There are many animes in the universe of supernatural slice-of-life genre, but Natsume Yūjinchō is definitively one of the most unconventional ones. The struggle between young humans able to see spirits and yōkai is not new in the universe of anime, and still a series can be really innovative through the way the battle is perceived by the characters, the meaning they give to it. In the case of Natsume Takashi, the struggle against yōkai is first of all a battle against his own inner self. Loneliness and the search for a place to belong to is a phase every teenager goes through, but in a world in which teens grow together and experience life supporting each other, Natsume, that’s stacked on the line between life and death, has to fight alone and misjudged by those companions and family he tries so hard to be accepted by. Sharing the same destiny of his grandmother Reiko, Natsume is going to find his own way to deal with fate and life, guided by (and sometimes being the guide of) his mysterious and also his only friend, Nyanko-sensei.
Maybe, it’s because it is so easy to identify with Natsume’s role that this anime became one of the most popular of his genre, and if you liked the fresh and at times wistful atmosphere of this series, then you are in the right place to find 6 anime like Natsume Yujincho that will make you experience the same feeling.
Here are 6 anime similar to Natsume Yūjinchō:
Similar Anime to Natsume Yūjinchō.
1. Hotarubi no mori e (Into the Forest of Fireflies' Light)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: September 2011
Hotarubi no mori e is the story of a little girl, Hotaru Takegawa who, curious to investigate on the mountain god of a tale story she had heard about before, ends up losing herself in a mysterious forest. Unable to find her way to go back home, in the very moment she gives up and starts to cry in desperation, a masked boy suddenly appears before her. His name is Gin and he is a fascinating spirit of the forest. Gin offer the little girl his help, provided that she’ll never try to touch him, or he would disappear. Once out of the forest, he warns her to not come back anymore, but Hotaru breaks the promise every summer, making their relationship become something more than a simple friendship.
Conceived by the same author of Natsume Yūjinchō, Hotarubi no Mori e is the story of a simple girl who finds herself involved with the world of spirits. Just like Natsume, she has to go through the joy and hardness to be a human who can’t find her place in the reign of dead, but still that is incapable to live apart from it. Hotaru’s feelings for Gin are sweet and on the same time ephemeral, as Natsume’s friendship with the yōkai he wants to set free from the cage Reiko chained them into is.
So, if you liked Natsume Yūjinchō, a story about simple but fragile, bitter bonds, then you should definitely give Hotarubi no Mori e a try!
2. Mushishi (Mushi-shi)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 2005 – June 2006
In a world in which human race tries to peacefully co-exist with nature, there are hidden forces that inhabit another dimension and are able to interfere with humans’ slide of life. In Mushishi, these forces belong to insect-like creatures called Mushi, the nearest to the source of the existence, that are capable to change their appearance in all the forms existing in nature, such as plants and even diseases. Not much is known about these creatures, since only few people in the world are able to see them. These people are the Mushi-shi, experts of mushi, who investigate about their mysterious origin. Ginko, a man whose ocular orbit is strangely empty, is one of them. Asking himself what’s the meaning of life and mushi’s existence, he travels the world trying to answer the questions are tormenting him so much.
As in Natsume Yūjinchō, also in Mushishi the element of the solitary struggle between the main character inner self and the meaning of the existence of strange creatures which only they are capable to see can be found. Ginko is a tormented young man who is searching for responses, a lonely human that can’t share his fate with normal people, who are unaware of the ghosts and spirits which surround them. He’s alive but his fate dragged him into the world of dead he got mixed up in and can’t run away from.
Maybe the atmosphere of Mushishi is a little heavier than Natsume’s one, but you can’t lose this series if you like stories full of mystery, doubt and with a very meaningful plot.
3. Uchōten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2013 - September 2013
Uchōten Kazoku is one of those anime that can really surprise its audience, being very particular in his genre. This story is, yes, about spirits and troubles, but it’s told by an original point of view, because this time is a tanuki’s family to talk about their life in co-existence with human beings. The tanuki in Uchōten Kazoku are able to shift their shape and mimic any kind of creature in the world, but they like to use their ability to change in human beings in order to observe their lifestyle from a closer perspective. The main character Yasaburō Shimogamo, son of a well-known tanuki family that spend their life carefree and taking care of a tengu, is the most curious of the all the members of his family about human. In particular, he’ll find himself dealing with Benten, a mysterious and ambitious woman, he’d like to be similar to.
