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Noragami (2014)

When it comes to minor Shinto gods, they don't get any lower on the totem pole than Yato. He has no one to worship him, no money, and doesn't even have a shrine to live in. Desperate to earn enough money to get his own shrine and worshippers, Yato dares to take on any wish made to him no matter how strange the request. However, his luck may finally be changing when he is saved by a high school girl named Hiyori Iki from being hit by a bus. The accident results in nearly severing Hiyori's soul from her body, which will occasionally slip out when she isn't looking. It is only when she seeks out Yato's help to return her to normal that she begins to learn about the life of a god and their daily struggles. Will accepting Hiyori's request be the key to helping Yato find the reverence he has been looking for?

Based on the manga of the same name written by Adatchitoka, Noragami is a twelve episode anime series that was originally aired January through March of 2014. The series along with two additional OVA episodes were directed by Kotaro Tamura, who was the assistant director for Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children and animated by Studio Bones, the studio responsible for shows such as: Full Metal Alchemist, Wolf's Rain and Darker than Black.

I'll admit, what initially drew me to watch Noragami was the animation and character design. Thanks to its amazing pedigree, which I have listed above, it certainly didn't disappoint. Expressive characters, impressive backgrounds and great lighting, it made watching each episode a feast for the eyes. However, much like a good anime should, the animation drew me in but the story and characters kept me riveted enough to marathon all twelve episodes in one go. I've seen my fair share of supernatural anime (Blue Exorcist, Bleach, Soul Eater, etc) and I wouldn't even go so far to say that Noragami is the best example of the genre. However what it does accomplish is a nice blending of various elements of the genre into one cohesive whole that somehow still feels fresh.

One of the major reasons, I feel, that Noragami doesn't feel like your typical supernatural fantasy in a modern setting anime is due to its characters. The entire main cast is likable and even most of the supporting cast provide a lot of fun on their own, adding layers to the world's unique mythos. There is a good balance of humor and drama in Noragami. Given the series' focus is on life after death, gods and defiled spirits, the drama is to be expected. But what makes it work in Noragami, is thanks to the somewhat lighter tone of the first several, delivering but heartfelt and hilarious moments that serve to give the drama weight.

If you're a newcomer to anime, Noragami is a good short series to get your feet wet and experience a small sample of Japanese supernatural genre. Seasoned anime fans will enjoy the high quality animation work and the fresh twist taken with the story and characters. Given the series general success thus far, trailers of a sequel series have already started to air at the time of writing this article. So fans looking for more Noragami may be getting their wishes granted sooner than they think.

Noragami is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from MANGA ENTERTAINMENT in the UK and FUNIMATION in the US.  BUY FROM AMAZON or BUY FROM AMAZON UK