Noragami Overall Review
Animation Company: BONES
Genres: Action, Adventure, Shounen
Airing Date: January 2014
Trailers: PV 1
Summary: At the boundary between this realm and another, there live eight million gods, dead spirits who serve the gods, and other assorted spirits who help and meddle in the affairs of humans. A sweet middle school girl named Hiyori Iki has been enduring bullying from her classmates, and she goes to the restroom by herself to cry. Scrawled on the bathroom wall is a phone number and the message, “I solve your troubles.” After Hiyori calls the number, she encounters a homeless boy wearing a jersey who calls himself a god. The boy, named Yato, is rough, moody, lazy, and never listens to anyone’s wishes, but he had the power to be a god… that no one knew of.
Considering the production team wounded up treading the Original Anime Ending route (for good reasons), they did a really good job integrating the Original Story in between the events that occurred in the manga. This success is obviously because the mangaka had been closely involved with the project. Once you have the original creators involved with creating something that wasn’t included in the canon material, the odds of success skyrockets. It was really smart what they did. That said, earlier in the show, while the news that BONES will be doing an Original Anime Ending spin with the mangaka was announced, I automatically viewed the concept as side-story that was never included in the manga because of what it was going to be about. However, I felt that original-anime plotline “What Yato Could Have Been” could have been a tad stronger. For anyone who had read the manga, the root of the problem is obvious. For some odd reason- BONES had decided to lighten up the tone of the series as oppose to going all out with the dark undertones which would have been more faithful to the manga’s atmosphere. While yes, it is quite light-hearted at times… but once you get down to the more serious scenes, you see that side of fear, vulnerability, and the darker sides of the characters. This is why the change of the entire atmosphere affected not only the characters but also the story so much. So that is why I have to give this a seven.
Characters & Development: 6.5/10
Admittedly it is sad for me to grade this category with a 6.5. Noragami has for most part, an incredibly dorky and loveable cast that will charm you from the very first moment you meet them. The reason why I’m not giving it a nine (yes, this could have very well gotten a nine) was because of the consequences that came with lightening up the tone of the show too much. As mentioned in the Story/Plot category, for some odd reason- they had decided to not go down the dark!route which would have been truer to the manga’s atmosphere. This is why the change of the entire atmosphere had affected the characters so much. It chipped away important pieces about them and how they behaved and interacted to one another. As result they weren’t entirely true to the characters- particularly Yukine, Nora and Hiyori. I will start with Nora because I feel that she was the one who was the most affected by the changes.
For some odd reason the production team felt they need to tweak all of Nora’s scenes (which were perfectly adaptable to begin with), taking away the few opportunities to showcase just what kind of character she is, and the type of relationship she has with Yato. And that relationship with Yato is important because it backs the reasons why she hates Hiyori so much (more so than Yukine). The tweaks were small and on the surface, harmless for most part (especially towards the new audience who haven’t read the manga yet), but for those who went ahead to catch up with the manga because they are head of heels with the series, we end up bummed out about it. I will tell you right now, Nora is a very manipulative character, and she is really good at it. That is what makes her character so scary. Had they showcased her manipulative traits more, I am sure it would have had an even bigger impact on the audience.
The way the changes had affected Hiyori’s character weren’t as obvious as Nora’s or Yukine’s (until the finale). There is not much to criticize besides the fact they did take out some of her (as I like to call it) “Glory Moments”. She is identified as one of the Queens within the fandom for a reason, and that’s because this girl can Kick. Ass. Hiyori is a headstrong character who is not afraid to put herself in harms way to help her comrades. Yes, while the anime did feature (and thank god they did) Hiyori being awesome and attacking Phantoms heads on, what they didn’t feature was some of Hiyori’s more epic scenes where she actually defeated a Phantom! It is such a shame because it’s another one of those small unnecessary tweaks they made (and I have no idea why they even bothered!). For most part she was okay, but on some occasions Hiyori’s character did go a bit Out of Character.
