OWLS are flying again! How are you all enjoying the 2019 tours so far? They’re great but you wish they had just a bit more Natsume? I hear you, and because I love you guys so much, I got you covered!

2nd Monthly Topic: “Adore” In February, we will be exploring love and romance. The word selected is “adore” because it has two main connotations: to be loved and respected or to feel worshipped. We will analyze characters that give us a feeling of admiration and explain why we love those characters. We will also be exploring different forms of love (familial, friendship, and even self-love) and how those types of love influence our lives. Happy Valentine’s Day! Examples: Korean Dramas Ore Monogatari Kimi ni Todoke Love Songs

Aoi playing cool
please, we both know you want to read it!

It’s no secret that I am rather romantically challenged. Watching young people make themselves miserable over feeeeeeeelings, has never been that interesting to me. You know what is considerably less known about me. I am not single. I have been in a relationship for a good number of years, but it’s not a part of my life I’m use to sharing with those not directly involved. Point is, although I may not be a particularly romantic person, I am not opposed or immune to it.

I thought about taking the easy way out and talking about familial bonds or the general twisted love Yokai generally have for humans in the Natsume universe but heck – it’s almost Valentine’s day, let’s get sappy! Today, let’s look back at one of my favourite episodes as well as one of the most openly romantic entries in Natsume’s Book of Friends. Let’s talk about Aoi and Kaoru.

Aoi and Kaoru hug

Kaoru is a smart, spunky girl with an optimistic outlook and impressive determination. Aoi, is a serious and disciplined young yokai weighted down by family responsibility but longing to live on his own terms. They have been friends since they were both small children and through all these years, they were always there to bring exactly what the other needed.

Love stories between yokai and humans don’t end well. At the very best, one ages and dies while the other stays young forever and is left behind all alone. And the very best almost never happens. Most humans stop seeing yokai eventually, can you imagine the specific heartache of no longer existing in the same world as your beloved. Knowing them forever just out of reach. If that doesn’t get you, breakdowns in communication are pretty much inevitable, conflicts from the dawn of man plague the two species. Sure, it’s sweet to think love can conquer all but history has shown that to be unrealistic.

And Natsume’s Book of Friends never really ascribed to a particularly idealized version of love. Love demands sacrifice and compromise. It makes you weak in the sweetest way. It leads to pain, that’s just part of the deal. In Natsume’s universe, everything comes at a price, and something as great as love, comes at an appropriately great price.

sometimes it’s worth it

We meet Kaoru and Aoi in season 6 of the show, episode 71: A Day That Will Someday ComeThis is important. If we had met them before, things would surely had gone differently. In it’s first seasons, Natsume’s Book of Friends was careful not to slip into saccharine. Maybe a touch too careful.

When Aoi realized that he was starting to fall for Kaoru and that she might even return his feelings, he cut off their relationship entirely. Romances between yokai and humans do not end well. On top of that, Aoi has responsibilities, people are counting on him. A vibrant young lady like Kaoru could surely never lead a happy life by his side. She would be abandoning friends, family the possibility of children of her own (I think, I’m not entirely sure how that part works yet). It was a doomed relationship with nothing but downsides. The responsible thing was to nip it in the bud. And Aoi is responsible. He cares about people, he wants Kaoru to have a happy life. Don’t you love it when people try to save you against your will?

And in past season’s that would have been that. He would have watched her from a distance as she filled her life with friends and a family of her own. He would have looked over her children lovingly, making sure no harm came to them. Satisfied in the notion that e made the right choice. And she would have filled up her life with memories like he wanted her to. In time, the passion, the longing, the bitter sting of abandonment would transform and melt into something softer. She would think of him ever so often and smile. Maybe once in a while she would absentmindedly talk to him when no one else was in the room. It would be both happy and sad at the same time. The cautious thing to do.

