The blog that reviews all anime and the mangas

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Natsume Yuujinchou [ A gem of warmth ]

Simplicity, mixed with warmth, with a tint of darkness that surrounds creatures of the dark, yet, all is engulfed in a set of what we call mere mundane emotions.
Today we present you with Natsume Yuujinchou a heartwarming anime that touches on topics that appear simple at the first glance but have rather intricate and deeper meanings when inspected carefully. Natsume Yuujinchou is a mere high school boy who can see yokai.

Been there, done that. Not interested!” Those might be the first thoughts that cross your mind. 

Well trust me on this one, if you discard the anime from just reading my first lines, then you are letting go of one of the most simple, beautiful and moving anime you will ever lay your eyes upon.


So let me ask you this and I hope you answer me truthfully:
Have you ever been so tired  that you wanted to turn your laptop on and watch a simple heartwarming anime that is not too intricate with its plot to leave you with a headache like the BIG ANIME, yet has at the same time depth, heartwarming feeling, and character development that will not leave you agitated ?

Well, if “YES” is your answer then you can carry one reading. If “NO” is your answer then you can ALSO carry on reading :3 !

"Thank you... for not growing to hate humans."

        Plot: Natsume Yuujinchou is a very plain anime at first sight, that tells how one boy gets his hands on his late grandmother’s Book of Friends and releases a demon called Madara from his seal who later becomes his bodyguard only until Natsume dies; the latter promises to hand him The Book of Friends as a price.

The Book of Friends contains the name of yokai whom his grandmother defeated in the past which makes the demons indebted to Reiko and hence, Natsume the owner of the book.

So what is so amazing about this anime? The anime is 13 episodes (season 1) , which tells several encounters with major Yokai. Some are trying to find their names, yet others have ripped the veil that separates humans from yokai and are seeking to have their wishes granted.From love, to simply the desire of not being forgotten to various other themes that are simple, yet, humane in nature, the anime will tackle.

Although many might underestimate it, the loneliness, the beauty of friendship, the forbidden love between humans and Yokai, the depleting feeling of anger, sorrow, loss, and more importantly the feeling of isolation are only some of the themes weaved into such a so-called plain anime.

Who would have thought that someone can actually present Yokai in a very "human" and fragile nature? Apparently, the mangaka and the anime succeeded in doing that.

Other than Madara ( who sometimes takes the form of a cat ) and Natsume there are several characters whom we encounter as the episodes roll. I will refrain from delving into their pasts, fears, and simple desires. Yet, although some get only an episode to retell their story, the latter can be quite deep on several occasions leaving you speechless. One remarkable encounter (season one) is when deities lose all their followers. This makes you wonder what really happens to them as people stop believing.
    Natsume and Madra in different forms! [ Kawaii Neko-chan is sometimes called Nyanko-sensei :P ]

Editor’s side note: To be honest some episodes left me speechless, others left me jumping out of satisfaction, peace and warmth, yet, some were quite sad that made me tear up. YET, I assure you I did not cry. To me it was more moving than Clannad, Clannad After Story, or even Angel Beats. [ GO figure! In addition, the last three anime stated did not even move me :P ]

Remarkable, lovable, and very touching at times ! Check out the lyrics when you get some free time ~!

Final Comments: I love the anime, and season 2 and 3 are currently torrenting. The music leaves me speechless, the anime leaves me wanting and yearning, more like extending my hand into the characters' hearts and wanting a place between them, and by the end of the day I am left with the resonating warmth that the anime leaves behind. It is and will always be memorable and warm!

It is a 10 for me because it is such an undiscovered yet valuable gem to those who know that beauty is not something that is discovered by the eyes yet by the heart <3 !

Hakkenden Touhou Hakken Ibun

"Mystery mixed with a tint of darkness, add to it a childish flavor, then cover it with a glaze of pasts that go way back to the existing characters, and make the characters outperform their current selves, is the most vague description I could come up with for the anime."


                Ladies, if you are searching for an anime that will make you swoon and go head over heels over several characters then this is your ultimate call. YES, you may squeal, swoon, and drooling is also an option. There is no need to be shy, I myself did all that while watching the anime ( sis called me a creep but well shikata ga nai!). Gentlemen, if you are searching for an anime with some hot female characters, then you are LUCKY! This anime has lots of remarkable women in it.

                Now that I have your attention, let me introduce you to what I consider one of 2013’s best anime (aside from “Attack on Titan” which I have to see once I am done downloading it and Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi). “Hakkenden Touhou Hakken Ibun” also known as “The Eight Dogs of the East” is a great anime with lots of hot characters. 
           Yet, what makes me consider this anime an underrated anime which deserves more attention and admiration is NOT its hot characters, epic original soundtracks, but its well-formed and intricate plot. The factors mentioned above all contribute to this masterpiece, yet the corner-stone or the icing and glaze to this beautiful cake is the plot. 

