Sunday, September 2, 2012

Manga Review: Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 10, by Yuki Midorikawa

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 14+

Goodreads Synopsis:

One of Natsume’s elementary school classmates is in town, but the unexpected reunion is for a dark purpose. Shibata knows Natsume’s secret, and threatens to expose it if Natsume doesn’t do what he says!


I really, really like this series. It’s so sweet, and simple, and maybe has a nostalgic (reminiscent? wistful?) tone to it. It’s just really good, and it bothers me that so few bookstores near me (pretty much, one of the, say, five or six bookstores that are near me) carry it; along with a few other series, too, actually. (I swear, ever since Borders closed, it has been much too hard for me to find manga. Way too hard.)
It’s been a while since I read a volume of Natsume, and while the books are a bit slow, I still really enjoy them. And it’s always nice, getting to see Nastume and Nyanko-sensei again.
While I would really like for there to be a more set storyline for this series, since each chapter tends to be about a different thing, I still enjoy reading all of them. In this volume, there was a two-chapter and a three-chapter long storyline, which was nice.
The first one focused on a boy, Shibata, who Natsume knew from elementary school; a time when he told people that he could see the supernatural and no one believed him. Natsume is wary, and bumps heads with him a bit, but helps the boy when he asks for it. Shibata is a but strong headed, and has fallen for a yokai girl, whom he wasn’t sure was human and needed Natsume’s reassurance on. This wraps up pretty nicely at the end of the second chapter, but I’m doubtful Shibata will be a character we’ll be seeing much of.
The three-chapter story is about two yokai gods, one of which, the harvest god, is missing. His minions don’t know where he is, as he’s believed to have been sealed away somewhere, and so ask Natsume to pretend to be him for a bit. At the same time, Natori is trying to find the sealed god so he can set him free (an unusual thing for his job, but he was asked because they don’t want the mountain to die.
There are some sweet moments in this, some funny ones, and it’s interesting to see how different Natori and Natsume are, even when just interacting with Natori’s servant, Hiragi. This one also ends rather well, and there are sure to be new yokai and new problems in the next book.
My favorite chapters are when we get to see other sides of Natsume, like when he’s around friends (as we glimpsed in the first chapter, actually), and when we get to see him as a little kid in flashbacks, or just getting to see him growing at all, really. He’s getting a bit more strong-headed, and arguing with people more freely, which was apparent in this volume, and that was nice to see. I just love seeing Natsume, really. He’s so sweet and kind-hearted, and after being passed around and mentally/emotionally beaten down for so long, I like seeing him getting stronger and more comfortable.
I already have the next volume, and I plan to read it very soon.

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