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Alethea & Athena
Let's talk about Noragami! 
23rd-Jun-2015 06:23 pm
I'm really not sure what to write about today. Volume five of Noragami came out today, so I considered writing a response to a couple of reviews that we've read, but I'm trying to cut back on telling people they're wrong. But I know what I can do! I don't think I've ever discussed what we like about Noragami so much!

I'm not sure it will be so easy to describe. First, we just watched the anime because lyschan recommended it, and then we kept watching because our favoritest voice actor was in it. His character doesn't show up until episode two, but Hiroshi Kamiya plays the main character Yato, and we like him enough to give anything he's in a second chance. Well, that and the series did pique our interest. And Yukine was in the opening sequence, so we decided we couldn't stop watching until we at least knew who played that kid. We're like that about some character designs.

The funny thing is, Yukine is the character that made us really fall in love with the show, but a lot of people who review Noragami seem to really hate him. In fact, there were parts where we didn't like him so much, either, but it was all part of his journey and it worked out in the end. And he was played by Yuuki Kaji the whole time, so we couldn't not like him too much.

But I digress. The important thing is what is this series about? Well, let me see if I can tell you! It's about Yato, a minor Japanese deity, who's trying to make it to the big time. (Hey, I did it!) He's been around for a while, but he has a hard time gaining followers, and that's dangerous for deities in the world of Noragami, because faith is sort of what keeps them alive (that'll make more sense if you read the series! and we'll still be your friends!). The other thing that keeps deities alive (instead of being eaten by supernatural creatures referred to as ayakashi) are shinki, which are basically spirits of the dead who become instruments in the hands of a god to help that god do whatever it is that instrument does. In this series, usually it's some kind of a weapon to help slay ayakashi. Again, it will all make more sense in the context.

While Yato is trying to recruit followers, he meets one Hiyori, who develops a condition that makes her spirit leave her body, and she decides to become Yato's follower in a different sense--she's going to follow him around until he fixes her. And madcapped mayhem ensues! Tadah!

As for why we like it... I think it's mostly the characters. They're...well, Yato's kind of a jerk, and Yukine starts off as a little punk, and yet somehow they're both a lot of fun. I think it's because Yato's the "jerk with a heart of gold" type, so even though he's rude and insulting, you can see through what he does that, deep down, he really cares. Plus, there's Hiyori to call him out on his jerkiness, and when he's a jerk, things don't always work out for him. We've seen a lot of shows with people being jerks and making bad decisions, and no one ever says, "Hey, you're being a jerk!" and things just magically work out. Things don't always work out for Yato. Okay, they work out most of the time, but there are consequences to his bad decisions.

Also! the story is heavily based on Japanese mythology, which is fascinating in and of itself, but since we're translating it, we get to do research and find out all kinds of cool stuff about it. It's really great to see how much thought and detail the authors of the series are putting into it, and how all the mythological elements tie together.

So...yeah. It's a fun series with fun (and dynamic!) characters, so please check it out!

Today I'm thankful for getting to talk about Noragami, making good progress on work today, getting a pink Kero Cap in Kingdom Hearts [chi], having lots of books to post reviews of coming out this week, and water filters.
24th-Jun-2015 03:14 am (UTC)
Yay, Noragami!! (I left a comment on Kodansha's fb post today proclaiming my love, and they replied to it! Haha.) Actually, I did something recently that I rarely have the chance to do, and that is I watched a few episodes of the anime with a friend!! And I know that she went on to watch more at some point!! I may see if I can convince her to read the manga too (by offering her some of my extra comps) but I think she's more of a watcher than a reader so even if she just watches it I'll be happy.

You know I love them characters. Every single one of them! (except a couple who love-to-hate.) It really is satisfying to see how they grow. And also how their friendships grow!! Noragami explores all kinds of relationships.

The religion/mythology themes really are fascinating. I was thinking about that this afternoon, that like... I think people unfamiliar with manga/anime assume that it all has this "Japanese mindset" (whether that's religious or cultural or a combination) or at least people I've talked to ask me about that, but it didn't ever really stand out to me that distinctly when I started consuming Japanese media. Maybe I wasn't being observant or thinking deeply enough about my media intake. But I feel like, while most series assume a general familiarity with like traditional holidays and stuff and some get into a bit of mythology or supernatural themes, they rarely develop that in a very deep or focused way. And sure, Noragami uses the traditions to tell its own actiony sort of story about its own interpretation of the characters too, but I think it uses its religious basis in a more substantial way, so I appreciate learning more about what there is to know (in a more practical, applied sense, vs "this is what Shintoism is about" book-learning). And I do enjoy the particular way it mixes tradition with modern (artistically and within the story).

By the way, I'm reading Say I Love You 8 now. Was that the one you didn't like? (I was saving your review post to read after.) I think I saw that bit and was like aww, why not? But I got the book on Saturday and didn't start reading it till yesterday, and then I got halfway through and was like "I could go to sleep now and not be too disappointed" and I did. So that's a little unusual, compared to other volumes (and other series). Hrmmm. I'm curious to see if the reasons you didn't like it much match my reasons for being so meh.

(which reminds me of another thing that's not really related except in a couple letters, but miihaa—I don't think you did write about that word but I was curious when you said that so I looked it up so I think I get the sense for what you meant, but if you want to write about it sometime I would enjoy reading what you have to say!)
24th-Jun-2015 06:18 am (UTC)
It's the best!! (We saw that! And we wondered if the person replying knows you lettered it, or if it was just some random intern. Or if it was a random intern that also knew that you lettered it.) Yay for sharing it with friends! We had it on one time when Gaston arrived for a Disneyland trip, but he just said, "That's not a real language," and complained about how Japanese voices are so high. ):

Anyway, we hope she reads the manga! If not, at least they're making more anime, so she probably won't be missing out on all the cool manga stuff. Except that it's generally subtly better than the anime, and the translation's better, obvs. On the other hand, the manga doesn't have Kaji-kun, so I guess there are benefits to both.

It's so true! You either love the characters or love to hate them! Or you hate them because Yukine is too much of a punk and you didn't watch the anime so Kaji-kun couldn't win you over with his lovableness. ...We may have read a few too many negative reviews (but Yukine does seem to be the main complaint of people who don't like the series).

I think that might be a thing with some people and anime--like somehow it's too weird for them because of culture shock or something. That in itself is kind of fascinating, because one of the things I like about anime is the universal themes, so I guess some things seem more or less universal depending on your perspective. I agree--Noragami definitely uses all the religious elements in a way that works for a modern story. Another fascinating thing about it is that, based on the way it's told, you don't need to know all about Shintoism, so you can tell the authors realize not even everyone in Japan is automatically going to know this stuff. But the great thing about that is you can approach it from a western perspective, knowing nothing about Shintoism, and still follow the story without any problems.

Yeah, Say I Love You 8 is the one we didn't speak very highly of. We will see if it's for the same reasons (I wrote that in an extra fancy voice, like a classy detective).

I will take note of your suggestion to write about miihaa and try to remember it next time I'm stumped about what to write about.
24th-Jun-2015 05:02 am (UTC)
This post reminds me just how much I love anime and manga, so thank you for that! I really should check out Noragami, because it sounds like something I'd like. :) I have read/watched any manga/anime in ever so long, and I miss it.
24th-Jun-2015 06:08 am (UTC)
Yes, you should! We think you might like it a lot, because it explores relationships in a way similar to Fruits Basket (or at least, we feel like it explores them in a way similar to Fruits Basket). If you get a chance to check it out, we hope you like it!
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