Anime, Shows

Noragami Season 2’s MVP is Bishamon, Goddess of War and Fortune

Anime Review:

Noragami Aragato Season 2

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Tons of character development, especially for Bishamon
  • Heartwarming scenes
  • More backstory
  • Balance of tragedy and humor
  • Interesting intro

Cons

  • Bishamon is bathing all the time, seems like fan service

Observations

  • Darker than the first season
  • I really wish this wasn’t the last season

Warning: Spoilers Below!

Review

After watching Season 1 of Noragami, I was stoked to watch Season 2, which is also called Noragami Aragoto. That literally means “Stray God, Rough Style” which is a little strange for a title. Anime is no stranger to odd titles, however. If I had to guess why it has that name, I would think it is because this season is significantly darker than the previous one.

Fun fact: Apparently a sound that sounded like the Islamic call to prayer was embedded in the music and greatly offended some Muslims. After the backlash and careful consideration, the sound was removed from this anime. I guess the fact that the anime features a polytheistic society is what made the inclusion of the Islamic call to prayer so offensive.

Bishamon

Bishamon is the MVP of this season, and she gets a lot of character development. We learn that the main character, calamity god Yato, killed most of her regalias after they were corrupted, thus saving her life. (Regalias are spirits of the dead who serve the gods.) Bishamon holds a grudge against Yato, however, because she had considered those regalias to be part of her family. Bishamon continually rescues regalias and adds them to her large family, even if they are what most people would consider useless. One new regalia, for instance, has the form of a broken mirror when not in humanoid form–lacking any practical use. Some regalias are weapons when in object form. Bishamon’s exemplar (the leader of her regalias), is an earring in object form. His name is Kasuma, and when he turns from regular regalia to exemplar, his object form changes from a nail that pierces Bishamon’s skin to an earring.

Having so many regalias is a danger to Bishamon’s health. Because regalias are deeply connected to their respective gods, when a regalia does evil or feels strong negative emotion, the god is blighted. Blight is painful corruption, and left untreated, it will eventually kill a god. Yep, in Noragami, gods are capable of dying. The renowned gods such as Bishamon would be reborn if killed, but lesser-known gods such as Yato would be gone for good if they died.

Kuguha

As the series goes on, it becomes clear that Bishamon is not the true villain of the series. Sure, she is an antagonist, at least for the first part of Season 2. But the real villain of Season 2 is Kugaha, a regalia of Bishamon’s. Kugaha believes the number of “useless” regalia Bishamon has accumulated has made her incompetent, and intends to arrange for her death so that she reincarnates. He believes that if she reincarnates, he will be her exemplar.

Many villains believe that they are the good guys of their own story, and Kugaha is no exception. He is so certain that his actions are pure that his terrible deeds do not even blight Bishamon. In her eyes, he is not completely evil. She does banish him, but does not let Yato destroy him. He becomes a minor nuisance after his banishment, but does much more damage as Bishamon’s regalia when he massacres her other regalias.

Yukine, Yato’s regalia, was friends with one of the regalia of Bishamon, Suzuha. Suzuha reveals one of the downfalls of Bishamon’s habit of collecting regalias into one big family. Suzuha loves Bishamon for her caring nature, but feels increasingly neglected when Bishamon never calls on him even once. He seeks companionship in a human, but she forgets him over and over and then disappears from his life completely. He also seeks solace in taking care of plants, but while that is somewhat fulfilling, he still is unhappy. Kugaha murders Suzuha brutally, and Yukine is devastated when he finds out.

Suzuha’s death is especially painful to watch knowing that Yukine has so few friends and even fewer people he can strongly relate to. He is so excited to have Suzuha in his life, so the short time when we as the audience know of Suzuha’s death before Yukine knows is cringey. Not cringey in a bad way, just a serious case of dramatic irony.

After Kugaha is defeated and Bishamon recovers, she creates a diary for her regalia to exchange so that she can read it and know what they are feeling and what they have been doing. This is not to spy on them, but rather to make sure they do not feel neglected like Suzuha did. The idea is cute and I suspect it will make their family closer.

The anime gives the audience a bit of a scare when Yukine is destroyed in sword form. I love Yukine, so seeing his near-death put me into a mini panic, even though I suspected he would survive. Turns out I was right, because Yukine’s sacrifice to protect Yato basically promoted him to an exemplar, which saved his life.

I also found it interesting that it is customary for a god to release a regalia that has blighted them even one time. That makes the number of times Yato put up with Yukine’s transgressions in Season 1 seem like an extreme act of mercy. It is clear that the relationship between god and regalia in the case of Yato and Yukine is not a conventional one. I personally think the friendship between Yato, Yukine, and Hiyori is sweet. I even put a picture on my desktop background of the three of them.

I don’t know why Bishamon is depicted bathing so often. That happened in the first season too. She bathes more often even than Nanase from the anime Free! It seems like it is fan service, and I don’t like it. There is nothing wrong with occasionally having characters naked if it makes sense in the story, but having her naked so often suggests they are trying to cater to the whims of the audience rather than focusing on the storyline. They also risk objectifying her for the sake of the male gaze.

Anyway, back to the relationship between Hiyori, Yato, and Yukine. Hiyori is pretty much flat-out told that if she cuts ties with Yato and Yukine, her soul will stop slipping out of her body, which is what it has done countless times since she was hit by a vehicle. She refuses despite the personal cost to herself. I admire her loyalty to her friends.

At one time, Ebisu tries to purchase Yukine from Yato with tons of money, enough for Yato to buy a shrine. Yato ultimately refuses because Yukine is valuable to him both as a friend and an exemplar. While touching, this solidarity paves the way for an even more heartwarming moment–when Hiyori creates a small shrine and gives it to Yato. Yato cries after receiving it. The freakin’ god of calamity burst into tears at the gift. It was beautiful.

I love how Yato gets his shrine officially recognized by the rest of the gods. He literally visits the government officials every day right at closing time until they cave in. As someone who has worked retail in the past, I 100% agree that this would work. Trust me, no one wants customers to be there at closing.

When Ebisu was introduced, I immediately thought he was a typical power-hungry bad guy. His plan to buy Yukine definitely made me suspicious of him, and then there is the part of the intro that shows Ebisu and Yato fighting.

But Ebisu is actually a great person who cares about his regalia and about humans. He wants to utilize phantoms to protect humans and make the world a better place. While unusual, his methods are thought through. Unfortunately, Ebisu reincarnates with astonishing regularity since his work frequently blights him. Yato becomes his friend and ally.

I hated that Ebisu was killed after all the trouble Yato and Bishamon went to in order to try to save him. Yes, it was good for the story. Yes, it had impact. But man, it pulled on the heartstrings. Yato taking the reincarnated Ebisu to the restaurant the Olive Tavern was super sad.

Intro style with Yukine

The intro is attractive, with a similar limited color palette as the intro and outro from Season 1.

I loved this season of Noragami, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, comedy, or slightly dark anime.

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