Ever since he was little, Takashi Natsume has been able to see what others could not, namely monstrous spirits known as Yokai. Natsume's late grandmother, Reiko, would challenge Yokai to contests and the ones that lost had to sign a contract with her, binding their names to her "Yujin-cho." Ever since Natsume has inherited the book, together with Nyanko Sensei, his self-proclaimed bodyguard, he spends his days trying to return the names within the book to their owners. Natsume has been busy, navigating between humans and Yokai when he coincidentally reunites with an old classmate, Yuki. It brings back painful memories of a certain Yokai. Meanwhile, Natsume also became acquainted with Yorie Tsumura, a woman in the memories of a Yokai whose name he had returned. Yorie knew much about Reiko, but now lived a peaceful life with her only son, Mukuo. Being with this family was comforting for Natsume, but apparently a mysterious Yokai has been lurking in their town. On the way back from investigating, a "Yokai seed" that had latched itself to Nyanko Sensei drops into the Fujiwaras' garden and grows overnight into a fruit tree. When Nyanko Sensei eats a fruit that is somehow shaped like himself, he suddenly splits into three! (Source: Aniplex USA)
Ah, it’s nice to be back in the world of Natsume Yuujinchou. Legitimately, within the first few minutes of experiencing this lovely story, I just felt instantly relaxed and calm. I missed that feeling, so I’m glad I finally got to watch this movie.
Every time I review something from Natsume, I feel like all I do is gush about the same things over and over, but it really is such a great anime series that it’s hard not to give it praise for the things it does really well. For example, the art style in this anime has always been really interesting to me. I didn’t really find it completely appealing at first since I’m so picky, but it’s honestly the only art style this anime could ever have. The colors being dull yet colorful as they are, the character designs being simple and mundane, and the landscapes being expansive and entrancing are all reasons that this sort of art style works so well for a calming and magical anime such as Natsume.
The story in this film specifically was very interesting. The whole film felt like a long episode of Natsume, which was great because all the little stories we got in this film were connected. The only bit of narrative that we didn’t really get this go around was a more in depth look at Natsume’s past and his mindset at the time of some of his harder encounters with people. That was something I really enjoyed about the most recent seasons of Natsume, and I was hoping that this movie would really delve into it, though the story we got was still pure Natsume, and I loved that.
The one thing that I will always love above all else in this anime are the characters themselves. This story of the Book of Friends is able to open such a broad pathway for us, as viewers, to experience some really lovely narratives that– while short-lived– make us feel a multitude of emotions, almost as if we’ve spent a lifetime in them. This film was no different, and maybe even better since we got to spend a little more time here than we normally get to.
It’s always been really difficult for me to talk about Natsume Yuujinchou because there’s not a whole lot TO say as it speaks for itself. It’s a series that’ll make everybody feel at peace and happy, but it’s still got a wealth of depth and things to teach the people that watch it. The world, the stories, the people– it’s all so unique when it comes to Natsume’s Book of Friends, and it’s not something you’d regret getting into at all. I’m really looking forward to spending more time in this world, should the opportunity arise, and I’m glad I’ve gotten to spend so much time there already. This is definitely my go-to anime for a rainy day.