memorable, and reading it is no exception. If anything, this story, carried over four chapters, has far more impact here than it did played out over two episodes. There’s more time to linger on particular moments and more time to think about just how dangerous the situation is that Natsume now finds himself. It is comparable to when we met Taki and Natsume was kidnapped by a yokai, only things get a great deal more serious for longer here.

Needless to say, I loved this volume and reading this story. These chapters are the best I have read so far and I really look forward to whenever Matoba appears next. If it like the anime his appearances will be few and far between and that is a shame because he really heightened my emotional response to this story and made me feel a real sense of unease and danger.

I also like that Natsume is forced to deal with his own views on yokai whenever he is confronted by other exorcists. The drama that it creates is always good fun and I feel we see Natsume at his best when put in these situations.

Looking forward to more from Natsume and I’m really looking forward to getting beyond what I’ve watched. Because if the stories afterwards are anything like this one was then it will be an absolute delight to read.

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Karandi James
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Durarara!! Volume 1 Light Novel Review: Everybody Has Some Story To Tell

I’ve mentioned this before, but the anime of Durarara is one of those that I’ve tried repeatedly to watch and repeatedly walked away from. It’s never managed to really grab me but I just keep thinking that maybe if I’m in the right mood it will work. However, still having not watched the anime I finally decided why not try the light novels? What’s the worst that could happen? And so I dove into Ikebukuro district with these characters for a spell and now I have to wonder what I thought about the story.

The problem is, much like with the anime, I think I should like this. The ideas are interesting, the characters are pretty interesting, everything about it seems like it should work for me. And yet, I found myself regularly putting this volume down and at one point I even read two volumes of the Natsume Yuujinchou manga before returning to finish this story. I wanted to see how it ended but at the same time I found reading this really tedious.

Normally when that happens it is because of the style of writing. However, the writing itself isn’t really a problem. It is descriptive enough without tripping over itself to use flowery speech. Events move along and a good enough pace. Again, it all seems like it should work.

I think what ultimately does this story in for me is I don’t feel I can relate to any character in the story. They all have goals and motives but I don’t seem to find myself caring what they do or whether they accomplish their goals. Even the climax of this volume, which is actually a really nice culmination of lots of events and stories all coming together and should be quite satisfying is more just kind of there and I closed the book feeling more like a burden had been lifted.

Still, there is plenty I can recommend about this book to others.

There’s a large cast of characters who all have their own idiosyncrasies which I think most people would find someone of interest. Even though there is kind of a protagonist, the story isn’t told from any single character’s perspective and chapters chop between the different groups and individuals helping many of the cast members feel more fleshed out and realised than they might have been.

As I mentioned before, the plot builds nicely to a climax. Even though early on it feels like a lot of events are random or of no consequence, everything does come together in the end and there is a sense of resolve about the whole volume despite it leaving plenty of loose ends to come back to in future stories. It really does feel very nicely planned out.

If you were thinking of picking up a light novel, and you really don’t want it to be an isekai, Durarara!! seems like it might be a fairly decent place to start. As for me, I’m probably not continuing this series. The feeling of utter indifference to each and every cast member means that no matter how quirky they are or how well constructed the plot is, I’m kept an arm’s length from events emotionally and I just can’t get into the world being described here.

But how about you? Have you read Durarara!! and if yes, what did you think?

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If you’re interested in reading Durarara Volume 1 it is available on the Book Depository.

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Karandi James
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DURARARA OST BEST HIT IKEBUKURO PSYCHE DE REMIX
DURARARA OST BEST HIT IKEBUKURO PSYCHE DE REMIX

Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 5 Manga Review: Friends Past and Present

Volume 5 of Natsume’s Book of Friends gives us a wide variety of characters and stories and really does look at the influence of the past on the present. We also meet Taki in a double chapter story that is as superb to read as it was to watch.

It feels like a lot of this volume is quite a bit darker than normal as each of the stories has a real risk to the characters and a real sense of tragedy hanging over it. While each is resolved in its own way, it feels like now that we’ve been introduced to the world of yokai and begun to understand its dangers, they are now expanding on the perils Natsume faces. Still, it isn’t all doom and gloom (not that it would be a problem if it was as I quite liked the darker anime episodes so I really enjoyed reading this volume) as we have another special story included in this volume that focuses on Tanuma and Natsume.

Chapter 16: Ageless Feelings

Perhaps the weakest of the stories in volume 5, chapter 16 still delivers a fairly compelling read when Natsume goes on a study trip with his friends and meets an old woman looking for a childhood friend and then a mermaid. The reason this story doesn’t quite hit home is because it is the old woman’s tragedy that we’re seeing unfold here and Natsume is more or less a bystander.

