Anime Review: Noragami Aragoto (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 04.06.2017

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Noragami Aragoto (UK Rating: 15)

Noragami Aragoto follows a minor god called Yato, once a terrible god of war and calamity, who has fallen on hard times. In modern day, Yato has no devout followers and no shrine to attract new worshippers. That's a big problem for a god, as a god without worship runs the risk of vanishing altogether. To remedy this, Yato takes on any odd job at the princely sum of five yen a time, spreading his name and saving for a shrine of his own. This complete second series is out now and comes courtesy of Funimation, via Anime Limited.

Noragami Aragoto is the second series of the anime adaptation of the Noragami manga and those who have yet to see the first season should really remedy that before watching this second one. It's a necessary warning since this falls into the regularly seen style now to do away with the obvious "season 2" tag and instead just adds an extra word to distinguish it from the first; a very annoying habit.

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The first season chronicled some of Yato's adventures in assisting the populous for his single-coin bounty and introduced the trio of main characters: Yato, Yukine, and Hiyori. Yukine is a wandering spirit, the spirit of a young boy who, it is implied, died at the hands of his abusive father. Yukine is a sullen and angry spirit that Yato saves and grants a name to, taking him on as a Regalia. This bonds the two together and gives Yukine the ability to transform into a Katana to help Yato banish phantoms. Hiyori is a regular, living high school girl that becomes a "half-Ayakashi," a spirit between the worlds. Hiyori can leave her body, sometimes accidentally, and floats around as a spirit with a purple "cord" tail. Hiyori enlists Yato for the five yen to help her overcome this condition.

This second season is made up of two arcs, each with a common story running underneath. The first arc explores Yato's calamitous clash with the great war god, Bishamon. Their tumultuous relationship was glimpsed in the first season; Bishamon despised Yato for apparently slaughtering her whole family, but that hardly seems like something the Yato seen thus far would do. Noragami has plenty of funny moments and Yato is a cheerful, silly character. Here, though, we get to see the darker side to Yato. Just like in the seminal Gintama, Noragami manages to pull off both the light-hearted funny adventures and this deeper, darker story. The truth to Yato's past is revealed along with what happened between him and Bishamon's slaughtered family - a truth that opens up Yato's character and still manages to be completely believable when compared to the Yato that has been seen up to this point.

Bishamon has become the mightiest god of war since she last clashed with Yato, evidenced by the huge amount of regalia in her employ. Gods can take wandering spirits and grant them a name, allowing them to transform into a different form to assist their master - weapons, equipment, clothing, even animals. A bond is made between god and regalia, a link where pain is shared and a huge strain is put on the master, so much so that most gods only take on a few. Bishamon has taken on every spirit she has met. She takes them into her heart and her home, bonding them together as a huge family - a family that Yato once tore apart. The strongest god of war, then, against a stray god that has regalia shows little to no respect for him, a human ally who's not quite dead, and a psychotic Nora. It's not much of a fair fight, but it's a massively entertaining one.

The second arc delves further into Yato's past with Nora, and sees a huge battle brewing between the gods. A mysterious conjurer is enslaving phantoms by granting them with names, a taboo, and dangerous ritual. The arc greatly expands the universe and the lore of the series; it gives Yato some fantastic development especially, but also gives Yuki and Nora some time in the spotlight.

The series' style and production have not changed one iota from the first series, but that's not a bad thing. Coming from BONES, this looks fantastic. The DVD edition comes with the standard bonus features of trailers and clean opening/closing. The Blu-ray edition comes with a nice extra on top of these in the form of three audio commentary tracks with members of the English dub. English dub commentaries can be very hit-and-miss, but thankfully this one is a hit, with the cast having fun with each other and their banter feeling real instead of scripted (take note Fairy Tail team).

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
These arcs are definitely the finest yet seen in the anime adaptation. The more serious tone really elevates the show and there is a great deal of world building that really helps to flesh out the series. A culmination of everything that has come before, it closes some important story threads and begins a new lay of the land going forwards. The manga series of Noragami has just gone on an extended hiatus in Japan due to the ill health of its creator, but hopefully they get better soon and continue this superb series.

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