Noragami – 04

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That was simply outstanding, start-to-finish.

Space Dandy’s second episode has competition now for the best by any new series this season, as BONES stablemate Noragami delivers easily its best ep yet (and the first three were darn good).  I’ve noted the consistency this series has shown in its first three eps, but if you’re going to break that up this is definitely the right direction to go – everything was turned up a notch at least, and the overall result was an outright winner.

The good bloodlines have been evident in Noragami since the very beginning – great music, outstanding cinematography and background art, typically strong BONES animation, and a distinct style.  While it’s true that one thing that set this week’s ep apart from the first three was that the content itself was exponentially more compelling, that’s too simple an explanation – as good as the series has already been on the technical side, that levelled up in a big way too.  This was some of the cleverest and most creative visual work I’ve seen since Kyosougiga and Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge.

Noragami is definitely an all-arounder as opposed to a niche series – you get a bit of everything in terms of drama, action, pathos and humor.  This week was the best example, for while it was loaded with some of the most effective comedy of the season it also paid out last week’s bet that the series was going to a darker place.  It starts out innocuously enough, with Yato literally dreaming of grandeur (I still love the fact that he’s so downtrodden that even in his dreams of avarice he drinks cup sake from the konbini), and Yukine growing increasingly irritated by it.  Sleeping rough is bad enough – Yato’s incessant sleep-talking is the icing on the cake.

Hiyori continues to press for some actual service from Yato, and something always happens to cause her to forget.  The episode takes its first substantial turn when Yato takes she and Yukine to visit Inokashira Koen and a girl, Kofuku (Toyasaki Aki) whom he introduces as his girlfriend before borrowing ¥30000 from her.  It turns out she’s actually Ebisu (although that too later that turns out to be false, as she’s actually a Binbougami posing as one of the Seven Lucky Gods), and she’s attached at the hip to her overprotective Regalia Daikoku (Ono Daisuke).  Apparently they live in one of the shops in the park – I’ve no idea why – and the visit is slightly bizarre and quite hilarious.  Yato cautions that Daikoku “has a thing for kids”, and Kofuku offers the puzzling and slightly disturbing defense that he “likes to stare at them till they disappear from sight” (and Daikoku does take a strong interest in Yukine).  Stay tuned for more on this, maybe.

Kofuku has some disturbing information for Hiyori, but that’s deferred until after Yato deals with the job he’s just gotten – which he only got because a man named Yuusuke has called him by mistake when trying to say goodbye to his parents before killing himself.  I’m not sure how what follows is going to be received, but I loved it – a ridiculous and ridiculously long fall from a tall building during which Yuusuke (Ono Yuuki) recounts his sad story, wherein he’s met a young girl (who’s been assigned the outraged Hiyori’s face), fallen in love, and had nothing but bad luck since.  It’s the Binbougami of course, but the interplay of the brilliant cinematography and animation with the machine-gun absurdist dialogue totally works.  It’s an audacious scene that comes close to breaking the fourth wall, but it ends up being one of the best scenes this season and certainly Noragami’s best so far.

I really like the way this show juxtaposes comedy with its dark and unsettling subject matter.  There’s a lot that’s pretty grim here – the show keeps returning to suicide as a theme, and we get constant reminders of the way the world of death is always lurking at the edge of our vision.  Yukine’s story seems certain to be a tragic one when it’s finally revealed, and then there’s Yato himself.  We knew he was a God of War already, but Kofuku clues Hiyori into some of his bloody past – when the only way a lesser God could keep from being forgotten was to take any wish, no matter from whom.  It seems Yato has done some terrible things (including destroying one of his own Regalia) and that adds an interesting dimension to his character.  Clearly this is no conventional protagonist, but also not just a loser God who can’t find two ¥5 coins to rub together.  A dangerous Yato is definitely more compelling as a character.

