First Impressions – Noragami

The mighty bargaining power of the 5 yen coin

Noragami is finally here! I’ve been excited for it for a while now, and the premiere certainly delivered a satisfactory experience. If the show can keep up this kind of quality, I think we’re all in for a good time.
Ahhh, it feels nice to go away on vacation and then come back to a new season full of anime. Sure, it might not be the most creative season with imoutos and two anime about Nobunaga somehow, but at least it’s something new. Likewise, Noragami is generic and won’t be bucking trends any time soon – but it’s fun and worthwhile to try watching it.
I’ll admit, I’m here 90% because of the seiyuu cast (50 of that 90 being due to Kamiyan) and maybe 10% because the premise sounded interesting. The first two anime I watched from this season all involved a girl in a hospital for one reason or another. Luckily, this one seems significantly better than the other.
Until I worked on our Winter preview last month, I was not aware of this title but then I checked out the seiyuu cast and Bones behind it. Really, that pretty much did the trick and I’m her with Kara, Suma and Overcooled for this tag. We plan to have fun!

Everyone’s a Badass


Overcooled// Right off the bat, Noragami isn’t shy to give us a show with a quick yet amusing fight. Moments afterwards, his side kick (who I had presumed to an obedient doormat) ditched him and gave him a vicious verbal assault. From there on, there’s a general trend of characters straight-up not taking any shit from anyone. And it’s wonderful. Hiyori is immediately likeable as being both bold and willful, yet not to the point where she screams “BAKA” at everyone with a red face and kicks people all the time. She’s juuuust the right kind of feisty to not be an annoying, pushover with no purpose other than to be the love interest. Perhaps the black belt in me also relates to the fact that she’s a martial arts fan.

Even Yato is pleasant in a no-nonsense “I’ll do whatever it takes to be a God” kind of way. You have to love someone who has lost so much pride that they’ll eat hospital fruit baskets and go around hunting stray cats for loose change. The combo of the poor, desperate, and slightly deluded Yato with the surprisingly hardcore Hiyori makes for an interesting combo. I like that Noragami is a very no-nonsense kind of show that presents everything in a cut and dry way. The characters are blunt and do what they want to obtain their goals without any doubts in their minds, and the events of the first episode mirror this by diving right into the meat of the plot. Girl dies, becomes half-ghost, makes contract. With lots of fights peppered here and there to maintain interest. It can’t get any simpler than that.

Gods and Things


Karakuri// Yato is glorious due to being voiced by Kamiyan, but he’s an interesting character even without that. For a god, he’s kind of… unimpressive. Of course, this is the interesting part (and also the whole point of the plot, since Hiyori only encountered him due to the fact that he’s had to resort to chasing stray cats). Unlike the dignified portrayal that gods generally get in anime, Yato seems to be the punchline to a lot of the jokes. He also doesn’t seem to have an overbearing sense of pride that stops him from picking up mundane jobs. Actually, Yato not being above doing certain things seems like it will be a good trait for his character. Having him be a haughty character might have been interesting in it’s own respect, but having him be more carefree makes his interactions with Hiyori rather interesting. Of course, he still has his ambitions and even without a weapon, its not like Yato is entirely helpless.

In the first real action scene of the episode, Yato actually seemed really capable. Maybe this is because of his partner (or maybe not, since he seems to have no problems kicking things in the face even without a weapon), but if this is a lower level god, just what are the more renowned ones capable of? Yato is one thing, but it would be rather interesting if other Japanese deities had appearances too, for comparison’s sake. Are all of them as human as Yato seems, or is that because he lacks worshippers?

An Out of Body Experience


Sumairii// What I found fascinating, as it should be since the plot appears revolve around it, is Hiyori’s new condition. Yato describes it as being sort of “half-in and half-out” of both the living and dead realms, and suffice it to say Hiyori is basically having major out-of-body experiences. But while spirit Hiyori can clearly kick some major butt thanks to her being a martial arts enthusiast, I’m really worried about how she has to leave her lifeless body behind. Let me make my trepidation clearer; the hospital scene particularly stood out to me as being extremely reminiscent of The Hollow Shrine of Kara no Kyoukai. In both, a character has had a near-death experience resulting in some “inner change.” Now, with regards to Noragami it seems Hiyori is only spooked by the voices in her head, but it’s entirely possible that these spirits(?) might later do more than just murmur sinisterly. If we pay attention to the kind of stuff they say, it sounds a lot like they’re in agony and “want out.” And what better way to leave the realm of the dead than to rejoin the living by possessing a body that’s been temporarily vacated? Of course then, that would be Yato’s cue to come in and save the day (for a bargain price of only five yen). But at this point the show could still go in just about any direction so it could well be that Hiyori’s empty body is not an issue.

