Amongst the many sequels I've seen from 2015's offerings, the biggest and most welcome improvement I've seen would be from Noragami Aragoto. Even though I still like the 1st season, the fact remains that all we got was a basic introduction the characters before Angsty the Ghost and some boring filler antagonist took over the 2nd half. This time, Noragami brings out the big bats and swings hard, real hard.
On top of doing what any good shonen ought to past the introductory phase by introducing higher stake conflicts (something I felt was sorely lacking in the 1st season) this season gives even more focus to the Gods themselves and what it takes to have that kind of status when imbued with emotions shared by the people that worship theme on top of their flawed ideologies. This, of course, means that Yukine and Hiyori feel more like they're in the periphery this time around, but I don't think this equates to either of them got the shaft at all. Whilst I’m not a big fan of seeing Hiyori play the role of damsel in distress, her presence in the 2nd half of the season as the primary reason for Yato keeping himself tethered to a life of peace (away from bad influences like Yato's Nora, who alway seems to be ready to lead Yato astray) and even to his very existence is enough for me. She feels more like an accessory to Yato than an interesting character in her own right, but she’s a fine accessory nonetheless. Despite also not being a central character in either of the arcs this season, Yukine has still come a pretty long way from the lad who only thought about his misfortunes. Anyone who found themselves at their wit's end as a result of his endless whining will be happy to find out that Yukine has permanently washed all the salt out of his boipussy. I think it’s also worth noting how characters like Yato, Bishamon and Ebisu have a lot more worth looking into because of their long, tragic histories. The Gods ought to be the ones driving the story here, and that's what this second season gets.
This time, we're split between two arcs. The 1st is centered around a mobilizing threat within Bishamon's ranks, consisting of scores of regalia picked up over the years. What made this arc work is the way in which it is driven by the flaws of the characters, and forces them to come terms with those flaws. Bishamon's main flaw being her Mother Theresa-esque impulses that compel her to collect as many needy regalia like some kind of compulsive cat hoarder. She lacked the proper means to properly shower love upon the many she has taken in, yet continues to bear the physical side-effects of maintaining a link with so many fallible souls. Kugaha, the antagonist of this arc, and one of Bishamon's most trusted regalia works as some kind of master manipulator of sorts in the way he schemes to eliminate everything between him and the creation of his idealized version of his master. The idea behind his character is a very interesting one. His motives aren't selfish, as he treats his actions as if they're bitter but necessary pills for Bishamon to swallow. The arc also highlights a lot of the problems with the God/regalia system as Kuguha is always able to use loopholes as workarounds for his heinous acts. We also learn a great deal about Kazuma (a character who appeared in the 1st season yet didn't leave much of an impression) and his complicated history with Bishamon and the burden he carries as her exemplar, which makes an already good arc even better, If their's anything wrong with this arc, then it's the fact that the way it wraps up was not quite as impactful as it should have been, as the consequences for the chaos that was the climax weren't quite there. A painful lesson for the main characters of a story ought to be painful for the audience as well, and I think Noragami Aragoto let me down a little in this regard.
I don't have as much to say about the following arc as it didn't quite have the emotional highs of Bishamon's story, but it remained fairly strong from beginning to end nonetheless. The 2nd half of this season focuses on a newly introduced God, Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of fortune (the real Ebisu, not that pink-haired, disaster-bringing piece of waifu material). Bishamon's arc made it clear that no one can pass judgment a God. Ebisu's arc however, makes it clear that law only applies to those of the Near Shore, and that under the scrutiny of the heavens, a God must tread carefully. Historically speaking, Ebisu is a God that is prone to making bold moves (as is proven by the fact that he has a reputation of being killed and reincarnated for more regularly than his fellow deities). As a result, his current incarnation is not afraid to break the ironclad laws even Gods must abide by with his fascination with the idea of controlling phantoms. Initially framed as an antagonist, through his interactions with Yato, we get a much better picture of what Ebisu is aiming for and the type of God he really is. Speaking of Yato, he also gets some much-needed development with this storyline, as in the previous arc he was more of a supporting character necessary for getting the plot moving. Here we get a much fuller picture of not only the God he once was, but the God he wants to become. In doing so, Norgami's already likable lead character make his leap into being truly loveable.
