Natsume continues to be as sweet as usual. In the first chapter, Natsume gets turned into a child by a Youki he helped (the Youki really was trying to thank our hero!) and Nyanko-sensei along with Tanuma and Taki have to deal with the consequences. It helps us see how far Natsume has come by seeing how he used to be. In the next chapter, Natsume goes on a class trip, and he must figure out the mystery of a Youki at the place they are staying at, which is connected to four masks, the fourth one which only Natsume can see… In the following chapter, Natsume and Natori end up investigating the same house, whose owner is a normal person being haunted by Youkai. It is good to see how their relationship is now that Natsume has confessed the existence of The Book of Friends. Finally, we end with a chapter where Natsume decides to build a new, little flower garden for Touko, but some Youki interfere. Included are the usual notes from Midorikawa about life in the middle of each chapter, and notes on each chapter at the end. All in all, another wonderful volume.
The Great Passage or Fune no Amu is an anime which aired last year and which is amazing. It follows introverted and socially awkward Majime as he becomes involved in the creation of a new dictionary and the people who become involved in his life as he learns to express himself. Doesn’t sound exciting? Well, it isn’t – if what you are looking for is an action-adventure. This is a slow slice-of-life that focuses on characters and the words that come to link them together. Making a dictionary is a very involved lengthy process. These people spend at least thirteen-years making this dictionary. Talk about dedication! Most of the time focuses on the first year or so when Majime first joins the dictionary team. The last few episodes focus on the last year or so, when the dictionary is finally finished. There are a number of memorable characters. There is Nishioka, who is loud and confident, easily connecting with people. There is the beautiful Kaguya who catches Majime’s eye sufficiently to fight against his own reserved nature. There is the gruff Araki, the former editor of the dictionary who now can only work part time, and the grandfatherly Matsumoto-sensei who is a language professor assisting the project. Admittedly, this may not be the type of story to attract everyone’s interest. As a Tolkien fan, knowing that he spent over a year working on the Oxford English Dictionary, of course I had to watch this series. If you enjoy character focused, slice-of-life stories that are grown-up then The Great Passage is well looking into.
Ah, it is so wonderful to have Natsume back as an anime again. It may have been 2012 since the last one aired, and a side by side comparison may reveal differences, but from this distance at least I see no changes.
This season we see how much Natsume has matured. He is willing to start confiding in people about his yokai troubles – Tanuma and Natori in particular. Taki and Matoba are also back. One of the sweetest episodes shows Natsume from Touko’s perspective and also from her perspective how he came to live with her and Shigeru. We have brought up not only Reiko (so many conflicting stories!) but an idea that hadn’t been addressed yet. Reiko is Natsume’s grandmother, so she must have had a child. So who then is Natsume’s grandfather? Oh, and there are plenty of Yokai around, both old friends and new, to wonderfully complicate Natsume’s life.
By the end, Natsume has concluded that as difficult as separating his two worlds sometimes is, he doesn’t really want to go back to being a lonely loner.
The only questionable note is the fact that they showed the Nyanko-sensei special. It felt not a part of the season and rather odd and not a very strong story, though in its defense from what I understand that wasn’t its original purpose.
The best part – they have already announced season 6 for some time next year. More Natsume is always a good thing in my book:)
Quick note: I meant to publish this some time ago, but apparently I never did. Here is my review of Sailor Moon Crystal season 3.
What to say about this season? First, a disclaimer. In the manga, this is the story arc that may be my favorite. It is tied with the Dead Moon Circus story arc for that position. Also, while I have seen the sub of Sailor Moon S, I have never seen the dub version.
Animation wise, this season is vastly improved, especially the CGI. It may not be perfect, but compared to the first two seasons it only took me out of the story once or twice overall as opposed to all the time.
Story wise, it again sticks close to the manga, which is both it’s strength and weakness. In the earlier sailor moon adaptation, was the story drawn out a little too much? Arguably yes. And yet, it sure gave lots of time to fun Sailor Scout interaction and development. On the other hand, I found Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune’s story more subtly done in the Crystal version as they didn’t have as much time to angst over the situation they found themselves in.
If your introduction to Sailor Moon was the earlier seasons of Sailor Moon Crystal and you enjoyed them, you will probably love this season. If you enjoy the manga, this season is also worth checking out. Is this season better than Sailor Moon S, the original anime? That one is harder to say. If you like more character interaction, Sailor Moon S is probably the way to go. If you want a more streamlined story, however, this is an enjoyable version of the story.
Now here’s hoping we finally get a decent animated version of Sailor Moon Super S…
In this volume we are introduced to the monk Ik-Soo and his apprentice Yun. And it is well, since Ik-Soo knows about the legend of the dragons and Yona’s possible connection to them. I love Yun’s relationship with Ik-Soo. How the monk managed to survive before meeting Yun I don’t know. It is at this point that Yona starts making real decisions (beyond wanting to stay with Hak). She has actively decided to search for those connected with the dragons, and she has decided she is going to learn how to defend herself. Ik-Soo does know where the first dragon is, and so we meet the descendant of the White Dragon, Kija. I think he is glad of Yona’s arrival. He seems to have been a bit stifled by his village. All in all, an excellent volume.
In this manga, Yona and Hak arrive at the village of the Wind Tribe, Hak’s home. The Wind Tribe is quite welcoming, and Yona could make a life for herself here – if Soo-won would let them. To be fair to Soo-won, he actually would let Yona live her life there. It is some hot heads from the Fire Tribe that won’t. Hak leaves to draw them off, and Yona refuses to be left behind. Also, Yona has been told she might be able to get some direction from the High Priest, who apparently was dismissed years before from the capital. It is well Yona is showing a bit of spine, since of course they run into the Fire Tribe. We see Soo-won maneuvering to be made king of Kouka, and at this point you still have to feel for him. Assuming he is right about his uncle killing his father, he has every right to be upset. And I can’t say he is wrong about some of King Il’s pacifistic policies. It remains to be seen if he is truly the leader Kouka needs, or if it is Yona who will rise to the occasion.
Fans of the anime Yona of the Dawn were left with all four dragons found, but with much story left untold. Now we have a chance to get the complete story as the manga is being translated into English and sold by Viz as a Shoujo Beat title. Story wise, there is not much new. We get an introduction toa princess named Yona, her life, her relationship with her guard Hak and her cousin Soo-won and her father the king. Then we get the fateful day when the king is murdered by Soo-won and Hak flees with Yona. We see how Yona, Hak, and Soo-won were friends as children and how Hak became Yona’s chief protector. But personally I don’t mind the similarities. This is a very enjoyable way to receive the story, and the art work is beautiful. At this pace it won’t take too many volumes to pas the point where the anime ended. I look forward to it.