Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 6 Review – The Stands We Take

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 6 Cover

Volume 6 was a little bit different with three chapters dedicated to the story of Natsume and Taki befriending Kai, a troubled kid who seems to be being stalked by a yokai. The situation gets more complicated when Natsume realises Natori is in town and might also be after Kai. In addition to this story we also get two shorter stories, one featuring the very adorable Little Fox and one featuring Reiko and then just a random story about other characters (will admit I wasn’t as in to that).

Chapters 20 – 22

It was kind of refreshing to see that Natsume wasn’t actually the one being targeted in this story. Quite by chance he comes across Kai and releases him from a box but then he has the hard job of winning over Kai’s trust. If you want some warm and fluffy feels, watching Taki, Kai and Natsume enjoying nature together is sure to hit the spot.

However, as with most Natsume stories it isn’t all sunshine and light and Kai continues to be targeted. After a while, Natsume realises Natori is back and the is the one out to get Kai, and with that comes the realisation that Kai isn’t actually a human child. We’ve seen Natsume confuse humans and yokai before but this time, Natsme doesn’t reject Kai after the truth is known. Instead, he stands firm beside Kai even as Natori tells Natsume to stay out of it.

This ends up putting Natsume in a fairly dangerous place between Natori and Kai as Kai ceases to trust Natsume and the conclusion of this story is very satisfying.

We’ve seen these characters grow so much and the relationships between them grow, change, get tested, and reforged and this story really continues this beautifully. The odd relationship Natsume has with Natori that isn’t quite friendship because there’s still a layer of mistrust there continues to be a highlight of this story. Taki’s presence is wonderful as a human friend to Natsume and someone who can help him in small ways. And Kai is wonderful as a yokai who is also alone and isolated and feels the sting of betrayal.

It’s just a good story and it was given sufficient room in these three chapters to really spread its wings and be the story it needed to be.

Special Episode 5

This special episode reunites Natsume with the Little Fox. Seriously, the Little Fox could just sit still and smile at us on the page and I’d probably be delighted. He’s such a cute character. But his interactions with Natsume continue to be really fantastic.

There’s not much to this story and we did see this one in the anime where the Little Fox travels to see Natsume before Natsume takes him back home, but that doesn’t stop it being truly adorable.

Special Episode 6

The story of Reiko and Hinoe’s meeting is retold in this special story. Again, this one has been seen in the anime but it is a charming short story and gives us a bit more insight into Reiko and Hinoe and their relationship and it is just a bit of fun.

The Corner of the Schoolhouse

This one shot story is entirely focused on some different characters and a romance. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really think much of it, but that’s probably because I was reading a Natsume book and was eager to get to the next chapter of Natsume so all and all the story works, it is cute, but I wasn’t that interested.

Affiliate Link:
If you’re interested in reading Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 6 it is available on the Book Depository.

Advertisements

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Level 6 + 7: Biting Off More Than They Can Chew

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Level 6

The review below contains spoilers for the previous books and there will also be spoilers for level 6 as it directly leads into the events of level 7.

Review:

It has been awhile since I reviewed book 5 of this series and I finished reading this one ages ago and immediately went into book 7 so I feel a little bad about taking so long to write the review. Part of the issue with level 6 of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is that unlike every other book in this series so far, book 6 didn’t finish within its own volume. It literally just leaves us hanging at a fairly critical point and I’m not the biggest fan of completely unresolved stories so naturally had to read the next book before I could even think about reviewing it. While level 7 also doesn’t bring things entirely to an end, it does at least resolve the crisis they were facing and I felt it was a nice resting point (which is good considering I’m waiting for the actual release of the next few novels in the series. But this is all just kind of meandering around the point of what books 6 and 7 bring to the table.

Grimgar7a.jpg

Considering the world of Grimgar has always been deadly to the characters with their inherent weaknesses and inability to survive without assistance, upping the stakes in the story is actually kind of challenging. We know that these characters can die from something very small if they just let down their guard or have bad luck so they don’t really need to escalate things very much to have us in a life or death situation. With that said, the way these two books bring another level of tension to the story is actually fairly solid.

The characters are still exploring the Dusk Realm with the Tokkis but now many other teams have joined in. And it is this increased number of people that leads to the problem. The Dusk Realm starts fighting back with much larger giants and more threats than ever before. Which is what also leads to the single stupidest decision ever made in Grimgar and we see the issue with Haruhiro and the others inherently following the leads of the other teams. Soma and the Daybreakers, as well as a bunch of other teams decide to try their hand at taking out these new enemies. And to be perfectly frank it all falls apart very quickly.