World Concept 


Kyokai// Setting up a supernatural series is always a challenge in this day and age. The viewers have become so picky that a series actually loses 30 to 40%  viewers on the basis of their reaction to the first episode. So, there has to be a balance in building up interest and enough plot points to keep the viewers hooked. If not the perfect rendition, Noragami does a good job of introducing the characters and engaging the audience in getting to know the characters enough to care about them. What I liked was scenarios introduced matter-of-factly, rather than long info-dump around Yato and how he’s a god on hire. He pretty much just blazed on our screens and even if he was successful in thwarting a monster creating unease at a school, he readily became butt of many jokes due to his airy personality and disposition.

The pacing was perfect and through interaction with Hiyori, we are introduced to the other side, which becomes detectable after near-death-experience. Now this is nothing new for supernatural-holics, however, the interesting twist here is gaining a specific ability in process (a lower mode of Ryougi Shiki gaining death perception in Kara no Kyoukai). I’m curious to know if Hiyori has enough power to become Yato’s shinki? Though, not sure if a human can become one or not. For now the concept of a world teaming with youkai and a certain percentage able to detect them seems pretty legitimate for a plot. Add in humour and interesting characters, you are bound to get hooked.

Hiroshi Kamiya is here with all his gloriousness! Really, our Mr. Yato wouldn’t have seemed this much interesting, if it weren’t for this amazing seiyuu. Yes, yes, I’m a big fangirl and I loved everything about this baka character, even with that sneaky Beelzebub laugh (from Azazel-san), that crept in. Personally, I liked this comedic take on Natsume Yuujinchou. I mean, see, Yato is Natsume’s opposite, who is friendless and not a youkai magnet. Being a poor god, he has so much free time, he’s desperate enough to raise money to open a shrine to collect all the riches of this world and become the BEST God. What a goal, really!

Besides Yato, I adored Hiyori (her reaction when that youkai frog was attacking her were priceless). She’s so not your usual damsel in distress, which was such a breath of fresh air. She saved Yato rather than the other way around. I haven’t read the manga fully but I see that the adaptation wasn’t faithful to the first chapter of manga. However, I liked the anime version more than manga because it had more explanation, while the anime took care of it through action. Overall, a good watch and one of the promising first episodes of this season. Do not miss it!

A strong start, in my opinion, to a show that I’ve been hyped about. Which is nice, because usually shows we’re excited for tend not to meet our overblown expectations. I really digging the setup with the way the Gods and their supernatural dealings are portrayed as very business-like. Taking jobs, making money, earning status, leaving your company for a better one (lol at Yato’s former Sacred Treasure); it’s all there! And if nothing else, there’s always the Kamiyan overload for those who like his voice. Definitely looking forward to more next week.

Noragami follows a formula, but it follows it well. The highlight of the show are the characters – the kind of people who would tell a telemarketer to go shove a rusty nail into their eye if they were in a bad mood instead of politely telling them to hang up. It’s nice to see that! Unfortunately, some of the interactions are marred by poorly-placed humour. I wish less time was spent trying to lighten the mood. For example, I’m pretty sure the scene where Hiyori dies shouldn’t be so…comedic. If the jokes were good, I’d be more lenient, but they really stand out when there’s that many gags that are that bad. It’s especially depressing considering the rest of the show is pretty good. Nothing special, aside from some surprisingly pretty and thoughtful visuals, so it ends up evening out to be an okay show. Decent. Average. Fun. You know how it is.

I honestly don’t have any complaints about this episode. Bones did fine with the animation, the story was nicely paced, and I really like the two main characters (and yes, their voices are great. All hail Kamiyan). Hiyori isn’t dead weight and while Yato is kind of stupid, he’s a good kind of stupid. I can only hope that Kaji’s character is as likeable as the other ones. The plot seems like it will be rather interesting as well, no matter what direction it takes. …Or at least that’s the impression I got from this first episode. Maybe this anime might become less awesome as the story goes  on, but I’m rather glad that the first episode had such a great start. That’s usually a sign of good things to come. …Right?