With the story lines presented this season, I say that the combination of Bones and Adachitoka (the original mangaka) lead to the creation of something that soundly nails all of the requirements expected of a worthwhile sequel. Compounding all of the emotional devastation, is Taku Iwasaki's return as the composer. Once again his distinctive South Asian influences are instantly identifiable, and the fantastic composition and music selection are always welcome additions to any scene at hand. Not only that but the opening theme, Kyouran Hey Kids! is cool as hell. Whilst obviously not without its share of blemishes (a couple of questionable decisions script-wise on top of what I described with Bishamon's arc and the fact the art quality dips somewhat in later episodes), there are still a lot of reasons to look forward to another season. I just hope it won't take so long to announce this time!
I got to say that this sequel is much better than the first season, and that is saying a lot because I really enjoyed the first one! This is a spoiler-free review.
The story surrounds Yato, a calamity God in his attempt to become a more recognized God and avoid his own death should he be forgotten. The first season was helpful in introducing the audience to the world of Gods, their divine instruments called regalias, and the spirit world. This season added more depth to the characters by exploring more of their pasts while being challenged by new evils. The plot is very good, you see a lot of humor, action, and some tender moments as well. It all connects well at the end while leaving room for development in the future. In truth, the plot is so great because the characters are simply put amazing! The pacing was adequate as not to either bore the audience of left us confused. There are of course some loose ends that need to be addressed hopefully in a new season (crossing fingers) or by reading the manga.
The animation was really neat, I really like the newer anime because it's generally really well drawn. I think the animation style used for Noragami is a bit different than most but refreshing nonetheless.
The sound was amazing, much better than the first season. I absolutely loved the opening theme and ending on this season. The voices of the characters in Japanese were great. I say this because at times, the women then to have annoying voices but this was not the case at all!
The best feature of this anime is without a doubt the characters. There are quite a bit of characters in this anime that make regular appearances aside from the main ones and I think this just goes to say that the story is well balanced. The other Gods are very fun and their regalias are very unique too. I would not say any of the characters fall within a specific stereotype because I think their personalities are very original. The main characters tend to stay dynamic so we see a lot of change and growth.
All in all, I highly recommend this anime, I give it a 10 out of 10 without a doubt. This anime may be best enjoyed by those who like action, Japanese mythology, and a bit of comedy. The soundtrack is amazing and the animation is a bit unique. I think everyone should give it a try.
Warning: Spoiler Alert
Noragami Aragoto is similar to Noragami in many ways such as it continues to follow the adventures of Yato, Yukine and Hiyori and that it is made of two arcs.
The first arc concentrates on Bishamon and her difficult history with Yato. We learn that despite being a fierce God of War, she's also kind as she always rescues a lot of spirits and makes them her regalia. Even if they're damaged.
This unfortunately caused a lot of resentment and so some regalia became corrupted making Bishamon sick. One regalia in particular, her respected healer, resented this so much that he worked with Nora to bring about Bishamon's reincarnation so that he could control her. In order to make his plan succeed, he kidnapped Hiyori, causing Yato to see red and attack Bishamon as he assumed she kidnapped her out of hatred for him. The healer was hoping that Yato would be able to defeat Bishamon in her weakened state.
During their intense fight, we learn the truth about what happened all those years agao with her first clan of regalia. Apparently her large number of regalia became corrupted and they turned into a huge phantom that almost killed her. In her weakened state Bishamon could do nothing but watch as Yato destroyed the phantom, thus killing her regalia. What she didn't know until now though was that Kazuma - her trusted Blessed Vessel and the only surviving original regalia - actually begged Yato to kill them in order to save her.
Learning the truth, Bishamon released the healer and killed her corrupted regalia herself. This arc really developed her character to the point that I actually quite like her now. And learning the truth also gave me more respect for Yato because he put up with her unjustified hatred for centuries without saying a word!
The second arc consisted of Yato trying to make life changes but suffering at the hands of Nora.
