Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 9 Manga Review

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 9 Cover Art

Fur balls and exorcists, Volume 9 of Natsume’s Book of Friends is a great read.

It kind of took away some of the fun of finding a theme for this volume when it is explained at the end of the book that Yuki Midorikawa was focusing on herds and groups. The two stories in the volume both clearly explore this idea and it makes for some interesting speculation about the structure of the yokai world and for how exorcists operate.

In case I haven’t mentioned it recently, the cover art on these volumes is gorgeous (as are the chapter title pages) and it just gets better each volume. Chapter 35 in particular featuring Matoba is really nicely done this time around and while I couldn’t find a nice full picture of it, here’s a bit of a look.

Natsume's Book of Friends Matoba
Can we get a spin-off that just follows Matoba please?

Chapters 32 and 33: Little One

This two part story starts as normal for Natsume with him rushing in to rescue what he thinks is a kitten (and who else loves Natsume for wanting to save a kitten) and he ends up getting involved with a fur ball of a yokai. Things would be fine except that another yokai accuses Natsume of stealing a ring and it turns out the ring ended up caught in the fur ball’s hair and so complications follow.

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 9 Fur Ball

This story didn’t have all that much impact in the anime. It worked well enough but seemed just another monster of the week story. Reading it I got far more of a sense that this story is about Natsume’s growing connection with the yokai world as his ‘friends’ help him track down the fur ball and his group in order to retrieve the ring. It’s an idea that will be repeated in the second story of this volume. Natsume is getting really drawn into the yokai world to the point where he barely even hesitates now to get involved whereas earlier he was wary of yokai or getting too caught up in their actions.

I ended up really enjoying reading this, far more than I enjoyed watching it in the anime. Really great fun.

Chapters 34 – 36: The Eastern Forest

Despite Natsume’s growing attachment to the yokai world he’s still pretty determined to keep his human friends out of it. This becomes much harder when a group of masked yokai ambush him at school. Needless to say, that doesn’t exactly set the tone for a great relationship between Natsume and the newly introduced yokai who kidnap him and demand he hand over the book of friends.

What follows is an interesting story that I absolutely loved in the anime and really enjoyed seeing in the manga form as we get our clearest look at Matoba yet as he hunts the yokai in the Eastern Forest and naturally Natsume gets caught up in it.

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 9

There’s a really powerful scene where Matoba is talking to Natsume about his family and I absolutely love how this plays out here. It comes right at the end of one chapter so of course makes you just get straight into the next one. It is very rare that someone other than yokai talk to Natsume about Reiko and I’m really very curious to find out if Matoba knows more than what he says here. Hopefully we’ll find out more in future volumes but this was a great reading experience.

I really can’t recommend this series enough and I’ll be getting onto reviewing the next book very soon.

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Karandi James
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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon? Volumes 9 and 10 Light Novel Review

Volumes 9 and 10 are more or less one story so I’m reviewing them together. That means there will be spoilers for the end of volume 9 in this review.

Previous reviews for Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon can be found here.

Review:

Volumes 9 and 10 plunge us back into the dungeon at first but with a slight difference on what we have seen before. These volumes are actually looking at explaining a bit more about the odd nature of the dungeon and we meet some new and interesting inhabitants as well as coming across another slightly undesirable familiar.

Yes, Bell is back in the thick of things, rescuing a monster who kind of looks like a girl and can speak. Initially taking her from the dungeon to protect her from those hunting her, trouble brews on the surface and soon, with new allies, Bell is forced to return her below and with that they are plunged into yet more trouble. I’m not going to talk to much about what happens in specifics because I really feel any real details that I give you are just going to take away from the experience of reading this story.

DanMachiVol10b

For someone who has always wanted to be a hero, Bell is faced with some really tough decisions in these volumes and while you might feel his rescue the damsel in distress thing is well established, the difficulty in choosing to extend a helping hand to an inhabitant of the dungeon isn’t overlooked here. It is made the centre-piece of a fairly tragic series of events that forces Bell to turn his back on even Aiz, his ideal, in order to protect who he believes he needs to be (and it will be very interesting to see the ramifications of that in future volumes).

As such, the journey these two volumes take us on are a little more emotionally wrought than previous ones. The light hearted banter, the oddly placed fan-service, and even the over-the-top heroics of the previous volumes have kind of taken a back seat as we see the truly dirty reality where doing what is right is not an easy choice and what is right is something that is difficult to ascertain.

While Bell’s familia stand by him through the mess, much is lost and those that were becoming his friends now see him in a different light. Despite everything Bell accomplishes in these volumes, and he does accomplish a lot and overcomes some really huge challenges, the cost is almost heart-breaking.

That said, it isn’t as though these volumes just plunge us into a downer for the sake of it, and as we learn more about their gods and their plans we can already see that there is a light awaiting us in future stories. The question is, will things get worse before they get better?

DanMachiVol9a

I really do recommend these two volumes (though read them together because volume 9 will just kind of leave you wondering what all that set-up was for that didn’t quite deliver anything). There’s some great characters introduced, a large showing of the support cast, some truly amazing battles, and a villain that seems really worth taking down. Bell is at his absolute best here as he really is forced to step up and not go with the flow.

I really had fun with these and I’d love to know your thoughts on them if you’ve read them.

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If you’re interested in reading Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Volume 9 or Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Volume 10 they are available on the Book Depository.

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Karandi James
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