Then again, Natsume never stays a bystander for long and certainly he takes an active role in resolving the conflict. Still, as much as the ending is kind of nice, it is also fairly tragic that the woman has carried a feeling of guilt for so long and that the mermaid has harboured her ill will for so long. While it definitely reflects human nature, the situation is just kind of sad no matter how you look at it.

Chapters 17 & 18: Do Not Call

And now Natsume is going to meet Taki. She’s a fantastic character in the anime and her introductory story is one where both she and Natsume go through some very real danger. I was pleased to see this one in the manga and surprised by how affective some of the scenes were. The start of chapter 18 in particular when Natsume has been captured by the yokai was so much starker and seemingly darker here in the manga in the black and white than the anime managed.

Natsume5c

Taki’s link to the past is her grandfather and the knowledge he left her, incomplete though it was. In fact, it was her grandfather’s magic circle design that got Taki in trouble with a really nasty yokai and ultimately dragged Natsume into the conflict. Yet, Taki really loved her grandfather and she cherishes her connection with him despite all the bad things that it might lead to.

We also see Natsume and Taki forge a fairly solid friendship in a short time period. They both have connections to the yokai world through their grandparents and facing this kind of danger just naturally got them closer together. What I love though is that it isn’t a romantic relationship but very much one of mutual respect and friendship. Taki is such a great character and this story that brings her into the Natsume world is a fantastic read.

Chapter 19: Temporary House

But the great characters just keep coming. After introducing Taki to us, we get a story that focuses very much on Reiko and her past actions and the troubles they bring to Natsume in the present. After being spotted by a yokai and followed home, Natsume learns that this yokai had been in the house before when Shigure was a boy but somehow all the misfortunes had stopped after a mysterious girl had visited the house.

Natsume5d

Natsume’s relationship with Reiko has remained ambiguous. On the one hand, she is the one who could see the same things Natsume sees and it is her book that Natsume now owns and is trying to return the names from. She is also a distorted reflection of him as she became isolated from both humans and yokai because of her gift.

We see this distortion again when Natsume uses the same spell he sees Reiko using in the past to chase away the yokai causing immense damage to the room. Where Reiko ran away and never returned to the house, Natsume apologises and is welcomed as a part of the household. It is a touching story and one I really loved reading as it really did help to see Reiko a bit more clearly.

Special Episode 4

Natsume5b

Only one special in this volume, which is fine given how satisfying the other stories were. This one focuses on Tanuma inviting Natsume over to his house. We’ve seen this scene in the anime where Tanuma wants to show the shadow fish to Natsume and we realise Natsume can in fact see the real fish and not just their shadows. Still, much like Taki, Tanuma is a great character and a solid friend to Natsume and seeing these small steps as they build their friendship is fantastic.

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If you’re interested in reading Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 5 it is available on the Book Depository.

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What Was He Thinking? An Interview With the Amazing Arthifis

Arthifis Ultimate Guide

There was some exciting news last week as Arthifis unveiled their project they’ve been teasing for some time. The final reveal: a guide book to the Autumn season of anime. Arthifis has taste-tested quite the selection of ‘fall’ anime for those who just don’t have the time to try everything for themselves and written up his findings in a beautifully organised and cleanly laid out format that is a delight to read. And after all of that work and effort and love (and it really is a project filled with love and enthusiasm) he’s made is available for everyone right here.
Now, you can donate to his ko-fi if you want to support him and the work he has done, and you can use his links to Amazon if you are feeling the need to go shopping, but really he’s put this out for free and asked only that we help spread the word. 

When asked if I could do a quick post about the project to help spread the word I was delighted, but more than that, I wanted to try something a bit different (for me) and so I asked if Arthifis would mind answering some interview questions about his project. Arthifis agreed and so I now bring you:

The First Ever 100 Word Anime Author Interview Featuring the Amazing Arthifis!

01. You had mentioned this super secret project for awhile now, what gave you the idea to put together a guide for the anime season?

Uuuh that’s a nice question 🙂 Well, as you know, I’ve said that this season I would be following seasonal Anime, something I have never done before. In the beginning I thought in just doing First Impressions in some of the Anime shows I was following at my blog. However, I am a completionist in everything I do, so the idea of doing a guide with all the shows airing at the moment just felt right.
When the idea came, I just liked it a lot. Then, when I started thinking carefully about it I just thought in how awesome this would be and how much fun it would be doing this. So, I just rolled with it eheh

Excerpt from ‘Arthifis’ Ultimate Guide to Anime 2018 Fall Season’

02. How did you find trying to watch the first three episodes of pretty much everything you had access to? I mean, I watch a lot of anime and even I can’t imagine trying to stick with every show for three episodes. Some don’t last three minutes.

