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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different note, March 28, 2010
This review is from: Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
Reiko Natsume, a woman who could see Yokai (Japanese spirit-monsters), was a bitter outcast who took her frustration out on her Yokai victims, confining and enslaving them through means of a magical item called the Book of Friends. Fortunately for them, her grandson Takashi, who has the same ability, feels that it is his responsibility as her blood descendant to correct the situation as much as possible - and help is on the way once the book enters his hands after her passing. Thus, the subtitle of the series - Book of Friends - can have a double meaning as an ironic reference to Reiko's prior ownership or the more benevolent current ownership of her grandson.

Natsume's Book of Friends will appeal to the usual fans of the "I see dead people" supernatural manga, but will also appeal to those who feel that the protagonists of such stories are often too oversensitive. Natsume is a good boy, yes, but he's also no martyr and has a healthy sense of self-preservation. As the release of each Yokai requires psychic expendeture on his part which is replenished once he can get a good rest, he's not shy about asking the Yokai who come to him to wait one more day if he knows his body can't handle it. He avoids overexerting himself except in absolute emergencies - quite sensible, as he won't be able to free any more Yokai - ever - if he allows them to use him up. He's also quite capable of using force to protect himself if necessary and is no pushover when Yokai don't get the message, although he notably never aims to kill. And although he acknowledges sometimes being lonely having to keep a large part of himself under wraps to prevent people from thinking he's crazy, he's mentally healthy. He's also generally smart enough to get himself out of trouble when he can't avoid getting into it in the first place. You don't get the sense that this is a boy headed for tragedy, and that gives the series a more relaxing tone than some others of it's kind.

As for the Yokai themselves, they vary greatly, making each story interesting to read. They vary between the mundane and fantastic, innocuous and menacing, humorous and poignant.

My initial impression is that this series will be a very pleasant read.
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Location: Bronx, NY USA

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