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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  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 05:21 AM)
    @Wicked Exactly, the main characters got thorough characterization and each of them got their own character arcs.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 05:20 AM)
    Kokoro Connect’s Heartseed was just a half-assed character, he’s just in the story to contrive one angsty drama after another, with no interesting motivation or personality beyond “I feel like it.” The main characters were so much more colorful by contrast
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 04:50 AM)
    @Kaiser: sorry I was literally in the mountains. I saved that list and will get to the shorts soon.
  • wicked
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:04 AM)
    @kaiser Kokoro connect has the benefits of characters having relatable problems. Kids not really understanding their teenage feelings is a relatable thing. Kiznaiver characters have anime problems, like I feel no pain, or I’m cartoonishly obnoxious, which is not a problem as plot devices, but tenuous as a trait to connect the audience
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 10:41 PM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, like I said, the ending actually justify everything come before and that ranks really high on my book
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 10:39 PM)
    @mamamoo:On Kiznaiver, yeah I like the characters well enough,, they have a good chmestry altogether and those small moments are great.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 07:24 PM)
    @mamamoo, On matter of the plot, yeah its not really hitting a sweet spot. But I find the characters really likable.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 06:05 PM)
    I like the idea behind Kokoro connect perhaps more than the whole show.
    I think I mainly watched it for Heartseed and Iori.
  • mamamoo
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 05:43 PM)
    Oh I didn’t even think of kokoro connect…and yeah I remember that being actually really interesting and enjoyable
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 05:42 PM)
    @Mario: Had a look at El Clan/the clan, decent, solid undemanding thriller, liked it for what it was, had its moments and the ending surprised me a bit too.

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