The Spring 2017 Anime Preview Guide
Natsume's Book of Friends Season 6
How would you rate episode 1 of
Natsume Yūjin-Chō Roku (TV 6) ?
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How was the first episode?
No matter how much time passes between seasons of Natsume's Book of Friends, it never seems to change. That's the biggest strength of its sixth season, which gently returns viewers to Natsume's world. With a sweet and simple plot that is both caused and resolved by a single yokai, the entertainment value comes from its iyashikei, “healing,” atmosphere—the painterly countryside that's so influenced by the seasons, and the vulnerable emotions shared between characters who have been growing closer over many years.
There's nothing flashy about this pilot, which could have been any mid-season episode in the annals of this long-running show. It's a small, quirky gimmick: after Natsume aids a yokai with the ability to make people and objects young again, he is “thanked” by being reverted to childhood. Madara can't take a confused and newly adorable Natsume home to his adoptive parents, who will be understandably confused, but fortunately he has a complete network of people to ask to take in this formerly lonely orphan. In the end, Natsume's recent decision to open up to his school friends Taki and Tanuma is what saves him, as the pair agree to watch him at Tanuma's house until Madara can figure out how to fix the situation.
This leads to all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings. With baby Natsume between them, Taki and Tanuma look like a pair of young parents. They point out spots around town that Natsume might remember, and it reminded me that the lay of this town is itself a character—everything that Taki and Tanuma mentioned, I remembered from previous episodes. (It absolutely depends on prior knowledge and I would not recommend jumping into the series right here.) Not to mention, the spring setting (cherry blossoms, the dango Madara ate), is heady in this story of youth. But the most rewarding part of this episode is a chance to make Natsume's awful childhood, which we've heard so much about, just a little bit better. For once when he is plagued with visions of things other people can't see, the adults around him listen and understand. If you like your happy with a side of tears, it's a return to this relaxing, subtle show that hasn't changed a bit.
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