I put off finishing Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, the sequel to Natsume Yuujinchou, only because I didn't want it to end. I had really enjoyed the first season, and this one was even better.
Like it's prequel Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou has a very gentle feel to it. It's heavy focus on loneliness and longing, is evened out with cheerfulness of love and friendship that Natsume experiences not only with the youkai he encounters but with his foster parents, school friends, and other humans.
You can see Natsume growing stronger bonds with characters introduced in the first season. It's enjoyable to see the almost sibling love between Natsume and Madara, along with a growing friendship with Natori.
More characters are introduced and the human characters have a stronger role as well. Natsume is growing into someone very different from the first season, and it is very noticeable that it is because of what he experiences with his fellow cast and the problems that he helps the youkai solve along the way.
Madara of course is the main source of humor, be it his comments and bad habits, or bantering with Natsume, he sometimes steals the show. It is also interesting to see how this season changes his relationship with Natsume, definitely not disappointing.
And the most pleasing is the better look into the past and character of Reiko; Natsume's grandmother. However, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding her, leading to fans hoping for the series continuation, if only to have the biggest questions about Reiko answered.
The show could only go so far with it's fascinating characters and heart catching stories. The art and music really help to pull everything together. With the light colors and almost paint brush feel of the scenery, along with the gentle soundtrack playing in the background, it just helps cement the feeling that the creators tried to create and pull off.
Sadly, one of the last episodes got a little sloppy,'little' being the key word as it is barely noticeable. Other than that the animation is smooth and pleasing to the eyes.
The opening and ending really complement the over all feel and message of the show. I especially liked the ending 'Aishiteru' by Kourin, her voice gave the lyrics a lonely but hopeful feel, it is very nostalgic.
Some might say that this show is boring because of how mellow it can be. This is not true, and the reason is that most of the series is focused more on 'themes' as the main plot, with one story episodes; rarely does a story or conflict go on for more then one episode.
The ending of the season is especially pleasing. While it clearly shows some bridges have been crossed as far as story development, it was left open for either the viewer's interpretation or a third season.
Over all, this series really makes one think about the workings of the heart, friendship, and trust. I recommend that everyone give this series a try, there is so much that it offers, and it would be sad to miss out on it.