11-09-2014, 07:09 AM #1
I was perusing my Netflix for new, interesting looking anime (new as in... Netflix just uploaded it) and Noragami came highly recommended. After the disappointment that was Attack on Titan (read previous blog) I was definitely hoping to find an anime that would make me forget about it. Noragami definitely did!
Noragmi is a fuckin' adorable anime. Yeah, this is a pro review. Cussing and all. Anyway, I loved watching it from beginning to end and can even see myself doing it again. Is it the best anime in the world ever? No. At least, not according to me. Is it worth watching? Yes.
There is a nice paranormal aspect to it that is constant throughout the entire anime, but isn't overbearing. Right off the bat (especially if you read any online descriptions) you know it's about gods, spirits, phantoms, and the like. However, it is mixed with modern day Japan and the normal happenings around us. It goes on to explain why certain events happen such as suicides, successes, and so on. I won't say how, but it does.
The anime is focused on a specific god by the name of Yato who mistakenly turns Hiyori, the protagonist, into a half-phantom. She finds it peculiar he is a god, yet she has never heard of him, but it is later explained as to why this is. Throughout the series you meet various other gods who are actually real in Japanese lore such as the God of Poverty. What is interesting is they seldom look like how people actually depict them and none of them seem to be bothered by this, merely shrugging it off. For season 1 (there are rumors season 2 is underway) you get to see at least 2 gods that actually do exist in Japanese lore, some are mentioned, then there are other gods you see whose names were lost during a time when Japan was at a constant war.
At firs the series starts off very light hearted. Hiyori is determined to get Yato to grant her wish pertaining to her no longer being a half-phantom. You see, Hiyori will pass out without realizing it, switching to her half-phantom form. Yato is accidentally the cause of this, so she constantly pries the god throughout the series who is consistently putting her off for several episodes. Think about it like how Misty from Pokemon kept nagging Ash for him to replace her bike. However, in this case it is revealed it is dire for her to stop turning into a half-phantom, but I'll let you watch the series to find out why.
Eventually the adorable Yukine is entered (the cute, little blond boy). Through him the show begins to explain what a Regalia is, which you are sort of left wondering about for a couple or so episodes. The first episode starts off with Tomone being Yato's Regalia, but then she is like, "Fuck you. You're a bum. I'm leaving," and he is left without one. You're just kinda sitting there go, "What did he do? What's a Regalia? Does he need one?" until Yukine is entered. In short, Regalia is spiritual equipment. You see Tomone in the first episode as a sword, but when you see other gods later it becomes apparent they do not necessarily happen to be a weapon (one becomes a lion, another is clothes, etc.). Regalias do have their own special powers, which you'll see in the show if you so choose to watch it. They are special beings and are not born as Regalia. They are very vital to a god due to the fact they cannot fight Phantoms without a Regalia (at least one).
Phantoms are, more or less, corrupted spirits. They fuck shit up and are pretty much constantly trying to recruit more of them. There were once living, but due to becoming possessed and corrupted there is no way to save them other than for a god to use their Regalia to kill them. I sort of think of them like a more demented version of Heartless from Kingdom Hearts. Though, appearance-wise it made me think of Pride from FMA: Brotherhood mating with Heartless during some crazy, purple orgy and tada. Phantoms. Well, at least some of them anyway.
Now for the parts that are more spoiler-y so... spoilers! Believe me, everything above doesn't spoil anything. Some people might think so, I guess. However, I assure you they are likely to be in plot summaries everywhere (except Netflix, which has shitty plot summaries).
SPOILERS FROM HERE TO THE END OF THE POST
So, if it wasn't evident through my Attack on Titan review, I am not a big fan of predictability. I like to be consistently surprised throughout whatever I am watching, reading, etc. Yes, some predictability is nice and being unpredictable you have to do it right. Like, you can't just do something off the wall just because you don't wanna be predictable, but it has NOTHING to do with your plot. It's annoying. I've only ever seen the creators of FLCL and Kill la Kill do this successfully.
What I really liked about Noragami is that it had a realistic amount of predictability, but consistently kept me on my toes.
I was shocked when they revealed how horrible it is that Hiyori is half-Phantom. I figured maybe they'd go the route that it's really a great thing, she needs to shut up, let's move on. However, it's explained how rare the phenomenon is and how dire to her state of living it is. It becomes a huuuuge risk of life or death if she doesn't carefully watch herself around Phantoms when in this form.
Then with the introduction of Yukine you find out that Regalias were not only spirits who were once living people (who died in a way they still clung to wanting to live) but that any thought they deemed sinful in life would hurt their god should they do them while their Regalia. At first it seems like Yato just gets little shocks whenever Yukine has a perverted thought (since he's like... in middle school so cleavage is exciting), but eventually you find out that's not the case.
The more a Regalia "sins" the more it harms the god and causes them to become blighted, which can result in the god dying. This and being killed by another god are the only ways the series outright states a god can die. There is also if no one believes in you/wishes anything of you, but it's not really permanent like the other two since if someone does start believing or wishing then BAM! Welcome back.
Yukine is extremely envious of the living and cannot remember who he used to be (the series did not reveal if the lack of memory is the case for all Regalia, when you first become a Regalia, etc.). Unlike with the living, such thoughts can outright plague the Regalia and any other ones they come in contact with while "sick". Typically if a Regalia even sends one spike of pain to their god they will be disposed of, however Yato stubbornly keeps Yukine and consistently defends him while hiding what it is ultimately doing to him.
The biggest shock to me was the ablution scene where they have to gather three Regalias to perform a ritual around Yukine which can ultimately result in a spiritual death or a healing. For awhile it seemed as though Yukine was to die during this ordeal, but through the words of Hiyori and Yato Yukine prevails and has learned a very grave lesson. I really didn't expect that kind of turn, though it did vaguely imply it throughout the series, namely when Hiyori began to notice Yato's skin was getting really gross, purple rashes.
Overall the balance of predictable and unpredictable is done very well. I definitely want to look into purchasing the manga and adding it to my ever growing collection. It's very well done and I'd highly recommend it to anyone.
It's comedic, adorable, and pulls on your heartstrings in all the right places.