After watching season 1 of Natsume’s Book of Friends, I feel empty even though I still have 3 more seasons to go (At the time of writing this, Im on season 3). I’ve come to the conclusion that this anime is my new favorite! Demon slayer has moved down a place and I’ve made space for this beauty.
I picked up this series because I really wanted a Yokai-related anime, You could even say that I was having Yokai anime withdrawal Syndrome (That’s not a thing, by the way, I made it up. It should be though). I also wanted to try watching some animes in the slice of life genre, to expand and broaden my anime horizons. Slice of life is, well was, my least favorite genre, but since summer is starting I thought I’d get some hardcore binge-watching done. I realized that my planning list was 2/3 full of slice-of-life anime. Im pretty sure that’s a good thing, right?
I was talking to some online mutuals, and they said when you weirdly start liking slice-of-life animes, it’s proof that you’re growing older. Not going to lie, that surprised me abit, but I’m happy about it, I think?
Well back to the topic of Natsume’s book of friends.
The anime follows the everyday life of a boy named Natsume who has the ability to see Yokai, inherited from his grandmother, Reiko. We get an insight into Natsume’s daily life and watch him experience many adventures with different Yokai’s and also different emotions such as loneliness, bullying, friendship, and responsibility.
Natsume has to deal with a responsibility he never asked for, which was his power to see yokai’s. His responsibility was a burden all his life and led him to become shunned by his own family. He wasnt accepted, no one wanted him.
I’ve noticed while reading some reviews on MAL and Anilist, that this anime definitely isn’t for everyone. I’ve seen an equal amount of negative reviews, As I have positive reviews. The anime is slow-paced, has a serene atmosphere to it, and the animation is nowhere near the best.
But the thing that brings the lovers of this anime together is the stillness and calmness of the show (and the plot, obviously). I’ve never been into calm animes, in fact, My most watched tag is action, so Im really the type of person who likes epic battles, and eccentric characters who are loud.
Natsume on the other hand is a calm, innocent and empathetic character who finds happiness in helping others. He is caring and kind. But his struggles are what makes him relatable (Not the struggle of seeing Yokai, I wish though). He struggles with the fear of abandonment because of his special ability.
People see him as weird and strange, and constantly make fun of him for being an outsider whose family doesn’t want him or they hand him off to the next family willing to take him in so the other family doesn’t have to deal with a strange child who says he can see monsters. He’s been suffering for longer than anyone knows it. And the worst part is, he doesn’t have someone who can completely relate to him, He has to deal with it alone.
After everything that’s happened to him, he fears becoming attached to someone or scared that he’ll become a burden to them. Over the course of the first season, Natsume learns to loosen up and interact with people, and Yokai making friends along the way.
Each episode has a story about different Yokai’s, and either Natsume returning their names, or helping them in some way, or both! I like how the anime doesn’t focus on just the main characters’ emotions and adventure, but on the Yokai too.
I think a hidden moral is that the world isnt about ‘I’ or ‘Me’ but about everyone, and everything around us. Natsume slowly learns that as he helps other Yokai. Since he can see both worlds, He knows the struggle of all the different inhabitants.
Reiko was an interesting character. As far as the Yokai see it, she is a powerful human girl who battled them and takes their name as her prize. Some hate her, while others love her.
Take Hinoe as an example, Hinoe hates humans, especially men. But when Reiko retrieves her Hairpin, which is an important momento to her, she grows to love Reiko dearly.
Even Yokai deal with Loneliness and Reiko indirectly helped them become a little bit less lonely, but she herself was alone. There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely. Reiko chooses to be alone, while Natsume didn’t, he was lonely. I’d love to just jump into the anime and give Natsume and Reiko a gigantic hug, they both need it.
In conclusion, Natsume’s Book of Friends is an amazing anime that might just be for you, so if you haven’t already, check it out!