Anime Review: Noragami Season 1

When I saw Icebreaker’s review of Noragami, I decided to put it on my watch list…let’s just say that there may be a lot of reviews soon for twelve episode anime πŸ˜…. I don’t spend my free time wisely. 

Fan art link: Noragami

Summary: In times of need, if you look in the right place, you just may see a strange telephone number scrawled in red. If you call this number, you will hear a young man introduce himself as the Yato God. Yato is a minor deity and a self-proclaimed “Delivery God,” who dreams of having millions of worshippers. Without a single shrine dedicated to his name, however, his goals are far from being realized. He spends his days doing odd jobs for five yen apiece, until his weapon partner becomes fed up with her useless master and deserts him. Just as things seem to be looking grim for the god, his fortune changes when a middle school girl, Hiyori Iki, supposedly saves Yato from a car accident, taking the hit for him. Remarkably, she survives, but the event has caused her soul to become loose and hence able to leave her body. Hiyori demands that Yato return her to normal, but upon learning that he needs a new partner to do so, reluctantly agrees to help him find one. And with Hiyori’s help, Yato’s luck may finally be turning around. Link: MAL

Story: 3.5/5: I’ve seen this sort of dynamic before, but it had fresh twists and turns that kept me interested. There were a few logic problems that were never cleared up (like how Hiyori was able to see Yato in the first place when no other human can), but they will hopefully be answered in the next season and/or the manga. Even though the story did have some clichΓ¨s in it, it was enjoyable, fun, and surprisingly touching. 

Characters: 4.5/5: I would’ve rated this higher, but I wanted some more development with the minor characters too, as they were just as interesting as the leads. However, the characters were my favorite part and made this anime much more memorable.  Yato, the “delivery god”  is one of the most interesting lead characters I’ve come across in a while; his character is slowly unraveled to show that yes, he may be silly, cheerful and optimistic, (sometimes overly so), but he does have a darker, serious side to him, as well as a…complicated past, to put it mildly. Without many supporters, he’s taken on many “wishes”  he’s not proud of. He’s an antihero that you may not agree with all the time, but is overall likable and interesting. Hiyori’s character is good, but needs work; unlike most “window” characters, she’s actually normal; bright, but not the smartest, cheerful, but can be serious, has unique interests (like martial arts), and reacts normally. She may be a damsel in distress sometimes, but it’s balanced out by the times she saves others. However, her role as the heart and window of the show gets muddled; she can come across as a side character rather than a lead character. Then there’s Yukine; Yato’s Regalia who can transform into a sword. He’s rather bratty and has no shortage of faults. His journey, to me at least, is a coming of age story; even if his struggle is mainly his anger at life after death, it has many similarities to coming of age stories: he messes up big time, he can be bratty and unsympathetic, makes dumb choices, and in the end, comes to realize how much pain he’s caused not only others, but himself. The supporting characters like Kofuku (goddess of poverty) and Daikoku (her Regalia) are fun and add more layers to the story, but then other characters like Bishamon (goddess of war) and Kazuma (her most trusted Regalia) I feel, deserve to be explored more, which I’ve heard happens in Aragoto, so yay! And Nora is an intriguing, rather eerie antagonist.

Animation: 4/5: The animation overall was good, there was just one thing that bugged me; the sequence in which Yato starts a fight with Yukine becoming the sword (Sekki) is recycled…a lot. It’s used way too much, sometimes even twice in one episode. Although it’s a nice piece of animation, I don’t want to see it every episode. But other than that, the animation is nice, crisp, and flows well. Especially in fight sequences! It never becomes murky or difficult to follow. The art can even have its own stunning, beautiful moments too, outside of fights. And can I just mention the eyes? Every character has such gorgeous eyes. 

Soundtrack: 3.5/5: The OST did a nice job of blending newer rhythms and older pieces of music to create a sound that sounds modern and fresh while having a distinctly mythical, oriental vibe. It’s very pretty and unique, but sometimes ends up simply blending into the background without standing out. There are exceptions, however, and some soundtrack pieces help influence and add tension to a scene while standing on its own. The opening track was really good and looked and sounded cool. The rock sound complements the anime, and the black and white visuals with splashes of color looked really different and unique.

