First published in a magazine in 2003, “Natsume’s Book of Friends” continues to be serialized. A new animation “Natsume’s Book of Friends: Ishizaki and the Suspicious Visitor” has been showing in theaters for a limited time since January 16, 2021. This is a Japanese-style fantasy about the duo of Takashi Natsume, a high school student who can see youkai, and Dr. Nyanko, a great youkai who usually takes the form of a cat. It is not a story about bravely exterminating monsters, but rather about a mysterious relationship with non-human beings. We will re-examine this work, which continues to be loved by many fans, and look for new highlights.
|What is “Natsume’s Book of Friends”?
It is a story about a boy, Natsume, who can see monsters and uses his grandmother’s “Book of Friends” as a bridge to communicate with them.
There are many works with the theme of monsters, but I have never seen a story as gentle as “Natsume’s Book of Friends”. ……!
The “Book of Friends” left by Reiko’s grandmother was a book that Reiko played games with monsters and the losing monsters signed. The signatures have the meaning of a contract, and Natsume decides to return the names to the monsters who wish to cancel the contract, and comes into contact with them together with her bodyguard “Nyanko-sensei”.
Ever since she was a little girl, Natsume has been told by those around her that she was creepy because she could see things that people couldn’t, so she avoided yokai and tried not to get involved in their lives. However, when Natsume comes face to face with yokai for the first time through the Book of Friends, she gradually changes her way of thinking, which makes me happy and gives me a gentle feeling, as if my own child is gradually making more friends.
The truths that emerge when the names are returned are often a little sad, but the endings are never sad, and the stories are always heartwarming. Please enjoy them with a warm drink.
■Natsume’s Book of Friends” is a long-running manga that boasts strong popularity.
Natsume’s Book of Friends” by Yuki Midorikawa was first published as a read-along in the July 2003 issue of “LaLaDX” (Hakusensha). The bi-monthly serialization started in the January 2005 issue. After that, the magazine was moved to “LaLa”, and the series is still running today. The book is currently in its 25th volume. The total number of copies sold in the series has surpassed 15 million, and volume 26 was released on January 4, 2021. The first TV anime adaptation was in July 2008. The series continued intermittently until the sixth season, “Natsume’s Book of Friends: Riku”, which also became a long-lived work, and OVA and theatrical versions were produced, attracting the attention of fans. From January 16, 2021, a limited screening of the new animation “Natsume’s Book of Friends: Ishizaki and the Suspicious Visitor” began. The release of the new book coincided with the release of the new animation, further increasing the attention to this work.
■The Story of “Natsume’s Book of Friends”
Natsume and Nyanko-sensei have now become a famous duo. They are surrounded by many characters, both humans and monsters, and the story is getting deeper and deeper with each passing volume. Let’s take a look back at how they met and how the story of “Natsume’s Book of Friends” began.
Takashi Natsume, a high school student, is a boy who has been able to see ghosts since he was a child. After the early death of his parents and being passed around from one relative to another, he is now taken in by a kind-hearted relative, Mr. and Mrs. Fujiwara. One day, when Natsume breaks the seal of a small shrine, a yokai in the form of a beckoning cat appears inside.
“Do you know the Book of Friends?
That’s what the beckoning cat demon asks Natsume. The “Book of Friends” is a notebook left behind by her grandmother, Reiko, who possessed a high level of magical power, and she could easily control the monsters by calling out their names. It is now in Natsume’s possession, and she is being targeted by the monsters.
The true identity of the beckoning cat demon is a large demon called “Madara”. Nyanco-sensei, who has become a self-proclaimed bouncer, and Natsume return the names that their grandmother Reiko took from the monsters one by one.
The “Book of Friends” is the starting point for Natsume and Nyanko-sensei’s involvement with numerous youkai and youkai-related people.
|Now in theaters since January 16, 2021! Highlights from the new anime “Natsume’s Book of Friends: The Waking Rock and the Strange Visitor
I’m going to take a break from the manga to give you a synopsis and highlights of the latest anime, Natsume’s Book of Friends: The Waking Rock and the Strange Visitor.
