Natsumeís Book of Friends, the anime version of the long-running manga series, tells the story of Natsume, a young boy who can see monsters, called Yokai. Natsumeís particular talent is something he inherited from his grandmother, the author of "The Book of Friends," an encyclopedia of Yokai. The book serves a double purpose. While it contains information on the Yokai, it also serves as a prison for any Yokai named in the book.
Season 3 follows the same general plotline as the previous two. Rather than keep the spirits bound to the book, he decides to set them free. He realizes the power of the book, but isnít interested in wielding that power. For him, it is only right that the spiritís names are returned to them. Some are drawn to Natsumeís kind-hearted nature, though others see this as a weakness and decide to relieve him of the book and its power.
I think what I like most about Natsumeís Book of Friendsís is its quiet, almost contemplative nature. The setup is ripe for over-the-top "anime-styled" action seen in other series, but Natsumeís Book of Friends offers a completely different take. Granted, the series is Ė at least in my opinion Ė one of the more "anime" of NIS Americaís current catalogue, but Natsumeís Book of Friends manages to find a good line and sticks to it without crossing over into something more boisterous and ridiculous (for that, I once again point you towards Ghastly Prince Enma.)
This may also be why the series didnít stick out in my mind as immediately as others. Natsumeís Book of Friends is a great series, but it may also be too quiet for its own good in some areas. Characters and character relationships are the heart of the series. Unfortunately, complex storylines almost always take a back seat to the quieter character-based moments.
I tend to go for character-based stories, but here they arenít always used as effectively as they could to drive the story forward. Not to say Natsumeís Book of Friends is a dull series or that nothing happens, it just doesnít go as far as it probably could. Of course, not going in certain directions does keep the series from becoming something it isnít, so some of the charm and more fascinating elements would probably disappear were others tossed in, so I canít entirely fault the series of sticking to what works for it.
Natsumeís Book of Friends Season 3 is another combo release, giving you both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the show. If you have the capability, obviously go with the Blu-ray version. There isnít a massive difference between the two, though the Blu-ray version has more "pop" to it. The downside is the lack of extras. Other than commercials, all you get is the clean opening and endings.
I do have to say Natsumeís Book of Friends Season 3 book is a bit of a disappointment. It is another top-quality, full-color book, but considering a book lies at the heart of the series, I expected the hardcover book to reflect the "Book of Friends." Instead of an encyclopedia of the Yokai featured in the series, the book offers recaps of all of the Season 3 episodes and a lot of character artwork.
Natsumeís Book of Friends Season 3 has its issues, but is still a fantastic series and worth adding to your collection.