There isn’t a whole lot to say about Noragami. I enjoyed it…we’ll leave it at that. Oh who am I kidding, I can never just leave it. While I liked what we got I just have a lot of issues with the “could haves”, but even these are so general and expansive, that they don’t really come into play when analyzing the series. Take, say, KILL la KILL, or Unbreakable Machine Doll, the “should have”s are based on very specific plot threads to those series where roads taken were less interesting than roads previously open.
But Noragami isn’t like that at all. The biggest thing “wrong” with it, to me, is that its universe feels…smaller, than I expected.
Oh sure we have a few other grudges against this show, but like the above, they really are minor.
I adopted Noragami very late into the season, week 5, almost halfway over. The story of “delivery god Yato” and the Human girl he befriends was interesting enough to me that I found my brain teeming with ideas. It was well worth how much people were pushing it back then.
One thing I guess I’ll take issue with. People often refer to Noragami as an action series. And I do not see it. Sorry. I know I’ve called it that but mostly as that’s what it was billed as by the community, and from the right angle it looks like an appropriate label. But my instinct is different. The emphasis here is on character relationships from where I sit.
Obviously there are action elements, and damn well executed action elements. But I think we really need to stop pinning genres onto a show because it just does a piece of its storytelling well. And really that’s what the fights in Noragami have mostly existed to do: tell the story. They are not celebrations of combat either in universe like Dragonball or out of universe like KILL la KILL. They just are, and Bones seems like they wanted to do those scenes WELL, so they put effort into it. It does fights well because it needed them. It did character pieces well because it needed to. It is a generalist approach, I believe, and I think that’s what I’d call Noragami before an action series: A Generalist Anime. It hits the parts of action, comedy, drama, supernatural, and brushes romance, mystery, and coming of age.
I mention this because I believe it is the root source of where I diverge from people on the whole. Many hail Noragami as the standard to hold the rest of 2014 to. In some regards that may be true, but standard bearer? I feel the show was casting about too much. It was very much… “let us throw the characters together and see how they react against each other”. In the end, that just meant the characters were free to drag us in any direction, and they did. It was like…you know when you have multiple-party-tug-of-war? With like five ropes centered on a fixed point? The knot in the center (our focus) just kinda wavered around that center point most of the series. I’d go so far as to argue that no one really won, we just ended with more samey-ness come the resolution.
This probably sounds far harsher than I am intending it to. But as Yahtzee said, I’m a critic, my job is to criticize.
On the whole I was pleased with my experience watching Noragami. And it will probably be better to say, marathon in 3-4 bloc chunks. “Was that worth the three months of paying it attention?” Ehhh..? But I do love it. So let’s start with the strongest foot forward. Continue reading