This episode finds Hiyori both getting her strongest taste yet of how sinister the world she’s become entangled with is, and showing the first signs of possibly being attracted to Yato.  That could end up being a very complicated situation, and muddling things even further is the presence of Nora (Kugimiya Rie), the dead girl we briefly saw at the very end of Episode #3.  She’s taken quite an interest in Yukine (she’s clearly not alone there, and his ability to “sever” Yuusuke from Kofuku is a clue that he’s not a normal Shinki), but she also has a connection to Yato – her insistence that he refer to her by the name he gave her strongly suggests she used to be a Regalia as well. Taken together, this is all both immensely entertaining and quite intriguing stuff.  We have all sorts of interesting things starting to happen now, and with the story catching up to the execution Noragami is flashing enormous potential – I only wish it had more than one cour with which to develop it.

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Noragami - 04-12 Noragami - 04-13 Noragami - 04-14
Noragami - 04-15 Noragami - 04-16 Noragami - 04-17
Noragami - 04-18 Noragami - 04-19 Noragami - 04-21
Noragami - 04-22 Noragami - 04-23 Noragami - 04-24
Noragami - 04-25 Noragami - 04-26 Noragami - 04-27
Noragami - 04-28 Noragami - 04-30 Noragami - 04-31
Noragami - 04-32 Noragami - 04-33 Noragami - 04-34


  1. b

    I don't know if you know this Enzo, but Adachitoka's previous manga was Alive: The Final Evolution. The female duo were in charge of the art while Tadashi Kawashima was the one writing the story. Maybe you're familiar with the story about how it was going to have an anime adaptation by Gonzo until their famous bankruptcy stopped the project.
    Unfortunately, Tadashi-sensei suffered from cancer, he still continued working with Adachitoka and finished the manga on his deathbed (the main character's final words about live and death in the last chapter have some poignancy knowing he died shortly after writing it).

    Seems that he was even planning his next story before his death and apparently, said story was Noragami. He allowed Adachitoka to take the idea and expand it in his stead.

    At the end of Noragami's first volume Adachitoka makes a dedicatory to Tadashi-sensei and spends a couple of pages talking about him, thanking him for what they learned from him and commenting about their insecurities of doing a manga by themselves for the first time.

    Truly tragic and makes me wish the anime is successful (and a rise in manga sales).

    P.S Yuusuke is voiced by Yuuki Ono, he posted on his twitter a Yuusuke drawing made for him by Adachitoka.

  2. Thanks – wonderful, informative comment. I regret to say I haven't read Alive but I'm inclined to give it a try after reading your post.

    BTW – am I crazy, or do Ono Yuuki and Ono Daisuke appear in an inordinate amount of series together?

  3. K

    I was thinking it was Ono Daisuke and Kamiya Hiroshi who appear in a crazy amount of series together.

    They even host a radio show together.

  4. N

    It would be great if you could check Alive out Enzo! I found it on a whim a few years ago and really fell in love with the story, art and characters. I was saddened when I heard the author had passed away. But I'm delighted to hear the artists carried on his idea.

    I am really loving Noragami so far! The music especially has been exceptional. It reminds me of the music in soul eater. I also wish it had more tha one cour. I don't suppose there's any chance of a second season being green-lit? Any info on whether it's doing well in Japan or is too early to tell?

  5. Same composer as Soul Eater.

    It's doing decently on Stalker – not great, but this looks like a very weak season for sales as well as quality, and Noragami is in the top six or seven in projected sales. I wouldn't bet on a second season but it's not out of the question.

  6. N

    Ah cool. Thanks for the info.Guess I'll have to check out the manga if an second season isn't looking too likely.

  7. E

    You guys have to go read it now. It's one of the best fighting manga I have ever read.

  8. Z

    You've just convinced me to check out this show right now. Alive remains one of my favorite mangas of all time, and it was a damn shame the Gonzo adaptation never bore fruit because of their bankruptcy.

  9. Z

    No, that was much better than Space Dandy ep02. The introduction of a third protagonist has done wonders for this series.

