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review 2018-01-11 05:20
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 13) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 13 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, Matoba offers Natsume a job. Natsume doesn't want to accept, but he does agree to help with Matoba's little problem, a mask yokai hiding somewhere in his gathering of exorcists. Natori helps Natsume out by getting rid of Matoba's letter. The next part of the volume is a bit from Nishimura's POV - how he and Natsume met and became friends. He never realizes it, but

Natsume took care of a yokai that had been plaguing his family.

(spoiler show)

The volume ends with a story from Kitamoto's POV - how he met and befriended Natsume, and also Tanuma. He connects with Natsume over their shared anxiety about what to do once high school is over.

The stuff with Matoba was interesting and more suspenseful and action-filled than the rest of the volume. Still, I didn't like that part quite as much as the chapters that came after it. The Matoba clan feels so dark and cold compared to most of the people and beings Natsume interacts with. It was nice to see Natori again, though.

The two chapters from Kitamoto and Nishimura's POVs were great examples of why I love this series. Nishimura was such a nice guy, trying to befriend awkward Natsume. Tanuma and Taki are great, but it's also good to see people who have absolutely no clue about Natsume's abilities liking him and enjoying being with him, even though he probably comes across as a little strange from time to time. Kitamoto's chapter was nice too. I liked how he and Natsume had the same sort of seriousness and sense of responsibility - they both want to avoid being a burden on their family, although for different reasons.

I feel like every time I try to describe how good this series is, I make it sound boring...

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-01-11 05:12
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 12) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 12 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, a yokai tricks Natsume into letting him in - he wants Natsume to use the Book of Friends to summon a yokai named Karikami in order to restore a fragile old note. Natsume gradually learns that

the yokai had once loved a human woman. The man she loved left without telling her and married someone else. To keep her from being hurt, the yokai pretended to be the man for a while.

(spoiler show)

In the next part of the volume, Natsume meets an elderly former god who wants to return a mirror to a dangerous yokai

who, it turns out, was actually Reiko, Natsume's grandmother.

(spoiler show)

The volume ends with a story in which Natsume gets trapped in a jar by a yokai. Tanuma tries to save him and ends up in trouble, at risk of being eaten by yokai. He and Natori finally cross paths.

The first story was very bittersweet and part of an established pattern in this series, in which yokai have fond memories of humans they loved who have long since moved elsewhere or died. I couldn't help but wonder about the woman's part in this story, and what she thought about this strange event in her life.

The second story felt a little scattered - it was intertwined with a cup yokai and a dangerous yokai that could cause trouble for the Fujiwara household. Still, it was nice to see

Reiko again, even though it was yet another bittersweet moment in her life. The poor girl thought she'd finally found a human friend, and it turned out it was yet another yokai. I wonder if the series will ever touch on how she died, and who the father of her child was? I hope he was one of the rare humans she could trust, but I worry that he wasn't.

(spoiler show)


The third story hurt my heart. There was Tanuma, trying to help Natsume but worried that he was just making things worse. And Natsume, worried about Tanuma getting caught up in his messes - he still can't help his knee-jerk desire to keep his supernatural troubles from his friends. Natori is what Natsume might have been, if things had gone a little differently, and he knows it. He's jaded, but hopeful that Natsume can have the kind of life and relationships that he felt he had to cut himself off from.

Not as good as the previous volume, but still quite good.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-01-11 05:04
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 11) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 11 - Yuki Midorikawa

In the first part of the volume, Natsume and Tanuma help Taki clean up the creepy storage places at her home (her grandpa's old home? my notes are unclear). In the process, they awaken a dangerous doll yokai that Taki's grandfather accidentally sealed. In the next part of the volume, Natsume realizes that he's finally emotionally capable of looking at his parents' photo again. He also decides that he wants to visit his parents' old home one last time before it's sold. In order to visit the house, though, he first has to go to the family he used to live with to get the key. This requires dealing with an increasingly dangerous insect-eating yokai and the family's daughter, who was always jealous of the attention Natsume was given when he lived with them.

I always forget how warm and gentle this series is. Even when it breaks my heart, it does so softly. The art style doesn't really appeal to me - too light and scratchy (or wispy?) - but it works fine for this series and I love the characters and stories enough that it doesn't matter.

I absolutely love volumes like this one, that deal with Natsume's friendships. He's gradually learning to trust his human friends and ask them for help, and to accept help when it's offered. The bit where Tanuma had all his and Natsume's friends stop what they were doing and look for Natsume's missing photo was wonderful.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks to Natsume's past, and the brief glimpses of the Fujiwaras just being all domestic and kind. This is a "fuzzy blanket" sort of series, the kind of thing I want to wrap myself up in.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-11-12 00:00
Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 20
Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 20 - Yuk... Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 20 - Yuki Midorikawa This series is so good.
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review 2016-12-05 12:40
Natsume's Book of Friends (manga, vol. 10) by Yuki Midorikawa, translated by Lillian Olsen
Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 10 - Yuki Midorikawa

This volume contains two stories. In the first, Natsume finds himself forced to help a former classmate of his, Shibata. Shibata is in love with a girl he thinks might be a yokai, and he wants Natsume to confirm that she isn't. In the second story, Natori is hired to find and free a harvest god so that a pestilence god can't take over and make the crops in the area fail for the next 10 years. If he can't manage that, then he's supposed to exorcise the pestilence god. Meanwhile, yokai have convinced Natsume is pretend to be the harvest god until they can find and free the real one.

The story with Shibata was so-so – very similar to a lot of previous stories in this series, with a tragic love between a human and a yokai. However, I always enjoy getting little glimpses of Natsume's past, so it was nice to hear a bit more about him from someone who knew him before he went to live with the Fujiwaras. Even if that person was basically blackmailing him.

My favorite detail from that story: Natsume getting birthday cake for Mr. Fujiwara. I seriously love the Fujiwaras. They're just perfect.

The second story was, visually, one of my favorites from the anime, and I enjoyed it in the manga as well. The character designs for the harvest and pestilence gods were so pretty. I suppose the story wasn't really anything special, but it was still fun seeing Natori again. Unlike Matoba, Natori is willing to meet Natsume halfway. In this volume he takes a huge risk, trusting that in the end Natsume will arrive at a solution that will work for everybody. A nice quote from Natsume: “Once the fever's gone down, I should go visit Mr. Natori. We still have our philosophical differences, but...but it also felt like we could complement each other because of those differences.”

As always, this is a lovely series, and I look forward to reading more of it. It has such a gentle and peaceful feel to it.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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