- Genre: Action, supernatural, drama, comedy
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Bones
People think that being a God is all fun and games. You know, just because you happen to be an all powerful mystical being, loved and admired by countless people, doesn’t mean you don’t have your own problems. For instance, you could have loved ones that can betray you and let you down. You are not immune to being disappointed in yourself sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ever feel small or unworthy. But you have to put on a brave front. You’re a God after all, you have responsibilities. People are counting on you. And yet, those same people will carelessly forget you the second they no longer need you. For a lesser known God like Yato, this is a death sentence. Of course, he has to do everything he can just to scrape by. It might just be o.k. though. The greater gods are starting to recognize him now, he even has a temple. If he just keeps trying to help people out he may earn his place. But circumstances keep pushing him back to his old ways. Is it all really coincidence or is someone actively trying to bring back the god of calamity? and if so, why?
Did you guys perchance read my review of the first season? Noragami: Portrait of a Doleful God. I have a peculiar relationship with this show. I can’t help but binge it, seemingly incapable of stopping myself from watching episode after episode. The second season is the opposite. I always take it in slowly. I did still rewatch it for this review. Maybe I shouldn’t have.
Unlike most shows, the technical merits of season 2 were not a great improvement on season 1. The series does have a signature look that’s sustained but once you’re use to it, it’s much less striking. Arogoto features a considerably more action heavy narrative and thankfully, the animation sustains it admirably. Fight scenes are entertaining to watch, chase scenes are exciting! What’s less impressive is artistic consistency. It seems the tradeoff was more frequent and obvious loss of details with camera distance, as well as some very odd looking angles. It wasn’t bad enough to detract from the overall experience, but it is clearly noticeable.
The voice acting in this series was always good. I want to say it got better but I’m not sure. You see, the characters have calmed down a bit, so the performances are more subdued. This appeals more to me personally, but it isn’t an objective improvement. For me, the one clear improvement where the OP and ED. I really loved both of them. The OP is very striking with those dichromatic scenes and looks like it’s full of spoilers but is cleverly misleading. Of course I can’t deny that Hey Kids by The Oral Cigarettes is a great song. The entire thing really pumps you up and gets you ready to take in the episode full of energy and adrenaline.
Once you’re all done, the ED is just a gentle little good night. The sweet song helps sooth any emotional scars the show may have inflicted while the brightly coloured scenes are reminiscent of a fairy tail read to you before bed time, just about promising a happy ending. It’s a perfect wind down that will calm you down and get you ready for the next episode!
I truly enjoyed both. These are perfect examples of well made bookends that work in harmony with the show to enhance the narrative and not just independent show pieces.
When I write reviews I always wonder if I should be coy. Play hard to get and reserve my ultimate judgment for the end. Wait let me rephrase that a bit more accurately. I always think I should tell you at the end. That way you guys have a reason to keep reading and it’s a nice way to wrap things up neatly. But I don’t. I get too excited and spill the beans (sometimes in my summary). My poker face is so bad, I can’t even keep it up in posts. So tell me, did I like Aragoto? Did I prefer it to season 1?
I did – in every possible way. Noragami Aragoto enhances the best season 1 has to offer, irons out most of the kinks, and then gives us even more. You should watch it.
The season is essentially divided into 2 arcs, neither of which are actually about Yato. But you know those gods of calamity just can’t seem to stay out of trouble, can they? The first arc deals with turmoil within Bishamon’s house.
This arc fleshes out some elements put in place in Noragami and revisits the themes of parental bounds and responsibility. Here we finally find out what the history between Bishamon and Yato. We also get a lot more details on the symbiotic relationship between Regalia and Gods. Gods may be helpless without their Regalia but in exchange, they bear the burdens of their sins, failings and pain. This intimate exchange is a beautiful metaphor for parenthood. This mutual dependence means that they will by necessity hurt each other but each is incomplete without the other. It’s a bond that’s completely unique and irreplaceable. And this is why being a Nora (a regalia serving many gods), is such a taboo.
This arc concentrated on Yukine’s point of vue. He’s matured a lot since we last saw him but there are still some growing pains ahead. I couldn’t help but make the obvious parallel between Regalia and Yokai. (I know, I know, technically both kami and regalia are types of Yokai…bear with me) Regalia live along side humans that can’t see them. The world is just spinning along and leaving them behind. Meanwhile, Gods’ entire existence is dependent on humans, yet they rarely ever come together. Humans go about their lives, destroying the world around them and hurting each other, often without even realizing it, while Gods and Regalia run around trying to clean up the mess without even a thank you in exchange. Hoping for blind, unipersonal devotion but never creating any real connection.
In my notes I wrote that humans are to Yokai as food is to chronic overeaters. Yokai both hate and love humans. They are one of the most important things in their world. They bring sorrow and troubles, yet they can’t be avoided. Humans are vital to the survival of the Yokai world around them. At least in Noragami. This is another interesting relationship. The notion of hurting most those we love most comes up time and again. You may have noticed, I’m a sucker for the bitter sweet.
As a side note, Bishamon is a pretty crier.
The second arc moves to focus more on Yato as he gets tangled up with Ebisu. Yato has a difficult family situation as well, and it seems his father has some type of interest in the disturbance being caused by the god of fortune. In a way, this arc is almost independent of what comes before. Obviously, you may be a bit confused if you don’t know the characters but overall, it’s a stand-alone story about Ebisu’s questionable search for a better world. These episodes mercilessly toy with our expectations. Perceived antagonists suddenly reveal themselves righteous then menacing again. Loyalties are tested on very level.
There are some pretty depressing themes explored here but the emphasis on relentless action keeps the plot form ever becoming painful. We also delve deeper than ever before into traditional Japanese folklore. I don’t know about you, but I found it fascinating. It’s something I always love to see in a series. Do you guys want me to do more posts about Japanese myths or culture as they relate to particular shows? I never know if these things interest anyone other than me.
I feel a little kneecapped by the plot. Trying to properly explain exactly what I loved so much about Noragami Aragoto is likely to spoil some things which I would rather avoid. Let me try to summarize it. Aragoto mixes classic myths with modern anxieties to explain what makes the people that come into our lives special. It sprinkles humour into stoic drama and wraps it all up in thick heart pounding action. It doesn’t sugar coat anything but doesn’t dwell on the tragic. It has a really fantastic cliffhanger ending that will make you want to hold your breath until season 3 comes out, and yet the story wraps up perfectly.
I really liked Noragami Aragoto – I think you would like it too. Maybe I shouldn’t have rewatched it. Now I once again have to fight the urge to buy all the manga.
Favorite character: Kazuma, he does what needs to be done (very curious about Yato’s dad)
What this anime taught me: There’s honour in knowing how to fail
“The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.”
Suggested drink: Daddy Issues
- Every time Yukine is in sword form – take a shot
- Every time Bishanon is naked – blusht
- Every time Yato gets no respect – take a shot
- Every time we see an eye motif – take a deep breath
- Every time anyone gets drunk – join them
- Every time anyone gets blighted – take a shot
- Every time Hiyori does a wrestling move – cheer
- Every time we see a water drop – ask yourself about the significance of water motifs in anime
- Every time we see a mask – take a shot
- Every time Yato is forgotten – reassure him through the screen