As for Yukine, it was mostly the fact that they had to skim over a lot of the crimes he had committed during his arc, but it wasn’t too bad. It could have been worse- trust me on that. The only thing that really bothered me was as soon as they stepped over onto the Original Anime Content line and things happened… (can’t say, I don’t want to spoil you), Yukine’s initial reaction to the circumstances was far too nonchalant to my liking. Yukine would have taken the whole situation very seriously right off the bat. Luckily that flaw was short-lived and it’s something that can be overlooked.
Then we have Yato. While he didn’t have as many problems, and they were most part very true to his character (mostly his dorky side), he too suffered from the change of the ambience of the show. Like Nora, the change had stripped away the darker side of Yato’s character- that part of him that actually scared Hiyori at one point. It is really too bad that they stripped that part because I think it would have strengthened the plot of “What Yato Could Have Been…” big time.
They also could have seriously developed Rabo’s character some more. It’s a real pity how much of a short-coming it was for him. The fact that he was made to purposely parallel Yato could have made things even more interesting had they decided to invest more time on him. But what can you do, time was short, it probably would have screwed everything up had they done that… Maybe instead of twelve episodes, they MIGHT have been able to do that had they had thirteen instead since one episode could have covered more of his back-story and his relationship with Yato. That said it is a shame how much they skimmed over that part…
Despite the flaws in the changes, I am still happy and for most part satisfied with how the characters turned out. I have had my share of adaptions that had completely butchered the characters, so these flaws are relatively minor and are easier to overlook while watching the show.
Animation Quality: 8/10
You can always count on BONES to do a fantastic job with these type of shows. One of my favourite features was how they had colored the Phantoms. It’s very much BONES’ signature in their coloring style and it really suited Noragami. They did a great job adapting to the character designs (as per usual) and was for most part consistent all the way through. The only times the animation was off, was during some of the fights- but it’s hardly noticeable for most people so it’s something you can easily overlook. Both the OP and ED sequences were fantastic and always fun to watch, so I pretty much never skipped out on it.
Original Soundtrack: 9/10
Make no mistake, Noragami’s OST was one of the most highly anticipated Original Soundtrack of the season (as far as I’m concerned). I immediately got my hands on it and fell in love. I am rating this a nine because there were a few tracks that I didn’t particularly like, but overall it was a solid and awesome. My favorite tracks are: Misogi, Noratan, and Again. Of course I absolutely LOVEEEEE both the OP: Goya no Machiawase by Hello Sleepwakers (I can listen to this all day!) and the ED: Heart Realize by Tia!
Overall Score: 8/10
I have never expected myself to fall in love with Noragami (let alone become OBSESSED with it). Initially, before the show even came out I had a weird feeling that it was going to be creepy and it was going to be scare me (which is weird because the summary isn’t spooky at all). Boy was I wrong! I am glad that despite my hesitation I checked out the first episode like the rest of the team and been a fan of both the anime and manga ever since. While the adaptation was far from perfect, at least it didn’t end up as a train-wreck and was still enjoyable to watch over and over again. I am very much satisfied with the overall results, which is why I am rating this an eight.
Noragami is a great show and is hands down, one of the best and stronger titles of the Winter Season 2014! I swear to God, there better be a second season because I desperately want to see the Bishamon Arc and many more be animated!!! GIMME MOARRRR~
Recommended: ABSOLUTELY!!!!! Be sure to check out both the anime and the manga!!! I would recommend you watch the anime if though if you haven’t read the manga, just so that you can enjoy it to the fullest as oppose to nitpicking the flaws I have mentioned in the above. But regardless of which order you decide to go with, or if you have already read the manga- you can still enjoy it just as I have.
Fun Facts: + Noragami’s Anime is licensed by Funimation + Noragami’s Manga has been licensed by Kodansha USA, and will be coming out this fall (September 2nd 2014).