Noragami–Anime Early Impressions

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Noragami poster So far Noragami (Funimation) is one of the bright spots in a rather weak season. It’s another fantasy based on Shinto traditions, but the tone is quite different from last season’s Gingitsune. This is a shounen action series, more whimsical but also more violent.

It may not appeal to exactly the same audience as Gingitsune but it’s quite well done. I find the mixture of humor and action very entertaining.
Yato is a god, but not a very successful one. He used to work as a minor war god, but there’s not much demand for that in modern Japan. Now he’s unemployed and homeless, without a single shrine to his name. He’s reduced to sleeping on street-corners, scrounging in dumpsters for food, and doing odd jobs that range from getting rid of evil ayakashi to cleaning people’s bathrooms.

Dream shrine
Yato is ambitious. He dreams of saving up enough money to build a shrine of his own.
Dream shrine maidens
It will be a splendid shrine! He will have beautiful shrine maidens to wait on him! He will have thousands, no, millions of worshipers!

However like most Shinto gods he accepts 5 yen coins as payment. It’s going to take him a long time to save up enough.
Yato and Tomone
Tomone is a spirit who serves as Yato’s shinki (“divine instrument”).
She can transform into a holy knife which he uses to fight evil spirits.

Unfortunately she gets tired of the homeless life and quits. Without a shinki Yato’s ability to fight evil spirits is very limited. He’s forced to fall back on more mundane jobs, like searching for lost cats.
Hiyori Iki is an alienated middle school girl. Her parents are wealthy but don’t understand her. They want her to be a proper lady, but she’s more of a tomboy, happiest when she’s watching kickboxing matches.
Bus accident
Hiyori sees Yato run into traffic after a lost cat. Thinking he is in danger she runs after him and ends up being hit by a bus herself.
Out of body
Being a decent sort of god he fixes her up, but he doesn’t do it quite right. She looks fine but now her spirit keeps separating from her body at the most inconvenient times.

(In this form she sports a cat-like tail, which is given an explanation that would be more familiar to Western occultists.)

Yato promises Hiyori that he will restore her to normal in exchange for the standard offering. She gives him the 5 yen coin but he doesn’t do anything to solve her problem–he really doesn’t know how. She starts to stalk him, hoping to force him to make good on his promise.
Fortunately Yato finds another spirit who is willing to serve as his shinki: the ghost of a young teenaged boy named Yuki.
New shinki
Yuki can transform into a holy sword blade with no hilt. At last Yato can fight evil spirits again.
Tenjin with pipe
Here is a much more successful god: Tenjin (Sugawara no Michizane) the patron of scholarship. He owns a network of thousands of shrines all over Japan and has millions of desperate students begging for his help on exams.

Naturally Yato hates his guts. Still Tenjin is sometimes willing to toss a favor in Yato’s direction.