~Let our little journey begin!~

     From left to right: Inukawa Sousuke, Inuta Kobungo, Inukai Genpachi, Inusaka Keno, Kokonoe.

1-      Plot:
Hakkenden Touhou Hakken Ibun starts with strong and appealing scene where our main characters (Inukawa Sousuke and Inuzuka Shino) are bloodied and at the brick of death. Our third character Hamaji enters crying over her friends’ bodies asking, yet, more like demanding not to be left behind.

Editor’s side note: To be honest, I downloaded the anime because the story looked nice and the characters looked hot, yet after watching the first scene I got hooked by the ears , if that is even possible.

Hamaji’s words spoken to Shino who appears in this picture somehow touched a deep part of my soul. I am not sure if it were her crying or simply desire not to be left behind (xD)

              Bloodied, Shino the main and most intriguing character states that just when he finally found a family of his own, everything was ripped away from him (referring to Sousuke, Hamaji, and the family dog Yoshiro). With everything burning to ash, a young and handsome man presents Shino with a katana offering him a choice: either to watch his life wither or accept to harbor a monster (Murasame the mysterious demon/deity/entity?) and gain immortality.

As a result, five years after the destruction of their village, we are presented with older Sousuke, Hamaji, and young Shino who have taken refuge in a church at a close village. Later, they receive a summoning letter from the Central Church. Shino meets again the young man of five years ago who states that Shino has to collect 8 mysterious beads and their respective owners.

Editor’s side note: By now you would be wondering what Murasame is. He is a living sword spirit that takes the form of a crow. I am not saying more about Murasame, but he is as cool as heck. He might be mistaken as a comic relief, but his existence and role are far more intricate and significant. 
     2- The bead holders:

             First the bead is a marble looking object that has one word written on it. There are 8 of these including Shino’s and Sousuke’s and apparently the holders’ pasts connect to an ancient period of time when demons and humans clashed. I shall refrain from revealing more concerning the bead holders to avoid any spoilers and will leave the viewer to connect the dots and find how 8 strangers cross paths in the present which have had already aligned way back in the past. On another note, all bead holders are male hotties with characters that make them quite memorable, pasts that vary ,yet have a tint of darkness, and desires that unfold as the story goes on.

3-    Characters:
             While listening to InuYasha’s “Sango To Miroku” original soundtrack I have decided to drop some of the characters in order not to ruin for you season one. Although that might leave you in the dark, including some characters will only render the plot regular and quite passive. Hence, I decided to allocate the characters in three categories: the bead holders, the four sacred Beast wielders/houses and others.

3.1 The bead holders: There are 8 bead holders with 5 common traits including the ownership of their respective beads. At this period of time, I will refrain from pointing out the points of similarity between all 8 characters ( Oh and being a “hottie with a cute body” is not one of those 5 traits although it should be :P ).

3.1.1 Shino Inuzuka: The first thing that took me aback was the voice. I remember screaming Natsuuuuuu ( Yes, Shino and Natsu from fairy tail have the same voice actor). Also, his olive-green eyes are quite intriguing. Although Shino looks like a 13 year old and occasionally acts like a brat, he is actually 18 years old stuck in the form of a 13 year old due to Murasame’s curse. You should keep in mind that in all cases of immortality, their is a price to be paid and in Shino's case it is quite expensive.

His character is that who cares for others especially Sousuke and Hamaji. Although harboring a “monster” within him, Shino appears to be close to Murasame which is evident through their quarrels over food and especially meat. He is also capable of utilizing Murasame’s katana form to both drive away and slay demons who tend to endanger those who the earlier cares about. Shino has a great fear that is the result of harboring Murasame, yet, I am not revealing that as it is nice to discover on your own. His character evolves from the bratty Shino you meet at the early episodes to quite an astounding shroud yet caring character who would go lengths to protect those he cares about.
Wait until you see Shino's OTHER form !

3.1.2 Sosuke Inukawa is a true gentleman with short hair and blue eyes. His sincerity was one of the great points at the beginning of the story. He looks out for Shino as both a brother and parent and would walk miles to guarantee his safety. Although both Shino and Sousuke barely survived the incident at their village, Sousuke as a result is able to shape shift into a dog form which is that of their old dog Yoshiro (why and how come is left for the viewer to uncover :3 ).
He is a mature character that has a dark past that haunts him starting season 1 and is more prominent during season2. I do not intend to spoil, yet there is a price for everything and I hope this anime does not get me crying at the end!

