Noragami: An exciting, highly entertaining story about the world of Gods in Japanese culture. If you’re into battles of the supernatural, comedic situations and romance, you should be watching this!
In A Nutshell
Yato is a minor god who doesn’t even have a shrine dedicated to him. All he wants is for people to believe in him so he can be a popular god. One day he is nearly hit by a bus, but saved by a girl named Iki Hiyori, whose soul becomes unstable and trapped in limbo between death (the far shore) and life (the near shore). Hiyori asks Yato to fix her body and he promises to make her wish come true, but he never does it because he doesn’t really know how to do it. Not much later, Yato acquires his new Shinki, Yukine. Shinkis are weapons made from the spirits of dead people and servants who have to obey the God they serve. Yato and Yukine will try to improve Yato’s popularity while dealing with phantoms and other deities, as well as Hiyori’s problem.
Meet the Characters
Yato is the main character of the story. He is a minor God and has a history of his past Shinki not saying with him for very long. This is not only due to him being poor and not even having a shrine, but also because of his attitude, often acting irresponsible and wasting away all the money he earns. Despite his goofy personality and poor popularity, Yato has a very mysterious dark past, as well as being very strong even without a weapon.
Hiyori is a high school girl who loves martial arts and has pretty decent fighting skills. Due to her soul being trapped between the near and far shore, she often turns half-phantom, leaving her body behind without realizing it. In this state, Hiyori has an phantom tail as well as having excellent jumping and dodging skills. However, her situation is unstable and dangerous, which is why many people recommend Yato to cut his ties with her and let her return to the world of the living. She is the love interest of Yato.
Yukine is the Shinki that Yato acquires in the beginning of the series. Just like other Shinki, Yukine used to be a human being who happened to die before its time. As it always happens with Gods and Shinkis, Yato is the only one who knows Yukine’s real name, past and death. Due to Yukine’s age (he was 14 when he died), he is pretty rebellious and emotionally unstable, causing Yato lots of pain in the beginning. Yukine’s Shinki’s form is a blade.
A Brief History of Noragami: The When, Where and How
Noragami (‘Stray God’ in English) is a Japanese manga by Adachitoka (two female authors) that began being serialized in Kodansha‘s Monthly Shounen Magazine in January 2011. An anime television series by studio Bones consisting of 12 episodes started airing in January 5th 2014, and a second season titled Noragami Aragoto followed in the Fall Season of 2015. Noragami is licensed by Funimation and is available for home release in Norh America.
Noragami has become a pretty popular series since the anime came out, often praised for its superb OST and well-done characterization. The manga was also the 14th TOP selling manga series in Japan during the first half of 2014 and it’s often seen in the Top 10 of the New York Times Best-Selling Manga. A mobile game was released in late 2015.
Why It’s Awesome
I’m going to be honest: I wasn’t expecting much when I first started watching this anime. I always believed that you can’t really make a good shounen in just 12 episodes. As a manga reader, I’m not very pleased with the series only getting 12 episodes per season because that usually results in rushing arcs and leaving relevant stuff out. I just think that this series would work SO much better with 26 episodes. *Angsty manga reader rant over*
Due to having few episodes, Noragami wastes no time in introducing the main characters. And the characters are probably one of the biggest strengths this story has. Sure, some of their personalities we might have seen before in other stories, but their situations and contexts are very original and unique. Things like Hiyori’s delicate hybrid state, Yato’s mysterious past, Yukine’s teenage behaviour or the interesting relationship between Gods and their Shinkis are what got me hooked. This is the thing: many shounen stories create first a universe and then focus on creating characters that fit in that universe. However, it’s seems to be the opposite case with Noragami. You can see the authors put a lot of thought on the characters, their thoughts and feelings and how they interlace with the story in a beautiful way. It’s not all about flashy action scenes and badass speeches. That is also probably why, instead of creating light, comedic memories in the beginning so that the drama can be more angsty later in the story, the characters have conflicts with each other since the very beginning. After all, it’s a God, a Shinki and a half-human, half-phantom, and they are going to have different points of views.
Bones is doing a pretty good job with the animation, although it would be a bonus point if they improved it during the battles (I’m thinking Tokyo Ghoul or Seraph of the End style). Aside from having an amazing OST, the openings for these series are impossible to skip.