  10. s

    Ahhhh, and with this ep we finally get a lot of character content for Yato (some of which one might miss if they didnt pay attention to it). But with the previous ep and this one, the narrative has really brought into perspective why Yato is so dirt poor, why he'd go as far as keeping up his optimism by buying lucky charms "imbued with divine power (funny since he's a god and this usually is supposed to be the other way around with normal people buying into that stuff), and why he has changed his path of life. He's probably sick of having to resort to killing or bending to the wishes of other people. Most Gods dont have to worry about fulfilling any wish to maintain their relevance. If Yato was a more renowned god, he wouldnt have to worry about having to fulfill any wish because he'd have enough followers to remember and worship him for a long time to come.

    Now Hiyori finding Yato's smell enticing is very intriguing, especially since everyone else around Yato is always complaining about his smell. Im pretty sure it has to do with the fact that the smell that Hiyori finds tantalizing is actually Yato's despair and darkness; although she is not aware that's what it is, most likely confusing it with infatuation, which is not completely wrong because she is crushing on him big time. We gotta keep in mind that Hiyori is part-phantom now, and just like the phantoms who find the smell of misery and woe of people enticing, Hiyori is subjected to the same type of desire. It seems though that the only smell she cares for is Yato, to which again, a part of that is possibly due to her growing infatuation to him.

  11. M

    Happy to agree. Some of the art looked a little wonky and the falling gag probably ran a bit long for me, but I'd take all that baggage wrapped warmly in a compelling episode over the first two any day. Choice, Bonzu.

  12. s

    Yea the animation wasnt it's tightest this ep (the exception being the portrayal of Yato's past..the use of shadows, blood-splatter and movement were pretty good) but the art presentation is still strong, keeping each ep fresh and a joy to look at (Adachitoka's art is well-preserved in the anime transition)

  13. f

    I noticed the smell thing too! I couldn't figure out why; interesting theory you have there. I wouldn't say Hiyori's really crushing hard on him yet though, although there IS a developing potential for romance between them.

    And this is only going to be one cour?! That's such a tragedy…

  14. C

    No wonder why Yato is impoverished. He got a Binbougami for a girlfriend. I'm on the same boat with you, I think this episode is superb. There's definitely the light and the dark playing on this series and I'm liking it.

  15. t

    probably the best series of winter 2014 so far. at least of all new ones (because silver spoon is a tough runner too :P).

    we continue to enjoy Noragami's wonderful combination of comedy and seriousness. and indeed the whole performance is great. all those comic touch are so typically BONES that it's so fun to watch.

    but Noragami also looking ahead a bit. it keeps building the story and characters involving comedy and drama. despite it might seems episodic, I feel there is certainly a set up course here.
    first, we discover a bit more about Yato and about the whole fantasy world. I am not sure Yato wanted Hiyori to learn so much. but this piece of info is sure important and project about Yato's nature and maybe will stir up a bit more about Yukine's past/tragedy.
    so, despite all comedy scenes involving Yato, there is some serious side we keep seeing. like last week when he war reluctant to help.
    now it's interesting since he is (or was?) the god of war, and I think he somewhat feels in charge. I mean…war causes agony, depression, feeling of lost, and other tough feeling that lead to it (maybe not among students or workers) and he is probably feeling somewhat close to this.

    second, Yato tell Hiyori that she should go to Kofuku if something happens to him. now beside this is hilarious (if something happens to me, it's not unfortunate enough, go to binbougami LOL), it's almost obvious that something will happen. what and why?hard to say…I don't feel strong clues for something messy to happen. unless we consider his past or the shadow problem in town..but again..not so much strong clues in that direction.

    speaking of the town's problem of shadow, I won't be surprised if Yukine's past might be related this way or another (be to suicide or depression..not necessarily of him..but related). it was also implied by the fact he succeeded cutting Yuusuke's ties, which considered a tough task.

    Hiyori's wish still being ignored. intentionally or not?hard to tell. for a moment when he said to her "come, I want you to meet someone", I thought that maybe it'll somehow be related..but not. now this really bugs me, but I believe there is a reason behind it. so I put me trust and leave it be.

    Yato officially got himself Harem?let's see: Kofuku, Mayu and Nora, maybe Hiyori too.
    so..maybe Yato's dreams aren't so far from reality as we might think 😛 LOL

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