Noragami: A Journey From Manga To Anime

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The battles between source material and adaptations has always been a heated one throughout the generations of cross media pollinating. While I’ve never been a fan of manga in the past, my love for the anime Noragami pushed me to dive head first into its source material. Simply put, I can’t seem to get enough of the world it crafted for me. As I journeyed in, I’ve noticed several differences that some may find surprising.

ep10noragami9Before that, I want to make one thing clear. I love Noragami in general, and never found myself a fan of attacking what work an adapter does to craft a story into a set time series. So to be clear, this isn’t a “Source Material Is Better!” analysis. This is strictly for curious sake as I was one of the many saying to myself, “I love the show, is it worth getting into the manga?” This is to answer that curiosity and that alone.

It’s also important, before we start, to establish that this is strictly for those that have watched the anime series and want to know if they missed something. Expect spoilers from Noragami Season 1 and Noragami Season 2 to be in this article. What won’t be in this article is spoilers for what happens after Noragami Season 2’s conclusion. So rest assure!

With all of those disclaimers out-of-the-way, let’s dive in!

Yato’s Personality
e12noragami2Many people who discuss the differences between the manga and anime will point out the differences in how Yato acts. In the anime, he’s much more upbeat and only dreadfully serious when things call for it or when an issue is at hand. He’s much more entertaining. Which made my transition to the manga much more interesting.

That’s not to say he’s not entertaining or silly in the manga, just certain points are often different. Take for example his first cleaning job in a gentleman’s bathroom. In the manga he’s questioning why a warrior god is fixing plumbing.  Then, of course, there’s the far more darker portrayal of just what has happened in Yato’s past and how brutal his murderous moments are when he works with Hiiro (Nora/The Stray).

Mutsumi’s Struggle (Volume 1)
The first moment that I realized I was in for a treat with the manga was the very first chapter. In the first episode of the Noragami Anime, we seen Yato answer the prayers of a cute pig-tailed student being bullied during exams by killing a phantom. However, in the manga, we get a full chapter to this girl and her issues.

Her name is Mitsumi, she’s an oddball, bullied and always talking in third person. This is essentially the point in which we get quite a bit of Yato’s hatred for whiney kids and suicidal tendencies. It’s also our first experience with Yato’s capability of cutting ties between people.

Mitsumi’s story was heartbreaking and great to read through. Not only did it explain a lot early on, it also gave us much more insight into the working relationship between Yato and his shinki Tomone (or Mayu as she’s known later).

Mama Never Came, Nor Did Yato (Volume 2)
e5noragami8Probably one of the earliest signs of just how dire the manga gets in comparison to the adaptation is in how they handle the spirit of the girl waiting on her mother. Both seen a tragic end by being struck by a car, but it’s how her spirit finds an end that leaves one more heartbroken.

This is due in part by the fact that the entire event never included Yato into it. Yukine meets the girl, waits with her, and the girl is consumed by the phantoms, but Hiyori grabs Yukine and the two flee the scene. Thus the girl was never “freed” by Yato’s use of Yukine.

Yukine Robbing You Blind! (Volume 2)
e8noragami2Sure, Yukine was quite the thieving cat in the anime adaptation, but it never did hit home as much as in the manga. Instead of him simply shoplifting, in the manga Yukine pays for everything he buys. Though not by money he earned.

Instead, Yukine haggles people Yato helps for more compensation and then escalates it by snagging money from Hiyori’s purse. Thanks to Hiyori’s kind heart, she never does anything about it, and instead starts working around the house for extra cash to support his wrongful ways. The brat even scores a handheld console thanks to his sugar mama!

Festival of Memories (Volume 3)
ep10noragami7This is probably the most predominant turning point that many noticed when going into the anime adaptation after reading the manga. The moment that the show went original. At the later points of Episode 10 of the anime, and during the 3rd volume of the manga, Hiyori goes to a shrine festival with her friends. In both scenarios, Hiyori is confronted by Hiiro and is attacked by her commanded wolves. However, in the anime Hiiro seeks to steal her memories and hold them hostage, while in the manga.. she just wants to kill her.

This is because the show, knowing full well they couldn’t knock out all of Bishamon’s arc, needed something to wrap up in the final 2 episodes. Taking her memories captive, they moved on to having Yato fight a past acquaintance named Rabo. Who is completely outside of the manga.

Fun fact: Season 2 of the Anime Picks Back Up in Volume 4

The Murdered Shinki (Volume 6)
Yet another missed, and yet very dark scenario that was skipped in the anime adaptation was the story of the catalyst that triggered the downfall of Bishamon’s Ma family (or previous family of shinki).

In the show, we learned of Bishamon becoming ill and the Ma family turning on each other. They performed ablutions before suddenly they began lashing out at each other; killing each other. Well, in the manga it became a bit more personal for Kazuma.

In the manga, following the near death of Bishamon and her fight with Yato, before Kazuma awakens and asks Bishamon to release him, the dream he has before regaining consciousness is one of his senpai. A young shinki that was training Kazuma when he first became Bishamon’s shinki. This girl, Touma, aspired to be a worthy tool for protecting Bishamon and watched Kazuma become one of her favored vessels.

