Noragami Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon
Over the course of viewing anime, we’ve been led to believe that, whenever a god appears in one of these works, they will be powerful, noble beings, usually with a strong moral code. Noragami takes a somewhat different approach in that Yato, the main character and the titular stray god, is a lazy, greedy, and selfish person who is determined to claw his way to the top and become Japan’s most revered god. Sadly for him, he’s too much of a goofball to actually succeed. A loveable goofball, sure, but a goofball nonetheless.
|Ladies and gentlemen, our hero.|
Yato is so desperate to get his name out there that he takes any odd jobs he can get his hands on, from painting to hunting lost pets. During his hunt for a missing cat, he nearly gets run over by a lorry, but Hiyori Iki, a normal high-school girl, takes the hit for him (despite gods being invisible to most humans). This causes Hiyori’s soul to become separated from her body on occasion, and she decides to stick with Yato until he can fix it.
The core cast is rounded out by Yukine, the spirit of a dead boy who becomes Yato’s shinki (a spirit that can transform into a weapon in order to help gods exorcise demons). The three misfits thus have to stay together in order to accomplish their respective goals, whilst also defeating any demons or villains that they come across. Oh, and they need to stop themselves from beating each other up. It’s that sort of friendship.
The main cast of Noragami is easily its strongest point. They’re all incredibly lovable and instantly endear themselves to the audience. Well, except for Yukine, who enters an emo phase roughly a third of the way through the season. Thankfully, he doesn’t stay this way, and his experiences kickstart some major character development. Not just for him, but for Yato and Hiyori too. Each character develops in their own way, and they change so subtly throughout the series that, when you compare their actions at the start and end of the show, the contrast can be quite surprising.
The secondary characters are just as memorable. Kofuku – the god of poverty – is a bubbly, energetic girl who is joined by Daikoku – her carer/minder/guardian shinki who frequently has to keep her out of trouble. At the start of the show they mostly show up to give out some exposition, but they become more relevant to the plot as time goes on. Similarly, Bishamon (a god of war) initially shows up as an antagonist, but as she and Yato interact with each other their relationship goes from them physically attacking each other to them volleying insults at each other.
To be honest, the only characters that I didn’t really care for were the main villains. Nora is a shinki who has some sort of dark history with Yato, and it could be said that she serves as the main antagonist. But by the end of the series, we still barely know anything about her, including her background and motivations. Likewise, the ‘final boss’ of the series, Rabou, is a god of calamity who is determined to fight Yato to the death, but not only is he forgettable, his entire existence just screams ‘filler’. And since he’s the only character in the series to be created for the anime, that’s exactly the case.
The animation is very good, and the faces in particular are well done, especially because of how expressive they can be. The use of colour helps too, as each character is represented by a different colour (blue for Yato, etc), and certain scenes, like flashbacks, use this to its full extent. Even the opening animation uses this style, being mostly monochrome apart from each character’s signature colour. And on that note, the opening is awesome. The music, the animation…both are brilliant.
Noragami has one more major thing going for it – it is hilarious. The series could easily have been your standard shonen show with a lot of action and a few funny moments peppered in here and there, but there’s at least one moment in every episode that caused me to laugh out loud. Some of the expressions alone are funny, but the anime takes the relationships between the different characters and mines them for every bit of humour available.
There are also two OVAs, one that focuses on Hiyori’s first day in high school, and another that shows all the gods and shinki getting together to admire the cherry blossoms. Of course, this being the show it is, it doesn’t take long for chaos to unfold, whether it’s caused by Yato possessing Hiyori’s body or Yato getting drunk and snarking at Bishamon. The second OVA in particular is memorable for causing one of my favourite reaction shots in all of anime:
When I first watched Noragami, it was sub-only, as there was no dub at the time. However, the dub has since been released, but I haven’t actually watched it. As such, I can’t really recommend which version to go for, so it comes down to your personal preference. At the time of writing this review, a second season of Noragami has been announced as part of the Fall 2015 anime season. Since (I assume) it will follow the manga storyline, then it might negate my main grip with the show – the lacklustre villains.
Overall, Noragami is good. Really, really good. There are only 12 episodes (14 counting the OVAs), so it’s not a long series by any definition. But it’s packed with emotion, and the characters and humour make it one of the most entertaining anime shows that I’ve seen. As I’ve previously stated, the only problem with it is the underwhelming villains, and since there’s a good chance that that will be fixed in the next season, the only flaw pretty much becomes a moot point.
Good Things: The likeable, entertaining main trio.
Memorable and funny supporting cast.
Good animation (especially the expressions).
It’s very, very funny.
Bad Things: Underdeveloped villains.
Yukine’s emo stage.
Do you have a suggestion for an anime I should review? Let me know in the comments, or submit it to ask.fm/ClayDragon! Thanks to the anonymous ask.fm user who requested this review!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at firstname.lastname@example.org. He has an ask.fm account at ask.fm/ClayDragon. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. This review cost five yen to make.