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Natsume's Book of Friends (夏目友人帳 Natsume Yuujinchou) is a Japanese fantasy manga series by Yuki Midorikawa. It began serialization by Hakusensha in the shoujo manga magazine LaLa DX in 2005, before switching to LaLa in 2008.
Chapters have been collected in nine bound volumes as of January 2010. The series is about Natsume, an orphaned teenage boy who can see spirits, who inherits from his grandmother the notebook she used to bind spirits under her control.
Natsume's Book of Friends has been adapted as a series of drama CDs, as well as an anime television series produced by Brain's Base, which was broadcast on TV Tokyo in two seasons in 2008 and 2009.
The manga is licensed for English-language release in North America by Viz Media, which released the first volume in January 2010. The third season began airing in July 2011. A fourth season, titled Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, was announced in the November 2011 issue of LaLa and is currently airing.
For as long as he can remember, Takashi Natsume has been cursed with the ability to see spirits, a power inherited from his grandmother Reiko Natsume, who was also able to see spirits. Upon her death, Reiko bequeathed to her grandson her Book of Friends, a book containing the names of spirits Reiko had bullied and forced into servitude.
The Book of Friends is a highly prized item in the spirit world, as the possession of it let's one control all whose name is within the book, leading to spirits haunting Takashi constantly. Whereas Reiko formed the contracts, however, Takashi spends his time dissolving the contracts and releasing the various spirits that come to him for help.
However that doesn't mean there aren't malicious spirits trying to kill him. Which is where Madara (called Nyanko-sensei by Natsume) comes in; Madara serves as Natsume's bodyguard and spiritual advisor of sorts, even though he is motivated by his own desire to possess the Book of Friends. He later on begins to become more attached to Takashi.
Midorikawa created Natsume's Book of Friends as an episodic serial for a manga magazine published every two months, so that each chapter was a story that could be read on its own.
As the result of earlier writing a ghost story that an editor made her revise to include more romance than she initially wanted, Midorikawa specifically created Natsume's Book of Friends as supernatural story with less romance, containing supernatural elements that stir readers' imaginations the way stories about youkai and local gods stirred hers while she was growing up in a rural area.
For the basic story, she wanted to write about a boy and his non-human teacher, and include the incongruous element of a the boy's grandmother in a school uniform. This was the first series Midorikawa wrote in which the protagonist was also the central character.
Midorikawa claimed that as a character Natsume is almost as bad as herself at expressing his thoughts, which caused her to use more interior monologue than she was comfortable with for a male character.
- Main article: Volumes and Chapters
Natsume's Book of Friends is written and illustrated by Yuki Midorikawa and published in Japan by Hakusensha. It began serialization in 2005 in the bimonthly shoujo (aimed at teenage girls) manga magazine LaLa DX; in 2008, serialization switched to the monthly sister magazine LaLa.
The chapters, all untitled, have been collected in twelve tankōbon volumes as of July 2011. The series is licensed in English in North America by Viz Media, with the first volume published in January 2010. It is also licensed in French by Delcourt, in South Korea by Haksan, in Taiwan by Tong Li, and in Thailand by Bongkoch Publishing.
- Main article: List of Episodes
Natsume's Book of Friends has been adapted as an anime television series produced by Brain's Base, directed by Takahiro Omori. It was broadcast on the TV Tokyo network in two seasons of 13 episodes each, the first from July 7 to September 29, 2008 and the second, called Zoku Natsume Yuujinchou (続 夏目友人帳, Natsume's Book of Friends Continued), from January 5 to March 30, 2009.
For the second season, the opening theme was "Ano Hi Time Machine" (あの日タイムマシン, "That Day's Time Machine") by Long Shot Party  and the ending theme was "Aishiteru" (愛してる, "I Love You") by Kourin (Also known as Callin'). Both seasons were released on five DVDs each.
A third season, titled Natsume Yuujinchou San (夏目友人帳 参, Natsume's Book of Friends Three) began airing on July 5, 2011. The opening theme is "Boku ni Dekiru Koto" (僕にできること, "I Can Do") by HOW MERRY MARRY and the ending theme is "Kimi no Kakera" (君ノカケラ, "Pieces of You") by Kousuke Atari featuring Emiri Miyamoto. After the third season came the fourth season, surprisingly announced in Lala magazine's November issue(which was release September 21st), which when the third season was still airing.
The fourth season, titled Natsume Yuujinchou Shi (夏目友人帳 肆, Natsume's Book of Friends Four) began airing January 2nd, 2012. The opening theme is "Ima, Kono Toki." (今、このとき。) by Hiiragi and the ending theme is "Takaramono" (たからもの) by Marina Kawano.
The fifth season, titled Natsume Yuujinchou Go (夏目友人帳 伍, Natsume's Book of Friends Five) began airing October 4th, 2016. The opening theme is "Takarabako" (タカラバコ) by Sasanomaly and the ending theme is "Akane Sasu" (茜さす) by Aimer.
The sixth season, titled Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (夏目友人帳 陸, Natsume's Book of Friends Six) will began airing in 2017.
Separate soundtrack albums for the first two seasons were released in Japan by Sony Music on September 24, 2008 and March 18, 2009, respectively. The series opening and closing theme songs were also released by Sony Music. As singles, "Issei no Sei" reached a peak rank of 48th on the Oricon singles chart, "Natsu Yuuzora" reached 27th, and "Ano Hi Time Machine" reached 38th. "Aishiteru" was not released as a single, but instead included on an album called "Uta no Hibi" by Kourin (Also known as Callin').
The series is licensed in English by Crunchyroll, which streams it online; episodes of the second season were available online on the day of broadcast. It is also licensed in Chinese by Muse Communication.
Since the fifth volume of the series, the individual volumes have made the bestseller list for manga in Japan. Volume 5 was ranked at number 8 on the charts for the week of March 4–10, 2008; Volume 6 was number 5 for the week of July 8–14, 2008; Volume 7 has done the best so far of the volumes, staying on the chart for two consecutive weeks (number 2 for the week of January 6–12, 2009 then falling to number 16 for the following week).   
The 18th volume, which recently got released, placed at 5th place  during the first week of September 2014, later rises up to 3rd  for the second week, then falls into 13th place  for the third week, finally placed on 35th for the fourth week.