During possibly one of the most emotional and intense scenes from the entire anime, Yukine became Yato's first ever Blessed Vessel. Since then, Yukine has been trying to improve himself and grow as a regalia. Especially since he learned that he is also Yato's Exemplar. Hiyori also made Yato a shrine, moving him to tears. Both these things, plus Yato now having a permanent place in the heavens, made him meet up with Nora to release her.
However she attacked him and brought him to his father. I don't know anything about him as it was never explained but basically she kept him away from Yukine and Hiyori. Forcing him to be the God he doesn't want to be anymore. She kept him away for over a month and it was heartbreaking seeing him worry about Hiyori forgetting him.
In the end, she said she'd let him go if he rescued someone from the Underworld. He went just so he could return to Hiyori when it was over. Unfortunately it wasn't that simple. He was to rescue the God Ebisu because he was done there trying to get a brush from Izanami that would enable him to control and use phantoms for good.
Whilst Yato was away, Hiyori did forget him. And it was heartbreaking to watch because she was so distraught by it! Plus she felt so much guilt after being kissed by another boy too. Thankfully she ran into Yukine who managed to return all her memories. Yukine was also changed by Yato's absense. Before he would have been difficult about it but now he's matured. He taught himself to be stronger both physically and emotionally and less insecure when it came to Nora. It was beautiful to watch his character develop.
In the end, Yato was able to rescue Ebisu but got trapped himself. Not even Bishamon could defeat Izanami and rescue him. In the end, it was Hiyori. She managed to soul call both of them out of the Underworld but I have no idea how she knew his real name. Watching him give up, believing he was alone done there forever was incredibly heartbreaking. But it made his rescue that more emotional and amazing. It was so touching! And God I so badly wanted them to kiss in that moment but alas, they didn't.
The entire experience of Yato being away changed all three of them. Hiyori became less arrogant and complacent, Yukine became more mature and stronger and Yato changed his purpose in life. He doesn't want to do things others make him do anymore and he doesn't want to kill anyone anymore either. And to prove his commitment to this and to Yukine, he released Nora. Something I know meant so much to Yukine.
I would have liked more cutesy moments between Hiyori and Yato during the final episodes but there's hoping they'll be together in season three. They gotta get together right? And there's gotta be a season three!
In terms of the ending, I cannot believe the twist with that boy who kissed Hiyori. It just led to more unanswered questions. Like, why is Yato's father pretending to be a schoolboy? Why would he kiss Hiyori? What's the deal with Yato's father in general? How does Yato even have a father? Do the other Gods have parents?
Oh and I know she was mean and awful but I actually genuinely felt sorry for Izanami being all alone in the Underworld. She was just lonely. But I did think it was such a coincidence that the voice actor who does Yato and Hei from Darker Than Black encountered Izanami twice in seperate animes!
My favourite moments included Yukine jumping in front of Yato to protect him - sacrificing himself but then transforming into a Blessed Vessel, Yato thanking Yukine - telling him that he's the only regalia who has ever transformed for him, Hiyori saying she'll come see them everyday and Yato blushing/being quiet in response, Yato whispering to himself that he hopes she won't forget him, Yato's anger at Hiyori being kidnapped, Yato texting Hiyori saying her and Yukine are looking cosy, Kazuma watching Yato and Hiyori and realising that's why Yato stays despite it being dangerous, Yato and the healer fighting - Yato calling him rude for attacking when he was unarmed, Yato lying saying Hiyori's panties were showing and Hiyori's reaction, Yato calling Daikoku Daddy Daikoku and being beaten up by him for it, the heartbreaking moment when Yato says he'll never fade away as long as one human remembers him - thinking of Hiyori, when Yukine struck back at the other sword, hurting it and saying "I won't let you hurt Yato" and Yato saying "that's my boy" in response, Hiyori telling Yato she's not ready to say goodbye to him, how moved Yato was when Hiyori gave him a shrine, Yukine wanting to get stronger with invocations, Hiyori rescuing Yato with the soul call, Yato and Yukine destroying the pacification ring, Yato releasing Nora, Yato blushing when Hiyori wished for him to be successful, Bishamon's reaction when Ebisu said Yato said her real name was crazy chick and Yukine defeating the healer in the forest
Overall a well done Anime, Yato is a great main character and without going too much into the storylines the story is simple and easy to follow. Its a improvement from the prequel and is one of the must watched anime of 2016.
