Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 11 Manga Review

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 11 Cover

It is always great when a story remains consistently this great and volume 11 of Natsume’s Book of Friends maintains everything that has been good about the series so far. While we move away from the exorcists to focus more on Natsume’s growing group of human friends and to face Natsume’s past, this volume continues to be a compelling read and fleshes out Natsume’s character and that of his friends Taki and Tanuma.

Chatpers 42 and 43: Sealed

The first story deals with Tanuma and Natsume arriving at Taki’s home during a rain shower. After some pleasantries they end up assisting her in cleaning out a store room and in the process Natsume accidentally breaks a seal on a yokai that Taki’s grandfather accidentally imprisoned. It isn’t exactly looking for a pleasant conversation.

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 11

This was great because it does put the three of these human characters together in a way that hasn’t really been done previously. Natsume is friends with Tanuma and friends with Taki, but previously the two of them have had little interaction. As the two characters who know the most about Natsume it is great to see them together here and trying to help Natsume as he is dealing with the yokai.

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 11

We also learn more about Taki’s grandfather and the way the yokai responded to him. While he couldn’t see yokai as Natsume can, he was very much obsessed with them and gather quite a crowd around him during his life. These yokai ultimately decide to help out in this story and that saves the day. Taki thanking them was an adorable moment even though she also can’t see them without the aid of the circle and generally speaking they aren’t willing to step in it.

Chapters 44 – 46: Long Way Home

Any of the stories that give us more insight into Natsume’s lonely childhood are really fantastic and this story gives us a double hit. Firstly we see another family he stayed with previously and how well that went… And we also see Natsume dealing with the sale of his family home and his final goodbye to it. Throw in a yokai that tormented him as a child and you have a really great story.

What really sells this is how much readers have come to love Natsume over the previous en volumes. If this story had come in earlier, it may not have had the impact it does here. But with Natsume where he is on his character journey, this seemed like the perfect moment for some reflection and facing the past and it was handled beautifully.

Nyanko-Sensei is of course along for the ride and so we get a little more of the relationship between Nyanko and Natsume, but the focus is unmistakably on Natsume’s growth.

All and all, volume 11 did not disappoint and I am read to sink my teeth into volume 12.

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Karandi James
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The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10 With Irina and Karandi

The Morose Mononokean Post Title

Hi Irina, welcome to another week. I’m really continuing to enjoy The Morose Mononokean this season and this episode was a great mix of fun, a few reveals, and just being calm and relaxing to watch. Though my favourite part was definitely seeing Abeno as a little kid because that was so cute. What was your favourite part?

I’m not sure. Little Abeno is adorable but I also liked exhausted Yahiko in kitsune form AND they gave us a halloween episode in February which made me really happy. I just enjoyed this episode overall.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

As an aside, I let the intro play again and the OP is really growing on me. Mind you, I liked it to begin with! It’s a good OP. Quietly this season is turning out to be really enjoyable.

I think I prefer the ED though the OP is definitely growing on me.

Perhaps I should actually put my thoughts into some kind of order. The start of this episode was great because it showed that Abeno does plan to look into Hanae’s dad even though Hanae didn’t really want to pursue it. Also, the Legislator clearly knows what he is up to but isn’t stopping him (nor does it seem like he plans to help). I’m really curious now as to how this is all going to come together.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

You know, I sometimes wonder whether Rippou actually cares about Abeno. I mean beyond just the fact that he’s an employee and entertaining. The Legislator is likely to “like” people because they are useful to him. I don’t think Rippou has any attachment to Hanae beyond the fact that he’s a novelty but when it comes to Abeno, sometimes there seems to be something almost tender in their relationship.

Completely one sided of course.

However, after that, Abeno goes to school and we have what should be a standard school festival kind of event. Still, The Morose Mononokean manages to make that quite fun. Watching Hanae and Abeno go around dressed as a witch and a grim reaper was pretty funny by itself but Abeno’s commentary on Hanae’s sale’s pitch was hilarious. What did you think of their antics?

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10
Not sure he was worried about the lack of costume.

They made a great odd couple and it’s nice to see the tension go out of their relationship.

Actually really liked Zenko in these scenes. I think she was a perfect straight man to their respective types of eccentricnesses that brought everything together. This is why I like school festival episodes. They’re just mindless fun and it makes me feel comfortable.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

And if you throw in Yokai….

Of course we need some sort of yokai story going on and we get that when Zenko reveals she let Yahiko come to the school festival. I kind of can’t believe she gave in knowing Yahiko the way she does, but I must admit he was making it hard to say ‘no’. Anyway, it gave Abeno a good excuse to ditch the festival, and the reaper costume, and go play.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

But before they do, great little haunted house scene. I really wanted to know what that “happy ending” was. It seemed like something to behold!

What did you think of Yahiko and Abeno’s play date?

What I really liked was they didn’t waste this. It wasn’t just Abeno goofing off with Yahiko. Abeno used the opportunity to find out what Yahiko knew about Hanae’s father and Yahiko actually transformed into someone he met with Aoi (the old master of the Mononokean). However, that raises more questions than it answers given they clearly don’t match the image we’ve been seeing in Hanae’s memory and it is revealed that Hanae’s father might have died the year he was born so I’m left wondering who he met. So much intrigue. And I really want to know more. What about you?