Er, good things for the viewers at least. 


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34 Responses to “First Impressions – Noragami”

  1. skylion says:

    This was a rock solid first episode. There is nothing, nothing I can see that tears it down in the slightest. The VA’s are perfect, the color is perfect, the Jungle Savate is perfect.

    Cannot wait for the next episode.

    • Kyokai says:

      Same here. They got this thing right, now let’s hope they keep this up for the remaining 11-12 episodes.

    • Japaninspired says:

      I agree with you totally.
      It was amazing. I have high hopes for this anime.
      And the cast is amazing. Their voices fit perfectly.
      And as always, I cant wait for Kaji Yuuki-san to appear 😀

    • akagami says:

      I approve of this comment 100%.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    The whole world set-up with all these gods and spirits plus having Hiroshi Kamiya voice the lead gives this show a strong Monogatari feel for the first episode and it made a nice homerun.

    I’m already liking the pairing of Yato and Hiyori. They’re very dynamic and Hiyori gets points for not the useless female type. There is some worry about her condition of being separated from her body at any time. Like when she was hanging over a fence like a corpse for instance. I wouldn’t want that happening to me and if you take a look at her situation, you could say she’s half dead.

    A solid start for a show in this seeming unimpressive season so far and I’m excited to see more. If this turns out good as a whole, I might look forward to FUNimation helming the English dub.

    • skylion says:

      Why? Why go for a dub when Kamiyan is blazing! I kid.

      Half way dead, is still half way alive, you can still do a ton with that. And if her Jungle Savate is any indication, I will bet my money on the half dead cat girl.

    • akagami says:

      Oh god dubs, why subject yourself to that horror? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a good dub (or at least one that made me go, wow, this was as good or better than the originals). There just isn’t a market for VAs in NA… sure you might get one or two characters right, but then you have that one voice which completely ruins it for me.

      • skylion says:

        They never sound quite right (and mostly never ever right) to my ears. Everything seems to be phrased “matter of factly”, like they can’t get rid of an inflection that always end in a hypothetical question mark. That being said, I would not put them down, as many fans enjoy them.

        • akagami says:

          Fair enough, as I know people who just don’t like hearing anything not in English. I used to think dubs were ok until I heard the original VAs, and they’re night and difference. As you mentioned, they usually sound like they’re reading a shopping list out loud or they’re overly energetic without taking into context the character and/or scene.

          The ones who have the talent are more likely than not to go into acting, and unless you’re a Hollywood movie studio you can’t entice good quality for the pay a NA VA would get.

  3. zztop says:

    Noragami roughly translates as ‘Stray God’, if you match the episode title’s 野良神 kanji with the katakana title ノラガミ.

    The only info I could find on Adachitoka, Noragami’s creators, is that they are a 2-woman team. Adachi does the characters and Tokashiki does backgrounds.

    OP’s quite good, the rock I like. Hello Sleepwalkers’s the OP singers, are an Okinawan rockband from 2011.

    • Sumairii says:

      When you say one does the characters and the other does the backgrounds, I assume you mean the art. But I wonder how they tackle the story? If it’s a collaborative effort, one obvious possibility is sequential single writing, which can be pretty challenging to pull off properly.

      • zztop says:

        I’m not sure how the writing is done, this is all the info I found on Adachitoka.
        I assume it’s collaborative, like you say.

  4. BlackBriar says:

    While Noragami was good, did anyone here check out Hamatora? The first episode was awesome.

    • Kyokai says:

      I will cover it soon. 😉

    • Irenesharda says:

      It’s no UNLIMITED, but I liked it. Many say it’s like a combination of Darker than Black and Durarara, both are shows I haven’t watched, however, I liked it very much.

      I liked the mystery and the superpowers and the gang misfits. I don’t think it will be anything deep, but it’ll be fun. I’ll be watching it. (I love anything superpowers for the most part, so this was one I was anticipating.) 😀

      • Japaninspired says:

        You havent watched Durarara?! You should try it, it’s really unusual and has great characters and amazing seiyuus that voice those character. It’s really fun.

