Noragami was one of the most successful animes of the beginning of 2014. Many praised its incredibly catchy opening and OST, the characters and the original elements of the story. However, many others ended up dropping it half-way, or rating it as ‘average’ and never bothering to check out its sequel, Noragami Aragoto. But for those who sticked around, Noragami Aragoto, which started airing on October 3rd, has turned out to be one of the biggest revelations of the fall season. Taking a look around forums and social media, it’s not rare to see casual viewers and anime-only fans commenting that this season is much more dark, intense and plot-engaged than the first one was. And a hundred times better.
Why is that? Is the second season really that superior to the first one? What was it that made some people drop the first one and not watch the second one? As a manga reader, I’m going to try to illustrate why these things happened and why people should give this show a second chance.
WARNING: This article contains mild spoilers for the first season of Noragami
First of all, let me briefly tell you about my personal experience with Noragami. After being in my to-watch list for almost a year, I finally decided to check out the series about a month ago after finding out the second season had just been released. I watched one episode per day, until I realized that I was getting hooked to the characters around Episode 4-5. I then binge-watched all 12 episodes in one day. After that, I watched the first three episodes of Noragami Aragoto (referred to Aragoto from now on) that had been released. And, after that, I picked up the manga and caught up with all chapters. Because I binge-watched/read the whole thing in less than a week, I didn’t have a clear separation of both seasons that other people had.
I can understand, though, that the fact that the first season was released so long ago (almost two years), helped establish the idea that Noragami was a complete, finished story and that we wouldn’t see anything else from that universe again. In that sense, it’s different from other series like say Seraph of the End, which released its first season in spring 2015 and is currently airing the second one. However, the first season of Noragami caused many complaints: why present such a big, interesting concept if you’re not going to develop it? Why tease Yato’s dark past and then not explain it? What is going to happen to Hiyori? What other Gods are there? What’s the deal with Nora? The list of questions goes on and on. ‘Wasted potential’, is what many reviewers would say.
Of course, everybody knew that the source material for this anime was an on-going manga, and that there was much more to the story. However, Noragami struggled to grab people’s attention and make them read the manga, which is what Aragoto is doing now. These are some of the problems Noragami had: for starters, like I already mentioned, the first season felt more like an introduction to a story, rather than a story. Noragami does an excellent job at presenting the characters and the elements of the story in a way that feels natural. It doesn’t drop information bombs that leave you confused. Everything is explained when it needs to be, in the right time. However, just when we have started to understand what phantoms are, how the relationship between Gods and their Regalias work and Yukine’s problem has been solved, the season is over. If that wasn’t enough, the series also had a fair amount of filler considering it was only 12 episodes long: the iconic and hilarious third episode with the eternal fall, and the final three episodes involving the villain Rabo, who doesn’t even exist in the manga.
What do I think was the problem for Noragami being sort of inconsistent and inconclusive in its first season? The fact that it only got 12 episodes. I have always considered that 12-episodes seasons should be dedicated to other genres like slice of life, romance, school… but never shounen. Or at least not an on-going shounen with a big universe. Twelve episodes was not enough to show what the Noragami universe is really like, and Bones made it even worse when adding four episodes of filler, which means we only got around eight episodes of canon material. These eight episodes covered the first 11 and a half chapters of the manga. The manga has currently released 60 chapters. See my point? With a season of 25-26 episodes, Bones would have been able to adapt much more material from the manga, including the Bishamon arc, which has been so praised during the beginning of Aragoto.
After the success of Noragami, many fans hoped that Bones would release a longer season this time around, but there was no such luck. At least, this time it’s going to be 13 episodes long, instead of 12, and there won’t be any filler episodes. The Bishamon arc ended last week after the sixth episode, and we are now going to venture into Ebisu/Underworld arc. And, believe me, if you thought Bishamon Arc was great, you better hold on to your seats for this one. The fun is only just beginning.
In conclusion, the first season of Noragami has nowhere near enough material to judge the entire series. There’s much more to this universe and these characters than what was shown in 12 episodes, and the source material has so much more to offer both in Aragoto and hopefully in future seasons. If you watched Noragami but are not interested in watching the second one, believe me, give it a chance and you won’t regret it. And if you dropped Noragami because it seemed too light, cheerful or not serious enough… I’ll just say that many people ended up picking up the manga because they couldn’t wait a whole week after those cliffhangers.