Uchōten Kazoku’s main character is what reminds of Natsume the most, in this anime. As the latter, Yasaburō suffers for being an outcast in a world full of cheerful tanuki. He doesn’t want to be mindless as the member of his family, but his blood force him to be the way he hates to be, making him a character divided between a nature he can’t get rid of and his desire to be human.
A cute story you need to watch if you like stories about doubt and questions like Natsume is.
Any Anime Like Natsume’s Book of Friends/ Any Anime Like Natsume Yūjinchō?
4. Gingitsune (Gingitsune: Messenger Fox of the Gods)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2013 – December 2013
This anime is a charming story about a young girl, Makoto Saeki, and her fate as the heiress of a strange power that had been transmitted from mother to daughter for generations, in her family. This power allows Makoto to be able to see and converse with a fox-like spirit called Gintarō, that is the protector of the Inari Shrine where her family works. Although their differences, Makoto and Gintarō will do the best they can to help the people they love and care about to solve their problems.
Despite Natsume, Makoto accepts her fate as a human being involved with the supernatural world, but just like him she’s the only one able to see and talk with a spirit and has to keep it a secret from others’, pretending to live a normal life. Her ability makes her a lonely heroine, who has no choice but to accept her burden and use her power to better herself and the people who are near to her.
With its enthusiastic and fresh atmosphere, covered in mystery, this funny and sweet shojo anime will get you as the most comical parts of Natsume did.
5. Fukigen na Mononokean (The Morose Mononokean)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: June 2016 - September 2016
Another anime that resembles Natsume Yūjinchō for his most carefree moments and simplicity is Fukigen na Mononokean, in which we find all the elements that made Natsume the masterpiece it is, such as cute, but still creepy spirits, school life, troubles and the struggle against persistent yōkai.
Fukigen na Mononokean follows the events of Ashiya, a poor young student targeted by a puppet-like yōkai, which drained his energy so much he is forced to spend the first week of classes in the infirmary. What scares Ashiya the most is that no one but him can see the spirit, so he ends up asking for the help of Abeno, a tea shop owner, who instead of exorcising the thing, helps Ashiya to make his view of yōkai’s world wider.
Fukigen’s main character Ashiya, like Natsume, feels touched by the yōkai’s past from the first episode and decide that, even if he doesn’t like them, he must do something to understand them, avoiding misjudging. And it can make possible this wistful atmosphere by using a combination of action, fun and moving stories, in which the hero gets involved into without even know why.
That makes Fukigen na Mononokean a piece that Natsume’s fan should never miss.
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2006 - September 2006
xxxHOLiC is the story of Kimihiro Watanabe, a student who’s able to see supernatural beings that he hates to death. One day, while haunted by a demon, he ends up in a strange building where he meets Yuuko, a mysterious and attractive woman. Being somehow aware of Watanabe’s desperate condition, she proposes him a deal: she will help him get rid of his power to connect with the otherworld if he helps her with her unconventional shop, that exists to grant people’s wishes.
Old but gold is exactly the best way to describe xxxHOLiC, an anime that no one who is fond for spirit and ghost stories should ignore. Not only because it’s by The Clamp and his concept and animation are terrific, but also because is a simple, but on the same time complex kind of story. Just like the spirits that inhabit Natsume’s world, xxxHOLiC ghosts show a vast range of emotions, that goes from sweetness to fear, from tenderness to cruelty. All of them has a traumatic past, that Watanabe is forced to be implicated with, despite his will. Accompanied by the strange Yūko, who can be, in a sense, comparable to Nyanko-sensei in her role of guide, Watanabe will act as the solitary hero of a world unaware of the existence of spirits.
You should try this anime if you want to revive the adventures of Natsume from a very eclectic and superb narrated point of view!
Struggle between your true self and what you’d like to be is what makes human humans. But to accept your true self and desires is not easy and can take a long time walking on a path paved with hardship and suffering. However, even if you’re alone, you’ll be able to shape your true self by accepting your defects and make them your best allies. This is what every fan of Natsume Yūjinchō learned travelling next Natsume and living his experiences. But if you feel like you need to know more about this struggle by different points of view, maybe this list can help you find these kind of new experiences in the world of self and spirits. Of course, feel free to say what you think or give your own suggestions in the comments!