English: Natsume's Book of Friends Four
Synonyms: Natsume Yuujinchou Four, Natsume Yuujinchou 4, Natsume Yujincho 4
Japanese: 夏目友人帳 肆
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 3, 2012 to Mar 27, 2012
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: PG-13 - Teens 13 or olderL represents licensing company
Score: 8.811 (scored by 15535 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
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Jan 2, 2012
With an amazing Voice cast, wonderful soundtrack, and an awesome direction, the fourth installment of the series is even better animated, and with more interesting plot, since, although it keeps its episodic pace, it also focus more on Natsume´s life and friends than the previous ones, it continues what was left on the previous season.
Story: Following the line of the previous seasons, Natsume keeps helping the youkai and ayakashi, while he starts to open up his heart to his friends and family, always accompanied by Nyanko-sensei. Some other characters from other seasons return, too.
Art: It might not be the best art in anime, but its definitely unique, and you cannot imagine Natsume with other type of art, because this one is simple, colorful, soft one, its not detailed but its cute enough to become captivating.
Sound: Although in my opinion the previous soundtrack from the third season was better, this one is also wonderful. Not just the inserted melodies, but also the OP and ED, that leave you with a warm, relaxing happy feeling inside (or sad, depending on the perspective). The Voice actors do a splendid job in matching the characters personalities.
Character: The only thing that it remains unveiled until now and could be better explored is the story of Natsume´s grandmother, Reiko, but its not a plot hole and it doesn’t affect the main story yet. I expect more yet to come.
Enjoyment & Overall: a big 10, because this is outstanding. Even if this series gets labeled as overrated someday, I would say it’s actually still underrated. Because there is no score enough to express the enjoyment you have while watching it, it surpasses all expectations.
Mar 27, 2012
Natsume Yuujinchou Shi (lit. Natsume’s book of friends) is the fourth instalment adapting Yuki Midorikawa’s highly acclaimed manga series of the same name. The series was picked up in 2008 by the animation studio Brain’s Base and has run for three seasons, all of which received very high praise from fans and critics alike. Most of the story revolves around the protagonist, Natsume, and his interactions with the supernatural. However unlike the bulk of titles which use the supernatural as elements of horror or mystery, Natsume focuses on the personal stories of the youkai. Many of the youkai’s personal problems revolve around their interactions with other youkai and humans. Some of them have fallen in love with humans but are unable to convey their feelings while others have become withdrawn from life due to multiple hardships. While there’s plenty of variety in the different youkai’s stories, the most incredible feat is how they effortlessly relate back to Natsume’s own interpersonal issues of loneliness and alienation.
Part of the effectiveness of the series comes from the fact that all of the stories are told in a very simple, down-to-earth manner. By the end of each story, you’ll have this overarching feeling of a strong emotional connection with each of the characters. Even if a character has only appeared once, their personalities and backstories are fleshed out enough to make them equally as memorable and endearing as the main cast. Each of these stories presents a simple, yet very warm and comforting message which we can easily apply to our own everyday lives. And of course none of these messages are forced down our throats just for the sake of provoking an emotional response. Rather, it becomes very easy to see how they tie in with the personal stories of the characters. Of course this feat can be attributed back to the series’ excellent writing and pacing.
Now all of what I’ve said above can be applied to the series as a whole, but how does the most recent instalment of Natsume compare to everything else already on the table? By large, the first two seasons served as an introduction to the characters, setting and overall mood of the series. While many of the stories had a very powerful emotional impact on the viewer, it begged the question of whether the rest of the series would progress in such a fashion. Would we just be seeing short story after story until the series eventual finale? Thankfully the third season suspended our disbelief and focused a lot more on Natsume himself rather than just the youkai. We learned of many elements about Natsume’s past and got to see him express his personal fears and frustrations. Now with all that, how could a fourth season ever improve upon what was previously set?
The last season ended off on an excellent note where Natsume finally came to terms with living alongside both humans and youkai. With this season, a lot more of the focus is on Natsume and the possible decisions he could take in his life. The episode structure of this season is definitely a clear departure from the previous episodic format. Much of this season is told in short story arcs where Natsume and another character resolve an issue together. These arcs generally last two to three episodes and focus more on Natusme’s relationship with that specific character. But that isn’t to say this is necessarily a negative change for the franchise.
While undoubtedly, some of the emotional impact may be lost in favour of plot events, the series still maintains the same feel as previous instalments. Though at the same time, this season presents many interesting developments for many of the reoccurring characters such as Natori, Tanuma and the Matoba exorcists. And speaking of interesting, there’s never a dull moment so long as everyone’s favourite pig-cat, Nyanko-Sensei, is around. While most of the events revolving around Natsume’s past can be rather heavy to digest at times, there are always plenty of lighthearted moments to brighten the mood. The series has been very effective in seamlessly integrating comedic elements along with a strong emotional impact. And unlike the multitude of titles out there, the humour never feels forced or detracts from the overall mood that the series has worked so hard to set.
