Natsume’s Book of Friends Continued Review

It’s time to continue the adventures of Natsume and Nyanko. In season 2 we slowly continue to expand the cast and Natsume gets into more crazy adventures but at its core this is still a classic slice of life kind of adventure. So if you enjoyed season 1 then you will like this as well. I would say the average episode here is also stronger than its counterpart in season 1 so all in all there is quite a lot to enjoy here. The seasons definitely go by really fast.

For this season lets jump into the review on a quick episode by episode basis since we’re already familiar with the characters. The first episode has another Nyanko appear and so Natsume has to figure out what’s going on here and why he has run off with the Book of Friends. Is this an enemy to be scared of or just another Yokai pulling a prank? You never can tell right off the bat after all and the book of friends is quite dangerous in the wrong hands. It works well as a peaceful episode to start off the season. I would not say that the stakes or danger level are as high as in other episodes but usually you always start a season off with a rather calm adventure.

In the next episode we have a spirit get absorbed into a little snow bunny. This means that much like Frosty The Snowman his very existence is in danger when the weather starts to turn warmer. Natsume has to help him find another spirit but also keep this guy at arm’s length in case he’s actually trouble. It’s another fairly calm episode although as a nice touch I did like that Natsume’s mother figure made another quick snow bunny to keep his company. The guardians may not be his real parents but they are always very cheerful people and it’s nice to see them helping out. They do their best to make him feel at home even if Natsume isn’t 100% comfortable yet.

After that we get an episode where Nyanko doesn’t look very good since he allows an enemy Yokai to attack Natsume and nearly finish him off. It’s only thanks to the help of someone whom Natsume had rescued earlier that the hero managed to stay alive. Not a great look for the bodyguard who was supposed to still be on duty right? Nyanko definitely needs to learn how to keep his guard raised a little more if he really wants to protect Natsume when it counts. It was a good episode to show how even the little good deeds you do during the day can come back to help you in a big way. It was also almost nostalgic to see Natsume get knocked to the ground again even if that’s a little sad.

Someone on the blog once told me that it seemed like Natsume was knocked onto his back for over half the show and it does feel like that’s pretty much the case sometimes. He’s constantly knocked to the ground by all of these yokai to the point where it almost starts to get pretty funny. Seriously the guy just can’t catch a break. To an extent part of the issue is that Natsume does have a tendency to let his guard down which Nyanko calls him out on but sometimes there seriously isn’t anything he could have done. You have to keep in mind that most of these yokai are significantly stronger than the average human after all even if Natsume does have a mean right hook. Poor guy can’t even enjoy a day at the hot springs which is what the episode was about initially.

In another episode a mysterious egg appears and when it hatches a monster comes out of it. It’s a nice looking monster though and Natsume has decided to protect it from a mysterious yokai that seeks to have its master eat the thing. Natsume makes the right call here and decides not to sell out the egg. It’s one of the more tense episodes because Natsume isn’t the best liar but he has to keep this yokai at bay by acting as if he hasn’t seen the egg. He doesn’t really know what the monster will turn into either so he has to be careful but one thing’s for sure, giving it to the guy who wants to eat the monster would have been the wrong move so I’m glad that Natsume didn’t do that.

In the 5th episode we have a poor kid who is unable to move on because his name is tied to a tree. His only hope is a super cryptic message about the end of the world so it’s a good thing that Natsume is here to help. One thing I liked about this episode is how this is the realistic ending of how cryptic puzzles would play out. In most shows there are always a bunch of geniuses that solve these puzzles but what if you’re just some normal kid? Well much like this kid you’d probably have no idea what is going on and just be stuck. It shows how selfish it can be to rely on puzzles. Well that may not have been the actual moral of the episode but it’s certainly what I took away from it. It’s less of a danger episode and more of an emotional one but it works well.

Now we get introduced to a new character, Toru. She is a good addition to the main cast and immediately beats most of Natsume’s other friends. One of the reasons why she is good is because she is determined to solve problems on her own and isn’t waiting for help. She just goes on her own to fight a monster and try to come up with ways to win. It’s not easy either since she can’t actually see them normally and has to try and trick a monster into going into her magical circle. Not a very easy thing to do and even once that happens it’s not like she has super strength or anything like that. So as a result she is definitely on the back foot here.

Toru doesn’t give up though and for the rest of the season she is someone who can help out Natsume at times. Definitely the best supporting character as a result. It’s a little frustrating for Jun fans though because she is someone who would also like to help Natsume but for some reason he refuses to be honest with her. As a result she is one of the only people who doesn’t know about Natsume’s abilities and he keeps her at arm’s length. Not the place you really want to be and it also means that there is only so much that she can do to help. Even Kaname gets to help more and the guy barely appears in this season at all. He’s a good guy but he can’t see spirits either so that always puts him at a disadvantage.

After that two part adventure we had a story about a mermaid. Basically mermaids are real in the world of Natsume and their blood can give you immortality but as a result they tend to be jaded with humanity. At this point they just don’t get along and so one is so bitter that she may be about to murder her old friend. Natsume has to try and clear up 100+ years of misunderstandings and quickly before someone ends up dying here. Does he have the skills for that or is it all over for him? It’s a reasonable episode but the mermaid gets off a little easy considering that she really was going to try and murder the friend. Natsume may have changed her mind in the end but it doesn’t change the fact that she was completely willing to pull the trigger.

