Natsume’s Book of Friends
Written and drawn by Yuki Midorikawa
Published by Viz Media. 208 pages. 2010. $9.99
What to love about this title? Lots of elements… that comes down to either Nyanko-sensei or even just how cool Natsume is (especially when he blows out youkai names.) Okay okay.. Natsume as a character attracts a lot of female fans, and the visuals of Natsume blowing is so aptly animated by the anime. But there’s more to this title than staring at the main character. I have recently caught up with reading the manga, so for fans of the anime, won’t you check out the manga or vice versa? I still found myself tearing up to the same stories that I was emotionally struck by during the anime.
Now back another aspect to my feelings about the character of Nyanko-sensei, I wish he was real, since he is such a fat wise ass commenting “cat”. There are artist columns and notes devoted to him in the manga. Midorikawa pointed out that her assistants also loved Nyanko-sensei. They based drawing his body like a round dumpling. But then that is the ceramic body that he inhabit, his real form is way more majestic.
Before I get too far off into my own Nyanko-sensei tangent, let’s move on.
The story of Natsume begins with his grandmother, Reiko who collected the names of youkai as an entertainment. Then she passes away, so Natsume’s Book of Friends is about Natsume and his quest to return the names of youkai who seeks him. With each name he returns, he learns a memory of his grandmother, and the importance of what friendship is like.
At this moment, United States are going to have to play some catch up with Natsume’s Book of Friends. There’s going to be 11 books out in Japan by this March, and the states just released five volumes in English. Every chapter is quite episodic and I actually was reading out of volumes. Other than needing to be somewhat familiar with some recurring characters, there’s no issue with reading out of order.
Of course the episodes of each and every story is entertaining and interesting, but what gets to me, most often from reading any manga is the mangaka explanations of her character analysis/inspiration. This is so much more in depth to appreciating and liking a series that makes it a memorable experience.
For episodic read alike similarities it would be good to check out Mushishi. For reading about other world spirits that can’t be seen by normal human eyes, then xxxHolic or Youkai Doctor might fit the bill. Now if you got into reading into it for Nyanko-sensei, then to see another smart cat, Aria would most likely fit that bill.