Noragami Review

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Noragami, or Stray God, starts out with a typical shonen feel.  However the show quickly begins to unravel into something completely different.  A show with a great setting, unique world building, and interesting characters that all create a flavor of its own.

Story
noragami1Hiyori Iki is a fairly average girl with an interesting secret.  She loves pro wrestling. Though her secrets stretch further when one day she sees a man walking in front of an oncoming bus and she pushes him to safety. As she speaks to the man, her attention is turned to the front of the bus where her body now lay separate from her. Later, after regaining consciousness in a hospital, she’s surprisingly given a clean bill of health and told to get some rest. The reason why she made it unscathed is revealed later that night when the man she saved shows up in her bed.

Turns out the man she thought she saved is actually a god. Yato is a dysfunctional god that has no shrine to call home and does odd jobs to fund his dream of having one. He points out to Hiyori that her spirit is now half way dislodged from her physical self and may detach at random. After later running into corrupt spirits named phantoms, she’s informed that the destruction of her tether (that comes in the form of a tail) will cause her to pass on from the living.

While Hiyori is a crucial part of the series, as the eyes for the viewer to this interesting world, the scope of the story branches further from there. Yato turns out to have quite a history as a god, though many characters may come to find it shocking. Then there’s the many gods of this world and their use of “equipment” called Regalia. Regalia are spirits of humans that have met an early and unavoidable death. Once a god gives them a name, they form a pact with the god to be used at their discretion. This is further expanded in the relationship they carry and the burdens they can ultimately place on one another.

e7noragami9Combining all of these elements with a really great cast of characters proves to be a truly enjoyable experience from start to end. I really liked Yato’s silly and dysfunctional personality, then meshing that with the far more enduring plot elements that come into play late in the show made for a really dynamic character. Supporting him in the entirety of the series was Hiyori, of who I absolutely adored as a character. She didn’t follow any tropes and really stood out as a lovable and level-headed character. Then there’s Nora, who had a great deal of mystique about her that just made you crave for her to show up.

As expressed above, the real treat in this series was the way it fools you into thinking you really know the characters. They did well in designing a false sense of lightheartedness that later is transferred to a dark, gripping, and serious underlining plot. When it hits, it makes you want to see what’s next around the corner. I also really enjoyed the more technical aspects that make up the gods and their relationship to the Regalia.

Animation
From start to finish, the folks at Bones Studio manage to create a beautiful and realized world. The characters have a great deal of detail and life to their movement that really sells the storytelling. While there was some use of CG for Phantoms, the style in which they utilized makes them blend into the world and never become off-putting. Quite a bit of the action and combat scenes also look fluent and pleasing to watch.

e8noragami4Sound
Another element that makes this series stand out is the music. With a very unique and modern vocal track that is as stylish as the animation itself. I couldn’t help myself but feel caught up in the more action oriented segments when the vocal tracks kick in. It also helps that the opening “Goya no Machiawase” is a great track that I listen to regularly.

Conclusion
Noragami was easily my pick of the Winter 2014 season. Bringing forth a really immersive and unique world that I looked forward to diving further into each and every episode. The characters are lovable, the plot elements are solid, and the darker turns it takes later in the series catches you by surprise and holds your attention to the end. I can’t recommend it enough and I really hope we see more from this world.

Family Friendliness-Noragami is a decently clean series. Featuring only a few bath scenes with the main character Hiyori. While all shots are side and covered up, an uncensored version can be rather revealing. There’s also a few points of perverse dialog, though nothing too heavy. In regards to violence, there’s quite a bit of cold blood murder and battlefield massacres, though nothing explicitly gory.

VERDICT: 4.5 / 5

Pros:

  • Fantastic Presentation
  • Lovable Characters
  • Unique and Interesting Plot

Cons:

  • Ending Leaves You Wanting More
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.