An Ephemeral Tale: Natsume Yuujinchou Movie: Utsusemi ni Musubu
Warning: There might be spoilers ahead.
Natsume Yuujinchou Movie: Utsusemi ni Musubu picks up right after Natume Yuujinchou Roku (Sixth Season) continuing the story of the young and charming Natsume with his book of friends. The tale depicts Natsume, a young man who could see a side of the world that very few could see. He was often stayed away from back when he was a child due to his bizarre demeanor, screaming and panicking for no reasons. And he was moved from one family to another, one place to a distant place constantly as a result of the death of his parents, also, the fact that his strange behaviour deemed off putting by many others causes him much difficulties to make friends. Although at first he was hesitant, and terrified of the beings he sees, of many of those who were responsible for his eccentric comportment, Natsume’s attitude towards these beings from an unseen world – called ‘Ayakashi’ or Spirits in English – started to change gradually. Things look brighter when he a person whom many could not accept was greeted warmly by the Fujiwaras who chose to adopt him, started to see the world in a different manner. It was at the town of Hitoyoshi where things began to change. Natsume in the house of Fujiwara, stumbled upon his late grandmother’s belonging, a book which contains a list of names. And the fated encounter of Natsume with Madara or Nyanko-sensei, a mystical being who can transform into a cute chubby cat – whom I think is sort of a mascot for the series. However, do not let the appearance of this cute chubby cat fool you, as his actual appearance speaks of elegance and power, one that when is challenged will only have great repercussions when returned. Thus, the journey began between the two as we see Natsume grow and start to learn more about the world of both man and spirits.
The movie began with Natsume dreaming about the past on how he was treated which soon led him to a nearby town on an errand for Touko (his foster mother). Upon returning from the town with Madara one day, Natsume noticed a seed stuck right behind Madara’s hip area. Clueless, Natsume flicks the seed away only to land on the ground outside his house. The next morning, a huge tree grew from the ground bearing three fruits. Of which, Madara decided to eat as “it looks tasty”. Unknowingly, the next day, Madara woke up with an upset stomach. Growling in pain, rolling back and forth only to then transform into three mini Madaras. Worried, Natsume set out to find a way to turn Madara back to his old form.
The movie starts out slow at the beginning but only starts to pick up half-way through, probably to set up the second half of the movie where things became very interesting. I was worried that we may not be able to see interactions between Natsume and the other casts be it the spirits or his human friends, but my worry was for naught. As the movie gave ample screen time to almost every supporting characters there is from the series. Partly, because the series has spanned six seasons, and I was hoping to get more character development between the other casts. The development however is subtle. Nevertheless, sufficient to the plot and fits in with how the movie was intended to be. If too much development given to other core characters may have diluted the development with the other two new important characters from the movie. So, I am glad that, that did not happen. That said, we get to see more of Natsume Reiko’s past. Diving into her presence in the town of Gochoumachi. But, if you are expecting to see more revelation to Reiko’s character, you may be disappointed as Reiko serves more as a catalyst to the story rather than we get to see her side of the story unfold. The movie does however, asked a question this time to not just about Reiko, but also about Natsume’s grandfather whom for the past 6 seasons along with this one, we get almost zero information. Opening up speculation about who exactly he is. I am aware that some speculate that he may in fact be a Youkai (Demon) or an Ayakashi (Spirit). You do not have to worry having to re-watch the whole six seasons just to watch this movie, as there are some flashbacks to remind viewers certain key events that happened in the past. If this is your first time however, I do suggest to watch from Season 1 to have a more complete experience.
The animation is as usual consistent, and although it is not at all the level of Makoto Shinkai’s movies, it stays true to itself. The animation does not look at all half-bake. You will not see slide shows or too many still images the likes of some anime. When there is little action, the animation can be as smooth and as sleek. The colour palettes are accurate to the nature of the movie and the overall result is a beautiful work of art. There are lots of details in the character, the background and most images. The animation all in all is well done.
What carries the series may not just be the story, but I strongly believe that the voice cast has done an amazing job bringing out the characters charm and persona ever since season one. The same can be said for the movie. Natsume’s voice is as soothing and as captivating as ever, while Madara… is as Madara as ever. Soundtrack is great and befits the series as a whole. I especially enjoy the ending, a song by Uru called “remember”. The background music also paid a key role in adding to the overall ambience, creating a fluffy yet calming feeling to the movie.
Natsume Yuujinchou is one of the only few series that knows what it wants to be, and what it intends to be. It has been consistent in its delivery, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the movie as much as I have enjoyed the seasons before this. Never have I felt so much for the characters as I have for other Animes. In Natsume Yuujinchou, the characters grow on you, and you care for them. The series has been very successful in doing so. The show itself teaches one too see beyond what is in front of them and I absolutely love how the characters are portrayed, especially Natsume and his grandmother. Yuki Midorikawa (the author) is brilliant in creating characters that many would love, and I applaud her for her ability to create a tale that is so charming and mesmerizing. May Natsume Yuujinchou stay charming, and I look forward to many more episodes to come.
Verdict: An 8.5/10. After six seasons my complaint is that I was hoping to see more revelation concerning Natsume’s grandparents… but, my wish did not come to fruition as I think this has been dragged long enough. I hope more is revealed in the seasons to come.
If you are interested in Animes such as Natsume Yuujinchou be sure to check others such as 3-gatsu no Lion and Honey and Clover. Please note however, that this is a Slice of Life Anime, and if you are a more action oriented person, this movie or the series may not be for you. Though, I still recommend to give the series a try!