Welcome everybody, to another review! Today we will be covering the first season of Noragami, an anime I surprisingly enjoyed more than I thought I would. We will be covering the second season, Noragami Aragato, at a later date, but it will definitely be happening. As always, beware of minor SPOILERS!
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: Yato is a minor deity who lacks even a single shrine. In order to build his own shrine, he scrawls his cell number on the wall of a downtown bathroom telling people he will help them in exchange for a 5-yen offering, becoming a self-styled “delivery god.” Hiyori, the daughter of a respectable family, is almost killed in a traffic accident, but is rescued by Yato. This causes her to become a “hanyou,” a person who can easily lose her soul. She chases Yato down, and they begin to work together. Yato also finds a boy named Yukine who becomes a “sacred treasure” that can be used by a god. The three of them battle “Phantoms” who bring harm to humans as Yato’s hidden history is gradually revealed. -Anime News Network
Going into Noragami, I assumed it would feel like the multitude of other anime out there that are based around the Shinto pantheon. Turned out it was much better than the other similar premise anime I’d seen before. It had a strong focus during the story telling, especially between the arcs. However, the last arc in particular felt disjointed and forced from the rest of the anime. The anime also devoted excessive time to explaining everything that was happening, instead of letting viewers piece stuff together themselves. There were also heavy use of flashbacks, to the point where there were flashbacks to earlier points in the same episode. Noragami basically was baby stepping the viewer through the plot. The overall mix of comedy and serious moods were generally done well. While it is good to defuse a serious or dramatic mood with comic relief, it should be once the danger has passed. Noragami occasionally set the comedic moments in when the atmosphere should have remained tense, making the comedy feel out of place and cringe worthy.
The show is heavily character driven, and makes good use with strong characters. The main three are especially applaudable, possessing great depth as they all struggle with very human things. This makes them decently relatable. The side characters all served their purposes, with many of their motivations being explained. One issue that I found was that Noragami really tried to reinforce that the hero was Yato, though from a literary perspective this is not true. Much more time was spent with Hiyori and Yukine in developing them with Yato, who was a relatively static character throughout the series in terms of character growth. Occasionally, the characters seem to stray slightly from their established personalities as well.
Noragami takes full advantage of its animation by crafting atmosphere through the colors and backgrounds that action scenes take place in. The regular animation is great, and the contrast between the Phantoms and other characters was cleverly done with the Phantom’s somewhat translucent and brightly colored bodies.
A solid opening and closing prove that Noragami has a pretty decent soundtrack. A lot of the actual tracks, especially during fight scenes, contain a lot of vocals, which can detract from the actual action. Additionally, the soundtrack does fall a bit short in certain scenes, like aforementioned fight scenes.
Despite all the action, Noragami does tackle a lot of themes during its run. These mostly manifest themselves in the woes and worries of the characters. The themes can be divided between two categories: those concerning the present and one’s own existence, and those concerning the past. Yukine covers much of the former category. Much of his character is a result of his own concerns about loneliness and acceptance. He serves to represent themes of acceptance of the present. Yato also deals with themes of loneliness, but more in relation to fighting against being forgotten than lacking anyone to be with. Additionally, he is the classic archetype of a character who is also fighting against their past. The show also toys with the ideas of ethics, and about where they come from. Ethics are a central discussion in most worldviews and theology, and while the show seems to draw lines in where ethics come from, it does leave it open ended in some ways. I say this because even though the gods apparently are not bound by the ideas of right and wrong, they still seem to subscribe to them in some situations. Thus, Noragami makes excellent use of exploring themes through its many characters.
Final Score: 8.6/10
Final Grade: B
Noragami was an anime I really enjoyed. It is very much an anime about finding one’s self and coping with the past. The characters were really interesting and deep, and I like the concept of the gods a lot more than I thought I would. They interact in ways that are kind of out of character for what you would think of for gods, but it gives them a more relatable feel. It is also cool to see how they deal with the phantoms and how they defeat them. It can be a care free show, but it is not afraid to get dark. IT is also a good mix of comedy and action. Out of 10 I would give this anime a 9. I highly recommend you check this anime if you have not already done so. – B-Ro
Noragami was a bit of a mixed bag to me. There were definite elements I liked, but there were parts that I wasn’t as much a fan of. The premise was cooler than i thought it was on paper. Hiyori’s storyline specifically was extremely interesting. She was by far my favorite character. If you had made the show just about her learning to cope with her situation, then I would definitely be cool with it. However, i didn’t like Yato and Yukine as much. They weren’t bad characters, they just annoyed me at times. But once they developed more, I actually learned to like them. The supporting cast was a mixed bag for me, with some really cool characters and some who were not so much…. Then there’s the Ayakashi, which i thought were mostly cool. There was one moment where I was genuinely creeped out by an interaction with them, which was awesome! I do wish the show as a whole was darker and creepier though. That scene I mentioned and a few others showed that they were definitely capable of it (maybe get rid of some of the at times repetitive humor). The soundtrack was mostly good. I thought the opening and closing were good, and I really liked what they went for with the background music. There were a lot of really cool vocal and electronic elements in it, and they worked well. However, there were some tracks I wasn’t as much a fan of. It was kind of strange to hear battle music with auto tune that sounds like Eiffel 65’s “I’m Blue”… and I deeply apologize if that song is stuck in your head now… I was kind of on the fence about the whole show until the ending. The ending was really well done. By then I had learned to like the characters, and it all came together in a really cool way. So I somewhat take my first statement back. Noragami is a good show with some personal annoyances that ends up coming together quite well
Final Comments: While it does suffer from somewhat significant flaws in its storytelling style, Noragami easily redeems itself with complex and relatable character who each present deep themes to engage the viewers with.
Thank you for reading our review! What are your thoughts on the first season of Noragami? Be sure to let us know, we would love to hear your thoughts! And as always, we will be back next week with a review of Tanka-kun Is Always Listless, an anime from just this past season.