Natsume’s Book of Friends 8

February 29, 2012

Yuki Midorikawa – Viz – 2011 – 11 volumes

Aww, still such a sweet series! The first chapter is, unusually, about Natsume’s human friends. There’s a yokai threat, of course, but it’s rather ambiguous and minimal. In addition to his two friends that can see/sense yokai, his other two male friends that are always with him at the beginnings of the stories are also featured. Someone rightly observes that Natsume is more comfortable around yokai than he is humans, and the fact he’s being accepted in this town makes him so happy he cries. It’s just absolutely heartbreaking, in a good way. The first chapter is indeed a happy story, which is great. This series does happy stories the best, and it’s been awhile since we’ve had a fun one-shot like this.

The second story is a multi-part story about Natsume and his yokai-sensing friend Tanuma. Tanuma and Natsume both get caught up with a yokai possession, Tanuma bodily and Natsume has his eye affected. It’s another one of those stories where the yokai is being disruptive and evil at first, but when you learn the story behind them, it’s more of a bittersweet struggle that they’re forcibly getting help with. Again, I really like this type of story, and the friendship theme comes across here for Tanuma and Natsume. Tanuma has a hard time understanding Natsume’s yokai-infested world, and Natsume has a hard time sharing his troubles with Tanuma since he doesn’t want to scare or trouble him with the burden. But the yokai brings them closer, and Tanuma learns a little more, once again, just how different a place the world can be for Natsume.

Whenever I talk about these, I know it sounds formulaic, and I’m making it seem like there’s only a few types of stories where the same thing happens over and over again. But really, I can’t do them justice. They’re so sweet and touching every single time, and it’s one of the few series I can think of that has volumes of one-shot-type stories like this instead of an overarching plot that I still adore after so many volumes. It’s fantastic, and not only do I still adore it, I tear through the volumes like nobody’s business. I know I’m spacing these reviews out, but I read most of these volumes of this in one sitting. It’s really that good.

The rest of the volume has a couple cute one-shots. One is a very short story about Chobi running across one of Natsume’s good deeds, and another darker story about what would have happened had a more sinister yokai taken Natsume under his wing instead of Nyanko-sensei. This has bonus bonding moments between Natsume and Nyanko-sensei, and also talks a lot about Natsume’s family situation, both are themes I just can’t get enough of.

Seriously. Read this series. It’s really something special. It’s a quiet kind of awesome, but it’s still very much worth a read.

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