Noragami Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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Yato is a minor deity who lacks even a single shrine. In order to build his own shrine, he scrawls his cell number on the wall of a downtown bathroom telling people he will help them in exchange for a 5-yen offering, becoming a self-styled “delivery god.” Hiyori, the daughter of a respectable family, is almost killed in a traffic accident, but is rescued by Yato. This causes her to become a “hanyou,” a person who can easily lose her soul. She chases Yato down, and they begin to work together.. ~ANN

Animation Production: BONES (Full Metal AlchemistSpace DandyAkagami no ShirayukihimeRahXephonSoul EaterGOSICKSTAR DRIVERZetsuen no TempestConcrete Revolutio, the upcoming My Hero Academia and Mob Psycho 100)

Director: Kotaro Tamura (Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episode 3, Director on Eureka Seven AO second ending sequence and Zetsuen no Tempest ending sequence / Storyboard Writer on Space Dandy Episode 23)

Series Composition: Deko Akao (Script Writer and Series Composition on Akagami no Shirayukihime episodes 1, 2, 4, 8, 9 and 11 / Script Writer on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun episodes 5, 8 and 10)

Character Designer:  Toshiba Kawamoto (Animation Supervisor and Key Animator on Michiko e Hatchin episode 3 / Chief Animation Supervisor on Towa no Quon / Animation Supervisor on Space Dandy episode 24 / Key Animator on Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood first opening sequence / Character Designer on Kekkai Sensen, NoragamiNoragami Aragoto and Towa no Quon)

Music: Taku Iwasaki (Composer on Akame ga Kill!, Gatchman CROWDSSoul Eater and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Read or Die OVA)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Yoshifumi Sueda

Storyboards: Kotaro Tamura

Script: Deko Akao

At first glance this show screams generic supernatural shonen series where a high school girl encounters a mysterious guy that fights monsters with special abilities.  We’ve seen this all before.  BLEACH had it with Ichigo’s relationship with Rukia and how he became a Soul Reaper under her guidance.  As did Code:Breaker and earlier works like Inuyasha and Flames of Recca.  Noragami takes a different approach and weaves into its story traditions of Japan, a modernized setting and tons of foreshadowing nicely.

Yato is highly comedic as a God and it balances the heavy theme that’s introduced from the get-go, desire.  The young girl thats bullied at school requests the help of a God to save her from all the negative aura surrounding her.  Definitely a step up from being generic this show takes a not-so strong God and drops real world problems into his own life!  Fed up with Yato’s homeless lifestyle and not having a shrine his Shinki, Tomone, leaves him.  I really like the idea that these Phantom’s manipulate humans similar to how Horrors did in Garo it ties the supernatural elements and this Japanese idea of Gods in an engaging way–through the use of coins.

Without coins Yato can’t live and gain the shrine that I’m sure he’s probably always wanted.  The thread that brings Hiyori to Yato is the very fact that he earns money another way by finding a lost cat leading their fated encounter.  A big part of what this first episode does correctly was leaving out a huge information drop.  We were given bits and pieces here and there.  Hiyori having a tail illustrated she’s a spirit that can fight monsters.  There’s also the thread about the Far Shore and the Near Shore and she dangles between both worlds.  Seeing the resemblance to BLEACH with the human world and spirit world?  Even though Noragami projects similarly strong motifs with the ideaology of spirits and the use of supernatural abilities it pulls it off with flair.

Incredible character detail and smooth animation throughout!  This is definitely a series I’ll be picking up! I was immediately interested when I heard Taku Iwasaki would be doing dubstep for the soundtrack.  It’s a shame his soundtrack for the second season has been pulled due to the use of the Adhan prayer causing a stir.  Luckily I got ahold of the official soundtrack before it got pulled!  I loved his work on [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility of CONTROLKatanagatari and Gatchaman CROWDS.  He’s a genius at  establishing a wide array of emotions with an orchestra, synthesizers and keyboards!  He’s so diversified with his style that channels an edge to his music that other composers simply don’t have. The only other artist that comes close and is getting up to my Top 10 Best Composers list is Ken Arai.  Iwasaki’s entrance into experimental rock was only granted by his work on Witch Hunter Robin which included a combination of heavy guitar riffs and chanting melodies.  Nowadays, I’d say he likes to mesh a lot of styles together and one of my favorites has got to be where he channels out menacing moods with strange voices, echo effects and synthetic sounds!

OP: “Goya no Machiawase” (午夜の待ち合わせ, Overnight Appointment) by Hello Sleepwalkers

Directed by: Kotaro Tamura

Storyboards: Kotaro Tamura

Animation Supervisor: Toshihiro Kawamoto

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Why didn’t I see this series when it aired?! This would have certainly made my list of Top 10 Best Opening Sequences of 2014. Similar Taku Iwasaki’s edgier style, this rock song encompasses the spirit that Noragami isn’t always going to be a bright show to watch.  Shuntaro’s vocals give off the eerie style similar to White Ash’s vocalist Nobita but with a wider range to play around with.  The visuals are top notch–love those blue paneled scenes against the photographic backgrounds.  The animation on the characters is extremely fluid and transitions cut together incredibly well!

ED: “Heart Realize” (ハートリアライズ) by Tia (Supercell)

You can really tell this is a Supercell song.  Heavy on the strings and a focus on melisma.  I like it and it’s very refreshing to see how slow-paced it is compared to it’s opening counterpart. My favorite part is where we see Hiyori stopped at the train tracks symbolizing the Far Shore and the Near Shore and that she can reach Yato in the other world.  The blue lightning effect on Yato and the other character shown establish how otherworldly the Far Shore is.


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