Stray God
Keywords: , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: KAJI Yuuki
KAMIYA Hiroshi
At the boundary between this realm and another, there live eight million gods, dead spirits who serve the gods, and other assorted spirits who help and meddle in the affairs of humans. A sweet middle school girl named Hiyori Iki has been enduring bullying from her classmates, and she goes to the restroom by herself to cry. Scrawled on the bathroom wall is a phone number and the message, "I solve your troubles."

After Hiyori calls the number, she encounters a homeless boy wearing a jersey who calls himself a god. The boy, named Yato, is rough, moody, lazy, and never listens to anyone's wishes, but he had the power to be a god... that no one knew of.

(Source: ANN)

Based on a manga series authored by Adachitoka

See series sequel, Noragami Aragoto.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 8 7 8 6 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:2834#1552]
This one's a bit of a mixed bag. Noragami focuses on middle school student Hiyori who winds up having her spirit blurring the line between the living and spirit worlds after she saves a young man named Yato from being hit by a bus, who actually turns out to be a god trying to raise money from fulfilling wishes to those who seek his services and slays ayakashi trying to negatively influence humans facing situations of duress in the living world. While trying to help Hiyori with her unique predicament, Yato gains possession of Yukine, a spirit that can turn into a sword that Yato can use to slay ayakashi threats, and finds himself coming to grips with his past in later episodes.

Noragami spends much of its time exploring the spiritual world that makes up the series and focusing on the God/ Shinki bonds that make it up. Within the series, Shinki are spirits that become bonded to Gods that serve as their tools to fight against corrupt threats. As gods don't exist with concepts of human sins and have their life force linked directly to a Shinki, the Shinki must keep their desires and thoughts in check lest the emotions and thoughts are felt by the god and cause them to suffer. If the Shinki gives in too much to negative emotions and desires, it has the negative effect of causing the god to eventually die from being corrupted by their Shinki's sins. This dynamic is explored throughout much of Noragami's run as it explores the relationship between Yukine and Yato as the former tries adjusting to their unique union and finds himself giving into temptations from not being among the living world any longer. Hiyori finds herself trying to assist Yukine and Yato in their uneasy relationship and dealing with ayakashi threats as she becomes a source of support for the two in their ordeals. The drama facing their developments is the highlight of the series as the bond between the three is a genuine one that gradually develops throughout the course of the anime's run, particularly when things with Yukine's ordeal get resolved in the ninth episode.

The major components to Noragami that make it a mixed bag have to do with its comedy and exploration of Yato's character. I'll first cover the comedy since it's the more straight-forward to address. The series often mixes in comedic elements that show exaggerated takes on some of the character's notable quirks such as Yato's obsession for money and Hiyori's love of professional wrestling. Noragami is smart enough to known when to add in its comedic scenes so they don't intrude upon more serious moments in the series, though I did find the gags it pulled to be a bit hit and miss in terms of timing. The comedy does really miss its mark during an early episode when it does an exaggerated fall scene where Yato and pals are trying to help a down-on-his-luck office worker avoid committing suicide through recalling the true identity of his lover.

The show's exploration of Yato's past also has its high and low points. On the one hand, it is a major component of Yato's character as the bonds he establishes with Yukine and Hiyori allow him to establish positive relationships that allow him to appreciate things in the present as early episodes hint to him having a rather violent and dark past and he actively avoids relations with a Shinki named Nora due to her reminding him of this. His past does get fleshed out in the final three episodes of the series when confronted by a former comrade he had, though this story arc does suffer in quality due to some rather rushed plot development as these episodes lack the solid pacing given to the development of Yato and Yukine's developing relationship. This issue also extends to a plot during the middle of Noragami's run when Yato comes at odds with Bishamonten, a war god with a past grudge to settle with him. While an interesting plot development, Noragami never goes into a great deal of depth on exploring what led to their issues. Much of this is more likely due to the show's manga source material still being ongoing and will likely be more explored with the show's current season airing, Noragami Aragoto.

Still in spite of its flaws, Noragami is a decent supernatural action title that offers a good deal of development and chemistry on the relationship that develops between Yato, Yukine and Hiyori; as well as offering a good deal of exploration on the spiritual world that makes up the series. It's still worth a look if you like anime titles influenced through Eastern folklore with their story elements.

Last updated Monday, October 19 2015. Created Monday, October 19 2015.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2834#628]
(Nine episodes watched):

This show, with a sort of Yu Yu Hakusho-like premise, survived the 'first scene test' in which it either summons at least a bit of interest from me or leaves me feeling completely unimpressed. The difference between Noragami, and the show I had watched previously and which failed the test, must have been that here the characters were given a little depth instead of being pitched to us as-is. Just having Hiyori and Yato spend a couple minutes doing ordinary things goes a long way. The premise isn't all that novel but with likeable characters it might just work. I hope a good long-term plot develops, with interesting twists, instead of a fight-of-the-week sort of story (like Yu Yu Hakusho).

But I started to become a little tired of the story after a couple of additional episodes. It seems to me that a common problem with magical fighting shows is that instead of continuing to develop the main protagonists, they feed us a host of additional flamboyant characters, and instead of a few well developed main characters we wind up with lots of relatively undeveloped ones. Going into episode four I was afraid that Noragami was making the same mistake, and was already thinking about dropping it. But that episode actually worked out pretty well; although several new characters are added on, at least one seemed amusing and fun. And development of Yato himself doesn't come to a halt, as we learn that he may not be as nice a guy as he has seemed.

However, another problem is that the theme of whether Hiyori will ever be made normal again is quickly set aside and she is essentially a supporting character during the first nine-episode arc. If this was a story which was being skillfully told, and was genuinely intriguing, then if you asked me to briefly recount the plot up to this point I would probably be able to do so without much trouble. But this show leaves me unexcited, in part since the plot seems to be wandering from one supernatural bit to another without giving me much sense of what the main thrust of the story will be. If it is not Hiyori, then what is the critical problem? What is at stake? I do not know, not even in episode Six. The show is amusing at times, but I can't help wondering if it is really worth the time I invest in it, partly because the plot seems so aimless.

Actually, what's at stake seems to be Yato himself. That's kind of novel, and to it's credit Noragami isn't a fight-of-the-week show. Still, the show isn't exactly sharply focused; I still feel that we haven't gotten to know Yato or anyone else all that much, so the critical problem of the story doesn't carry as much weight as it might have. If Yato dies, I wouldn't be heartbroken. When episode ten refused to cooperate as I attempted to convert it to AVI, I decided that this series wasn't really worth the trouble. In part this was because it looks like it will need to be a two-season one, and a show which would be unlikely to be more than a Watch isn't worth that much of my time.

Last updated Wednesday, April 02 2014. Created Wednesday, January 08 2014.

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