Noragami Aragoto – 13 (End) and Series Review

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I knew I was right not to trust that kid…

And so we come to the end of another season of Noragami.  And so we once again are left to muse on whether we’re going to see more.  If pressed I’d say I’m somewhat less optimistic than I was last time, for a couple of reasons.  First, it seemed pretty clear from the way Bones paced the first season that the idea of a second had at least been floated.  And second, it seems likely disc sales will be smaller this time around (that’s usually the case with sequels, and Stalker supports the notion).  I’m hopeful, certainly, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say optimistic.

If indeed “Aragoto” is the final season of the Noragami anime, it’s fair to say it’s going out on top.  The Ebisu arc may not have been as consistently stellar as the Bishamon arc, but it was still excellent,  And the season on the whole was a cracking effort, certainly better than the first (which was very good).  This has been a bit of an under-the-radar series for me since the beginning, but Bones has done their usual stellar job of bringing it to the screen with flair and skill.

I think the Ebisu storyline ended up being a pretty surprising one.  He was not remotely the character he appeared to be at first, a great bit of misdirection by the writing really.  What was poignant about Ebisu is how little he changes when he reincarnates.  He comes back as a wide-eyed and generous little boy, in love with the sea and determined to try and make people’s lives better because after all, that’s a God’s job.  And he pretty much remains that person throughout his life, growing up physically but remaining that wide-eyed innocent inside.  And really, what more could one want from a God of Fortune than that?

That makes the first half of this episode especially effective.  Ebisu has died at the hands of the Gods, and in terrible fashion too – exploding inside his own clothes.  And at the end Ebisu validates Yato’s belief that reincarnation is not a salve against death, that there’s something in the person Ebisu is in this incarnation that’s unique and worth hanging on to.  The subject of reincarnation in Buddhism is a complicated one, not least when it comes to identity, and I think this is a troubling element that many followers struggle to come to terms with.

Yato’s friendship with Ebisu lives on even after Ebisu himself has died and returned, and it’s clear that Yato sees Ebisu as everything he yearns to be but isn’t.  Indeed, Yukine and Hiyori are barely a presence in the A-Part, which is really a tribute to Ebisu’s essential goodness as much as anything. Yato takes him to the Olive Tavern, and Bishamon agrees to give shelter to his fugitive exemplar (despite Ebisu parroting Yato’s per name for her – “Crazy Lady“).  The only mystery is the location of the locution brush Ebisu stole from the Underworld, which is nowhere to be found.

In the end, this arc ended up being as much about the tug-of-war for Yato’s soul as anything else.  That can be viewed through any number of lenses – the old Kami vs. the one he wants to be.  Yaboku vs. Yato, Hiiro vs. Yukine.  In the end what matters it that Yato chooses the light, and that means rejecting Nora – who obviously wasn’t trapped in Hell after all.  We’ve been down this road before, because Nora is like a bad drug habit Yato just can’t kick.  But in formally releasing her after a rousing closing statement by Yukine, he’s certainly come closer than he ever has before.

So remember that Fujisaki kid?  Yeah, turns out I was right not to trust him – though I’d be lying if I said I’d figured out he was Yato’s father.  And he’s got the locution brush too – this, after having framed Ebisu for his own crimes and escaped the wrath of the Gods.  We certainly have our basis for a third season, if one ever comes – and a pretty big clue about where the manga is headed either way.

With that, Noragami draws to a close. It’s a funny sort of series in that it was never one that was at the forefront of my consciousness but was never far from my mind – kind of like Kamisama Hajimemashita in that way.  The balance of comedy and tragedy in this series is especially appealing, as is the fact that major characters actually change and grow over the course of the story.  I like all of them (and any show that can make me like a Kaju Yuuki character s doing something right – as is he, as this may be is best performance), and it doesn’t feel as if their story has run its course in any way.  The whole of Noragami is more than the sum of its parts, and these waters run deeper than they appear to at first glance.  There’s a lot left to tell with Noragami, and I sincerely hope Bones gets the chance to tell it.

