As a lifelong fan of animation, I’ve experienced a ton of different Japanese anime over the years. We’re talking many hundreds, perhaps even into the thousands now, of animated shows that I’ve seen, and continue to enjoy today.
There are few I would recommend more than Natsume’s Book of Friends.
The most wonderful thing about this particular anime is that it holds an almost universal appeal regardless of age or gender or any other predisposition or preference.
Here is a trailer to give you some idea. It is from the show’s 5th season, and though this trailer does not have English subtitles, it was far and away the better example of the show’s charm and emotion. None of the official English trailers came even close to this quality sadly.
The synopsis for the show is as follows (from AnimeNewsNetwork):
Natsume Takashi has the ability to see spirits, which he has long kept secret. However, once he inherits a strange book that belonged to his deceased grandmother, Reiko, he discovers the reason why spirits surround him. Containing the names of these spirits, a binding contract was formed between the spirits and the owner of the book. Now, Natsume is determined to free the spirits and dissolve the contracts. With the help of a spirit cat, his days are filled trying to return the names to these spirits.
Along the way, Natsume meets all manner of strange and wonderful creatures, and people. He learns about himself, his grandmother, their connection, and about the things that are most important to him in life.
There’s a certain resonating undercurrent to Natsume’s Book of Friends that speaks to all of humanity. The impression I always get when watching this show is that it reminds us how to be better human beings, helps us remember the little things in our own lives that are often overlooked or ignored, that make all the difference in the world to someone.
In much the same vein as a Studio Ghibli or Disney production, you’ll get attached to these characters and their stories, even if you only get to “meet” them for the span of a single episode. Some of their tales with be very touching and easy to empathize with, and others will be equally mysterious and fascinating and full of imagination. Most episodes are a healthy mixture of both.
The music, as you might get a taste of from the trailer, is really quite good. Emotional at times, relaxing at others, it really fits the show well, and draws out the emotions of each scene flawlessly.
And while we’re talking about scenes, the artwork and animation are top notch. I’m a sucker for anything with lots of soft glowing lighting, and that’s a common feature of the beautiful artwork. I’m not an expert on the technical side of things here, but I’ll just say that to me it is very visually pleasant and enjoyable.
Natsume’s Book of Friends is a great show to watch when you want to wind down too after a stressful day. There are a few tense episodes here and there, but generally speaking the show offers a pleasant 30 minutes of wonder and imagination, all tied up with a nice little underlying positive thought or message to the tale.
If you’re curious and want to give this show a look, then you’re in luck, because it so happens to be available to watch freely on the Crunchyroll anime streaming service. For those who aren’t familiar, Crunchyroll is a streaming service that works directly with anime production companies to be able to provide content legally, and a portion of the ad revenue (or subscription cost if you have a premium account) goes to the companies involved in creating the animated shows that you watch on the service.
So please do give this one a shot if you’re interested at all after reading this. It’s an anime that I can readily recommend to anyone, regardless of their usual taste in shows or entertainment, and one of my personal favorites which is very close to my heart.
Image credits: https://mobile.twitter.com/NatsumeYujincho/media