REVIEW: ‘Natsume’s Book of Friends,’ Volume 25

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Natume Volume 25

Natsume’s Book of Friends has reached its 100th chapter and 25th volume, a notable milestone. Natsume Volume 25 features a long-form story, one that mangaka Yuki Midorikawa says she has wanted to write since the series began. It is exciting to commemorate this long-running shojo manga series this way, and Midorikawa doesn’t disappoint readers more used to the short or two-part episodes. The story follows Natsume, a teenager who can see yokai. His abilities have led to social anxiety and isolation from his peers, but discovering a ‘Book of Friends’ that once belonged to his grandmother slowly changes that. Natsume’s Book of Friends is published in English by VIZ Media under the Shojo Beat imprint. This volume is translated and adapted by Lillian Olsen, and it features touch-up art and lettering by Sabrina Heep.

After discovering a mysterious piece of pottery that may have connections to Nyanko-sensei, Natsume travels to an old village where the ceramic originated. Soon, he encounters a mysterious man who traps him by putting a barrier over the town. Natori comes to his rescue with some unlikely aid: Matoba. It gives the entire volume a wonderful layer of suspense because while Natsume needs Matoba’s help, he also knows Matoba is dangerous and cannot find out about the Book of Friends.

Midorikawa states in an author’s note that she has planned this story arc for a long time, but Natsume Volume 25 was when she felt the characters were actually ready for it. That is something that has always worked well for this manga. Midorikawa puts such an emphasis on slow-burn character growth. It is genuinely a testament to her skill to see the growth Natsume has just through the small gestures he makes towards other characters. Natsume Volume 25 even shows Natsume making a choice that might be his biggest sign of trust to any of the characters yet, and its impact on the character in question shows.

Natsume Volume 25 spotlights Natsume and Nyanko-sensei’s relationship when Natsume thinks sensei might be in danger. While Natsume is pretty evident in his care for sensei (even when the yokai vexes him), Sensei is more subtle in his affections. It is clear to readers by this point that Sensei also cares for Natsume, but this volume has some of the more apparent signs. The two are trapped, and Sensei can’t hide his concern for Natsume under a “tsundere” demeanor.

The series always succeeds in having its eerie suspense accentuated by shading and scratchy lines on supernatural creatures. The tension comes from not knowing what is in the shadows or what creature the pair of eyes in the distance belongs to. Natsume’s Book of Friends is not a horror series per se, but its use of horror elements sells every unsettling moment. The series hits home because the supernatural has caused Natsume to have painfully relatable social anxiety, and it is how the horrors of real-life anxiety are so perfectly illustrated that makes it so memorable.

Natsume Volume 25 is a fantastic entry to commemorate a serialization milestone for Natsume’s Book of Friends. Readers are treated by Midorikawa to a story long in the making by her. Viewers will be consistently in suspense, watching Natsume and Nyanko-sensei have to team up with Natori and Matoba. The dynamic is phenomenal and accentuated by the mangaka’s eerie portrayal of the supernatural alongside everyday life. From fascinating characters to a thoughtful portrayal of anxiety in the manga, this is a series everyone should read.

Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 25 is available now wherever books are sold.

 

Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 25
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TL;DR

Natsume Volume 25 is a fantastic entry to commemorate a serialization milestone for Natsume’s Book of Friends. Readers are treated by Midorikawa to a story long in the making by her. Viewers will be consistently in suspense, watching Natsume and Nyanko-sensei have to team up with Natori and Matoba. The dynamic is phenomenal and accentuated by the mangaka’s eerie portrayal of the supernatural alongside everyday life. From fascinating characters to a thoughtful portrayal of anxiety in the manga, this is a series everyone should read.