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  1. s

    Yato is like a child that comes from an abusive family.. a family that makes him believe that he is only good for one thing and as much as he wants to fight it, the abuse keeps him complacent. However, with good friends by your side, with people who give all the damns in the world about you, you can find the strength to break the cycle of abuse, even if that abuse comes from your family. I like to view Yato's character growth as one big allegory for overcoming abuse and breaking ties with those that you have to, even if they are your family

  2. M

    I actually liked this arc more than the Bishamon one. I think it's because it featured the main crew more prominently, especially Yato. Bishamon's arc was largely about her crew, which was interesting enough, but I didn't feel like the payoff was nearly as good as this one. It's nice that she's no longer the crazy chick (she really was pretty illogical in her Yato hatred), but I'm not sure she truly learned anything. Is she going to change the way she handled her Regalia family? I don't think that was clear. In any case it it was mostly just a bump in the road for Yato, Yukine, and Hiyori. Yukine's level up was great though.

    With the Ebisu arc I felt there was great payoff with both Ebisu and Yato. Both were able to learn something about themselves through the other. Like you said, Ebisu struggled with the reincarnation cycle and finds himself, but unfortunately he only does so just before he dies. Damn it sucked when he died. It hit me harder than I expected.

    Thankfully the episode also had a triumphant moment when Yato released Hiiro. It's a big moment 2 seasons in the making and I'm excited to see where the story goes from here.

    Hopefully that means a 3rd season, but if not I'll have to track down the manga to continue the story. I don't think I would have bothered to do so after the first season. If the goal was better manga sales, then mission accomplished!

  3. s

    i myself like this arc more than the bishamon arc as well because the pathos was much more powerful. Technically the bishamon arc has been building up since season 1 so there was more time to emotionally invest the viewer however the ebisu arc in my eyes is the better written narrative piece. While the anime adaptation was a good one, it didnt bring out the best in the arc due to ep constraints and some anime original decisions; some which were good and 1 or 2 which i dont know how to feel about until a season 3 rolls around.

  4. P

    I would hate to admit it but you were right about Fujisaki! But I didn't think his role would be connected to Yato at all, let alone Yato's father, I'm still surprised. That series ending puts you into the mouth of the tornado xD

    It is dispicable to think that Ebisu was a chess piece in Yato's father game of letting him take the blame. And if we remember he visited Ebisu in the hospital before that (maybe?) but regardless, there is something sad about the new Ebisu losing what the old one has suffered to get before passing away. I cried so much more than I should.

    Letting go of Hiiro was the best of this episode.

    Thank you for your review! Each and every point is true to teh anime.

  5. P

    I can't understand how Yato's "father" is in highschooler with friends. Now that I think about it, he was also carrying "3" presents at kapapaya land -_-" why did they end this episode with a scary image and a shocker! /restrains self from manga

  6. E

    That end image was great, one of the creepiest I've seen in a while…

  7. f

    i think they purposely ends it with that epilogue to keep the fans hope of a new season alive. otherwise why would they bother with it.

  8. There may or may not be hope for a new season, but there's another very obvious reason to end like that – it helps push fans to read the manga.

  9. R

    I love how they paced this final ep, with them neatly interspersing the flashbacks to the events of the previous ep. Not only did it filled us in on what happened in last week's cliffhanger, but we also get some interesting insights on Yato's and Ebisu's psyches.

    The humor was certainly fun too. Looks like Yato is having fun teaching kid Ebisu stuff, and poor Kuraha was reduced to a kitten, tee-hee!

    Though I kinda wish we got a bit more backstory on Hiiro and Yato's father, but I guess I'll leave that for the third season (really, Bones trowing that tease in the end is a good guarantee that a third season is in planning).

  10. m

    I was pleasantly surprised that Yato's father was Fujisaki, and that he was voiced by Ishikawa (this seiyuu is on a roll – like Ohsaka Ryouta was just a while back).
    As we know, blood runs deep. Cutting off his ties to Nora is like a promise to Yukine that he is determined to change, but the familial ties won't disentangle so easily. It was great that the anime season ended off with this arc, as it was a good closure for our main leads.
    Sincerely hoping for Season 3

  11. T

    I'm not sure how i feel about this finale. I liked Ebisu a lot so if season 3 happens i want to see more of him as child ^_^

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