By Leroy Douresseaux
Jul 28, 2011 - 13:55
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Takashi Natsume can see what most people cannot – the spirits and demons called “yokai.” This ability has been a curse, setting Takashi, an orphan, apart from other people. Always having difficulty fitting in, Takashi is now a troubled high school student, but he has finally found a stable home with a kind couple who are distant relatives, the Fujiwaras. There, he learns that he has inherited two things from his mysterious grandmother, Reiko Natsume: the Sight and her “Book of Friends.”
As Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 8 begins, Takashi has recently discovered the harsh nature of humans and yokai alike. Now, he must learn to trust his friends more, including his newest friend, Tanuma, a boy who can sense when yokai are nearby. They’ll need to trust each other after a yokai, looking for the pieces of a valuable object, possesses Tanuma. Later, in this volume, we learn the story of how Takashi came to live with Aunt Tôko and Uncle Shigeru Fujiwara.
THE LOWDOWN: I have gradually become a big fan of Natsume’s Book of Friends. Published by VIZ Media, this manga would fit right in at Vertigo, the DC Comics’ imprint which focuses on adult oriented fantasy and crime comics. Creator Yuki Midorikawa’s airy compositions, which are similar to the work of Charles Vess, are perfect for this lovely fantasy series that emphasizes character drama as much as it does strange creatures and magic. Dark and sometimes downbeat, it is really a celebration of life and a testament to what the comics medium can do in terms of storytelling.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of Japanese folklore and also yokai manga will like Natsume’s Book of Friends.