One of the best things about this season is that we can see how much Natsume’s presence has changed some of the people around him. Take the youkai exorcist Natori for example. When Natsume first met him, he was a person who wouldn’t think twice about using youkai as bait to accomplish his goals. Now that he’s spent some time around Natsume, his views on youkai have shifted ever so slightly to the point where he treats them almost as equals. A lot of the other reoccurring characters have also changed their perspectives regarding the humans and youkai respectively. The majority of shows in the current anime market seem to feel as though characters need to come to some sort of resolution almost instantaneously following a plot event. The problem with this approach is that realism is almost always sacrificed just to force development. With the characters in Natsume, each of them develops in such a natural fashion that they become more human as a result (and oddly enough, so do the non-human characters).
At the beginning of the series, Natsume wanted to avoid both humans and youkai because he felt he was unwanted by both. Through interacting with other humans and youkai, Natsume has opened himself up and is slowly realizing that there are kind individuals in the world, just as there are unfriendly ones. This season really excels at getting into a lot of Natsume’s own thoughts and feelings, and this is largely due to his very touching, heartfelt narration. With all the added development as well as small hints regarding his past, Natsume seems a lot more human than ever. And as a result, he becomes a very personable character that many people can easily hold close to their heart. Is it wrong for a guy to want to give him a hug?
On the other side of things, Nyanko-Sensei still retains his role as Natusme’s personal bodyguard. Despite his ultimate goal of wanting nothing more than the Book of Friends, Nyanko seems to have really warmed up to life with Natsume. This round, self-indulgent cat may act cold at times, but he’s really quite the tsundere (and he makes a much more likeable one than characters like Shana and Louise ever could). When he’s not stuffing his face full with manju buns or sake, he’s living life to the fullest alongside Natsume and providing snarky remarks along the way. I’ve really got to hand it to Nyanko, he’s a large part of what has made the series so enjoyable to watch all the way through.
Brain’s Base has always been a creative studio that loves to experiment with many different visual styles and music genres. The technical aspects of this season are already a step-up from the previous few with a greater emphasis on lighting and shading effects. Along with the lush, detailed-environments, the gentle mood of the series is conveyed nicely. The youkai designs are as always very refreshing to see as each one is different from the last. It really makes each one memorable in a sense, even if they’ve only appeared once or twice. The soundtrack in this season re-uses many of the same tracks from previous instalments and it shouldn't come as a surprise that they fit just as nicely as they did in the past. Thankfully, a number of new tracks were composed specifically for this season. Through a number of gentle classical and oriental tracks, the overall atmosphere of Natsume’s world slowly comes to life. Voice acting is once again excellent with Kamiya Hiroshi (Natsume) and Inoue Kazuhiko (Nyanko-Sensei) being the stars of the show. Both voice actors have transitioned very nicely into their respective roles and it shows here more than ever how they are able to breathe life into their characters.
Through our daily interactions in life, we may come to the realization that we need to change ourselves in order to move on. And while these changes may not exactly be instantaneous, it is only through others that we are able to find the strength to do so. Natsume Yuujinchou is one of the most successful series in the genre to drive-home this message while imprinting an ever-lasting emotional impact on the viewer. With a large cast of realistic and likeable characters, a well-written story of loneliness and alienation and a lovely setting, Natsume Yuujinchou is a series I would highly recommend to any fans of the slice of life or supernatural genre. People with an open mind that haven’t had the chance to check out this series should do so with the first season. Those that have been following Natsume’s adventures up until now will find themselves very pleased with the most recent instalment in the series. And with one of the most powerful and personable endings in recent years, here’s hoping that this won’t be the end of Natsume’s anime adventures. It’s not every day that you find a series which effectively blends so many genres together into a riveting, emotional roller-coaster. read more
Oct 14, 2012
I am a man of neutralness. I find both good and bad in all animes... all except this. For all 4 seasons, 50+ episodes, I cannot find a single fault with this anime. The story is exceptional... each episode withholds a magic of uniqueness. There's literally no telling where the particular episode will lead to (unless it is an continuation). And although the characters are introduced in a random order, they contribute to the main plot with equal importance.
The anime also includes a lot of elements. Romance, thriller, sometimes quite scary, and comedy. And let's be honest, this anime is portraying quite a touchy subject. None of the ghost animes are as carefree and as... laid back as this. Now some may argue this carefreeness causes the anime to be quite boring. But that's just not true. It's laid back because it can afford to. Like I said, it's jumping-around-plot keeps you just interested enough to watch, and keep watching, the next episode.
The music, I think, is an element which holds the whole together. Subtle, meaningful, and simply brilliant. It sticks the anime parts together like glue holding an paper aeroplane. Even by itself, the music is great.
