[Anime Review] Noragami Aragoto – Corruption vs Loyalty: Which one is the most dangerous?

Episode_3_Aragoto

Episodes: 13
Studio: Bones
Synopsis: The world consists of two parts: the near shore and far shore. The near shore is the place where people reside, while the far shore is the place for deities and ayakashi, which are emotional fragments that can possess humans and cause trouble. So it is a deity’s responsibility to remove those ayakashi from the near shore with the help of weapons called Shinki, made from the spirits of dead people. Noragami Aragoto continues the adventures of Yato in his quest to obtain a shrine and reinstate his God status. (MAL)
Opening:

Noragami is one of those series that managed to bring a set of conflicting feelings inside my heart, especially when it comes to this second season. Usually, I don’t get conflicted easily, but this season managed to do it through several elements.

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Story

Noragami Aragato was the season of conclusions regarding several situations left open from the last series, patching up/ breaking relationships, moving on and introducing and developing new themes to the already fascinating world of Noragami; in particular I’m referring to the constant contrast between “corruption” and “loyalty“. Normally, we’d think that falling into corruption is one of the few sins that one can commit in Noragami, however the story proved that loyalty can be as much of a sharp blade, if not even more than “evil” and “temptation“. It was something that was executed extremely well during the entirety of the show and I kept getting reminded by it through most of the Regalia characters. Their roles were also set in stone more clearly than in the first season which I appreciated because I was left with the impression that Regalias were nothing more than “tools” (which to a certain extent they are, but it’s not the ultimate truth and not for all Regalias).

Another recurring thing was the line “Gods can never do wrong.”. While momentarily confused with Yato’s statement and thinking that he’s definitely wrong and he’s a hypocrite to say that because we all know what type of havoc and destruction Gods can bring, I managed to understand after giving it some thought. In the Noragami realm, Gods get born out of people’s wishes. Ultimately, Gods are born with a goal and a nature that humans give them, but they don’t have any morals or distinction between good and evil or life and death like a human does. However, realizing this, also makes me think that Yato probably didn’t try to be a hypocrite, but similarly to Veena he partly tried to justify himself in some way to be able to deal with his own past and partly making her try to move on by using a more productive and positive mean. It’s also to note that humans as well believe that Gods can indeed do no wrong and what they do, is because it’s needed. Ebisu follows this exact line to the letter as well. The God Council is also the same even if ultimately we might find their judgement unfair; at the current time, they indeed did no wrong, only what was believed to be needed for the best of everybody.

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This season covered only two arcs of the story and as such it felt as preparing grounds for something bigger. The story was very character driven and what did happen was executed fairly well up to episode 8. After that point (actually half into episode 8) we had this time skip that I just didn’t know how to take; suddenly time passed, some characters moved on, others decided to cut ties with their pasts, some others were introduced, Yato was trapped in his own past-wait… I found it simply unforgivable how out of place this time skip resulted to be. It felt as they started a new story altogether and seeing the good pacing that it had during half of the series, I felt ripped from the Noragami-reality and thrown into a dream…where some important people were suddenly “abandoned”, Hiyori added a spark of convenient dramatical-angst trying to horribly foreshadow something that happened at the end of the season, while Yato was chasing his Luck (literally) together with SPOILER-somebody while avoiding to get devoured by a skeleton lady. Hurray!Wait. What? My story and character development committed suicide with its pacing“-I thought. Then the romance, you ask? Bulshitting me for whole blighted 3 episodes (9-11). I’m a big HiyorixYato fangirl, I really am; shipping them is really easy, but not even then did I manage to justify any of the convenient-forced-angst around the situation (and no, I do not blame a certain light brown-haired guy, differently from other people).

Another thing that bothered me was the ambiguity between Yato and his father. I don’t care that it gets explained properly in the manga, in the anime i just couldn’t see what was up.

Surprisingly though, I managed to empathize with Ebisu and understand certain motivations and justifications during the last 2 episodes of the show, so while part of 8, 9,10,11 were painful, 12 and 13 partially redeemed the story in my eyes, making me excited for an eventual third season, if it will ever be made…If not, well I do plan to buy the manga.

