Anime Review

Noragami

Genre: Action, Adventure, Shounen, Supernatural

Released: 2014-2015

OVERVIEW

In Japanese religion, of Noragami of course, exists many gods, each are born to fulfill a purpose. Gods are born from the wishes of people and gods exist until they have fulfilled that purpose. Should a god die, if his/her purpose is eternally ongoing, the god will be reincarnated, although losing the memories of their previous lives, nevertheless keep the same appearance. A god who was once born through a wish that is no longer in demand, will die and will not be reincarnated. Naturally, some gods are more revered than others, in the hierarchy of gods, the goddess Amaterasu is the god of all gods, she rules the heavens. – This is all from the anime. It is not to be interpreted for actual Shinto or Japanese Buddism religion.

In the anime, a god’s power is shown through their regalias. A shinki or regalia, is the spirit of a person who has died and was turned into an accessory by a god. The god finds them, names them and the spirit then reveals its form. I use the term accessory generally, as the shinki can become clothing, swords, jewelry or basically anything their spirit will allow them to become. One regalia can only become one item, gods can have multiple regalias to satisfy various purposes. Gods are normally very close to their regalias, they form a team that resembles a family. During combat, the god calls their name and they turn into whatever they are supposed to turn into, and aid their deity in combat. The thoughts and feelings of the shinki are directly related to their masters, but not the other way around. If the regalia is sad or has negative emotions such as jealousy or hate, they will hurt their master and it will cause a blight. A blighted god becomes weak, and as the blight spreads, the god becomes much weaker. Commonly, when gods are blighted, even once, they revoke the regalia’s name and cast it away. If the issue is dealt with early enough, water is enough to heal the blight.

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Bishamon and her Shinki Kuraha in the form of a lion defeating a phantom.

A shinki can become so close to their master that they evolve. It is an extremely rare situation and when it occurs, the god and that shinki become the breaking news of heaven. In the anime, only two gods possess those “blessed vessels”. 

Okay let’s finally get into the review. Yato is considered a god of calamity. Gods of calamity are rather unknown, they are called upon to execute very dark tasks such as assassination or murder. They used to be summoned in ancient times, but today, nobody wishes for them anymore, so you can imagine, Yato’s life is held by a thread, someone or a group of people out there believes in him, allowing Yato to remain in this world. 

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Yato is a very poor god, since no one knows of him, he doesn’t have a shrine where people can worship him, thus he doesn’t have access to Takamagahara, which is the place all gods dwell, and matters related to the heavens and the living world take place. As a result, Yato is basically a stray god, hence the title of the anime, hanging around in the living world trying to earn coins to build his shrine, but his gambling tendencies are not helping.

Yato identifies himself as a god of fortune, he tries to help others as much as he can to escape his dark past as a god of calamity, and change. Other gods, like Tenjin, god of education, Ebisu, one of the gods of fortune, and Bishamonten, another one of the gods of fortune but also of war, are highly known and revered, thus making these gods wealthy and powerful. 

Hiyori is the other protagonist of this story. The plot illustrates the story from her perspective at first, it later shifts, but let’s talk about her for now. When Hiyori meets Yato unexpectedly, their fates intertwine in an odd fashion. Ever since an accident, Hiyori spontaneously becomes a spirit, kinda like when Ichigo becomes soul reaper and his real body just falls asleep, Hiyori becomes a spirit with a cat tail and she just roams around, sometimes she doesn’t even realize she shifted. She seeks help from Yato and they get attached ever since. 

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Naughty Yukine

Apart from granting wishes, gods have a duty to destroy evil, corrupted spirits, called Phantoms. These spirits seek to eat other people’s souls by inducing their deaths. They infest the human when they have persistent negative thoughts, and they cultivate those thoughts inside them as to make them more prominent, until they drive the person to end it all. Gods and spirits are the only ones able to see those things, so gods summon their regalia to put an end to them. 

There is a fine line between phantoms and spirits, if spirits roam for too long in the living world without becoming a regalia, they may end up becoming a phantom. Even a regalia can become a phantom, if they are overran by negative emotions, not only will they blight their master severely, but if the god doesn’t revoke them, the gods life will be at risk. A regalia is very important to a god, when a regalia serves a god, they should not serve other gods or bow to other gods, a “nora” is a stray regalia that has many owners, a nora is shunned from the society of gods, as they are seen as despicable. Nora is the main antagonist of season one.

Back to the story, Yato’s regalia, Mayu, had resigned from her position, she complained about the lack of customers, her masters sweaty hands when wielding her, and the fact that her master had no shrine and was a stray god, such disrespect should never be permitted by a regalia, but because of Yato’s situation, she saw him as an unfit god. However one night, Hiyori and now shinki-less Yato are attacked by a phantom. In the midst of escaping, Yato sees a spirit resembling a snowball, he ultimately turns him, and names him Yukine, the third protagonist of the story. Yukine then takes the form of a blade and Yato uses him to slay the phantom.

To Hiyori’s surprise she sees Yato shed tears shortly after slaying the phantom. That scene isn’t elaborated in the anime, it only says that when gods acquire shinkis, the god sees and feels the shinki’s memories of their past and death, since Yukine was a 15 year old boy, who knows what Yato saw. The shinki itself has no idea of who they were or how they died, but they must never know.

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The story in the anime focuses on Yato, Hiyori and Yukine’s life, where Hiyori is torn between her otherworldly friends, and her life as a human, Yato tries to become a god of fortune, but that comes with many challenges considering who is. Yukine, well, he has an adolescent crisis during season one and becomes really hard to deal with. 

HIGHLIGHTS

One highlight for this anime is definitely humor, this is one of the funniest anime I’ve watched. The characters are very amusing and funny. 

Another highlight is the characters, not only are they entertaining, but they are full of personality, wishes, and ambitions, and that makes them a lot more whole and give the story another strong supporting pillar. The regalias are given some insight as we all know their emotional state can trouble their masters, the plot focuses on them in some episodes, and not just Yukine, on many other regalias as well during both seasons, especially the second.  In other words, characters who could’ve been considered extras, are given a lot more importance and understanding, which enriches the character aspect of this anime.

The fights are good, nothing extravagant like the Fate/Series, but they are good enough to be mentioned in the Highlights, the animation steps it up and brings it together. 

One more highlight is the concept of the story, the Shinto religion theme is somewhat common in anime, but in Noragami it’s quite iconic and more prominent.

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God of Fortune and War Bishamonten

FINAL THOUGHTS

Noragami is a great anime, it has a nice mix of action, originality, humor and epic moments, but much of it’s epicness is revealed in its manga. The anime doesn’t wrap up the story completely and the following season has yet to be announced. The anime still has a lot of content worth watching, especially for humor, and you might not even feel the need to go read the manga, but I wanted to put it out there.

RATING: Story: 8.8 Plot: 9.0 Main Characters: 10 Characters: 9.5 Action/Humor/Feels: 10 OVERALL SCORE: 9.5

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