Natsume's Book of Friends is a shojo manga series that was first released in 2005, and which then spawned a 74-episode anime that ran from 2008-2017. Upon its premiere, the series garnered a fanbase not just in Japan but abroad, and it has become beloved for its affable take on Japanese folklore and its fun characters.
As popular as it is, there are anime fans who have neither seen nor heard of this series and may feel a bit daunted about where to start or even find it. No need to worry -- here's a simple guide that will help potential readers and viewers to join Natsume on his journey to understand the spirit world.
The Plot of Natsume's Book of Friends
Natsume Takashi has been able to see spirits his entire life -- a power that has been passed on to him from his late grandmother Reiko. This ability has led to a lonely childhood because most of his peers have always viewed him as strange. Everything changes when Natsume discovers her Book of Friends, inside of which is a myriad of names of spirits that Reiko had beaten into submission.
The Book of Friends is a special item in the spirit world, and many spirits, both good and bad, follow Natsume because of it. He spends a lot of time getting rid of the contracts that his grandmother placed upon the spirits within the book. While many of these spirits are kind-hearted, the malicious ones try to kill Natsume to obtain the Book of Friends for themselves. However, Natsume has the help of a powerful cat-like yokai named Madara to protect him and teach him spells. Although Madara also claims to want the Book of Friends for himself, the two of them begin to form a close bond.
Where to Read the Natsume's Book of Friends Manga
The Natsume's Book of Friends manga is still being published, and for Western readers who have not yet read any of it, there's a lot of catching up to do! In the English-speaking world, 26 volumes are currently available via Viz Media through their Shojo Beat lineup. Each of the volumes of the manga can be purchased through Right Stuf Anime for $7.99 apiece. Readers who prefer digital copies can find all 26 books via Kindle for $6.49 each.
Where to Watch the Natsume's Book of Friends Anime
All 74 episodes of Natsume's Book of Friends are available for streaming on Funimation, along with the second film, Natsume's Book of Friends: The Waking Rock and the Strange Visitor. Funimation released the movie as a two-episode OVA. For those who don't have a Funimation account, the series can also be streamed on Crunchyroll, and as a bonus for fans, the four-episode OVA series is also available for their viewing pleasure.
Natsume's Book of Friends is a charming fantasy filled with magic, monsters and touching messages about friendship. The adventures of Natsume and his trusty spirit companion Madara will enthrall new and old fans alike, and now is the perfect time for people to crack open the book and join Natsume and his friends as they explore the spirit world.