Although I haven’t seen the sixth season yet, I watched the specials. Not like it matters much with Natsume’s Book of Friends, since the episodes are usually stand-alone stories.
As always I will spoil the anime, so be sure to watch it first! It’s only 46 minutes including OP and ED.
The Stump of the Ringing Tree
A hundreds-years-old ginkgo tree had been cut down in the neighboring town. Natsume and Nyanko-sensei meet the spirit of the tree while going to buy sweets. The spirit is soon to leave this world, but knows he’s forgetting a promise.
The old ginkgo tree recalls the times when processions to the shrine used to lead around it with all the music and lanterns. When the spirit was happy he would shake the tree and the rustling of the leaves would sound like thousands of little bells.
I love the imagery animated in this OVA—the enormous ginkgo tree with thousands of golden leaves.
Ginkgo trees in general have always fascinated me. Originating in China, they look so different from European trees. Especially the fan-like shape of the leaves, which change color from bright green to golden over the year. Japanese use the seeds in 茶碗蒸し [ちゃわんむし, chawanmushi].
A Fragment of a Phantasm
The second OVA is about a forest god leading a girl into an enchanted forest. This episode was a little less interesting to me, but it does build the world of youkai nicely. It shows that even muggles (excuse the interweaving of cultures) can enter the youkai forests. Though I would love a little more explanation.
Tamami saved a forest god in the form of an owl, who got tangled in a fishing line, removing his ring in the process. He came to her in a dream to lead her to his lair to return it. Natsume and Nyanko-sensei meet the girl wandering in the forest and, of course, butt in.
About the forest. Seems that when a human walks in, they won’t be able to leave. They might see youkai like Natsume. And if they ever leave, they are not allowed to keep any memories. It’s a youkai law.
Final thoughts: Both of the OVAs are great quality as is customary with Natsume’s Book of Friends. Both the stories and the animation are solid. I’d say 7/10?
(Yes, I’m writing while on vacation.
My husband is too sunburnt to go out, so we’re sitting inside.)