Posted by psgels on 30 September 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Natsume Yuujin-Chou

Strange how the best series for me this season end last. Anyway, Natsume Yuujin-chou is a perfect summer-series. As Brains Base’s latest production, it tells about a boy named Natsume, as he tries to deal with his ability to see spirits. Sure, it’s a thing that’s been done many times before. But never this subtle.

While not the most subtle series of the past season (it’s near-impossible to beat Natsu no Sora in that, after all), Natsume Yuujin-chou shines in the dream-like atmosphere it manages to create. This is a real series that you can relax at as it progresses with its heart-warming stories. Throughout the series, it manages to create a really interesting setting of Youkai versus humans, and especially the focus on niceness makes a lot of impact. Youkai are beings that spend a lot of time alone, and so a very simple action of gratitude or kindness can mean the world to them, even though they may seem like unimportant to human eyes.

Added to that comes an excellent sense of characterization. Especially Nyanko-sensei is an awesome character, but the rest of the cast is also filled with a number of very enjoyable and deep characters. The characters feel natural, and away from the stereotypes.

The result is an episodic series where nearly all of the stories turn out heart-warming, some a bit more than others, and there are a few utterly stunning episodes amongst them, despite the limited time this series has to build up. Just be aware that the best episodes aren’t necessarily located near the end of the series. Overall, Brains Base has done it again. They really are a studio that constantly tries to deliver unique and innovating series, and they pretty much succeeded here again.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

8 Responses

  1. Kim says:

    This is my favorite series of 2008 for sure (followed by Kaiba). It might not be the most original or most complex. But it is such a warm hearted series that really gives me such a peaceful feeling after each episode. It might be corny to say but I think it is the “simplicity” of Natsume Yuujinchou that I love.

  2. Marmoset says:

    I like this series but I think calling it innovative is giving it a bit too much credit. The initial premise of the series seems to get completely forgotten after a few episodes and it almost descends into a ‘monster of the week’ format. Xxxholic did a similar thing but these episodic stories pushed along the development of the main cast. I don’t think this series does this well enough and Natsume and his classmates just don’t seem to be being developed with these stories that, while pleasant, just seem a little pointless.

    It makes sense that this will be continued as there is clearly a fair amount of depth to this world, however it just feels like this should be a continuous story and not split into seasons.

  3. Kim says:

    Marmoset, I completely disagree that Natsume Yuujinchou has no character development. For what is primarily an episodic series it develops the main character at least extremely well. If you compare Natsume’s relationship with both humans and youkai from the early episodes to the later ones there is a significant change.

    And although Nyanko-sensei still claims he wants to eat Natsume you can also see how despite what he says he has grown to genuinely care about Natsume.

  4. Marmoset says:

    I concede you’re right that Natsume has a fairly thorough background. I meant to say that my gripe was with how his classmates appear in every episode but, apart from two early episodes, they generally serve no purpose for the storyline or for Natsume’s character and have recieved little characterisation themselves. I’m not saying this should become a high school anime but Natsume is still a high school student and the series should give it a bit more attention.

    I’m hoping the second season expands on the minor characters a little bit more (and features the book of friends more as well).

  5. Machi says:

    Errr you have to realize the minor characters, IE his classmates are really just there (they never really play an important part, so why keep expecting they will, at best they are just interactive backgrounds that help show the contrast to the old ostracizing life that Natsume had but the anime doesn’t really focus on the angst part so I guess the whole everyday classmate thing doesn’t come across as strongly.). As for hoping for more character development, well the recurring ones do get certainly more but from what I see the series itself is still very young and its only really starting to pick off, the firefly episode is actually a latter chapter and the difference in story telling is fairly noticeable from the previous episodes which were generally based off the first 2 volumes. Overall I do agree with the review of the series its quite an enjoyable light hearted and touching series. However, if you’re looking for something deeper and more intricate in detail I don’t think you should expect that much yet with the series.

  6. saris says:

    The best anime of this season for me as well, I’m glad there ‘s season 2 for this. Although I can’t say this one is the best of it’s kind but still a warm-hearted and peaceful story which centered on character thoughts and feelings is good enough for me. I have the mangas but guess I should wait for all the anime episodes to finish before reading it.

  7. Machi says:

    Doesn’t hurt to read the manga saris, anime tended to omit rather odd but somewhat significant details plus the last episode of the anime is an original episode not one based off the manga so it wouldn’t hurt to read ahead up to volume 6.

  8. Firechick says:

    This was my all-time favorite anime of 2008 (along with a few other titles I can’t remember)! I rank it number 5 in my top 10 anime! I love it to bits! It’s dreamy, gentle, pleasant, comical (thanks to the cracktastic Nyanko-sensei!), subtle, cute, and even intense at points! But it touched my heart and I’m glad I watched it. It better get licensed or some butts will be kicked!

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:49 PM)
    I thought R&M had a pretty good finale. The episode achieved what was missing from most of season 2, and that was a balance of randomness and meaningful bits. What made Rick Potion #9 and the previous season’s finale and general tone great was a sense of humor that was combined with more sincere drama and character developments; a sort of sweet melancholy.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 09:51 PM)
    @K-off, not having too much trouble with the interface but I still cannot create categories.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 08:56 PM)
    Eh, I’ve updated myself now on the onepunch manga and also the manga for yuruyuri, I can cross the shows off my list now. I forgot to mention onepunchs first episode crammed in the first volume.
    I stopped reading though around chapter 30, it was decent fun for a bit but I’ll be continuing with it in small doses.
  • k-off
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 08:19 PM)
    @Aidan Yeah? Well I at least have to hand it to psgels for continuing to pay for the site. By the way, is WordPress still fucked up on your end, or is it fine now?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:57 PM)
    @;(: Actually that was probably a bad word choice on my part, I meant that the humour in those episodes didn’t always work so well for me.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:56 PM)
    Whereas my favourite season 1 episodes were Rick potion n09 and rixty minutes.
  • ;(
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:55 PM)
    @Emma: What do you mean by “uneven”?

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