Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 12
3 journalers for this copy...
The first tale in this volume deals with a pair of human lovers who are parted when he leaves to take on family duties without giving her any notice. A yokai who's been watching their romance feels sorry for her and imitates her lover's voice in order to make her happy - but eventually runs away when she insists on seeing him and realizes what he's done. Years later he returns and finds a note she left - but the paper's falling apart and can't be read... and that's where Natsume comes in. Nice little tale with a touching conclusion.
From that sweet opening, things get darker: a "hag" yokai curses Natsume when he won't agree to help her find a "very dangerous" yokai that she's sought for a long time. He's saved from the worst of the attack by a little chipped cup that has become a yokai itself (the Japanese concept of inanimate objects taking on life if they last long enough), and eventually solves the hag's problem as well, but things look dicey there for a bit.
The next tale mixes some comedy in: a yokai traps Natsume in a jar, and Nyanko-sensei (his cat-guardian) takes on Natsume's form so his family and friends don't know he's been shrunk and captured. They need to find the one who did this in order to get the spell reversed, but that could be tricky: it seems Natsume's destined to be a gift to a powerful yokai. His friend Tanuma, who can hear yokai but not see them, figures out what's happening and offers to help, but this involves following Natsume's captor into a mass gathering of yokai, a very dangerous situation indeed!
Luckily, Natsume has other allies out there, and there's a lovely scene in which exorcist Natori urges Natsume to keep his friends close, even though he fears that knowing him will put them at risk from the yokai. How to balance all this? He doesn't know, but he's learning...
Books I have so far:
[There's an anime adaptation; I've watched some of it online (in Japanese, with English subtitles), and found it just as charming as the manga. Recommended!]
I think the first and last stories were my favorite out of this volume. The first one has a very classic fairy-tale/mythology-based feel to it, and I admit to being fond of the melancholy tone. The aspect I enjoyed in the last, multi-part story was getting to see Natsume interacting more with some folks who have similar abilities and his relationship with other humans. Contrasting his personality and behavior with his grandmother's sets up an interesting conflict.
I had volume 1 from the series, and now number 12. I will try to find the other volumes in between. It could take me some time though :-)
Thank you for sharing.