Anime, Reactions, Shows

Komi Can’t Communicate S1E2

This is my analysis of and reaction to Komi Can’t Communicate Season 1 Episode 2, an anime about a shy girl with a communication disorder whose goal is to make a hundred friends.

The first thing we see in this episode is that the black cat made a reappearance. As discussed in the previous episode analysis for Komi Can’t Communicate, black cats are actually usually a symbol of good luck in Japan. They also seem to be strongly associated with Komi, because she is often depicted with cat ears when she is especially shy or curious.

The narrator explains when people have social phobia and/or a communication disorder, they may struggle to communicate with others, but that does not mean they do not want to make and maintain long-lasting friendships. That is helpful and true, so even though I generally don’t like this narrator, I appreciated the comment.

After the intro, Tadano approaches a group of girls, trying to find more friends for Komi. Yamai is one of the girls, and even though she plays super nice, you can tell she immediately judges Tadano as unworthy to even speak of Komi. She whispers in his ear words to that effect. You can already tell she is not a good person.

I hate two-sided people who act like that. Friendly as a show, nasty when no one or very few people are watching. Chameleons, I used to call them. Changing based on those who surround them.

Also, I know this is a school of oddballs, but the tall girl in the background is literally wearing armor, for no apparent reason. I wonder if that will be addressed later.

Tadano has no luck helping Komi make new friends, because he struggles to make friends himself. The other high schoolers want nothing to do with him.

He decides to talk to Najimi, since they are basically friends with everyone at the school. Many fans of the show believe that Najimi was written to be genderfluid. Sometimes Najimi identifies as female and sometimes male. They tend to use they/them pronouns. I am happy that all their friends are respectful of that, because I know oftentimes people in the real world are not respectful of preferred pronouns.

Tadano is confused because last year Najimi dressed in the guy’s uniform, and now they are wearing a skirt. Najimi playfully teases him. I already like Najimi, and it’s nice to have some rep for genderfluid people. The only other examples of genderfluid characters that I can think of are Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Eri from the Webtoon Friends With Benefits.

Najimi is very much a people person, and has tons of friends despite being a compulsive liar. They basically have perfect communication skills. Najimi regards almost all the people in the school as their childhood friends.

Tadano encourages Komi to ask Najimi if they will be her friend, but she can’t bring herself to do it. Instead, she just stands there for an apparently really long time, stuttering. Tadano is supportive, and Najimi is patient.

The audience is thrown for a loop when Najimi refuses to be Komi’s friend. It is totally unexpected because Najimi is friends with almost everyone. We learn that it is because Najimi tried to make friends with Komi as a younger child, but was scared off by Komi’s silent stare. Najimi agrees to walk home with Komi and give her another chance.

Najimi maintains a one-sided conversation with Komi on the way home. Two of Najimi’s “childhood friends” approach, annoyed at Najimi for moving without telling them. They give off bad vibes.

Najimi claims they are a guy when the creepy “childhood friend” admits his feelings to them. He won’t take no for an answer, however. He grabs Najimi’s wrist and licks his lips. Man, that is freaky. Makes me hate him. It kinda reminds me in swim team when a guy grabbed me and tried to push me to the ground. I have a host of bad memories associated with swim team, but that was the worst.

The creep had dropped his keys, and when Komi tries to give them back, her stare convinces the creep that she means harm. This seems a bit far-fetched, but Komi does appear to have the effect of intimidating people by accident. I wish she had done it on purpose, but she really only intended to give him his fallen keys. I don’t like that she’s that oblivious–it makes her seem almost dumb. The creep runs off with his friend, and Najimi agrees to be Komi’s friend.

It’s kind of sweet when Komi leaps into the air with joy.

The next day, Najimi sits with Komi and asks her lots of questions, effortlessly keeping up a one-sided conversation. Najimi says that making a hundred friends is so few. I guess it makes sense for them, but I feel like maintaining even a few good friendships is challenging, especially if factors such as distance are involved.