A lot is left to interpretation, but it seems as if Touma grew jealous that her student (Kazuma) was brought into the fold of Bishamon’s main team. Following this, Bishamon fell ill and while Touma defended accusations against Kazuma, the other shinki threw their suspicions at Touma. Rather than excommunicate Touma, they instead threw her into a vent. A murder that lead to the downfall of the Ma family. Easily one of the more interesting, yet tragic, stories I found while venturing into the manga.

Kind of makes Bishamon’s comment about “Dreaming of Better Years” when Kazuma woke up, a bit more tragic..

Shinki Battles: A Mind Game (Volume 7+9)
noragami02Shinki battles have always seemed rather basic in premise. However the original work in the manga led me to believe that it’s more of a mind game than anything. Of course the training session between Kazuma and Yukine is fairly word for word in the anime versus the manga. Minus one major emphasis: Looking down upon your opponent. Something that isn’t as obvious and crucial until the fight between Yukine and Kaguha.

In the anime, it seems the focus is on Yukine learning to trust that Yato really does see him as his blessed vessel. However, what’s playing in the mind of Yukine in the manga is a bit of a mind game. Kaguha knows this all too well and exploits Yukine’s issues with Yato wielding a stray. To belittle him. On the flip side, Yukine is claiming that he needs to look down upon Kaguha to gain the upper hand. It brings a whole new element to the fight between shinki that I found rather fascinating. Playing on doubts and fears as your ammunition.

I Know That Boy (Volume 8)
noragami03Remember that big plot twist at the end of Season 2? That boy who kissed Hiyori during the visit to the theme park? Well, the manga has been cameoing that boy for some time. He keeps popping up. Bumping into Hiyori at school, being asked for his contact info for Hiyori’s friend, even getting spot by him during an unfortunate event with Yato possessing Hiyori (Yeah… that OVA the west never got legally).

He even gets quite a bit more development during the theme park scenario as he divulges quite a bit about his home life to Hiyori. Guy seems like he really has a lot of interest in her… but I guess that’s become obvious why in that final scene with him and Hiiro. But.. that’s for next season!

Children’s Dance of Death (Volume 8)
e1noragamiaragoto12Extremely dark scene number 3 for me to mention! During the time Yato is with Ebisu in Yomi, the heavens are trying to find Ebisu, and the lesser gods are locked up and wanting out, the manga points out just how the heavens found Ebisu. Back at the Ebisu residence, the heavens paid his shinki a visit with a group of children known as the “Kagome Children”. These are children that died too young to know right from wrong.

In an effort to interrogate the shinki, they surrounded most of Ebisu’s shinki with Kagome children singing Kagome. When sung by these children, it places a sort of curse that weakens things like purgatory and borderline. Then after releasing one of Ebisu’s masked phantoms, the shinki are then slaughtered one by one. All to force one of the shinki to reveal Ebisu’s location.

Death in the Arms of a War God (Volume 9)
noragami04Probably one of the more significant changes was in the death of Ebisu. In the anime adaptation, Yato attempts to fight off the heavens and Ebisu has a destructive spell dropped on him before dying in Yato’s arms. However, in the manga, Yato is still in Yomi the entire ordeal.

Instead, Bishamon is desperately fighting off the heavens before a small child in a rain coat confronts Ebisu. This child then cracks open with energy and explodes, dealing Ebisu a lethal blow. As he fights to want to continue living, he dies in Bishamon’s arms. While not game breaking, it does play into Bishamon’s struggles a bit more and continues to develop her going forward.  Still, either way, everyone in the end is greatly effected by Ebisu’s death.

Naming a Captive (Volume 9)
Now, this may be something that will be flashed back to if a season 3 ever happens, but after Yukine defeats Kugaha in the manga, another scene happens. Tenjin actually approaches the defeated Kugaha and the victorious Yukine and does something a bit surprising. He gives Kugaha a name, Saku. He points out that he abhors strays, but feels he needs to get answers out of Kugaha. A crucial aspect of the story going forward, so we may see this yet.. just without Yukine involved.

Which God Really Spoke Up? (Volume 10)
noragami05A fascinating omission by the anime is just how the team learned about calling the name of a god to pull them from Yomi. Of course, if you recall in the anime, Ebisu tells the team that a human can call the god’s true name to bring them forth. However, in the manga.. Ebisu is already dead.

Instead, a mysterious bright young god appears before the team. After many point out that she’s from the same group that hunted down Ebisu, she claims that the heaven’s verdict is absolute and that she’s there because she wants to be there. She then whispers into Kofuku’s ear and then vanishes. This whisper is the knowledge of calling a god’s true name.

Fun Fact: Season 2’s Story ends in Volume 10

Beyond that, it’s a haze as to what will be included in the beginning of Season 3 (if that comes), just know things get really dark, and it’s uncertain just how they will portray what is to come next.  Either way, I’m very excited to see how they adapt the story going forward and I can’t recommend both the anime and the manga enough.

I hope everyone enjoyed this cross analysis of the Noragami Anime and Manga.  If there was a surprising change that you seen that I missed, be sure to drop it in the comments below!

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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.