El Sijo's Blog

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Noragami: not your typical Shonen show

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Noragami

An anime show currently in its second season, Noragami (“stray god”) has all the typical elements of a shonen (boy’s) show: It stars a teenager with extraordinary abilities and there’s lots of action. To be specific, Yato is the Japanese god of calamity, armed with a magical sword that he uses to kill monsters.

However, there is more than that to this show. I’d argue that it contains elements of other genres as well. For example, there are Shojo (girl’s anime) elements in the fact that the main female character, Hiyori, could arguably be considered a co-protagonist and not just Yato’s love interest. While her supernatural and combat abilities pale next to his, she’s definitely wiser and over time grows into the emotional center of the group (emotions and relationships are more a Shojo than a Shonen thing.)

You could also almost accuse the show of having Harem Romance elements, given there’s at least three female characters who have degrees of feelings for Yato. However, each is a unique personality that exists for more than romance, and Yato himself is pretty uninterested in them (until he starts to realize he has feelings for Hiyori.)

Then there’s the show’s intriguing mythos (I’m a bit uncomfortable calling something based on an actual religion that, but then again if the creators don’t care about reinventing their national beliefs why should I?) In Noragami, gods exist because people believe in them; yet, they are invisible to mortals, meaning they are sustained on faith alone. Should they be forgotten, they cease to exist (Yato is on the verge of suffering that.) Conversely, a popular god will just reincarnate if killed, though his/her memories may be partially gone. The series makes good use of these Fantasy concepts.

A really unique idea in the show is the concept of Regalias. These are souls that a god has bound to his/her service with a magical name (which appears as a tattoo on their body.) This allows the god to transform him/her into a specific magical weapon or other object (Yato’s sword is actually a boy named Yukine.) In fact binding magic is used in many ways in the series.

Finally, occasionally the show feels a bit like a horror series. The main antagonists, the Phantoms, are mindless monsters from the spirit realm. Like gods, they are invisible to mortals but come to our world to feed on negative emotions like despair or hate, often pushing people to commit acts like suicide. They can also “corrupt” gods by touch, which is like a disease. While the show has villains, it’s the Phantoms that give it its creepy edge (and are often used as minions.)

Oh yeah, the art and especially the music also help reinforce all of the elements I mentioned above. I especially like the leitmotif that sounds when things get really bad.

Noragami turned out to be a show I liked more than I expected, maybe one of my favorite Animes ever. If you like your action shows with bits of romance, fantasy and horror, I recommend it for you.

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Author: El Sijo

50 years old, male, single, from Puerto Rico.

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