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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  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    But Eva just left a bad taste in my mouth as a whole, I understand that Bam you are very passinette about it and thats fine, I wasn’t aiming to provoke. I just feel that its frustrating that like alot of certain anime, that I am not allowed to dislike it or have reason to.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    If anything at least I found Ikuhara’s symbolism while obvious at least in utena and straightforward was at least visually interesting to look at.
    I love every David Lynch film and again I thought Lain was exceptional.

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