Well, I think that doing a first impressions review with only one episode watched can bite you in the back real fast. One one hand, we have that Anime shows are using over the top first episodes more and more so that they can grab the attention of the viewers in coming back in the next episode. On the other hand, there are also Anime shows which, due to not having so much budget the first episode can be sort of bad and the get better along the time. For example, there were Anime shows who had clear problems in the audio at the first episode and then improved a lot in the following episode.

This way, I think 3 episodes are good enough to get a sense of the show and if I’m going to like it. But, there are some exceptions. Conception is one of those that after watching the first episode I immediately knew where I was going to put it 😛

03. I’m very curious about your three categories you have used in the guide. “Good for the chakra”, “meh”, and “not my cup of noodles”. Were these your first picks, were they inspired by something, or did you spend hours trying to figure out what to call them?

Well, the “Not My Cup of Noodles” just came to me by inspiration. It’s basically a playing of words of “Not My Cup of Tea”. However, the other 2 were not that easy ahah

I really had to thought out about “Good for the Chakra” one. I actually had other thing in mind for that category, but it was not as good. Then I remembered the saying “Good For The Soul” and just added an Anime/Asian twist 😛

“Meh” well that one is actually the feeling I had when I watch something that has a lot of promising and doesn’t seem to actually give what it should give xD

Excerpt from ‘Arthifis’ Ultimate Guide to 2018 Anime Fall Season’

04. Was there any anime you really regret investing the time in to try and write up your first impressions?

Hmmm, to be honest I don’t even know… Let me see… My sister, My writer is probably one of them. It’s just not my genre and I could have done the review with the first episode. Nevertheless, I wanted to give it a chance before reviewing it… Ended up being the same review I would have done in the beginning.

05. Did you discover an anime that you now absolutely love because of this project?

Oh yes! A few to be honest! This way I’ll just put it as a list:

Himote House – I’m sure I wouldn’t watch this if not for the guide. However, the Anime ended up being really fun to watch. And, yes, I know that the 3D characters is a little off putting, but after a while I was able to just go with it.

Release the Spyce – I’m not a big fan of the Cute Girls doing Cute Stuff, so this one was going to be a pass for me. After watching the first 3 episodes I just love it! Clearly this taught me, yet again, to not judge something by its cover.

Karakuri Circus – Another one that was going to be a pass for me because of the more retro animation. Ended up having a lots of fun and not disliking the animation as much as I thought I was going to.

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – This one I blame MAL for my pass. Basically from the cover and the sinopsis it just felt it wasn’t for me. However, the Anime ends up being way more interesting than what the synopsis tries to sell you.

The others are Anime shows that I was already thinking on trying sooner or later 🙂 (From the ones I love, I mean).

Excerpt from ‘Arthifis’ Ultimate Guide to Anime 2018 Fall Season’

06. I really love the layout and design of each page in the reviews. How did you settle on the look for the guide?

Does, trying out things until I liked suffices as an answer? xD

Now, really, the first thing I had in mind was the font I was going to use. After that was the title for each Anime, meaning the color, size and so on.

Then I already had in mind to have the cover in one side and the basic information on the right. Basically when it came to coloring and so on, it was easier because since I had used purple at the top I had to go with a color that works with that. So, I chose blue.

From there on out it was always going for something that worked with something I did before. I got the template and then just copied the same template to all first impressions.

When it comes to the cover and so on, well, that one took a while to get and a lot of research 😛 I knew that I wanted to do something Autumn-ish, but didn’t know very well how to do it. So I used Pinterest as a way to get inspiration and well, did that ahah

But, in the end, I think, most of the design I tried to create something easy to read and go back and forward, that’s why I have an index with links to all my FIs as I have a back “button” in all of my First Impressions Review 🙂

07. So, super important question, did you have fun working on this project? More importantly, do you intend to do a guide every season (or at least another season)?

Yes, yes I had! To be honest, apart collabs, this was probably the project I had most fun with! It was just great to experience all of these stories and go to Anime shows that I would just pass without even thinking about it! It’s really fun to watch so many different creations, all of them designed and executed in different ways, even if slight ones 🙂

Yes, I am! I mean, it will also depend on how people like this one! It’s something that gives a lot of work. And what I mean when I say a lot, is that it took me almost a month without doing anything else besides… Well, the guide ahah

However, I think I started this one a little bit late in the game. So, for the next season I’m thinking on starting watching all the Anime on day one and following them 1 episode a week. It will probably take more notes from me, but at least I will be able to balance things a little better 🙂

Exerpt from ‘Arthifis’ Ultimate Guide to 2018 Anime Fall Season’

Random bonus question – After trying so many anime and continuing to watch some of them, have you settled on your anime of the season yet or are you waiting to see how they end?