Natsume’s Book of Friends: The Waking Rock and the Strange Visitor is the first new anime since Natsume’s Book of Friends the Movie: Ephemeral Bond, which was released on September 29, 2018. It is the first new animation since Natsume’s Book of Friends the Movie: Ephemeral Bond, which was released on September 29, 2018, and will have a limited run in theaters starting January 16, 2021. The omnibus format of the original story, with each episode being a complete story, has been used to visualize the fan favorite episodes “Waking Rock” and “the Strange Visitor”. Incidentally, “Waking Rock” is episode 82 of volume 21, and “the Strange Visitor” is episodes 97 and 98 of volume 24.
Waking Rock” is the story of Natsume’s encounter with the small yokai Mitsumi in the forest. Mitsumi is said to be in charge of “Waking Rock,” which wakes up the divine demon “Iwatetsu” from his long sleep. However, Nyanco-sensei and other youkai are planning to steal her role in order to get the reward of sake. Natsume is concerned about Mitsumi, and decides to help her…?
The Strange Visitor” is a story about Natsume’s best friend, Tanuma. A mysterious visitor comes to the house every day to see Tanuma. Natsume suspects that the visitor is a demon, and is concerned for Tanuma’s safety. This is a serious episode in which we can feel how yokai live in close proximity to humans, but with a different way of thinking than humans.
|Characters from “Natsume’s Book of Friends
In “Natsume’s Book of Friends,” both humans and ghosts are rich in personality. Here we introduce you to the main characters that surround Natsume and Nyanco-sensei.
The protagonist of this story, a freshman in high school. Her parents died early, and she has been tossed around by her relatives. She can see monsters that ordinary people cannot. Her grandmother, Reiko, left her a “Friend’s Book” which is a powerful item that allows her to follow the monsters, but Natsume decides to return her name to the monsters without using it. Her gray hair and cool face are said to be reminiscent of her grandmother Reiko.
This is a yokai that has grown accustomed to the shape of a beckoning cat over the years as it has been used as a substitute. Originally, it was a large yokai called “speckled”. After Natsume’s death, in exchange for taking over the “Book of Friends”, he takes on the role of a bouncer and starts living in Natsume’s room. He loves sweets and alcohol. On the other hand, when he reverts back to his “spotted” form, he shows off his cool activities. He has a wealth of knowledge about yokai, and has a lot of meaningful dialogues about the difference in thinking between humans and yokai, and about the view of life and death, making him a character worthy of being called “sensei.
A young man who is a popular actor but also works as an exorcist. He warmly watches over Natsume, who has been suffering from the fact that he can see monsters, from a good distance. He is accompanied by three yokai as his “shikishi”: Hiiragi, who wears a mask with a single eye, Sasago, whose eyes are covered with cloth, and Urihime, who has black hair.
A classmate of Natsume. She cannot see yokai as Natsume can, but she can sense their presence. He is one of the few friends that Natsume can talk to about yokai, and he is a reliable and understanding person. In the new anime “Natsume’s Book of Friends: Ishidake and the Suspicious Visitor,” he becomes a key person.
A classmate of Natsume. He grew up in a family of yin-yang masters, and can see monsters by using the “jin” written down by his grandfather. He loves Nyanco-sensei and hugs her every time they meet. She also has an older brother who is a university student.
■Satoru Nishimura / Atsushi Kitamoto
Natsume’s classmates. Nishimura (left) is energetic and has a meek temperament, while Kitamoto (right) is calm and firm. They easily get along with Natsume. Neither of them knows Natsume’s secret of being able to see ghosts, but they both have quite a few strange experiences.
The head of the Matoba clan of exorcists, which has many followers. The head of the Matoba clan has had his right eye targeted by demons for generations, so he wears an eye patch to protect it.
