I started watching this show as a light sort of cutesy snack and I must say that I feel mildly lied to because it’s thirteen episodes later and I’ve cried and stuff.
Natsume is a boy who can see spirits, just like his grandma, who would fight and record the names of youkai in her ‘Book of Friends’. He’s trying to honour her legacy by returning the names to those spirits. He picks up a fat spirit cat thing along the way, who will act as a bodyguard in return for being granted the book upon his death.
It’s a very shoujou kinda show, with soft music and muted colours. Most of the humans are super hot and most of the youkai are weird monster things, though very few are actually ‘drawn scary’.
At its very core, Natsume Yuujinchou is a show about loneliness.
About belonging, in a way. About finding what is important to you, but also letting go.
Natsume’s spirit powers have always isolated him. His major development on the first season is him connecting to class mates and his adoptive family. It’s him finding people who understand him and care for him.
For the spirits, it’s about learning to deal with humans, in a way. Youkai are by definition endless. They don’t live and die like humans do, so when they get attached to people, it’s a recipe for heart ache. The themes of death and separation, saying goodbye, getting your things in order and letting go, are pretty heavily laced throughout.
Basically, for a show that has a rotund, drunken cat as one of the main character, Natsume is Extremely Melancholic. Most of the spirit cases Natsume deals with have more of a bittersweet ending than a traditional happy one.
It’s not really what I signed up for, thinking this was a comedic slice of life, but I did like it. The show reminds me of a softer, gentler version of Mushishi, which was also pretty heavy on the melancholy and the spirits, and I friggin loved the first season of Mushishi, so…
Natsume Takashi is very pretty and just a very good person and Kamiya voices him in a very soft way.
As the main character, Natsume is actually really dominant? I expect slice-of-life shows to play off its characters, but most of the others don’t really stick around. I like Madara, who is a bit of a dick-with-a-heart, and who does Very Good Faces. There’s some cute characters like Tanuma, who doesn’t get much personality in this season, and Natori, who is also a bit of a dick.
Natsume’s classmates don’t really get enough of a spotlight for me. Class rep Sasada feels like she could be a much cooler character if given more wiggle room.
Well, I watched this season in three days, so there’s that. It’s moreish and it certainly fills a need I did not know I had, for mildly melancholy stuff. And I’ll probably be checking out the other five seasons in increments.