Before the transformation scene, we did see the little Hanae flashback to meeting his dad in the snow and well, we do see his hair in those scenes and it isn’t blonde. I thought it was odd but chalked it off to the shadow of the hood or something.

But then when I saw Yahiko transform, I realized it may be more than that. I mean the only person to ever call hm blond with gold eyes is Hanae’s mother. Her memories may have been played with.

It’s a nice little mystery they’re setting up, that’s for sure. Although I remain more curious about Abeno’s past. Of course there’s still time.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

And still there is more to the episode with Hanae and Abeno traveling to a cliff to do a job for a yokai and it turns out it is a yokai that Abeno met when he was still just an employee of the Mononokean. All of that leads to the most adorable flashback ever with little Abeno.

Is this the first time we see Aoi? I may have just forgotten but I was really surprised she was a cat. I guess it’s her form in the mundane world. But still, that was a very young Abeno up on a high hill with and unpredictable yokai and a cat to defend him.

Child services?

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10
This is definitely not adequate supervision for a child while on a ledge.

Yeah, there’s the question of where is Abeno’s family and why are they letting a child that young traipse around with a cat. There’s definitely a lot more to this story.

Okay, this wasn’t the most focused of episodes but I absolutely loved it. So many good things happening and so many interesting things to speculate about.

I agree. In fact when the ending credits started I was stunned. Like 10 minutes had barely gone by. I’m looking forward to more. I’m starting to worry a bit that I’ll be sad if it doesn’t get another season…

Of course, I’ll have to leave you with my Fuzzy screencap of the episode and I’m so giving it to this adorable shot of Fuzzy trying to climb back up a cliff to get into the Mononokean. Too adorable.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 10

This was a good screencap episode. I’m a little jealous!

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Karandi James
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The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 9 With Irina and Karandi

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We’re back over on Irina’s blog this week as we review episode 9. Taking a break from underworld politics this week there’s a firm family focus and a bit of back story on Ashiya that we’ve been missing so far. Very enjoyable episode so be sure to head over to Irina’s blog and check out our thoughts on it.

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Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 10 Manga Review

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 10 Cover

Natori is back and that always makes things complicated.

Volume 10 of Natsume’s Book of Friends is divided into two stories. The first covers chapters 37 and 38 and is called ‘False Friend’ and the second, covered in chapters 39 – 41 is ‘The Harvest Festival’. Both of these stories appeared in the anime and were both stories I really enjoyed so there were very few surprises to be found here, but once again the manga brings that little something extra to each of these character and made the experience of reading it feel rewarding.

Natsume's Book of Friends Chapter 39
The characters are still absolutely beautiful to look at in this volume and I love the chapter title pages.

I did struggle for a bit trying to find a theme that connected these stories. Ultimately I decided it was about misunderstandings. False Friend has Natsume’s motives being questioned by a guy who used to tease Natsume but now needs his help and The Harvest Festival really looks at how well Natsume and Natori understand each other and what they are trying to accomplish. All and all, volume ten was a worthy addition to this series.

Chapters 37 – 38 False Friend

This story introduces us to Shibata who used to go to school with Natsume and always believed he was a liar. In this story he has sought out Natsume because he has a weird feeling about a girl he likes and somehow he suspects she might not be all she seems. With no one else to rely on, he drags Natsume into it in order to determine if she is human or not.

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 10

The story itself is pretty standard here with Natsume struggling to differentiate between human and yokai and when he finally does determine the truth, he is not believed by the human who asked him for help in the first place. It is a wonderful reminder that even though Natsume is very protected by the circle of friends he has made since moving in with the Fujiwaras, the world at large still won’t believe in him and there are those who will still judge him. I really liked how they showed the emotional turmoil not being believed again put Natsume through in this story.

In the end, Shibata does come to believe but he’s still a thorny reminder of what Natsume went through as a child and a character who brings more conflicted feelings with him.

Chapters 39 – 41 The Harvest Festival

Natori has been asked to deal with a god on a mountain and is told to take drastic action if necessary. Of course, given the limited time he has before the Harvest Festival is meant to take place and he fact that there is little to no chance of him actually locating the other sealed god and resolving the situation peacefully, the other exorcists are more of less pushing the job of facing a god of pestilence onto Natori. It is another one of those rare glimpses into the world of the exorcists and no matter how you look at it, they seem really shady sometimes and their motives are always a little bit questionable. No wonder Natori always comes across as a little hard to read.

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 10 Natori

However, it wouldn’t be a Natsume story if Natsume wasn’t somehow caught up in events. Even before Natori goes to the mountain, the sealed gods underlings have recruited Natsume to pretend to be the god that has been sealed in order to allow them time to continue searching for their master and to prevent famine and all manner of catastrophe occurring.

