The fourth season of Natsume Yuujinchou is here. But is it as good as it's predecessors? The answer is "I guess..."
Natsume Takashi has the ability to see spirits, which he has long kept secret. However, once he inherits a strange book that belonged to his deceased grandmother, Reiko, he discovers the reason why spirits surround him. Containing the names of these spirits, a binding contract was formed between the spirits and the owner of the book. Now, Natsume is determined to free the spirits and dissolve the contracts. With the help of a spirit cat - Madara/Nyanko-sensei, his days are filled trying to return the names to these spirits.
Quick recap of my feelings on the previous seasons:
First season - Great! Relaxing, fun and heartwarming.
Second season - Almost as good. Pretty much more of the same.
Third season - Pretty good. It went for a more serious storyline, which it suffered for.
So how's the fourth season? Well, honestly it wasn't all that good. I did like it better than the third season. But not by much. For some reason it was somewhat dull. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I suspect it's because I'm simply tired of this series by this point. It's not particularly "heartwarming" at any point in this season (with the very last scene being a possible exception), and all the scenes of this kind revolves around Natsume - his past and his feelings. I would prefer to have stories that focused more on the spirits - and we would get to experience these stories through Natsume's point of view. The spirits aren't very imaginative either anymore. It's kind of just trodding along in the same manner it always has, but it needs to be new and creative in at least some way for it to work. And if not, then it should excel at being heartwarming (get used to seeing me write this word) or emotionally gripping or having some sense of urgency.
However, if this is really how it is, then why do I consider the third season to be the worst when it actually tries to introduce a slightly more serious and lasting story line? Honestly, I can't say exactly what it is that bothers me with this season - but there is something with Natsume Yuujinchou that simply doesn't work for me anymore. And it's not because I don't like slow paced Slice-of-Life series. If they excel in some particular field then they could be some of the better anime series out there. The Aria franchise is one of my favorites within anime. That's because the entire series is so heartwarming (there's that word again) and nice and pleasant and sweet. I feel so good inside when I watch that series. Then again, another reason why I love the Aria franchise so much is because it has such an amazing ending. And by ending I mean half the last season - Aria The Origination. So it didn't exactly trodd along the same path forever. If it would, then I'm sure I'd grow tired of it as well.
But this review is supposed to be about Natsume Yuujinchou Shi - so I'll stop bringing up Aria now :P
If anyone else is having the same thoughts as I am, then please let me know why you're thinking this way. Or let me know if you merely have a theory on why I'd be feeling this way about the series.
Ok, so that's what bothered me with the series - but that's not to say that I didn't like it overall. In fact, I did. I found it to be pretty good. It never outright bored me, and Nyanko-sensei is still as fun as he's ever been. He's entertaining in every single scene he appears in and his the greatest aspect of this entire season.
My second favorite character is Natsume's friend Tanuma - because he gets some pretty good development as he ventures further into the world of spirits in order to discover more about what Natsume goes through.
Despite it's flaws it is still quite enjoyable for me and I will definitely watch the fifth season if they ever make it.
More of the same
Just more of the same...
Not as heartwarming as it could be
Spirits aren't imaginative
The first 3 seasons of the Natsume Yuujinchou series sowed many seeds from which to develop the story and characters. All of us have secrets that can sometimes make us feel alone in this world. There are somethings that the rest of the world won't or simply can't understand. Can you truly have friends who don't know important things about you? As Natsume gets more involved with the world of Youkai this questions are explored.
The series continues to follow a slow-paced episodic style. The biggest success of this season, has to be its ability to balance stories about interesting Youkai with stories about Natsume's growth as a character.
The standard of animation follows the previous seasons. There a range of interesting character drawings, nice backgrounds and occasional action scenes. It is largely flawless but nothing out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, its a joy for the eys to watch.
The sound track is approapriate, with a nice OP and ED. The voice acting is also flawless.
Character development is arguably one of the greatest strenghts of this show. Natsume is continually tested and grows as a person. However, there are many other well rounded interesting characters we learn more about during this season. The characters are often asked to make decisions with no right or wrong answer. Although some Youkai are simply evil, we most characters are an interesting shades of grey.
Its rare for Anime to go beyond 2 seasons and maitain such a high quality. However the fourth season of Natsume has proven to be the best so far. This is largely due to character and story development in the earlier seasons. Nonetheless, this has been one the most enjoyale series I've watched recently and I feel there is still potential for another great season of Natsume Yujinchou.
I loved reading and watching this anime. The senario is a little overdone, but the mangaka did a good job in executing the manga in an interesting way. The characters were well strung together, and their actions were reasonable and considerate to the main characters actions. The sounds in this anime gave out the perfect emotions you needed to feel in certain scenes. The sound effects were also well fitting and fit the mood. Overall, I want this manga to have more seasons to come!