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Level 6

We also get a lot more relationship drama with Haruhiro being the standard mopey protagonist who bows out from pursuing the girl he likes just because he thinks she’s with one of his other team members (without ever actually asking her or confirming anything). It isn’t exactly Haruhiro’s finest moment as either the leader or a character, but what it does do is set the scene for some of his best growth yet over the course of these two books. Yes, he makes mistakes. Yes, he is mopey and whines a lot. And yes, he doesn’t get his team out of the dusk realm pronto when things start going south.

However, Haurhiro’s greatest strength is that he learns from each mistake. They might cost a lot but they are lessons that he burns into his very soul and resolves to avoid making again. Level 7 finishes with one of the best moments for Haruhiro. He isn’t suddenly some amazing leader and fighter, but he overcomes a challenge that really should have left him dead and he does it almost entirely alone.

Basically, Haurhiro is a character I can get behind. Right from the beginning he’s been weak and he’s full of faults, but what he achieves despite all of his weaknesses is amazing. The fact that he’s still trying and hasn’t just laid down to die is incredible. And the story presented here showcases all his faults and his greatest strengths and it is incredibly satisfying.

The inclusion of Lala and Nono in these two volumes is a bit more of a mixed bag in terms of characters. On the one hand, they are important catalysts and unlike other teams they don’t baby Haruhiro and his group and they certainly aren’t going to carry the weak with them. On the other hand, they just aren’t developed enough for their characters to really feel like they are anything more than plot devices at this stage. They point the way at the end of level 6 and show up in level 7 mostly to deliver an interesting moment where Haurhiro faces a moral choices and makes a choice that most people would say is probably right but it leaves the group in significant trouble.

I kind of get why these two characters are presented the way they are. The story is primarily told from Haruhiro’s point of view even though it isn’t in first person and Haruhiro does not understand these characters or really know what to make of them. It makes sense that the audience is also left with that impression. However, considering their significant impact on the plot at the end of both books, these two characters needed a little more.

The rest of the team really do get sidelined though in terms of development. They each have their moments, and the group dynamic as a whole really gets explored during level 7 when they don’t know if they’ll ever get back to Grimgar, but as individuals they all just kind of blend into the group. It really feels like this story exists to push Haruhiro in his role as leader and while the rest of the team are growing their achievements aren’t as interesting and aren’t focused on.

I really enjoyed the two volumes and the story presented here. Level 7 ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger but it does feel like enough is resolved that I was happy with that as an ending point. I continue to really enjoy spending time in this world with these characters so even my complaints aren’t really complaints as much as areas that might have been a bit stronger. I found these books very easy to read and there is a nice mix of action and reflection over the two volumes. If you’ve read up to this point, these two are definitely a fine addition to the series.

Affiliate Link:
If you’re interested in reading Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 6 and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 7 they are available on the Book Depository.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon? Light Novel Volume 6 Review

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon Volume 6

If I thought volume 5 was fun as it fleshed out characters and gave us a wonderful fight in the dungeon for Bell and his novice party, Volume 6 seems determined to really show us something special with a lot of plot points coming to a head.

Review:

It turns out that Bell isn’t just popular with the girls around him as this volume sees our young adventurer grab the unwanted attention of Apollo. However, unlike so many other characters, Apollo doesn’t seem happy just to look on and wait and he plays dirty to get what he wants. After a series of fairly interesting events a war game is declared between Hestia and Apollo and their families, only Hestia’s family still only consists of Bell so they are going to need to call in a lot of favours.

I really loved this book. Partly that was because this is the first book in the series where I hadn’t watched an anime adaptation of the events already so it was all pretty novel and interesting. But the other part of it is that this book just consolidates so much about the world. We don’t go dungeon crawling so much in this one as the focus is entirely on the politics of Orario and the way familias and gods interact.

It’s a fairly explosive confrontation with open battle in the streets at one point and various families moving together and gods and humans scheming for their own advantage. In the midst of this chaos we finally get a conclusion to Lilly’s time in the Soma family and we see very much how strongly Hestia feels about keeping her familia, such as it is, together.

Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon volume 6 chapter 5

There were some very nice touches along the way including the fact that Hestia and Loki do not get along. While your first thought when Bell was in trouble might have been that Aiz would come to his rescue, that is complete impossible given the situation. So while she gives him a fair spartan training session leading into the war game, Aiz is limited to spectator once the fight begins.

Instead Bell ends up with aid from a number of characters we’ve met along the way but in this they are really stepping up because the only way to help is to leave their own families and join with Hestia familia. It’s a big ask but we can see how much of an impact the Little Rookie has had on others as they come together.

By the time the war game rolls around you kind of suspect the outcome though there’s still a lot of wondering how Bell is going to pull it off. The results are fantastic to read to say the least.

Volume 6 was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed spending some time with Bell outside of the dungeon. Looking forward to the next stage of the journey for Hestia and her suddenly larger familia.

Affiliate Link:
If you’re interested in reading Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Volume 6 it is available on the Book Depository.