That’s a really hard question! 😛 To be honest, I want to continue on watching most of the Anime shows, even the ones that are in the “Meh” category. The thing is, 3 episodes are great for a First Impressions but, the truth is that Anime shows can go really well (or really wrong) in the middle of the season.
This way, I’ll be following the Anime shows under the “Good for the Chakra” for sure. Then, I have some in the “meh” side that I also am interesting to watch… So, I think instead of helping, just made my watching list to go even wider ahah

End Interview

Remember you can get the guide from here and remember to thank Arthifis for this amazing work and spread the word.

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Karandi James
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Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest Volume 2 Light Novel Review: They Introduced a Bunny Girl

Arifureta Volume 2 Cover

When you have a main party this overpowered the only thing to do is throw everything at them, including terrible puns. Hajime and Yue having escaped the dungeon now encounter a blue bunny girl before setting off to defeat the remaining labyrinths. If you missed my review of Volume 1 you can find it here.

Review:

I’m really torn on this second volume of Arifureta. On the one hand, I like the overall quest Hajime and Yue are on to conquer all the dungeons and get back to  earth. On the other hand, we’re definitely starting to build a harem with the introduction of Shea, the single most annoying punching bag character ever introduced. So reading this volume was a mix of moments that I really enjoyed followed by a lot of inane interactions between the new core group of three that just didn’t sit well with me.

Arifureta Volume 2

There are two real parts to this volume. The first is Hajime and Yue leaving the labyrinth and being recruited by Shea to save her family of bunny men which Hajime ends up doing despite his endless protests because despite being a complete ass ninety percent of the time they still want us to somewhat like him and believe that he’s kind of a good person who was just warped by circumstance. What follows, after a lot of waffling and some not so funny attempts at comedy, is a sequence that kind of reminded me of that episode in Full Metal Panic Fumoffu where Sousuke turns the soft-hearted football team into killers.

I will admit, while I found the sequence fairly entertaining it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth because we now had these ruthless rabbit people pretty much happy to engage in the kill or be killed mentality that Hajime had to develop to survive. Then again, part of this process is probably trying to emphasise what Hajime lost in the process and maybe the point is to help him slowly figure out that he needs to reign it in. At least he kind of acknowledged he may have gone to far before they moved on, though even that moment is kind of ruined by Shea being Shea (and can Hajime stop using rubber bullets on her and just kill her).

“You know, I really did feel bad about what I did to you guys. Even if it was to train you as quickly as possible in the short time we had, I should have put a stop to it after a while.” – Hajime

The second half of the story focuses more on Hajime, Yue and Shea venturing into the human towns and joining the adventurers guild before taking on their second labyrinth. The issue with this part is that the first book was fun because we started with Hajime literally at the mercy of everything and having to coldly build himself up, discarding everything human in the process in order to survive. This labyrinth doesn’t have that.

Instead we artificially limit Yue and Hajime by using a mineral that makes it hard to use Mana or magic, making Shea the tank of the team as they traverse this labyrinth. There still is never a real sense of danger and Hajime and Yue don’t ever really get serious, although they do get annoyed more often than not at the taunting of the labyrinth’s owner.

We get a few cuts to the other students and what they are up to, but they are definitely side characters at the moment and their scenes feel very much like after thoughts. They might be leading to something later on but right now they aren’t very interesting.

Basically it isn’t as compelling a read as volume 1. It is still quite fun in its own way but a lot of the tone and the general idea of Hajime’s character is kind of lost and this volume settles into far more generic isekai tropes. And while that doesn’t result in a bad book by any means, it also isn’t grabbing me as much as volume 1 did.

I’ll give this series another volume and see if it can pick itself back up or whether I’ll part ways with it there.

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Karandi James
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Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 4 Manga Review: The Pain of Farewell

Natsume Volume 4 takes a slightly different turn. In this volume we get three chapters and then three short stories. Admittedly, one of those short stories is featuring the Little Fox so I was super happy to read it but it was an interesting change where the first three volumes had four chapters fairly consistently. The other thing is that I realised that they turned each of these shorts into episodes just like the other stories and I started thinking about what was added and changed to flesh the stories out. At some point I might have to watch the episodes in question while I have the manga with me just to see.

Regardless, I absolutely loved this volume. There are some really great stories in it and the art seems to have also taken a step up in consistency (there were always beautiful images but some of the bits inbetween were rough at times and this volume seems far more constant in its delivery). All and all, this was a great read.

