Thursday, September 13, 2012

Manga Review: Natsume's Book of Friends, Volume 11, by Yuki Midorikawa

Rating (Out of 5): ~4-4.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 14+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Natsume and Tanuma are spending a rainy day helping Taki clean up a storehouse full of her grandfather’s stuff. But old clothes and books aren’t the only things sealed away. The friends accidentally release a very angry yokai. Is teamwork enough to stop the yokai from going on a rampage?!


This book was just… so… it was just so good, okay?
I have said this before, and it’s possible I will say it again, but I love Natsume. I love him so much. He’s just so sweet and heartwarming and I just want to hug him and be his friend and I love him. The more I see him the more I love him. And this volume had pretty much everything I wanted it to have, all of the things I wanted to see.
In the first two chapters, Natsume and Tanuma help Taki clean out a storage room and accidentally free a dangerous yokai. Tanuma and Taki tag along as Natsume and Nyanko-Sensei work to capture it, trying to help as best they can. They have some troubles, and make some observations, but it works out in the end, and Natsume even gets a different look at his gift or curse of being able to see yokai.
Like I said before, I love seeing Natsume with his friends. He doesn’t have very many, those two boys from school that we’re seeing more of, and these two, and Mr. Natori, not including all of the yokai. He’s slowly growing in friends and in himself, and that’s really nice to see.
In the following three chapters, Natsume hangs out with the two boys from school (whose names still haven’t stuck with me, sorry; I’m still getting Taki and Tanuma’s down) and Tanuma. They decide to go up in the mountains to find a soda well/fountain/spring/thing. During this, Natsume starts thinking about his parents. He gets phone call from someone, telling him that his parents’ house is being sold, and so he starts thinking about them. Memories that he tried pushing away start coming up, and then he decides to go see the house before it’s gone. On the way, he has to go visit some relatives who have the key, bringing up memories of his stay with them, back when he was a ‘weird kid’ and tried being open about his gift.
This is the first time we’ve really gotten to see Natsume interacting with a family that took him in for a short while, and it was super upsetting. He gets all these memories of his stay, and hears them talking about him, and the daughter of the family is just kind of terrible to him, all the while trying to deal with a yokai that’s living in their house. I feel so bad for Natsume, whenever we see a scene like this, and I just want to give him a hug. But he dealt with it rather well this time, maturely, even while the daughter was being a jerk.
After that, he finally gets to the house, which is a tiny, beaten down place. He doesn’t remember as much as he’d have liked, except for one memory that has stuck with him, but he’s finally accepting what happened. He’s finally okay with thinking about it all, instead of pushing it away and trying to ignore it.
The volume ends with him thinking about his parents, finally getting to see the soda spring with his friends, and taking a picture with his aunt and uncle, even requesting to take another. It’s a very sweet, warm, nice ending.
It was really nice seeing Natsume struggling with what he wants and trying not to be a bother. Like when he loses a photo of his parents but doesn’t want to bother his friends with finding it, and when he wants to go look at the house but is afraid of what his aunt and uncle will think. I just love seeing him grow, seeing him realize that he has friends and they don’t mind when he has to go chasing yokai and they understand when something is important to him.
I love this series. Natsume is one of my favorite protagonists, and he is probably my favorite part of this series. If I didn’t like anything else about this series, and I do like just about everything, I would read this just for him. He just makes it that much better for me.
I hope to get the next one soon, but I know after that it might be a bit of a wait, because of how close we are to Japan, which sucks. So many series of VIZ’s have been catching up with Japan lately, and that is not cool; I do not like such long waits between volumes that I love.

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