But season 6 of Natsume did something unexpected. It threw caution to the wind. It dared to dream and hope like never before. That’s why this same story in season 6 became something very different. Kaoru dug her heels in and refused to let him go. Just plain wouldn’t allow it. She lied and tricked her way back into his life. She latched on to him with all her might and to heck with the consequences. She told him in no uncertain terms that she was willing to pay whatever price love had. How could anyone say no to that?

dude, calm down, it’s going to be o.k

It took 70 episodes for Natsume’s Book of Friends to let down it’s guard enough to allow a crazy impossible love story to seep in. And it was beautiful. Silly, optimistic. It felt like a sunny day and a warm smile. When we last see Aoi and Kaoru, they are about to start their journey together. They have no clear plans and no clue what lies ahead. And they’re in love.

The day after I watched this episode (a Wednesday) I got up at roughly 4 a.m. so I could make fresh backed cookies for my sweetheart’s lunch. It was silly I know. They would obviously be cold by lunchtime and we could easily afford to just go buy professionally fresh baked ones whenever we want to but I still wanted to do it. It made me happy for some reason.

Once in a while, it’s worth holding onto someone, even if it makes your arms hurt.

Also, don’t forget to catch up on OWLS posts Megan over at Nerd Rambles just posted about Corpse Bride and tomorrow you can read Jack’s OWLS post over on the Aniwriter.

Aoi and Kaoru

34 thoughts

  1. I see Natsume leaves a grand impression in all things!
    Great post Rin-san about an awesome series!
    (Going to start with this post because the reader refuses to load any before ones, sorry about not catching up fully 😅)

  2. Oh my god no… irina you have done it. convince me to watch this series now… I have been on the fence about Natsume book of friends for the longest time. I know how much you and Karandi love this series but this post was just beautiful, especially sharing a piece of yourself in it, i was not expecting you to reveal. I wish you all the happiness for your relationship for your future and this is probably my favourite post by you lately. Lita does read your stuff and others I may not like or comment at the moment. I’m trying to rectify this but I love your stuff and admire you as a blogger 🙂

    1. Lita is the sweetest blogger and whenever she’s around the world is a little sunnier.
      Admiration goes both ways – let me assure you!

  3. Asagao to Kase-san is a beautiful love story. It left me the happiest I’ve been from an anime for a long time. Silent Voice is another great one. Ditto Your Name.

  4. Like yourself, I don’t really talk much about myself. However, I will say this. Never been in a relationship, nor do I care to be in one. Bachelor for life is my motto. As for romance, not only am I immune to it, also bah humbug to it!.

    Anyway away from my miserable comment, a nice post for those that enjoy a special day they wish to cherish. Have a good one on that day Irina!.

  5. I really need to get around to watching this series. I hear almost nothing but good things about it, and there are so many good articles about different parts, including this one.

  6. I actually never realised how the show grew up with our boy in this way (I only noticed the show expanding its view along with him.) Great post, here. Thanks.

  7. For a one episode story and characters we didn’t know before and haven’t seen since, Aoi and Kaoru had a serious impact and you are absolutely right in that the ending of this story was incredibly different from expected. It really shows how far Natsume has come emotionally now that the possibility of love is even considered (even if it isn’t Natsume falling in love). Absolutely loved this episode and I really hope Aoi comes back in a future episode.

          1. I so need to read more of the manga. I’m getting through them as fast as I can. Of course, I’m at a point where I where normally I would re-read the series before progressing onward because small details start to escape, but I want to see what happens next. Curse this series. It is just too good.

          2. These shows sound really cool! Are any on Netflix? I can’t watch everything on my mother’s school computers…

  8. Everyone who is fortunate and open to it has a Great Love at least once in their lives. It doesn’t always work out. One hopes that some miracle will happen for Aoi and Kaoru. But if it doesn’t, it is still better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

      1. I’m going to try and see what videos of yours on Netflix I can find because they look REALLY cool, Irina. Are any Romances?

  9. That is so adorable, Irina 😁. You and your significant other must be the best people ever 🙂.

    Also, Kaoru and Aoi’s story was so incredibly touching. It was so obvious that they were meant for each other. 🙂

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