Natsume's Book of Friends Graphic Novel Volume 21 cover image
Rated “T” for “Teen”
Takashi Natsume can see the spirits and demons – the yokai – that hide from the rest of humanity. This ability has been a curse, and it has set Natsume apart from others. However, the orphaned teen finds a stable home with Tôko and Shigeru Fujiwara, a kindly couple who are distant relatives. He also has a companion in Nyanko-Sensei, a guardian yokai. Takashi learns that he has inherited two things from his mysterious grandmother, Reiko Natsume: “the Sight” and her “Book of Friends,” a tome in which Reiko wrote the names of yokai.
Natsume’s Book of Friends, Vol. 21 (Chapters 82 to 84) begins with Natsume helping a small yokai named “Mitsumi,” who is “the Alarm,” the one who must find and awaken the great “Iron Lord Rock.” Complicating that is Nyanko, who wants to find Iron Lord Rock and win the prize he will get for awakening him – some really great sake! Next, Natsume discovers that his friend Kitamoto may be cursed after visiting a mysterious used bookstore.
[This volume includes bonus manga, “Special Episode 17: 'A Hand Extended'” and an afterword from author Yuki Midorikawa.]
THE LOWDOWN: About once a year, I get a chance to read the Natsume’s Book of Friends manga. It is one of my all-time favorite manga and graphic novel series. It is always a joy to read.
Natsume’s Book of Friends Graphic Novel Volume 21 emphasizes Natsume's desire to help yokai. I think what makes both the lead character and the series so endearing is that the series lead seems to live by the philosophy, first do no harm. In this way, creator Yuki Midorikawa can explore the world of the yokai from the point of view both of the yokai and of Natsume, as well as of other human characters who sometimes take the lead (usually in a bonus story).
This is a good thing. Natsume's Book of Friends captures the magic and the humanity of the characters. There are no spectacular displays of magic, but there are spectacular displays of storytelling in this topnotch graphic novel series.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Readers looking for exceptional fantasy comic books will want to discover the Shojo Beat series, Natsume’s Book of Friends.