World Building: 4.5/5: At only twelve episodes, Noragami did a good job at fleshing out its world and integrating mythology, rules and laws. It’s the first anime I’ve seen that includes a lot of Japanese mythology, and I found that aspect interesting to watch.

Pros:

  • A new take on the lead “trio“: One thing I particularly liked was Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine’s bond. They felt less like a group of friends and more like a family, particularly Yato towards Yukine. The sacrifices and pain he went through for Yukine is similar to the relationship between a parent and adopted child. And Hiyori is definitely the “mom friend” of the group. In just a short twelve episode span, it’s proven that the bond between these three is incredibly strong, unlike many other shows where it takes whole seasons to show that much.
  • Incorporating mythology: I haven’t really seen a lot of anime that incorporates mythology (does Spirited Away with its wide variety of spirits or Death Note with its Shinigami count?) so this was a first. I felt as if the culture added more layers to the story and characters, and added a fresh spin that I personally haven’t really seen before. I’m typically a little iffy on this sort of thing in fact, so maybe Noragami will inspire me to watch even more mythology based anime.
  • Complex lead: So many things I’ve read or watched recently have intriguing leads, but it’s the way Yato’s character is slowly revealed that makes him stand out. It doesn’t feel rushed or too slow, it feels natural. He feels very human despite being a god, and that helps his character a lot. Whether it be because of his mysterious backstory, his dedication to Yukine, his neediness when it comes to Hiyori, the contradiction of his status (he’s a god, but he’s homeless and literally charges 5 yen per wish), but he is one of the more complex and layered protagonists I’ve come across lately. 

Cons:

  • I don’t really have a title for this one, but…I feel like the way they portrayed suicide needed a lot of work. It may be that I really like psychology, but some stuff didn’t sit right with me. Like episode 3; Yato wanted to stop the suicides, but only because of the Regalia and how each of those souls didn’t want to die. He went on to explain that souls who committed suicide can’t become Regalia. To me, this is similar to the belief that people who commit suicide can’t go to heaven (and as I come from a religious family, I know there is nothing to suggest that). That line of thinking bugs me, as it removes any accountability. And episode 8 as a whole bothered me too, as it also removed accountability. 
  • The last three episodes: I’ve heard that the last three episodes are anime original content, and I hate to admit it, but it felt obvious. They were really just filler action episodes, easily skippable. All they did was add more intrigue towards Yato’s past, which wasn’t necessary, as we’ve already gotten a lot of interest due to Kofuku’s hints and Bishamon’s hatred towards him. They were just sub-par and made me lose some of the emotional investment I’d had till then.  But I heard that season 2 gets way better, thankfully.
  • Hiyori’s portrayal: She’s a good character, I will say that. I like how she isn’t the typical “normal” character who is supposed to act normal but just acts stupid. She’s more realistic than that. But for some reason, her character felt less like a lead and more like a side character, which isn’t good at all; she’s part of the main trio. Maybe this’ll be fixed in the second season or in the manga. But the thing is, I can’t explain WHY she feels like a supporting character, rather than she just does. 

Rating: : 3.5/5: I would’ve loved to give this a 4, but the last three episodes dropped the quality too much for me. But the characters, mythology, interesting layer of mystery, and positive reception ensure that I will check out Aragoto as soon as I can. Even though Noragami has had good reception, I feel as though it’s still under the radar. I hope this will change with time; despite its flaws, this was a fun, touching series with good animation and twists.  