Najimi tries to improve Komi’s communication skills as well by challenging her to get a special drink for them from a nearby shop. I think it is a little harsh to threaten not to be her friend anymore if she doesn’t, but I suspect Najimi’s heart is in the right place because they don’t really seem like a bad person. I remember when I was an incredibly shy kid, my parents and other adults often pushed me to be more social. It’s not the same because I don’t have a communication disorder, but I feel like that helps me to relate to Komi somewhat. My parents and the other adults obviously meant well, but it still stressed me out beyond reason.

Tadano is mistaken for a stalker by a little kid and his mother when he follows Komi. I’m not surprised. He does look like a stalker since he is following her in hiding.

Komi hesitates for a long time before entering the coffee shop, and when she does she tries to communicate her wishes through gestures and by checking the menu. Najimi’s preferred drink is not on the menu, however. Najimi really thought through everything to get Komi to speak.

The barista is apparently very experienced and decides to take matters into his own hands. But he gives her the wrong drink. When Najimi tells Komi that, she begins to cry.

Both Najimi and Tadano apologize vigorously for that. It’s clear that Najimi didn’t mean any harm, though they did cause a lot of emotional distress on Komi’s part. I am impressed by Komi’s efforts, even if they were unfortunately unfruitful.

Komi sulks after they apologize, and they both think it is super cute. Good for her for not being a pushover. She knows she’s been wronged and isn’t afraid to make that clear in her own way.

Overall, I was satisfied with this episode. It introduced a new character and new challenges for Komi, as well as establishing that Tadano is a gentle, kind person.

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Anime, Reactions, Shows

Kaguya-Sama: Love is War S1E1

This is one of my episode reactions and analyses! I started these recently as a way to delve into particular episodes of a show. My thought is that some people would read these alongside watching the episodes, and that others might read them to get a sense for whether they would enjoy the anime. I hope you like it!

The episode starts with a representation of a love confession that is requited. The narrator explains that everyone says this is a wonderful thing, but that this is dead wrong, and that power dynamics are at work even in the cutest couple.

My first thought was…whaaaat? Is this going to be some sort of kinky anime with unequal power between couples? Should I stop watching? Then it gets worse, with symbolic crying and chains. Yikes. Relationships aren’t usually that bad.

Then the narrator says: Love is no game….it’s WAR!!!

What the heck? Love definitely should not be just a power struggle. This is shaping up to be a very uncomfortable show. But it has a 4.9 rating out of 5 on Crunchyroll, so it can’t be that bad. Can it?

Whoever gives their heart first….will be conquered.

Narrator

The intro is fun, actually. Despite the weapons, it seems almost playful. It doesn’t show any actual violence. The weapons seem largely symbolic of the struggle of two people deeply in love, not of any sort of abusive relationship. Of course, only time will tell.

Also, the song is a bop. I don’t usually use that word, but it definitely qualifies in this case.

Shuchiin Academy is a school for rich kids for the most part, or for those few who get through on merit alone. Kaguya comes from a super rich family and is refined and successful in many areas. Shirogane is the student council president and is a brilliant student and comes from a much poorer family than Kaguya. Hmmm…there already is a power dynamic here…wealth.

Basically everyone in the school ships them. I don’t, yet. So far they just seem aloof as they walk down the hallway. I will say that I usually don’t like characters who are excessively prideful, so I am unlikely to like these two if that personality trait dominates their other ones.

They are aware that the rest of the school is gossiping about them and make a joke out of it. Even from the beginning, their banter seems measured, careful. As if each one is trying to gauge the other. I would never have that level of energy to put into a conversation. They both come off as the smart, cold type.

Initial thoughts: I don’t like them separately, and I probably wouldn’t like them together. Too much pride in one room. They are both utterly convinced that the other has feelings for them and will confess their love.

Then half a year goes by? Why did we even start there then? I guess this is a slow burn romance. The main point is that it has changed from a waiting game to an actual battle. This show has not won me over yet.

Oooh, the oblivious student council member Fujiwara has won two tickets to a movie that her parents won’t let her watch, and offers them to Kaguya and Shirogane. Hopefully this heightens the drama.

Shirogane starts to say he is free, but then Fujiwara interjects, saying that this is a movie that ends up making boys and girls who go to see it together fall in love.

