Natsume’s Book of Friends (10/10)
Natsume Yuujinchou, and its manga, has a home in a very special place in my heart. A coming of age story of a modern teenage boy with no ties to this life, it’s only appropriate that he can see spirits. The youkai are not the ghosts of dead humans(in most cases). No, rather, they are natural spirits, gods, sentient beasts, sometimes even living dolls.
And while this sounds like a scary story, it’s actually the opposite- because of how Natsume looks at it. He’s lonely, and misses parents he can’t remember, but he doesn’t lash out or let his jealously control him- he is only more thankful for what he has. He was scared of youkai when he was younger- hated and feared them to the point of running in the opposite direction every time he spotted one, but by the time the anime starts, he has calmed down enough that with the help of some new friends, starts to become involved in the lives of people both youkai and human, even finding a precious home as well. Basically, in this show there is nowhere to go but up- and it does!
If you are looking for a heart lifting fantasy with an unconventional lead and unpredictable stories, look no further. The character development that progresses steadily throughout the many episodes and seasons is also so wonderful to watch. He slowly but naturally starts to trust people, value himself, and even start to express normal emotions- a luxury he never had before. Never have I seen such a realistic yet hopeful depiction of recovery after a traumatic childhood.
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