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24 thoughts on “Anime Review: Noragami Season 1

  1. Great review! I remember after I first watched one episode, I decided, “This might not be for me.” And I dropped it. Then a few other anime shows later I wanted to get back into it. I’m glad I did, I ended up really liking the whole series and ended up reading the manga (not volume 18 though, I can’t find it at B&N yet). I agree with a lot on here. I really enjoyed the animation of Noragami, and also think that they used that line/action where Yukine becomes a sword a lot. (In the manga, Yukine’s portrayal comes out more harsh and arrogant than the anime. That was one reason I liked to credit the anime, because before, Yukine didn’t really have a reason to vent out all his anger. The manga explains it only a fragment, and doesn’t really delve any deeper. With the anime, Yukine is portrayed more like a person who’s lost everything, than a person out for revenge. [Ah! It’s so hard for me to explain! I think I’m saying that I appreciate the anime for bringing Yukine’s character more to life.]) Also Yato does feel more like the main character than Hiyori. I can’t remember the anime exactly, but in the manga Yato was introduced first (I think), leading the readers to assume he was the lead role. (My memory is just awful, I’m so sorry.) If you ever decide to watch the Aragoto, I hope you like it! (Who’s your favorite side character? Mine’s Kofuku, haha.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, at the first episode I thought, “eh, I dunno about this…” but kept going. I also want to read the manga super bad! (Along with many others, haha). I did love the animation for the most part, I just grew tired of the same recycled animation sequence after a while. Hmm, that’s an interesting point. Usually the manga does a better character study, but in this case, it seems to be the anime. Interesting! And that’s okay, I’ll have to see for myself.
      Wait, Hiyori is supposed to be he main character…πŸ˜₯I didn’t get that vibe at all. Huh. And yeah. Yato was introduced first in the anime! He just seems to be the MC to me. And I am definitely going to watch Aragoto! I also like Kofuku, she was funny. And Bishamon is just interesting.

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      1. I’m glad you kept going though! It’s still really fun to watch, and worth it, in my opinion. I hope you enjoy the manga! I just thought the anime did a better job at bringing his character out, but you can decide the rest. πŸ˜€ I didn’t get that vibe either, but I thought, because everything from the anime and the manga, seemed to have more of her first person point of view than Yato’s. But really, Yato is the main subject, so it’s complicated. And have fun watching the Aragoto! I have a lot of free time now too, I’m thinking of starting One-Punch Man (because I was half forced to). Kofuku is just so sprightly that she became my favorite. But I also really like Bishamon! You learn more about her in the manga, and she becomes a great person. πŸ™‚
        (I don’t know if that’s a spoiler, but I hope I didn’t spoil anything.)

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      2. Yeah, I hope I enjoy the manga too! And that makes sense; I’ll have to watch and read for myself. Ah, that makes sense. I guess she’s sort of a “window” character, or the “Watson” role; they may not seem to be the MC even though the story is told from their perspective. I’m really free right now too, and I’m not spending it well. πŸ˜‚ I’ve heard good things about One Punch Man, you’ll have to let me know how it is! Kofuku is really energetic and she’s a lot of fun. Her personality and Daikoku’s are so funny put together. And that’s cool to hear! And nah, that doesn’t count as a spoiler, I’ve heard it a lot, so it’s not.

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      3. I never referred to her as a Watson character, but I can envision it now. πŸ˜€ I’m not spending my time wisely either. I’m just reading a bunch of manga. πŸ˜‚ Hopefully my brain will find something useful to do. Also I’ll let you know how One-Punch Man goes! I plan to watch it after my hiatus. I love the interaction between Kofuku and Daikoku! Together they’re the most comedic duo on the show. And that’s good, I didn’t want to spoil anything! πŸ™‚

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      4. Yeah, what I meant by a Watson character is a “window” character; they represent the audience and are someone they can relate to in a story. Haha, no harm in that! My family just got a free 30 day thing for Hulu and let’s just say they have a ton of anime…like, a ton. Yep, Kofuku and Daikoku’s personalities just sort of bounce off each other and make them so much fun!

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      5. I get that now. πŸ˜€ And that’s so cool! I don’t have a Hulu account, but they have a lot of varieties on there! Have fun looking through all the anime! Sorry for such a late reply!

