Monday, April 30, 2012

Anime Review: Nastume Yuujinchou Shi

Apologies that some of my recent reviews have been a bit on the shorter side, I've finally hit exam time so I've been juggling a bit more work than normal and haven't quite had the energy to make as detailed posts. That aside, I suspect that even if I had more energy this particular post would still be on the shorter side since I've already talked about the first three seasons and hate to repeat myself which leaves me with a bit less to say here.

Natsume Yuujinchou Shi

Summary: Takashi Natsume is a high schooler with the ability to see yokai (spirits) and possesses other immense spiritual talents, inherited from his maternal grandmother Reiko Natsume. While this used to bother him and cause all kinds of trouble he has since gotten used to it and now enjoys the company of a number of yokai, people with talents like him and the ordinary people in his life.

The Good: The series has slowly become more and more ambitious and wastes no time getting into the thick of things with a two parter opener and the series first three episode arc rounding off the series. In general I prefer the more plot heavy, multi-episode stories and enjoyed all four of those arcs quite well and was even happier to see that one of those arcs and a stand alone episode both focused heavily on Natsume's past (and even happier one dealt with his parents a bit, it's about time we heard something about his family!). Even the one obligatory anime original episode (featuring a very odd choice this time, the backstory of another exorcist who has appeared a few times) was well done this time and I don't think there was a single episode I didn't enjoy.

The Bad: I have come to the conclusion that it is for the best not to think of this series as a show with four, distinct seasons but rather a show with 52 (!!! never thought we would have so many) episodes. While I liked the two parter that opened the season it just wasn't the right episode to open with and we're starting to have a problem where side characters will appear often one season but barely at all the next which feels a bit odd. Also, again this is given my preference for the more plot heavy arcs (and this is a problem carried over from the manga) I do wish the series would finally give us more information about Natsume's family. This season does clear up a few things about his parents (and Matoba dropped an interesting hint about Natsume's mother) but I think nearly every fan wants to know by now just what happened to Reiko.

The Audio: This is one of the few series where I consider the music to be more important than the visuals, possibly because the original manga is a bit sparse in design, and the music here continues to hit all the right notes and add to what are already emotional scenes. The voice acting continued to work just fine and while I didn't like the opening and ending songs as much as I did the ones for the third season they worked fine here (and as a bonus I did enjoy the ending song from the start, unlike the first two seasons where both of them took a while to grow on me).

The Visuals: Like the third season it seems like the fourth season had a bit more budget, the lines look cleaner, the colors bolder, and there are some nicely animated scenes throughout. I've always thought that while the character designs aren't necessarily plain some of their outfit choices were (I cosplay, I look for these things!) but this season introduced some more elaborate outfits (which caused the fanart community to go nuts) and it was nice to have a bit more visual flair in the series.

So far there aren't any plans for a fifth and sixth seasons (geeze guys, calm down! The show has always been split cour, which requires six volumes of manga and the 13th volume just came out as the fourth season started) but I do hope the show continues since I would love it to continue all the way to the end (and for the series to end in a conclusive fashion someday but I might be in the minority there). All four seasons are streaming for free on crunchyroll for a variety of countries and NISA has announced that all four seasons have been licensed for a US release, more information coming hopefully soon.