Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Slice of Life, Supernatural
Have you ever wished that you could see spirits? After four long years, the fifth season of Natsume Yuujinchou is finally here! I have been anticipating Natsume Yuujinchou Go ever since news of its release came out as I am a mega fan. I have watched every episode upon its release thus far and am here to provide a review. I really hope this season won’t disappoint me as the past four seasons were done really well.
Moreover, Brain’s Base is no longer the studio in charge of Natsume Yuujinchou which frankly shocked me as I expected the studio to continue on with what they’ve started. The current studio in charge of this anime is Shuka who produced other animes like 91 Days and Durara!!x2. They’re a relatively new studio, formed in 2013 by a producer who used to be a part of Brain’s Base. Whether they did a good job on animating this series remains to be seen.
P.S. If you are reading this review without having watched the anime before in your entire life, please watch the previous four seasons before reading this!
Firstly, I would like to introduce this amazing masterpiece to those who have not watched or heard of Natsume Yuujinchou before. This show is about a boy named Natsume Takashi, who is able to see spirits (youkais). His grandmother, Reiko could also see spirits and she used to bully them, and also bound the spirits to her by their names in the ‘Book of Friends’. Upon inheriting the book, Natsume is chased after and hunted by a never-ending stream of spirits, either seeking for their names back or seeking for revenge. With the help of a cat-looking spirit (Nyanko-sensei), he spends his daily life, dissolving the contracts and trying to stay alive.
As expected from Midorikawa Yuki, her stories are always filled with tons of emotions. Simple, yet just so beautiful. I was filled with so much nostalgia, especially thanks to Natsume’s signature introduction in each episode. The episodes are of an episodic nature, just like the previous four seasons with most of them introducing a new spirit per episode. It makes me wonder how much thought and effort have been put in by the author to create so many different stories of various characters that are able to leave such a huge impact on all her viewers, including me. Watching those stories filled me with so much happiness and melancholy which I have come to associate with this anime series.
The third episode left me feeling very intrigued with its much darker atmosphere. We might be seeing more than just the spirits pretty soon, as the anime will probably be delving more into the topic of the humans of the story, the exorcists. The show is also starting to talk more about Reiko, Natsume’s grandmother’s background. The contrast between Natsume and the loner, Reiko is becoming more and more obvious, which indicates more character development, and it really made me feel like re-reading the manga again to recall what is going on.
Not only that, the progress of the show was quite fast-paced as shown in the first episode where three chapters of the manga were shown in one single episode. However, since the series follows an episodic nature, it is totally understandable as long as things don’t become too unnatural in the process. I really hope that they don’t rush the show too much, which would cause the anime to lose the calm feeling that every season has had so far.
Art and Animation
Upon hearing the change in studios, I became anxious as Brain’s Base had been doing a wonderful job in animating this series and was afraid that Shuka might ruin that. Initially, I felt that everything seemed similar to the previous seasons and was relieved that there will be no issues with the animation quality.
However, to my dismay, the animation quality deteriorated drastically in the third episode. Frankly, it was quite bad to the point where I could barely concentrate on what was happening in the episode even though it was the beginning of a very intense arc. Everything just didn’t feel right. I might be exaggerating a little but I was so, so disappointed.
The character designs of Natsume and Nyanko-sensei were sloppy, not consistent as well as oddly-shaped at times, which infuriated me and distracted me as well. Their movements were awkward and there was even a scene where Natsume was not holding the chopsticks properly. Even Nyanko-sensei’s eyes changed colours! However, the next few episodes showed a remarkable amount of improvement and thankfully, the quality remained consistent till the end of the season.
TL;DR: Started out promising with the animation and art quality deteriorating at times.
Sound and Music
I find it amazing that the voice actors/actresses have remained the same since the first season until now and they’re all quite well-known! Some of them include Hiroshi Kamiya (Natsume Takashi), Kobayashi Sanae (Natsume Reiko), Kazuhiko Inoue (Nyanko-sensei) and several more. You would probably know Hiroshi Kamiya as Akashi Seijuuro from Kuroko no Basuke, Kobayashi Sanae as Allen Walker in D.Gray-man and Kazuhiko Inoue as Levi from Attack on Titans. As expected, they all did a really good job and I have no complaints about their voice acting thus far.
The opening and ending songs of Natsume Yuujinchou are always spectacular and this time’s songs are no exceptions. I especially love the ending song, Akane Sasu (茜さす) by Aimer (currently replaying it non-stop), I highly recommend everyone to listen to it! On the contrary, if I were to compare the songs to the previous seasons’, the first season had the best songs as they suited the theme of the anime more, but the songs of this season are still pretty damn awesome. Soundtrack and background music sounds good, and perfectly balanced with the atmosphere of the anime.
TL;DR: Awesome voice actors, soundtracks and music.
Characterization and Powers
The one thing I love the most about Natsume Yuujinchou would be the growth and personal development of the characters. As expected of the Natsume Yuujinchou franchise, the character development. From the first season until now, I’ve been watching Natsume grow and develop, and I kind of felt like a mother watching her child grow. It has been an amazing journey, seeing Natsume grow from being this antisocial kid who’s always faking his smiles to someone who has finally started to open up after meeting people who understands him, be it youkais or humans.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how much more Natsume will grow and how he will handle his relationships with his foster family, friends and the spirits as well as the exorcists. I love how all the characters have their own unique traits which makes them all the more lovable, even the spirits that only appear in one episode.
TL;DR: Amazing character development.
The story is done well, with great music and soundtrack. The only factor that might cause me to drop this anime would be the occasional drop in the animation and art quality, but thankfully, Shuka had paid more attention to it and worked on improving it. This series is one of my all-time favourite anime series and I’m ecstatic that Natsume Yuujinchou is coming back with a sixth season! Give this anime a try as it will definitely bring out many inexplicable emotions that only Natsume Yuujinchou can bring out!