[Synopsis]: Lacking both recognition and a shrine, Yato (Kamiya, Hiroshi) is a god down on his luck, forced to take on mundane requests in order to earn his meager offerings. On one of these menial tasks he is rescued from the path of a racing truck by Iki Hiyori (Uchida, Maaya) who subsequently is subjected to inconvenient out of body experiences when her soul leaves her body. After Hiyori requests for Yato to fix her condition they meet Yukine, (Kaji, Yuuki) a wandering spirit who becomes Yato’s divine weapon. The three fight ayakashi and do odd jobs in order for Yato to one day become a recognizable god with both a shrine and followers.
Noragami has a fairly small cast which can be nice in terms of simplicity however it can also lead to the show feeling over-reliant on only a few characters. Yato, the penniless god who dreams of becoming a well-respected deity, is a fairly lighthearted and comedic character however is perfectly capable of becoming serious given the proper conditions. He’s not afraid to take on simple jobs in order to earn his 5-yen donations however I also felt that this trait was somewhat troublesome as the character has high aspirations but only progresses towards them at a snails pace.
Iki Hiyori is a generic enough school girl (outside of her interest in professional martial-arts). She isn’t a very intricate or even interesting character however her place in the show is well situated enough as she acts as a sort of layman for the viewers so we can have an introduction to the implications and concepts of Noragami‘s world. She is a good source of comedy however I don’t think she holds much intrigue within the story.
Lastly we have Yato’s divine weapon: Yukine. He was a wandering spirit when Yato found him and by nature of this was once human which makes for a good deal of the shows drama as well as Yukine’s own internal anxiety. I found him to be rather irritating as a character – it is eluded to that he had a tragic or traumatic past as a human however his conflict with Yato and his lot in the show is not tied to this and therefore feels needlessly whiny and unpleasant. He is often at odds with Yato however there didn’t appear to be any unique character qualities within Yukine that would give way for this and so his discomfort feels petty. He doesn’t exhibit very good character development either and while he does become less unpleasant after a point, it is not even his own doing that leads to this near 180 of attitude. All in all, I felt he was rather annoying and I thought his poorly written character exploration took up much too much time.
The character designs in Noragami are fairly simple except when it comes to the more supernatural characters like other gods or the ayakashi – Yato himself is best visually characterized by wearing a jersey and sweat pants. The character designs tend to get a little relaxed or lazy if the scene is not of great import or when the characters are depicted as far away however they never become outright terrible.
The combat in the show could almost entirely be described as single-strike or clash based because many of the battles are between Yato wielding Yukine against an otherworldly monster. This isn’t necessarily bad however if one was to look into the show for action reasons then these scenes leave a bit to be desired in terms of choreography, length, and overall complexity.
I think this is where Noragami falls short for most people – not because the story is poorly written or because the characters act stupid but because there doesn’t seem to be much there to begin with. The premise of the story – that Yato wishes to become a famously worshiped god and that Hiyori wants her body fixed – is not something that the story spends much time chasing after. Yes, Yato takes odd jobs in order to increase his recognition and earn his offerings however, as I stated in the [Characters] section, he seem to have much actual ambition and therefore hardly progresses towards his dream within the course of the 12 episodes.
The content that the show actually covers, concerning primarily Yukine’s emotional disposition and later Yato’s dark history, I didn’t find as interesting as if the show pursued its original premise more actively. In all honesty, because the show is primarily lighthearted for a good deal of its episodes, I would say that the comedic interactions between the main cast of characters is ultimately of more interest than the plot the show shallowly explores.
The music was pretty good and some people may recognize a similar approach and style as to that of Katanagatari as the composer is Iwasaki Taku. I wouldn’t say that the music is nearly as good as his other work in my personal opinion however I would say the soundtrack is one of the show’s better appeals. The music mostly occupies a BG-type quality whereas Iwasaki’s work normally takes more of a center stage role in my experience – the action scenes do play up the music accordingly so I generally enjoy these parts of the music more than others.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
While there is a second season now confirmed for Noragami, these 12 episodes felt forgettable to me. The characters weren’t very interesting and there were so few of them that the cast of the show felt pretty lackluster.
I gave the show a 5 because its well enough animated and has decent music but the show spent its 12 episode run quite poorly in the progression department and had a few actively annoying elements such as Yukine’s dialogue and characterization.
Because the show offers very little in overall content – I have a hard time recommending the show to anyone for genre purposes however someone that’s looking for a supernatural anime would not go amiss as the ayakashi and gods are fairly present throughout the show. The action in Noragami i felt was pretty lackluster save maybe the final confrontation in the show however I don’t think it was a worthy payoff and wouldn’t recommend it for this reason. I would say that the show’s strongest point is its comedy and so anyone looking for a good few comedic reaction faces and decent gags would do fine in watching the show however there is a fair amount of drama as well so its not a pure comedy by any means.