3.1.3 Genpachi Inukai is introduced in the second episode as a prisoner of some twisted monk shrine. He is the captain of the Imperial Military Police. No need to say more, as episode two revels more about Genpachi and Kobungo’s past, yet one thing to keep in mind is that those two are the demons of lightening and wind respectively. Genpachi shows romantic interest in Shino on several occasions when he mistakes him for a woman. Also, Genpachi’s past is quite sad, being a soldier, having his squad wiped out, among other reasons that remain to haunt him until the present time.

Editor’s side note: I always had a thing for anime characters in uniforms, and looking at Genpachi I can’t help but swoon. His character is one that is well mature; his sense of responsibility and gratitude are remarkable. I find him pretty smart, attractive, and dependable.

3.1.4 Kobungo Inuta is shown at the beginning of episode two to be searching for his brother “Genpachi” who has been missing for over a week. Although those two are not related by blood, Kobungo has served as a foot soldier under Genpachi’s command at some point in the past. Those two are close, and Kobungo is quite a character that clashes with Genpachi’s serious hot soldier attitude. The earlier is quite funny, hardworking, caring, and protective of Genpachi who was suicidal after some incident that concerns the Northern Village. ( NO more spoilers :P )

3.1.5 Keno Inusaka is a hottie that reminds me of Shi Ryuki from Saiunkoku Monogatari. The first time I laid my eyes on him I knew I was in love (AGAIN)! Keno is a dancer and performer. He, like all the bead holders has an interesting past of his own. It seems that Keno had his heart carved out of his chest when a man killed his family and stole everything he held dear. Although he lost his heart Keno did not die and was able to cut his enemy in the face which blinded his left eye. The latter character’s identity will leave your jaw open so I will leave that to the viewer to discover on his own. On a second note, although Keno looks like a girl ( he is cute enough to be mistaken for a woman), he is quite a swordsman, which is revealed when he and Shino clash swords. It was quite an intense scene if you ask me.

3.1.6 Dosetsu Inuyama : Shown in Season 2

3.1.7 Daikaku Inumura : Shown in Season 2 

3.1.8 @.@ ?

3.2 The Four Sacred Beast Houses/wielders:

I won't elaborate on those four, but one Rio, Kaname and Nachi are quite hot ( that put aside, they play some important role linking the 8 bead holders to their past specifically Satomi Rio). They are also the hosts chosen by 4sacred beasts that are considered equivalent to gods. I shall not ruin for you the sacred beats' names or nature :P Ohh Yatsufsa-san is kawaaiii and Kaede is WELL nyan nyan :3 :P 
3.2.1 Rio Satomi  ^_^
3.2.2 Kaname Osaki 
3.2.3 Ayane Mizuki         
3.2.4 Nachi Hinozuka

3.3 Others
Hamaji: She is Shino and Sousuke’s adoptive sister. She is kidnapped in episode one which forces Shino and Sousuke to answer the church's summoning.

4- Music:
An honest piece of advice, DO NOT skip the intro. The lyrics tell exactly the story from Shino and Sousuke’s perspective. I enjoyed listening to the short version as well as reading the lyrics while humming along. ( I try not to sing along since I have epic singing skills :/ )
On another note, the Original Soundtracks within the anime are quite interesting and memorable. The anime also includes some insert songs. Another piece of advice, do read them carefully and try to interpret them as they contain major spoilers. I would love to have you listen to the song sung by "umm the guardian" { let us keep it at this level of vagueness} but making you listen to it will ruin the nature of both Shino and Sousuke :3 ! 


Mystery mixed with a tint of darkness, add to it a childish flavor, then cover it with a glaze of pasts that go way back to the existing characters, and make the characters outperform their current selves, is the most vague description I could come up with for the anime. Yes, there is a good pinch of sadness, darkness and despair in the anime that will sometimes leave you heavy hearted or with an open jaw. ( episodes 10-12 from season 1 and episode 8 from season 2 were quite a shocker. In my case, Episode 8 left me speechless at 6am in the morning for around 3 minutes until the closing song finished. and trust me I couldn't sleep easily that morning! ).

Comments and Thoughts:
 - Always keep in mind that immortality has a price and for our young characters it is a HUGE price/debt that has to be paid.
- The bead holders share a past and this is related to the prologue that shows the Fusehime and the 8 warriors. Although both season one and 2 ( which is still ongoing ) does reveal much, I have a feeling it will be an epic showdown at the end of season 2.
- I enjoyed the characters' growth, the animation, the Osts, and the simplicity and perfection of the storyline.
- Remember what might look like random occurrences and meetings actually build the stage for the bigger plot that includes all characters.

All in all I would give season one an 8 to an 8.5 and season 2 a tentative 9 ( we still need to see how season two will resolve the plot as it is still ongoing). 

I rewatched season 1 with my brother while following up season 2 and made lots of conclusions after connecting both seasons. The anime has an essence of its own and a beauty that not many will admire if they do not keep an open mind.