|Great character development; Emotionally driven stories||Only 13 episodes; OP wasn't the best|
The fourth season of Natsume was exactly what everyone expected it to be, a really good series. It’s more difficult to try and find faults in this series in order to make it a balanced review. The series does nothing more or less than be itself and continue to develop Natsume’s character while telling some great stories at the same time. The series has always been great at telling stories that make you care and get emotional about what is going on. The fourth season was similar to the previous three, with the stories falling into a few different categories.
We had stories about Natsume’s past, stories where Natsume encountered random youkai, and ones that brought in familiar characters that got involved in Natsume’s latest situation. I thought the series brought a good balance between those three kinds of episodes. They even through a slightly different episode in that focused almost entirely on a side character’s past. There was quite a few two part episodes instead of the more common single episode stories. I like all of the story types really though I think some of the most fun ones are those where Natsume runs into an unusual youkai. Two episodes really focused on this type and were pretty touching since there isn’t that familiarity. You spend the episode understanding the youkai and in the end they usually leave and you feel sad to see them go.
This season once again helped to develop Natsume as a character and person. This season really made Natsume confront his feelings about getting other people involved in his problems and of course the issue of his parents. The episodes in his past shows why being able to let people in is so tough for him. It’s hard when he’s lived his life with no one believing in him to suddenly tell everyone what is going on. We’ve seen his ability to lie really start to vanish. But he’s also scared to have friends get involved when they can’t see what he does. Takuma and Taki both are familiar with youkai, but can’t actually protect themselves when in danger. If a friend got hurt or killed because of him Natsume would never be able to forgive himself. He’d be incredibly traumatized and fall into a belief that messing up would mean he’d have to leave that town. It’s a tough line for Natsume, but he needs those bonds to be himself.
His parents of course is a major issue in this season. They have pretty much not been mentioned before this point and the episode helps show exactly why that is. For someone who lost his parents when he was really young and lived with so many different relatives the question of a bond with his parents is something that’s interesting to think about.
Obviously the characters are the driving force for this series. While the series has youkai and spells it isn’t some super action series. The series is kind of unique in that you have a lot of characters who appear and then never show up again because their story was told. But there is a core of youkai and humans who appear at least once a season and have important relationships to Natsume. I really like the Fujiwara couple. They really are an important foundation for Natsume, they have given him a place he can always come home to and people who truly care about him. Probably the most important ‘person’ to him is Nyanko. More than just a bodyguard he is someone that lets Natsume be himself. Natsume has developed into someone who can’t turn his back on people or youkai who need help. That kind of person needs someone who can bail him out when he gets in over his head. Though even more than that Nyanko is someone who has the full picture of who Natsume is and is someone Natsume can trust completely.
This season was good to the characters of Takuma and Natori. Both are important to Natsume though in different ways. Takuma is the same age friend that understands the world that Natume is involved in. He has normal friends who are important to him, but Takuma knows about the youkai and wants to help him. Natori really is a kind of mentor figure though in a sense both have helped each other grow. Natsume has been key to Natori becoming more understanding towards youkai and wanting to avoid taking extreme measures to dealing with problems. Natori in turn can give his experiences to Natsume and show him that it is possible to live in the regular world and interact with youkai.
The visuals in the series are simple, but look good. They really make the youkai look nice and use nice visual effects for the ones that need it. I really do like the animation style and think they are pretty consistent with the character designs. Think for the style the series wants to use the visuals are done right. Will just say I like the design for Nyanko/Madara especially in his true form.
The music has always supported the series right and that continued in this season. Just think they have the right song for the scenes that are calm, serious, tense, and sad. A strength of the series is invoking emotion and the songs really help with that. It’s all instrumental and timed properly so you aren’t really thinking about the music, but the scene as a whole.
The OP wasn’t the strongest of the series, but it was fine. I thought it could have been a bit better and wasn’t quite to the level of the best that the seires has produced. But I still liked the song and listened to it each week.
The ED was definitely good enough and right with the quality that the series has shown with its ending music. Now I still think none have quite matched up with the first seasons ED, but that’s hardly a crime since it was great in my mind. The visuals for the ending was nice and simple snow scene with Natsume and Nyanko. Of course Natsume’s friends of all kinds appeared near the end and remind us that he isn’t alone.
The message I’d leave at the end of this is that people should give the Natsume series a chance. Like the other seasons this one touched on those themes of loneliness, friendship, and bittersweet relationships. This season brought up the question of memory and whether it’s better to remember something precious but painful or forget, but lose those precious memories. The series isn’t going to wow with action or major battles, but it will make you think and get emotionally invested. Whenever a fifth series happens I already know it’s going to be good since the last four seasons have proven that trend. Reviewing a fourth season can be tricky since so much has already been said. If people are interested in this then they should be watching all the seasons. I have to respect a series that will come out with 13 episodes, do them well, and come back later with more. Natsume Yuujinchou Shi is just another great addition to the Natsume series as a whole. Glad I got a chance to watch it and share my views in this review.
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