Let’s get this out of the way first: out of the series that debuted in the past Winter Season, Natsume Yuujin-Chou’s fourth season was by far my favorite. Can you watch it without having seen the other three seasons? No. It very clearly builds further upon what these three seasons did. It doesn’t matter though, because every series of Natsume Yuujin-Chou is truly excellent. Few series can boast to be as genuine and heart-warming as this one.
The people who have already watched the first three seasons know what to expect: episodic stories and small arcs about a boy who can see spirits, and all of the problems and miracles that come with it. The episodic nature again makes it a very varied series that changes every week, and again this series has a very good balance between really heart-warming stories, and stories that are almost like a thriller. The stories still are very cleveryl constructed, and yet they play out very naturally and believably. This season also likes its character studies, and quite a few side-characters also manage to get their place in the spotlight to actually develop themselves a bit.
Every season of Natsume also has a slightly different tone from the other. The first was about quiet and relaxing stories about all sorts of youkai Natsume meets. Season 2 instead put the focus more on the main plot and various recurring characters. The third season was dedicated to Natsume’s development, and the fourth season is about Natsume’s relationship with the people around him. Imagine what a wonderful total picture this all creates! And indeed, the cast still is amazing, in particular Natsume has gotten so much development at this point.
What makes the fourth season stand out in particular is that out of all the four seasons, it’s got the best beginning and the best ending. It really saved its best stories for those points, and especially the ending is a treat. The stories in the middle are also very good, but not as good as the middle episodes of the first and the third season. I’d really consider the First, Third and Fourth season to be just as good, all with their own highlight and standout stories that rock in their own ways, either by being incredibly heart-warming, really well told, consistently tense and intriguing, amazingly built up, wonderfully acted, or just all of those together. This series still is a huge believer of subtlety over bombast, and this leads to some of the best acting of the season.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Great variety, masterful at retaining a subtle atmosphere, and manages to consistently tell heart-warming stories.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Natsume has 52 episodes of development right now, and this season just continues to add things to his character. The side characters also get a lot of time to flesh themselves out and develop.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Great and very consistent animation. Perhaps not the best of the season, but there are a few very talented animators flexing their muscles here.|
|Setting:||9/10 – Everyone around Natsume is the main focus of this series. Yes, the setting got even better.|