Natsume’s Book of Friends Season Six (Natsume Yūjinchō Roku) was the anime that I was looking most forward to watching! I have been a huge fan of the series since it first aired back in July 2008. I decided to watch it on a whim and it has been one of my all-time favourite feel-good serials since then. The anime is an adaptation of the manga written by Yuki Midorikawa, which was published by Hakusensha (Viz Media for English speakers).
Natsume’s Book of Friends follows a young boy, Takeshi Natsume, who is an orphan child that sees yōkai, or Japanese spirits. Because of this unique trait, people treat him like he’s a mad child and no one wants him. We watch him in his adolescent years as he struggles with accepting who is and finding a balance with his normal, everyday life of being a kid as well as being someone special who can help beings that have no other means of getting said help. Season six is a continuation of the story!
In my First Impressions post for this show, I had mentioned that I initially believed the season would focus on motifs of Natsume growing up with unique capabilities and what life was like for him during these difficult times. It turns out that I wasn’t too far off on my hypothesis! Woot. Very much like the previous season, this new addition has been quite reflective in regards to Natsume’s past, mostly in relation to the obstacles that he faced as a child. We get to experience more concrete glimpses into the core facets via contemplative thoughts that our protagonist has about the person he used to be and the person that he’s become. This breathtakingly puts into perspective the character growth that he’s undergone over the span of the past 72-episodes.
Every single aspect about Natsume’s Book of Friends is a stunning masterpiece and a subtle ode to Japanese culture and spiritual beliefs. It’s presented in glorious animation, infused with the aesthetics of tradition and history. From the mannerisms and etiquette, to the way that everyone interacts with another-supernatural or otherwise-to the common dilemmas involving dysfunctional and complicated familial bonds, friendships steeped in misunderstanding, and the simple emotions of loneliness that’s blossomed from a deep loss–all of these come together in a marvellous, fluid way to create a story that’s highly engaging and compassionate.
Visually, the anime is just as lovely, if not more, as its predecessors. The natural surroundings of the forests, neighbourhoods, and mountainous regions are depicted with great detail while retaining an air of ordinary beauty. The characters are all natural and easy to differentiate from one to the next. Whenever it calls for it, the suspense, laced with ethereal affects, conjures just the right amount of tension without feeling heavy, forced, or insufficient.
The soundtrack continues to be wholeheartedly magical with melodies composed of piano, shamisen, and wood instruments that work together to instil warm-hearted emotions and empathetic responses. It’s tasteful, sophisticated, and so easy to listen to, making it the absolute perfect accompaniment to the classic aura of Japanese culture.
Regardless of all of these things to love and appreciate, the best parts of the season were the themes of friendship and family, the bonds that tie people together, which is inherent in every new instalment to the serial. It’s a show that really peels away all of the layers that make humans such complex creatures and reveals us for the simpletons that we are: individuals who fight our own realm of loneliness; people who just want to love and be loved and accepted, whether it’s romantic, familial, etc.
In conclusion, Natsume’s Book of Friends was one of the best shows out there for the Spring 2017 Anime line-up, and it will always be a masterpiece for me. It’s the kind of genuine feel-good series to pick up when you need it the most. I highly recommend this to all fans of anime, especially if you’re new to the medium. It can be enjoyed by anyone who loves a beautiful story.
10 maple leaves outta 10!