Review: ‘Zoku Natsume Yujin-cho’ [Anime]

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by Marlan Moore | staff editor

Zoku Natsume Yujin-cho, the second season of Natsume Yujin-cho (aka Natsume’s Book of Friends), does everything the first season did, but does it better. Our review of the first season can be found here.

As much as I enjoyed the first season of Natsume Yujin-cho, it was definitely missing something — there was no sense of danger and no sense of urgency. Everything just happened and the the quiet, slice-of-life with a pinch of youkai (demon) tales started to slightly drag. There was also a mantra about friendship and loneliness that became overbearing by the season’s end. If there was a Natsume Yujin-cho drinking game where you take a shot every time Natsume says “lonely” or a word relating to “loneliness,” no one’d make it through an episode sober.

Zoku Natsume Yujin-cho still purveys much of the same sense of loneliness, but it does a better job of not beating the viewer over the head with it. It also helps, that this season, Natsume himself is no longer alone, and thus, has no reason to have so many inner monologues about loneliness and the importance of friendship.

The best thing about Zoku Natsume Yujin-cho is that it actually has that sense of danger that the first season was lacking. The youkai this time around are – more often than not – out for blood, and usually Natsume’s. Their hunt for his grandmother and for her Book of Friends intensifies this season, even though the over-arching story continues to develop at a snail’s pace. Even when youkai aren’t after the Book, they still offer way more of a challenge than before. Natsume loses the Book of Friends, unleashes a god, and contends with dozens of youkai — and that’s just the first episode.

Unlike the first season, Zoku really got me hooked. It’s interesting to see how Natsume has grown, and how his own dormant abilities are growing stronger. And the hints at the overarching story feel like appetizers to a much larger main course that’s yet to be seen.

I really wasn’t expecting such a strong season, and I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t feel as strong if I hadn’t gotten to know Natsume in the first season. On the other hand, part of me thinks it stands well enough on its own, especially since the first episode does a great job with obvious-but-not-boring exposition. Either way, it’s worth a watch.

Zoku Natsume Yujin-cho can be found streaming on Crunchroll (although on Crunchyroll, its seen as season 1 episode 14-26) and part of a premium edition box set from NIS America.

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