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.
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.