Noragami Aragoto – Anime Review
Noragami Synopsis: Yato may just be a minor god now, but he’s determined to make it big and he’s got a plan. Unfortunately, things just don’t seem to be going his way. (Official Funimation Synopsis.)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Noragami’s first season left audiences with an anime-only ending that stripped away what the story had been building towards in favor of a new arc that served as a hasty conclusion in the event the Noragami adaptation was never continued. Noragami Aragoto, the series’ 2nd season, mostly ignores that anime-only ending, in favor of returning to the manga’s ongoing story. Our primary cast of Yato, Hiyori and Yukine are back of course, in addition to a host of other, enjoyable characters that help to flesh out the back end of the season once the series finally concludes the Bishamon story arc that had been so strongly built up during the initial Noragami run. Unlike Noragami, Aragoto turns down the comedy, the one off plots, and dives whole into its ongoing elements. There’s a lot of heartache as things get desperately bad for our heroes and truths are revealed for each of our main cast, as well as the newcomers, such as Ebisu, a pivotal God in the season’s second half.
Linny: This season deserves praise for its inclusion and handling of new characters and old ones too, making us feel passionately for all of them as its story blurs the line between good and evil. Though it was initially advertised as a Bishamonten focused arc, there’s still plenty of focus and airtime for the rest of the cast, especially in the second half of the season. The addition of important developments and events occurring in the lives of several characters, combined with heart wrenching backstories, made for an extremely engaging second season.
Tom: Indeed Aragoto works hard to try and give each and every character the screentime and development they deserve. While the first half is squarely focused on Bishamon and her ilk, Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine get very heavy arcs that continue into the second half.Unfortunately this is where Aragoto stumbles. Back at the end of the first Noragami anime was an anime-only storyline focusing on Hiyori forgetting all about Yato and Yukine. Aragoto spends at least two episodes dedicated to a very similar plot line, involving Hiyori actually forgetting all about Yato due to other developments in the overarching narrative. While this story is done very well it ultimately feels like a retread, even if this arc was in the manga and the previous storyline was but filler. This isn’t aided by a slew of unanswered questions, as well as a handful of sporadic developments that have zero set up, nor pay off, such as a villain from the first half of the season popping up again in the second half for all of five minutes with no rhyme, reason, or ultimate pay off to his fleeting appearance. Moments like these damage the flow of Aragoto, briefly pulling the viewer out of the narrative due to the randomness of these events. Thankfully Aragoto redeems itself with a conclusion to its story that feels wholly more substantial than Season 1’s anime-only ending.
Linny: The retreading of the aforementioned storyline does take away a lot of its impact and could, unfortunately, annoy some viewers. Thankfully, the show doesn’t linger on it too long. Furthermore, it’s clear that it was all a part of this season’s attempt to stay true to its source material this time around. While Season 1 had a lot of playful storylines and elements, season 2 is a much more somber affair with most episodes leaving an emotional impact. There’s still some laughs to be had as the series doesn’t completely abandon its comedic notes and Yato and crew all still shine in adorable, albeit less frequent comedic moments.
Tom: Noragami Aragoto is also held up by solid animation. My only complaints lie with several sequences that feel lacking in detail, medium distance shots that lack visual detail. But whatever small deficiencies found within the art are saved by an amazing use of color that keeps Noragami looking vibrant even when we delve into dark, brooding territory that calls for a darker color palette. The music again tops off the sheer quality of this production with another killer soundtrack, even with a few oddball tracks that maybe don’t quite fit in as well as they could.
Linny: Unfortunately for die-hard Noragami fans, Aragoto seems to be the last anime adaptation the series is getting (as there is no news of new seasons all these years later) and with the series slowing down to year long gaps between volumes, the story hasn’t progressed that much in written form either. For those averse to reading, Aragoto is one of those anime adaptations that adheres well enough to the source material to not make it compulsory to read the manga as well, atleast up to the point it covers. The heavy dive into more serious storylines might feel a little discouraging and disconnecting to those who heavily favoured the comedy but rest assured that it handles most of its dramatic content well enough to woo the audience. For those who loved Noragami for its vivid art and character work, Noragami Aragoto should continue to be a mostly pleasing watch.
Tom: Aragoto is a solid continuation of the Noragami series that builds expertly on the initial run, and would indeed perhaps surpass the quality of the first season, if not for its slavish need to adhere to the source material. The first season made changes, and while the conclusion ultimately became nothing more than filler, the rest of the adjustments helped to keep the story flowing at a perfect pace. Here with Aragoto they’ve chosen to adhere much closer and this means the flaws from the manga are translated directly to the screen. It’s these flaws that keep Aragoto from achieving its full potential. All that said, I still feel it measures up extremely well to Noragami’s first run and as such I think it’s worth a recommendation to fans of the first season.