Incidentally, there was also a page dedicated to explaining how to draw Nyanko-Sensei. I will admit I attempted it. I suck. Moving on. Still really fun to come across though.

Chapter 13: Melting in Spring

I’ll be honest, I didn’t much like this story in the anime. It was okay, but I never really connected with the yokai, Gen. The story is about a yokai Natsume meets while playing in the snow with Nyanko Sensei. Natsume has made a snow bunny and the yokai, attempting to possess Natsume ends up inside the snow bunny. There’s a tragic back story involved and of course the yokai just has a goal to accomplish and recruits Natsume’s assistance.

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I’m just going to say this is one of the most gorgeous chapter title pages I’ve come across so far, though each volume seems to get better and better so I’m really excited to see what is coming next. Still, I could stare at this page for ages.

This might seem odd, but I really feel that the story of Gen and Sui is a little too rushed here. We meet these characters, learn of their tragedy, Natsume tries to help them, and ultimately the two of them part from Natsume. The impact on Natsume of this parting is one that he takes the time to really articulate to Nyanko Sensei. There are so many characters who pass through Natsume’s life that this idea of parting has been present since the beginning, but this chapter really takes the time to try and express Natsume’s feelings toward it, and because I didn’t connect with Gen it just doesn’t quite resonate with me.

Still, it certainly captures the spirit of so many of the stories for Natsume so while I’m not the biggest fan of this one, I appreciate the thematic connection with other stories.

Chapter Fourteen: Natsume Goes to a Hot Spring

Did I mention I love Natori as a character so seeing him return in Chapter Fourteen was fantastic. And the story of Natori taking Natsume to the hot springs with his usual slightly ambiguous goals and motives is just kind of the perfect story. This one balances out so many elements with Natsume helping yokai, reflecting on his childhood and how he interacts with others, the clashing ideologies of Natori and Natsume, as well as Natsume realising he has found a place to call home. It just works so well and I absolutely loved reading it (and I may have reread it several times already).

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One thing that occurred to me while reading this is that I really would like to learn more about the exorcists in general and their methods. While we learn a little in the anime drip-fed over six seasons, and clearly that information is in the manga spread throughout the stories, there’s still so much about the various exorcists and their different approaches that is just kind of cloaked in mystery. I get why, given we’re being introduced into this world through Natsume’s experiences, but at the same time, I’m really curious. That’s probably why I smile in delight every time the anime (and now that manga) brings us a story that focuses on these elements.

Sneak preview, I’m a few volumes ahead of my reviewing at this point and I’m over the moon by the introduction of Matoba.

Still, chapter fourteen has a rare occurrence with Natsume actually crying, admittedly in his sleep after a troubling dream, but it is a nice reminder that he is human and has had a fairly troubled childhood. He’s not really equipped to deal with some of the emotions he’s facing and he’s struggling to figure out how to really interact with others. His complicated relationship with Natori is definitely something that really brings this aspect of his character to the forefront and it is one I really enjoy watching develop. Looking forward to more Natori in the future.

Chapter Fifteen: The Man Among the Cherry Blossoms

I read the author’s comments on this chapter at the end of the manga and I’m really glad that it ended up the way it did. Apparently they had considered a story where a tree grew out of Natsume, and while Natsume does have some dark moments, that just seems like something straight out of a horror. Still, the include a sketch of that in the back so if you are curious it is well worth checking out (poor Natsume).

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Ultimately, this one is a pretty slow story, but one that is still a great read. Natsume acquires a painting of some cherry blossoms not in bloom and later meets a yokai who wants the image returned because of the man inside the painting. Unfortunately it seems to be stuck to Natsume’s wall so the two wait for it to come off. In the meantime, Natsume starts getting sick and they realise the painting is drawing life from Natsume (which I guess is almost as grotesque as it literally growing out of him, but visually looks a lot prettier).

I love how this story resolves and how even though this one is a parting, it is one that celebrates the time that the characters had together. If any story in this volume really drives home that ongoing idea of transience and taking hold of the time you have, it is chapter fifteen and it is a really beautiful read even though not a lot really happens.

Special Episodes 1 – 3

Nyanko Sensei saving a girl fallen into a hole, the Little Fox following Natsume around, and young Natsume being tormented by a bored yokai, these stories are just plain fun. Each one has been used in the anime so they’ll be familiar if you’ve watched it, and while these are quick reads, they each add an interesting character or idea and build on what we know about Natsume or Nyanko Sensei. Really fun way to end the volume.

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If you’re interested in reading Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 4 it is available on the Book Depository.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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