Pros- Simple but great anime.
cons- The crying scenes are so fake and anoying to watch.
Works animated by Studio Bones are rather unpredictable. Sometimes they could end up as passable or even fantastic works of fiction (i.e Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Darker than Black) or they could end up as complete failures (i.e Zetsuen no Tempest). Noragami on the other hand fits in between those; a mediator amidst the good and the bad. I still remember the first season quite well but as an urban fantasy shonen, it did not do anything out of the ordinary and felt a bit too similar to other shows of the same demographic. There were a lot of interesting concepts and some great character interactions but the show never fully explored those in greater detail. Most of the time the show was mainly filler and the story arc that was given to viewers was an anime original and rushed beyond belief. With Aragoto however, Bones finally catches up to its source material and adds more substance that should have existed in the first season beforehand.
The story of Aragoto takes place after the events of the first season. Viewers should be aware that this is a direct sequel to the first season and newcomers stumbling into this with little to no knowledge of that will be confused and lost. The best thing about the story this time is that there is less focus on the various "jobs" our main heroes are given and more of an overarching storyline this time around. There is little fooling about this time around as the story is given considerable focus. The show is split into two arcs, which I like to call the "Bishamon arc" and the "Ebisu arc" respectively. Both of them are quite well presented in their own way with the first one being a rather intense insight into Bishamon's character and her conflict with Yato and the second arc introduces a new character called Ebisu into the mix and revolves around a new world known as "The Underworld." Both of these arcs have higher stakes and are more tension filled compared to the first season which I highly appreciate. However problems are visible in both. There were many moments where the writers seemed to have pulled out explanations from their asses in order to justify a certain event happening on screen that would seem implausible at first glance. The biggest issue I had was that they don't seem to be any different from other shonen I've watched. A lot of them in fact are rather predictable and lacking in worldbuilding or theme exploration. The human world is still given some focus, though not as much as the first season, and just feels bland and dull compared to the world of the gods.
The characters thankfully have a lot more development this time around. Yato's and Bishamon's backstories are explored in much greater depth than ever before and both of them actually develop as characters. In fact a lot of the characters from the first develop. The bond between Yato, Yukine and Hiyori feels a lot more palpable this time around and you could see that they have become much closer as friends. Yukine in particular grows from a whiny kid into a headstrong and confident individual who is more devoted to his master than ever. However this is not true for every character. Kofuku and her regalia for example still feel shallow in contrast to our main heroes and the show also tries to introduce more and more characters as the episodes fly by, most of which get little to no screentime. But so far characterization is an improvement and I can spot a third season coming soon which hopefully will improve these newly introduced entities.
Animation is pretty much on par for Bones standards. The backgrounds are very rich and detailed with a lot of them looking absolutely gorgeous. The Underworld for example is given a much needed feel of helplessness, isolation and darkness to compliment its grim atmosphere. Animation quality is usually very good in this show but the first episode has some glaring examples of distant shots of characters with practically no faces. This would annoy a lot of the viewers on their first go. Fight scenes look great with a lot of fluid movements and a nice array of supernatural moves to keep viewers enthralled. Tension is also high during many of these which should keep you on the edge of your seats.
The music is done by Taki Iwasaki who has incorporated a lot of eastern and middle eastern tunes to the mix. A lot of the tracks are reused from the first season which to me were incredibly pleasing to the ears. But the new tracks themselves feel completely different from Iwasaki's usual stuff and are quite forgettable.
Overall, Noragami Aragoto is a much needed improvement to the first season in terms of pacing, character development and overall sense of progression. Sure it doesn't seem much different compared to your average shonen but fans of the first season are in for a treat, especially those who felt that the first season was lacking in terms of substance. If you have not watched the first season then I urge you to do so if you're interested in checking out Aragoto as it does a great job of introducing you to the world, its concepts and its characters.
Now that'll be 5 yen please.