        And one of the characters has super-powers. And she is a headless rider. I dont think this is a spoiler, but the funniest thing about her, is that she’s scared of anything unnatural (ghosts and so on) 🙂

      • Japaninspired says:

        Hey, Spammy, you glutton. You give my comment back right now! 🙁

    • skylion says:

      I generally enjoy non costumed super power stuff. This one was a bit to derpy…what with all those cases converging on one another. But it has a Kyubey Snail Hajime (not that Hajime). I’ll check out more.

      • Highway says:

        Hamatora was the show that engendered my and Fosh’s discussion about me not liking super powers much referenced in the YQ thread. That’s a show I’m unlikely to watch any more of.

        • HannoX says:

          I didn’t care for Hamatora, either, but I’ll probably give it one more episode. Noragami is SO much better.

  5. sadakups says:

    Kamiyan playing a god while having god in the name is godlike.

  6. Highway says:

    This actually might be the start of my favorite role for Kamiyan. At least so far, it’s the good parts of the characters I like, without the bad parts. Like Izaya without the being evil part, and Koyomi without the little girl fetish. I really enjoyed this opening show, it was a lot of just plain fun, and it was a nice opening twist when Tomone bailed on him immediately.

    • Karakuri says:

      I’ll have to see more of this role before I make a decision on if this role becomes one of my favourites or not, but it really looks like this will be good~

  7. HannoX says:

    I didn’t know it was possible for a god to have delusions of grandeur.

    I really liked this opening episode. A good balance of humor and action and they gave us the information we needed without doing an info dump. Best of all are the characters. We have two great leads here and going by what we saw here it looks like the interaction between them is also going to be great.

    I’m already sold on this series and plan to watch it until the end.

  8. Liza says:

    Loved, loved, loved this first episode! 😀 Both Yato and Hiyori are likeable and it looks like there is a ton of room to expand the world out and stuff.

    What I’m wondering is, how in the world did Hiyori lose her body at the top of a fence that seems to overlook a cliff(at least that’s what I think it was, from memory). Like, why was she climbing it in the first place?

    • Highway says:

      Hadn’t she and Yato gotten thrown away from the big frog or something at the time? So they were flying, and her body got caught on the fence, that’s what I thought it was. Generally, it seems like her body gets stopped and her soul keeps moving, that’s how they get separated.

      • Kyokai says:

        Actually, we could see her tail when she intercepted in the middle while Yato was fighting the giant frog.

        What I think is that she was on her way to find Yato and when she saw a giant frog ready to attack him, she climbed the fence (she is pretty agile and due to her acquired powers, climbing such fences should not be a biggie), and made her way towards the action. However, she didn’t even realize that in the frenzy of action she had left her body behind. 😉

  9. Irenesharda says:

    I had never heard of this title before, and I’m not the type of person who pays much attention to studios, directors, writers, voice actors, or that sort of thing. Name dropping doesn’t have much affect on me. I’m take every story at face value, look at the summary, if if it interests me, I try it out and see if I like it. I might lean more towards giving some things that are more familiar a first look, but the show has to interest me on it’s own merit.

    Be that as it may, I enjoyed Noragami quite a lot. I liked the idea from the summary, and the execution isn’t bad. The idea of a struggling supernatural male being hanging out with a human girl with a connection to the supernatural has been done to death, but somehow I still like how Noragami has it set up here.

    Yato is funny and the butt of many jokes, but he can fight with the best of them when he needs too. Also the way his eyes look in the darkness and the darker change of his tone of voice serves to remind you that while he has his funny moments Yato is still a deity and not human, and it gives him a sense of intrigue and menace.

    Hiyori was actually a pretty interesting female lead, not too ditsy and she can fight, but she’s not too over the top either. It will be interesting looking at her and Yato’s friendship.

    I’m starting this without looking at any source material, so I’m wondering who the little boy who is obviously going to be Yato’s next sacred weapon is. The three of them look like an interesting thing against the things that go bump in the night.

    I’m interested in following this series, it had a nice presentation and I’m signed on.

  10. Iron Maw says:

    I really come to like this manga quite a bit, so I’m pretty happy to see this getting animated by BONES of all studios.

  11. akagami says:

    A good supernatural comedy to add to my viewing list! And that grin when he appeared under the sheets (ΦωΦ)

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