Manga Review: Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume One

Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 1 is a manga with the story and art by Yuki Midorikawa. Viz Media holds the North American rights to distribute the manga in the United States, and this manga volume was published in 2010. This English adaptation, which is presented as an “unflipped” release, was translated and adapted by Lillian Olsen. Natsume’s Book of Friends is rated “T” for Teen.

Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 1
Written by: Yuki Midorikawa
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: January 5, 2010

Takashi Natsume has an ability to see and communicate with demons. At the beginning of the manga, he moves to a small town where his late grandmother had lived, and he inherits an old book of hers. It turns out Takashi’s grandmother also had the ability to see and communicate with demons, and used her spiritual powers to battle the demons and enslave them by writing their names in her book. Takashi learns the secret of the book after accidentally freeing a demon named Nyanko who was being imprisoned at a shrine; Nyanko is sealed in a form of a ceramic “lucky cat.” Nyanko wants the Book of Friends for himself, but Takashi wants to free the demons from their bondage. Nyanko agrees to help, only if he gets the book if Takashi dies. Takashi works at releasing the demons as they come to him to try and reclaim their names. Over the course of this volume, Takashi makes friends with and frees some demons, and also meets a boy his age who can also sense demons.

Looking at the art in this volume, it’s obvious that Natsume’s Book of Friends is being aimed at a shojo audience. This is especially evident in the character design for Takashi; he has a more “feminine” look to him that tends to be used for lead male characters in shojo titles. For a character like Takashi, though, this design really works. Midorikawa also has an ability for designing the demons that appear in the manga; they don’t look overly frightening, but they don’t look too “cutesy,” either. Midorikawa also knows how to effectively use various effects in the art to convey what is intended, and does not overuse these effects. The layout of the manga is also done in a way that makes it easy to read and follow.

Overall, I thought that Natsume’s Book of Friends has a very interesting presence, and it seems like it has a lot of potential for future volumes in the series. I would definitely like to try and track down more volumes of this series to see if this potential is realized or not.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of this manga volume that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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