Natsume Yuujinchou Shi – 01 Review
Episode 01 – Natsume Captured
So here we have it, the start of the onslaught of first episode reviews just as the Winter Season of anime kicks in!
Natsume really does know how to kick start off the series in a big way and if I am not wrong, this is the first time the series has started off on an arc. If you are hoping to be filled with nostalgia after watching the episode, you would probably be disappointed as tension runs high in this story’s game of cat and mouse.
How wonderful it is to be able to start the day with an episode of Natsume. I know that there are some people who feel that all the Natsume “arcs” spanning across more than one episode has been disappointing thus far and just not the best aspect of Natsume. However, I on the other hand had really enjoyed last season’s double episode covering the Matoba Clan and I am loving the fact that this new season had chosen to kick start off the series with a high tension story on the Matoba family and their “evil” doings.
As usual, BRAINS BASE has stuck true to the style of Natsume and the animation of this series is filled with familiar pastel tones and an abundance of nice background music to help with the atmosphere building. But where last season had placed a huge focus on Natsume and his growning acceptance of the people around him, the way this season had started off gives me hope that we perhaps might be able to see Natsume develop his spiritual powers alongside his social skills. After all, Natsume had seem weaker than expected in the previous season of this series.
The episode starts off with a nice short re-introduction to the premise of the story. This means that even fresh eyes on the series would be able to comprehend what is going on without too much effort. As usual, Natsume decides to help out a Yokai but finds himself under the attack of a group of Yokais who are after the Book of Friends. The story then progresses resulting with Natsume in the Eastern Forest and in the house of the Matoba family in search of the Book of Friends that is now hidden in one of the many rooms as he is being chased after the Matoba head.
(By the way, did anyone else feel like Nyanko had gained some weight? =P)
What I had really enjoyed in this episode was the way in which the beginning half of the episode had brought back many of the familiar faces from the previous seasons in order to portray the type of personality Natsume has, as well as his character development over the last season. Of course, I had also love the way Misuzu had managed to work himself into the episode, and from the looks of the next episode’s preview, we would be able to see more familiar faces. Personally, I find Natsume’s interaction with the Yokais slightly more entertaining than his interaction with his school mates. After all, how can one not love the writers’ mistreatment of Nyan-ko sensei’s character? =D
As for the opening and ending songs of the series… Well, the OP follows the traditional Natsume style of being upbeat and “fun” within constraint. The ED on the other hand isn’t my favourite one. Although, I had much preferred the last 3 season’s ED as oppose to this new one, this ED by Marina Kawano still holds true to the “nostalgia invoking” requirements of a Natsume ED. Hopefully the song would prove to be suitable when the series gets back into the groove of being all warm and fuzzy.
Overall, this was a good start to the fourth season of Natsume and it puts any worries over the quality one can expect from this series to rest. Whilst I do love the traditional Natsume nostalgic-laid-back flare, this higher-tension cliffhanger start to the series was a good way to mix things up and a nice change from an expected pace. I am sure that we can all look forward to a season filled with Natsume heartwarming fun and laughter.
And can I say that I am already hoping for a Season 5 to be announced? 😉
Episode Rating: 8/10 – Lovely animation, solid story, memorable characters and more of the same Natsume vibe.
What did you think of the first episode?