Now, I always include some element of badness in my reviews.... but seriously, I can't think of any. As always, I thank thee (people/morons/geniuses [delete as appropriate]) for reading my review all the way here. And I am not ashamed of breaking my policy of neutralness :> read more
Jul 25, 2012
It's that kind of piece that breaks your heart into shards, and eventually bends it into something harder and more fragile at the same time.
It's that kind of series that leaves you smiling and crying hysterically to the melody of the ending.
Dec 13, 2012
Mar 27, 2012
This season was great for really seeing how far Natsume has grown throughout the series. While the first season mainly consisted of stories about the youkai he encountered, the later seasons focused more and more on the people in Natsume's life and Natsume himself. If Zoku was Natsume's connection to his grandmother, and San was the season where Natsume learned how to become closer to people and make friends, then this season is really about Natsume finally finding his place in the world with his friends and his family.
But it's not only Natsume who we really learn more about, in this season we learn exactly why Touko and Shigeru took him. Arguably one of the more emotional moments in the series is when we learn about Tanuma's anxieties and his uncertainty in how to support Natsume. I won't say too much because Natsume Yuujinchou is really all about the characters rather than action.
The sound design is beautiful as always. All the voice actors are fitting and they deliver their lines naturally and the background music is beautiful and serene and it follows in the style of the previous seasons with a blend of classical western instruments and classical Japanese ones.
My only argument with this particular season is that the animation varies from gorgeous to downright terrible. Sometimes the animation looks like it's skipping too many frames or it just looks lazy (think of it as if someone was standing in a wind storm and their hair moved up and down awkwardly but none of their clothes were moving, it just looks strange) but there will be other moment when the animation is great, but this only serves to highlight how bad the other parts looked. It's actually kind of disheartening when you remember Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou, where there's that one episode (ep. 10) that has phenomenal animation.
The drop in animation quality doesn't take too much away from the story, it just very distracting when it happens during an intense moment.
But, in the end I did think this was yet another really good season for Natsume Yuujinchou, and it is worth watching. read more
Dec 10, 2012
About the STORY
It’s a lot more dangerous this time as Natsume is getting more and more known in the spirit world as he gets involved more in their world. As it becomes more dangerous, the story becomes more exciting. The storyline is not so sad and gloomy anymore because Natsume is a lot happier now. And it’s nice that there are more funny moments now. There are more detailed revelations from Natsume’s sad past and some glimpse to the past of some characters. And as always, there are new very interesting and exciting stories about demons and spirits. Before, there’s an equal balance between sad and heart-warming when it comes to the drama but this time, it’s not so sad anymore and it’s more on being really touching. Though, it is really so sad to see some sad past of Natsume.
About the CHARACTERS
Nyanko-sensei is bigger than ever which is a given because in almost all of his airtime, he’s either eating or drinking liquors. And I think his fooling around more than doing his job as a bodyguard. He’s kind of useless oftentimes but it’s not really a bad thing because it makes Natsume more independent and able to protect himself. And he cares a lot about Natsume even though he denies it most of the times. He’s still the biggest source of comic relief in the series with all his obnoxiousness. And he really gets a lot cuter with every new season because he also gets a lot fatter. You can’t even see his paws. He’s really like a big fat ball of fur. Natsume’s major character development is very evident. You can really see he’s transition from being sad and gloomy to being happy and open to others. From the first season to the last season, Natsume wasn’t able to completely opened-up to people but now, he can finally rely and trust others, both humans and demons. He’s a lot more honest now as well. However, as he gains loved ones, it scares him because gaining some is always a weakness and strength. And as it becomes a lot more dangerous for him and his loved ones, he’s resolve to be involved and compassionate to demons and spirits is put to the test. Unlike before, it’s very obvious now that some of Natsume’s closest spirits, demons and human friends care deeply for him who really helped a lot with his maturity and growth.
About the ANIMATION
The gap between the previous season and this season is not that long so the improvements in the animation are not obviously evident but there is still maturity with it. And as always, there’s a nice song in the ending theme like all of its preceded seasons.
About the ENJOYMENT
I really love this series and that’s even more with its every new season. Its new seasons always lived up to the greatness of the last one. But like before, my only frustration with this series is that it’s always a 13-long episode. I still want more and I am hoping there are still new seasons coming because I will still patiently wait for it.
Mar 26, 2012
If you have watched Natume, is there not a reason to watch this?
As for those that have not stumbled on this great series, this is the fourth season and in order to fully appreciate it, then you need to watch the first three seasons!
Dec 11, 2012
is the good anime, i follow from season 1 - 4 (end)
only for 2 weeks, the episodes don't contain many sad event..
comedy more, but in Natsume Yuujinchou Shi Ep 13 last episodes.
the ending was soo nice.. a tears comes out when Natsume tell his stories
when he's still child. overall i give this anime by 7 point
May 13, 2013
Sep 8, 2012