A couple who are distant relatives of Natsume. They took in Natsume, who was originally living alone with no children and was being treated as a nuisance by her relatives.
|“Natsume’s Book of Friends” of The Endless Appeal (Spoilers)
Natsume’s Book of Friends” is a drama that depicts the overlapping thoughts of people and monsters, and a drama that sticks in the mind. We will explore the appeal of the book with readers’ impressions.
■The delicate relationship between people and monsters
The various relationships that arise when people and monsters get involved. This is the heart of the drama in “Natsume’s Book of Friends. For example, the flow of time. People with a life span of less than a hundred years and youkai who live for hundreds of years have completely different senses of time, and for youkai, people with whom they once shared a heart may be old or dead. This is where a sad story is born. In addition, yokai are fickle, and while they may be kind to people, they can also cause misfortune. On the other hand, some humans, like Matoba, are strict with yokai, while others, like Natsume, try to communicate with them. The delicate exchange of emotions between humans and yokai, which is not possible in relationships between humans, is the charm of this work.
Reader’s Review. This is my favorite work. Natsume has been living at a distance from others because she hears voices that other people can’t hear and sees things that other people can’t see. One day, she gets acquainted with a youkai sealed in a beckoning cat, and her environment begins to change. Something she had never known before. Things she had never known before, things about yokai that she had only thought were scary. And to be involved with people. It is sad and sorrowful, but also kind and warm. It makes me really happy to read that one by one, more and more people come to Natsume’s side.
■A complete and carefully drawn story.
Natsume’s Book of Friends” started out as a complete story. As the volume progresses, some episodes will be told over several episodes, but basically, it is a collection of short stories. Each episode features a yokai devised by Mr. Midorikawa. Each episode features a yokai devised by Ms. Midorikawa, and the fascinating stories are carefully depicted. The semi-regular characters that appear in multiple episodes are also attractive. From mysterious and handsome exorcists like Natori and Matoba to girls of the same age as Natsume like Taki, they are all unique and come from different backgrounds, making it hard to take your eyes off them.
Reader’s Comments It’s nice to read a story with a complete introduction and a neat “summary” each time. It makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but I hope this time will last forever.
■A Nostalgic Worldview
Natsume and his friends don’t speak any dialect, but the background of the story is lush green countryside and quiet temples and shrines. It’s a nostalgic Japan, different from the city surrounded by buildings. Old houses, unpaved roads, abandoned temple gates, and long stone staircases leading to shrines are just some of the things that make “Natsume’s Book of Friends” a world where you can’t help but feel the presence of yokai.
Reader’s Review. The story is delicate and very beautiful. And it makes me cry. It’s not about lovers or anything like that, but there are many moments when I feel love for people (or monsters), and I’m moved. The scenery of the countryside, mountains, rivers, etc. makes it stand out.
■A special chapter for each character
The special editions in each volume depict the past and side stories of the supporting characters that are not told in the main story, adding depth to the story. In particular, “A World Without Distortion” (volume 17) and “The Hand That Stretched Out” (volume 21), which depict the past of popular characters Natori and Matoba, are worth reading as they play an active role in their high school years. Also, “Takako and Shigeru” (volume 15), which depicts Mr. and Mrs. Fujiwara before they took Natsume in, will make you smile at their interactions, but also make you sad to see Natsume when he was lonely.
Reader’s Review I really enjoyed the story of Mr. and Mrs. Fujiwara. I was moved to see how they felt before and after they took Natsume in. I don’t want them to be victimized by ayakashi.
How was the ongoing commentary on “Natsume’s Book of Friends”? Very little time has passed in the play, and Natsume is still a high school student. Still, the lonely heart that was seen in the early days seems to have been healed considerably. And the endless imagination of Midorikawa-sensei, who delivers impressive episodes every time, is also amazing. I hope you will enjoy “Natsume’s Book of Friends,” a bizarre tale of monsters that will enrich your heart.