Next up is a story with a mysterious painting that starts to sprout in Natsume’s room. It can’t be taken off though and it appears to be making Natsume become fatally sick. If he doesn’t remove this soon then he is a goner but what can he possibly do? The odds are against him. There is another yokai that wants the painting but she isn’t able to take it off either. Nyanko could burn it away but Natsume forbids him from doing this since there is a mini monster inside the painting. All this leads up to the realization that this won’t be easy. It’s an interesting episode but a bit annoying with how this doesn’t feel like it should be such a big deal. Can’t they knock out the wall the painting is on and run off like that? At least once Natsume is super sick.

After that we have a yokai decide to get revenge on Reiko. See, way back in the day she destroyed him in combat so now the monster is here to get Natsume. The main character isn’t big on violence and doesn’t like fighting Yokai but this time his family is in trouble so it’s time for him to step up. It’s a pretty good episode to be sure and definitely one of the most intense. After all this time we have a yokai who wants to destroy Natsume. There are no doubts about this and so he is fighting for his life which isn’t always the case here. We also got to see a lot more of Reiko than usual so that was pretty cool.

As we near the end of the season, Natsume gets to meet up with a bunch of other people who can see yokai. For the first time he isn’t quite alone here and can meet likeminded people but it doesn’t go quite as he planned. They may have the same abilities that he does but they don’t really think the same way and so he leaves not feeling particularly fulfilled. This episode sows the seeds that he will soon need to choose between the humans and the yokai but how can he actually manage to pull this off? Also, should he really choose or is that something being pushed onto him? I liked this episode as it expanded the world building for the season and also set up the final two episodes pretty well.

The season ends with Natsume meeting a kid named Kai who was trapped in a chest. Natsume saves him and after some misunderstandings the kid realizes that Natsume is a good person. The one problem here is that Kai is a yokai so Natori has been called in to destroy him. Kai seems nice enough but his goal is to free a bunch of demons which does not sound quite so innocent. If Natsume does nothing then they could end up hurting a lot of people but if he helps Natori directly then Kai will die. It’s not an easy choice but time is against him so Natsume is about to be pushed in a direction one way or the other unless he can do something real quick.

These two episodes were the best ones in the season so it was a great move to end with them. First off we had a lot of action as Kai is easily the most powerful fighter that we have seen in the series. He can move at super speeds and can even fire off powerful energy blasts. That’s not something that just about anyone else here could do. In theory he could have easily beaten the whole cast including Nyanko if he was truly evil so it’s lucky that he wasn’t. Now that would have been a real problem. Fortunately Kai isn’t really a bad guy, just misguided. If not for Natori complicating things I do think that Natsume could have easily talked him down.

The ending also veers away from being tragic and instead it just works really well to wrap things up. I don’t recall Kai ever appearing again in the manga but hopefully I’m forgetting a story since I’d like to see him return. Natsume may have decided to support both the humans and yokai which will be difficult but it does feel like the right decision here. Natori looked real weak which definitely reminds you that in the war of humans vs yokai the humans are definitely on the losing side. If the Yokai ever decided to destroy the Earth humanity would be doomed so it’s fortunate that this isn’t happening. That would have definitely been intense.

As always Natsume is a good main character even if he’s a little bland. I still disagree with him giving some of the characters the run around about his powers though. Sure, some definitely aren’t ready for it and he doesn’t have to tell strangers but someone like Jun who basically knows? I don’t see the harm in telling her. Natsume also does get himself into a lot of dangerous situations which definitely makes things really hard on Nyanko. I think he could dial that back a little while still looking out for the spirits.

Nyanko on the other hand also lets his guard down a lot and often vanishes when Natsume needs him. So the issue is definitely not all on one person here. They get a lot of fun banter and Nyanko does often save Natsume when it counts but all it takes is one of these mistakes and that would be curtains. In theory there will be less yokai after Natsume the more that he gives the names back but in this season we still aren’t given any metrics for how many names are left so it definitely could be a long while.

The animation is pretty decent here. I still wouldn’t say that the show particularly stands out for the animation but at the same time there isn’t much to stand out with since this isn’t a particularly colorful show nor is it an action packed one. It’s a show with very muted colors that is trying to be fairly realistic outside of the whole yokai angle. The closest we get to some true action here is when Kai powers up before styling all over everybody. It never turns into bad animation which is the important part though. Meanwhile the soundtrack is also more on the forgettable side. There aren’t any really sharp themes and while the theme song is okay, it’s not one that will likely get onto your playlist any time soon.

I would say this show does a good job of fulfilling its objectives in what it set out to do. This is a slice of life show first and foremost which may have some danger on occasion but for the most part it’s about Natsume finally opening up and making some friends. That’s where his journey really starts and ends here. He’ll only continue to meet more people as he goes through his adventures and in a way that’s all that he has to do. By the end of the journey he will be able to look back at himself and see how much he has changed. Hopefully Reiko shows up soon. I like to think that she is a yokai that’s haunting someone at the moment. It just doesn’t feel like she is someone who would simply pass away without at least meeting Natsume first.

Overall, Season 2 is a good show and I would say it is better than Season 1. It has more high intensity episodes and it feels like the plot moves more. I would still need a little more out of this show to reach the next stage though. Either focusing more on the story than being episodic or throwing in some more humor here. This show is really easy to plug and play at any time which is a good thing but on the flip side none of the episodes are really the kind that would glue you to your seat. On any given day this would probably be getting defeated by another show airing at the same time. So you should watch this for a fun calming experience but it’s not really a big bingeable show which is what separates the good shows from the great ones.

Overall 6/10


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