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Characters

Let me just start and say that Yato is one of the most likable and unforgettable shonen protagonist ever. He is such because he’s not valorous; despite being a God, Yato shows much more human behavior traits than other Gods and this became more obvious to me during this second season: he’s greedy, lazy, sometimes not thankful, sometimes selfish and sometimes sneaky.

Actually, this is another reason why this season made me conflicted. I started questioning the real nature of the characters that I thought I knew. Are the good guys really that good? Are the bad guys really just bad guys? The answer is no. Everybody is selfish and stubborn in their own ways, starting with Veena (which just plainly makes me want to slap her on a side and on the other I want to pat her head). The good-natured characters become painfully aware of their “imperfections” during this show and actually try to find motivation to become better people instead of keep standing on the same step. The antagonists on the other hand are more complicated.

I’ll start with Kugaha (the Rabo copy lol) and I’m going to say that he was a surprisingly well-made side-villain. While I didn’t exactly care for him more than a pain in the ass at the beginning, he ultimately made me question his real thoughts. Did he do everything for power? Or for good? Do the results excuse the means? After him, the anime constantly tried to put other characters in question, everybody besides Kazuma and Yukine and several Regalias. I was sad with the way that he was ultimately treated though. it’s to see what happens to him later.

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Secondly, there’s Nora. In the first season I simply disliked her, not as a character, but as a person. In this one, I was again conflicted. She is also painfully selfish, but I was surprised to see another side of her that can actually become likable to a certain degree and even making me feel sorry for her. Her connection with Yato and loyalty for him was deeper than I imagined on an emotional level (which I partly liked, partly disliked because I expected something else), but while she just simply wants her life with Yato back, her means are morally questionable. However, I’m not ready to dislike her anymore.

Going to Kazuma and Yukine, while the first didn’t go through a radical change, but more coming to terms with his past with Veena, Yukine genuinely surprised me. Remember that bratty kid from the first season that kept nagging and stealing and having perverted thoughts over Hiyori? Well…he’s nowhere to be seen in this season. The way his character was treated was simply amazing and looking back, I’ve felt like my child has just grown into an adult.

Ebisu was hard to sympathize with because at the time he appears in the Underworld I was already starting to get annoyed with the show, so I couldn’t care less who he was and what his role was, while the comedy regarding him in the Underworld seemed simply misplaced. Indeed I didn’t manage to actually care for him till episode 12 when it was already too late. However, the nice contrast and relationship formed between him and Yato was definitely one of the focal points that redeemed part of the story for me.

Then there’s Hiyori which I almost forgot about. I find her likable, however there’s little to say about her this season. She continues being Yato’s drive for becoming a better person and…that’s just it. She might have realized that her place near Yato and Yukine is not secured and she doesn’t make part of their world, but for romance purposes, of course, this will get dragged till our main protagonists will have to bump their heads into it again. XD

The rest of the cast also had some pieces of trivia about them revealed, but the show didn’t manage to do much else with them. I expected something more on Kofuku and something more on Tenjin. I understand that it was because of lack of time, however.

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Animation

As every show, Noragami also has highs and lows, however when it’s good, then it’s really good. The transitions during certain scenes of emotional impact or during action scenes are just so beautifully animated that combined with the awesome soundtrack just make me forget my rationality and start getting emotional for a while there. The opening video is also one of the most eye-catching openings that I’ve ever seen.

Soundtrack

Unfortunately part of it was recycled from last season, but it isn’t any less amazing nor any less impact-full. Worth to mention Kainoratan as one of my favorite tracks. ( I can swear I heard Misogi in this second season too which was my favorite from the first !)

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Conclusion

Noragami Aragoto was a nice ride overall. I was very salty for those 3 episodes to the point that everytime I had some hope, it kept dying after 2 minutes, so if it would have ended with those episodes I would have probably not been as kind. But it didn’t and goddamn that plot twist after the end credits. Goddamn.

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8 thoughts on “[Anime Review] Noragami Aragoto – Corruption vs Loyalty: Which one is the most dangerous?

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