TRANSCENDING IRONY: ‘Noragami’ has gods, drama and swords made out of the souls of teenagers

In a world with over 8 million gods and other minor deities, getting a respectable amount of worshippers is difficult.

This is the situation that Yato, a former god of calamity, finds himself in. Since he accepts only five-yen pieces as offerings, he doesn’t have enough money to build a shrine to get his name out into the world. His goal is to build a magnificent shrine, as well as have (at least) 1.2 billion followers.

Hiyori Iki, a student in secondary school, sees Yato on one of his “jobs” (he’s trying to find a lost cat in return for a five-yen piece), as he jumps in front of a bus. She runs in front of the bus to push Yato out of the way and ends up getting run over. This accident turns her into a half-phantom (meaning she can perform astral projection and leave her body).

Now Yato is indebted to Hiyori, and this happenstance sets up the plot for the anime “Noragami.” Hiyori wants to return to normal and not lose her body. But Yato keeps procrastinating, leading Hiyori on some wild adventures.

A strength of the show was its characters. I instantly fell in love with all of them. Yato, though self-centered, is very well-developed throughout the 12 episodes. He goes from carefree and childish to reserved and back at points throughout the series, and the transition is smooth and purposeful.

My favorite character in the series was Yukine, Yato’s regalia (or sacred weapon). A regalia is made from the loose spirit of a dead human. To become a regalia, a god must give this spirit a name. In Yukine’s case, he turns into a silver katana when this name is said.

Yukine is  a teenager, and he goes through a lot of emotional and physical stress in the series. He’s upset and annoyed that he’s dead, and he hates Yato and doesn’t want to work for him. Thus, he begins to commit sins, which in turn hurt Yato because of the magic connections produced in the regalia-making process.

Another strength was the sound. The opening theme for “Noragami” is catchy, and the colors of the animation that go along with it are simple but appealing. The voice acting is also superb. Though I’m reading subtitles the entire time, I can hear the emotion in their voices and it matches well to the characters’ moods.

The only part of the show I didn’t like was the ambiguous ending and the fact that the main plot point was never truly resolved. I hope there will be a second season to tie up the loose ends.

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