For the record, I think an actual God of War anime would be stupid.
Regular readers might remember that I dropped the first Noragami back when it aired because my tolerance for shonen action stuff was less then than it is now and I was still in that Jojo phase where everything I see of the genre from here on out would be a disappointment by comparison. However, once I had exited that phase, gained more of an interest in religion (that is, stories that apply religion rather than actual beliefs themselves) so I could understand better why people liked it, and learned of the sequel’s existence, I watched the whole thing on Netflix and…well let’s just say I got through Nana in the span of a week and despite Noragami’s much shorter length, it took me five days to finish it. It had a lot of interesting things to it, but so much time was spent on Yukine’s stuff to the point of annoyance, and the final bad guy…I don’t even remember what his deal was and I doubt anyone else does either. Nevertheless, I was looking forward to the sequel since fans told me that from here on out was when the series got into the meaty stuff and unlike light novels (looking at you…not gonna bother naming names), manga actually have a tendency to do that. And you know what? They were right.
With all the setup from what I can only describe as an incredibly overlong prologue completed, Noragami delves more into actual character struggles with this sequel as we focus on the truth behind Bishamon’s hatred for Yato, Yato’s previous familiar and her new owner, and Yato himself as we learn just how important being a god with an actual shrine is to him, along with what he’d do to accomplish said goal. The series takes a darker direction in order to tackle these arcs properly, with a bunch of arc-specific characters getting the ax and the shonen-esque humor involving Yato doing something stupid and Hiyori freaking out at his actions is toned down to only a single episode and one or two moments elsewhere. Now I make a policy to not spoil major events in my reviews unless it’s bad enough to the point that no one with any sense of reality would bother defending, so I can’t really tell you what actually happens in the show. But I will say that it’s cool to see Yato make dual-wielding cool again after Kirito rained all over Lloyd Irving’s parade and will continue to do so for a long time.
Most of the non-story related good about Aragoto is pretty much the same good that was in Noragami, so there’s no point in really describing it. Characters are still fun. Animation is still nice. Soundtrack is fitting. Blablabla. Actually, I’m surprised by how much I’ve grown to like Noragami’s cast over time. I kinda forgot everyone but Bishamon and the main trio by the time the second season hit, so it was nice for me to remember more characters’ names this go around. Well okay, I still can’t remember the name of the “bad luck” god without using Wikipedia, but at least I remember she exists now. Amazing what giving some personal flaws and having said flaws fuel arcs can do for someone, isn’t it Kazuma?
What I like about Noragami over say, Jojo, is that all the shonen action and character tropes are ultimately an accessibility tool for the mainstream crowd in order to explore actual religious lore and provide serious takes on what Japanese gods are being treated like today rather than the reverse the latter utilizes with its movie tributes and obsession with poses. Having said that, Noragami still hasn’t fixed its problem of occasionally making things a little too accessible to the point that it sacrifices story impact. Whilst the Bishamon arc has been hyped as one of they greatest story moments of the series, I honestly prefer the one where Yato visits Izanami and causes Hiyori to almost forget him mainly because the former had a tendency to pull its punches right when it needed to squeeze the trigger. Gonna be hard to say why without spoilers, but basically a giant portion of the conflict was based around a stupid misunderstanding, the character who caused said misunderstanding to happen got off with a slap on the wrist after everything was over, and the true bad guy of that arc turned incredibly generic in the end, Tiger and Bunny-style. It’s the biggest, but by no means the only time when Noragami seems to struggle with meshing the desires of the casual crowd and the elitist crowd into something that’ll please them both.
And similar to another shonen action anime that delved into serious issues, Tokyo Ghoul, whilst the action is pretty good for the most part, I’m not a fan of how shonen-esque it can be at times. You know, with all the cheesy lines and exposition mixed into all the fighting, along with how they stretch the fights out by revealing a loophole that was never hinted at before? It’s like if you made a movie adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days that tried to impart the impact of Phileas Fogg’s grand adventures through ludicrous karate fights with some of the locals he encounters…oh wait.
But those faults are hardly wait throwing the anime into Hell for, especially with everything else the show has going for it. In a medium where good follow-ups are harder to find than a presidential candidate that doesn’t come with enough asterisk marks attached to their speeches to fill up ten pages in Microsoft Word, Noragami Aragoto should be held as a good standard for how anime sequels should be. Don’t give us more of the same. Use what you had previously for something new, preferably bigger and better. And before people comment on this, I mean bigger and better whilst still retaining focus in the vein of something like The Dark Knight. Not the retardedly unfocused bigger and better that Resident Evil devolved into with its sixth installment.
All that said, I’m still not ready to consider Noragami a great anime as of yet. It feels like there’s a bunch of cannons within its narrative that it has yet to fire, and whilst the ones that it has fired are quite loud, there’s a bit of an annoying “okay, that’s enough for today” after-feel to them by the time the series ends, right down to the main trio still having their relationship be the same as always, along with an incredibly unsubtle sequel hook that I am neither excited nor opposed to seeing what comes of it. The show is fun, but by the time it was over, I was already set to move on to the next thing with zero inclination to give it a second look. But who knows? Maybe the next Noragami sequel will change my mind. And then maybe the Republicans will stop denying the existence of global warming when the incredibly large amounts of evidence is shoved in their faces.
- For the record, I think the OVAs are actually pretty funny. Like Fumoffu-level funny, even if they rely too much on getting all the characters together. They make an entire series of those whilst keeping the quality and I’d definitely buy it.