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  2. I think the whole Hiyori seeing Yato thing is because she does believe in him as a god, but people can see him, right? otherwise, he can’t do those odd jobs he does. I forgot, since it’s been a long time since I saw this. But Hiyori has always proven that she does believe in Yato, even being his only worshipper or something.

    I think the suicide thing is also a religious thing. I’m no expert, but most souls that died by suicide is considered tainted. You can just chalk it up to the world building of the show, since it is used to illustrate how different the world is in Hiyori’s new point of view. As for suicide itself, it is always a complicated matter.

    And I actually loved the last 3 episodes since it just focused on the trio and nothing else. Yato desperately wanting Hiyori back, the feeling of loneliness and desperation he’ll experience once again drives him to save the girl. It’s beautiful, but that’s just me. πŸ™‚

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    1. I meant even BEFORE she knew about him (when she “saved” him from the bus accident). Like, she was the only one to see him then without even knowing about him.
      And that makes sense, actually. Yeah, it probably is just the world building, I’m just saying that the thought process didn’t sit quite right with me. But suicide is always going to be complicated.
      Huh, I didn’t think about the last episodes in that way! I think I was too distracted by the, “this is filler AND a season finale” mentality too much to notice. They really did focus on character development. I’ll have to rewatch them after season 2 with this mind set, thank you. 😊

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      1. I remember the anime explaining that. or maybe not, I forgot. Isn’t there something about Hiyori having powers or something, since she is close to the world of Yato, long before she met him. Although, I do remember a subtle hint that she did believe in him long before they met. Or maybe I’m thinking of something else. :/
        The show is very character driven, so I think there was some cute payoff in the end. It was forced though, but made sense to some degree. πŸ™‚

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      2. I think it may be explained in Aragoto, because I don’t recall it being explained in season 1 whatsoever. I’ll have to watch more to find out!
        That’s true, I have to admit the characters were the best part of the series to me. It was a little forced at the end (part of why I don’t think the last three episodes clicked with me), so maybe if the season had been longer they would’ve been better (to me).

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  3. I was on the whole unimpressed with Noragami but what pushed me to dislike it was the way it handled suicide, bullying and even corporal punishment. None of it sat right with me and just turned me off for the whole thing.

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    1. I can see that. As I mentioned, I also didn’t like how they treated suicide, and I did mention episode 8; that episode also bothered me. Like, the solution was…really unrealistic and dangerous. Who knows, maybe it’s presented better in the manga. And I also read your article and found it better written and interesting than how I could’ve talked about those things. I still liked the show, but that was part of the reason I gave it a slightly lower rating than some.

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      1. Maybe it is. I don’t know how details about the manga though. And thank you. Your review is far more balanced though – it highlights both the good and bad of Noragami very well.

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  4. This one sounds so interesting! I love how there’s a trio without the slightest hint of romance (that’s so rare) and all the little nuances going on. Also the fact that it has mythology is a great plus.
    I hope Hiyori and all the other characters get more development in the future, but I’m definitely trying this one out.
    Amazing review, Kate, as always! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks! And, ah…the “slightest hint of romance…” should be taken with a grain of salt. πŸ˜… There’s sort of a…vibe? Hints? Of romance. But that’s part of why they seem like a family lol; at times, two characters are practically the parents, and the other their child lol πŸ˜‚. But yeah, I did like the mythology aspect much more than I expected!
      I also hope they get more development in the future (and who knows? Maybe it’s better in the manga). I hope you enjoy this! Let me know when you try it out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it’s not like that bothers me actually XD I like romance, if done well. I don’t care much when it’s cheesy and predictable. But I find that dynamic so adorable to be honest hahaha So I’m totally in!
        I’ll let you know for sure! Need someone to fangirl with, if that’s the case XD

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      2. Yeah, the romance is more subtle and underplayed than in mist stories, so I actually kinda like it. It could be interpreted as romantic or platonic, which ever way you take it, which I like. And the dynamic all three characters have is adorable!
        Cool, I can’t wait for you to start! We can fangirl together!

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