Once again we see Natsume and Natori coming at the same problem from different perspectives with Natsume only wishing to locate and release the sealed god and Natori willing to give that up as futile if he must and take more direct action. At the same time, Natsume wants to trust and rely on Natori, and Natori for his part doesn’t really seem to want to entirely crush Natsume’s view. The way they walk on eggshells around their differences really shows how much they value the relationship they have created even if they don’t always see things eye to eye.

Anyway, it is another great story and another great bit of world and character building just making this volume of Natsume another superb read. I very much recommend giving it a go.

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Karandi James
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Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 10
Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 10

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8 Review With Irina and Karandi

The Morose Mononokean Post Title

Do you know what the perfect show to watch this season is when you are not in such a great head space? Definitely The Morose Mononokean. While My Roommate is a Cat would run it a close second, I could feel my shoulders releasing a great deal of tension while watching this week’s episode of The Morose Mononokean and it wasn’t just because I got to see Fuzzy eating Fairy Floss (I guess I should also go American and I think that should be Cotton Candy?).

Anyway, Irina and I are back covering episode 8 of The Morose Mononokean. How are you this week Irina?

Exhausted. Work has been kicking my behind laely but it’s nice to feel like you’ve really earned your weekend, you know?

And I definitely agree that Mononokean is one of those weightless relaxing show that helps you drift away with the pretty colours.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

While I honestly loved how relaxing it was watching the episode this week, compared to some of the episodes this season, episode 8 is a little bit underwhelming. It does the job and it definitely hits the sweet relaxing tone it is aiming for as Zenko, Abeno and Hanae accompany Keshi to the festival, some great screen caps to be found in that sequence, but realistically we don’t get into the real meat of the episode until later on when Hanae actually calls Abeno on hiding jobs from him.

For awhile I was tempted to call this a filler episode but we actually got a few clues regarding what’s happening in the bigger story AND some very nice character growth.

I have to say, the fillerish first half did have me reflecting on the summer festival trope in anime and I’ve decided I quite like it. I’m not sure why but these very predictable and similar episodes always make me smile. This one was no exception. It was just sweet to see that little doll get her simple wish. And kitsune masks are the best accessory.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

Do I just point out that this is probably Hanae at his finest this week. Sometimes he gets a little silly and he regularly is the one who has the big reaction to unusual things or the emotional response while Abeno remains stoic. However, this week, while he certainly still has his emotional moments, we see a more mature side of Hanae as he doesn’t whinge at Abeno for keeping him out of the loop but rather calmly points out that he is an employee and he’ll help out with any job.

Definitely. The interplay between Hanae and Abeno this week was a big step forward in their relationship.

THe Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

The problem is that Hanae and to a lesser extent Abeno, are rather underdeveloped characters all things considered. So although we can easily infer that Hanae’s recent experiences with the executor, his banishment rendering him unable to help and Abeno’s sacrifices have all served to force him to grow up and mature. It’s also difficult to truly appreciate this growth as he was sort of hollow to begin with.

This said, I’m a sucker for friendship storylines, this spoke to me.

I definitely have to agree about them both being underdeveloped characters. That comes back to last week where we were discussing how the yokai wanting to be human plot kind of felt like a Natsume episode but this show really isn’t comparable. I think it is the lack of development with the characters that really makes this one a far less compelling watching experience when compared. Every character in Natsume just makes me fall in love with them, whereas with this one I’m really fairly indifferent to the majority of the characters.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

Moving away from comparisons though, there are great moments to be found in this episode, however I didn’t really feel that the episode flowed particularly well. Much like last week, I felt the transition between sections was a bit abrupt. I do get the connection with Abeno collapsing after sending Keshi back being the catalyst for Hanae to really put together the fact that he’s being left out of jobs, but still it was quite jarring to jump straight from that to the watermelon splitting (and the really are hitting all the Summer tropes with school camp, festival, and watermelon splitting even if we didn’t get to the beach to do it).

I don’t know. The transition didn’t really bother me. There was a connective thread and the tone remained constant.

The mid episode story change seems to be over this week in any case. Both threads wrapped up rather nicely. I’m willing to bet we are going to have another underworld politics episode next week.

But what did you think of this week’s Karandi?

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

Despite some of my minor issues with the episode, I do have to admit it is continuing to keep me intrigued about the political situation in the underworld as well as wanting to know what the Executive is actually up to. Hopefully we’ll get some resolution on that by the end of the season otherwise it will be very frustrating as we wonder if a season three will ever come out.

There is enough time to reach some type of conclusion with the Executor I think but Abeno’s greater backstory will probably stay a mystery for a while. With my predicting capacities, they’ll tell us all about it next episode. That would be pretty cool actually.

Catch you next week for episode 9, and of course, I’ll leave you all with a cute picture of Fuzzy.


The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8 Fuzzy

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Karandi James
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The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 7 With Irina and Karandi

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We’re over on Irina’ blog today reviewing the most recent episode of The Morose Mononokean. So hop on over and check out our thoughts on this one. It’s a bit of a mixed bag episode but still plenty to enjoy.

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Karandi James
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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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If you’re interested in reading Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 9 it is available on the Book Depository.

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Karandi James
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