Every year, the animation studio Bones tends to be the standout studio when it comes to adapting various manga to anime, and their tastes continue to shine with Noragami. Set in modern day, it follows Yato, the God of War, and his exploits to build his own shrine. Noragami focuses on Yato giving up his old Shinki (divine weapon) to look for a new one, and thus enters Hiyori Iki. Hiyori is a middle school student who saves Yato from an oncoming car and winds up in a weird limbo-like scenario wherein her body to lose control of her soul at random. It’s rather silly at the start, but the later episodes are showing us glimpses of not only Yato’s past life, but some strong development through all of the characters involved. With enough continued strengths like this, I could see Noragami building to a solid finale, but there is a bit of a lull to get over in the first few episodes.
The first few episodes of Noragami really paint a nice world and present a good idea of what Yato’s working towards. There’s good action and exposition, but there are more comedic moments that fail to translate, causing it to drag on more than I’d like. However, there are only just enough for me to forgive the series for it, but I’d prefer it stay consistent with the moment rather than pervade a really nice scene. The latter half of this cour (season) is really great and its focus on Yukine, Yato’s newest Shinki, and his coming to terms of his new life are some of the melodrama I’ve enjoyed in a while.
We’re essentially Yukine, and we’re now thrust in to this brand new world, being controlled by someone at their whim, with little freedom. It’s not a slavery sort of thing, so there are no real ‘bad’ motives at work here, but you feel more for Yukine’s plight than Yato’s ambitions. Yato is aware though that he’s not exactly proud of what he has to do, so he’s forgivable and likable. And of course, you must throw in rivals and others from his past to help fill in the gaps and provide more backstory. Most of them are hit-and-miss, but the lion riding Bishamonten is badass and deserving of more limelight and a backstory.
A small complaint about Noragami is the music. There’s very little music that resonate with me and has me getting excited for scenes. It’s almost too reserved and light to standout. It’s a shame, because for a show like Noragami, you should have a solid soundtrack backing those tender moments and heavy action. Perhaps I’ll give the soundtrack a second shot during the second half of the cour, but I won’t be racing back to do so.
Noragami isn’t the strongest show running, but it’s interesting enough to watch week in-week out and not drop. You can stream it via Funmation’s site, and I’m almost certain it will be on Toonami by the end of the year, or early 2015. There are more entertaining, more action-heavy series currently running, but Noragami really has some heart and character that comes along very sporadically. I hope the series remains this strong for its closing six episodes and the finale is as enjoyable as the rest of it has been.