Note: Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 3 is, of course, the sequel to Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 2. The review of Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 1 is here, and the review of Natsume's Book of Friends Volume 2 is here. Otherwise, read on!
Volume 3 starts out with a scare, and an impostor. In 'Sensei, How Do You Like Being Black?' Takashi is reading outside in a park when he's attacked by an aggressive yokai. Thankfully, Nyanko-sensei hitched a ride in his schoolbag, even if he isn't exactly a big help. But later, a yokai disguised as a black version of Nyanko-sensei runs off with the book, and Takashi has to put himself at risk to get it back. Will he be able to defend himself from the other yokai in the dark and get back the names of those who he is responsible for?
In 'Glowing in the Dark,' we get a romance story. Takashi meets a yokai in the form of a woman who seems to be taunting a young man laying by a pond. She is called Veyo, and the young man she was with used to be able to see her. They became close friends until one day...he simply could no longer see her. Will Takashi be able to reunite these friends?
'The Meeting of Exorcists' reintroduces Mr. Natori, who we first met in Volume 2. This time, the mystery hits closer to home than usual. After Mr. Natori finds Takashi, they follow a trail of yokai blood straight into Takashi's bedroom. There, they find one yokai eating another. It turns out that there's a bounty out on the murderous yokai, and Takashi is very interested in receiving it. Will a gathering of exorcists be enough to help stop this monster from killing the local yokai?
Finally, in 'A Chick Hatches,' a yokai tells Takashi and Nyanko-sensei about an egg that is almost ready to hatch outside his window. When Takashi brings it inside to hatch, he learns that the creature that will emerge is prized among yokai, for its blood is an elixir of youth. Will Takashi and Nyanko-sensei be able to protect the hatchling until it can take care if itself?
As in Volume 2, we get to see Takashi become more comfortable in his new home and school. After being shuttled from relative to relative for so long, it's understandable that he would become rather standoffish and keep to himself. Now, however, he's making friends and even garnering some attention from the girls at school. He's fitting in well at home as well, and his new guardians are doing all they can to make him feel like part of the family. Between the acceptance he now has, and the mission of returning the names to the local yokai, perhaps Takashi has a chance at something of a normal life here, after all.
Highs: Takashi and Mrs. Fujiwara sharing taiyaki like a normal mother and son.
Lows: It's a shame that Takashi couldn't find more compatriots at the meeting of exorcists.
Verdict: The recurring characters are slowly being more fleshed out, and Takashi is finding his place in the world, which makes this a very enjoyable read.
Further Reading: Dororo, The Earl and The Fairy