What a pickle. Now Shirogane has essentially agreed to go to a movie with Kaguya that makes people fall in love. That is pretty near a confession of love. But Shirogane says he doesn’t put stock in rumors, suggests that she does, and leaves the decision up to her.

This type of hidden flirting is kind of hilarious. I don’t know how to flirt, honestly. I can’t pull that crap off. And when people have flirted with me in the past, I usually just laughed it off. Literally. Someone told me I was beautiful once and I started laughing, realized it was not a joke, and then shrugged it off as a lie instead. (I don’t really see people as attractive or ugly, but probably due to my garbage self-esteem, I have always assumed I am subpar in the looks department.)

The kind of flirting in this show has the potential to be hilarious, however.

Wow, Kaguya was the one who fabricated the prize and snuck it in Fujiwara’s mailbox. That’s a lot of advance planning to make this situation possible. She’s smart…and smitten. I don’t think I would ever be that underhanded. Two out of the three crushes I have had I have flat out confessed. For one, I was rejected. For the other crush, we’ll see, we’re getting to know each other better. As for the one I didn’t confess, it would have never worked because she was straight.

The narrator is freakin’ hilarious during this battle. Kaguya plays innocent and shifts the responsibility of the choice back on Shirogane.

Tadano from Komi Can’t Communicate believes he has the skill to read the room. Fujiwara lacks this skill utterly. Seeing that they can’t agree and are in some sort of stalemate, she throws a loop in their plans by suggesting a non-romantic movie.

For some reason they are so fried by that, they need sugar to get their energy back. Strange…that seems more like a middle school thing. In high school I drank coffee to get my energy up. Fujiwara nabs the sweets before they can though.

The end of this segment has a battle result that both lose. I hope they keep doing the results because that is kind of fun. I don’t really ship the main characters yet, but that was kind of funny.

In the next segment, Kaguya receives a letter that is a confession of love. Shirogane is not worried because he speculates that Kaguya will turn the guy down since she spends so much time in the student council room. He believes Kaguya will see this guy as a weed, which seems accurate to the way prideful Kaguya sees other people.

Kaguya unexpectedly says she would be willing to go out with him and Shirogane breaks his pencil. Not the pencil tip. The actual pencil. Wow, this guy is flustered. He then tapes the pencil while he is panicking, which says a lot about him as a person. He seems like a perfectionist, to say the least. He has a need to fix things that are broken and perhaps is even cheap, since he does not just consider replacing the pencil.

At this point, Shirogane has imagined Kaguya say “You really are quite cute” twice, so it seems like this might be a recurring thought in the episodes ahead. I can 100% understand why being called would be undesirable. Puppies are cute. Babies are cute. Kittens are cute. Anyone older than like 5 years old is not “cute” to me. I have always equated cute with young and innocent and na├»ve, and never had considered it appropriate to use in a romantic context. Why would I ever want anyone to call me cute, then? It’s so cringey. Honestly, compliments like “cute” or “pretty” fall flat when used on me because first off, appearance doesn’t matter to me, and second, my concept of cute is not the impression I want to make on other people.

The narrator breaks the fourth wall by saying that we are 12 minutes into episode 1 and by now should realize Kaguya’s pride would not let her go out with some stranger who is confessing their love via letter. Not sure how I feel about this. I usually hate when someone breaks the fourth wall, such as in Enola Holmes. It’s funny in this case, but ruins suspension of disbelief. And I love suspension of disbelief. I’ll let it slide…

Shirogane manages to respond as a concerned student council president rather than a potential suitor, and says he will run the idea by a teacher since such behavior would potentially hurt the student council’s reputation. This kinda makes him seem like a self-interested asshole, but I will suspend judgement because I really don’t know him well yet.

Kaguya says it might be true love so she will risk her reputation, and Shirogane proves it is not true love through a trick. He asks, what if he hypothetically confessed? And Kaguya is so flustered that she says she might consider it. Shirogane then is free to say love that is so fickle cannot be true love. Oooh, this is like a game of chess, with two people who are REALLY good at it.

Kaguya holds her ground by saying she will go anyway. Fujiwara is so concerned for her that eventually Kaguya relents. Fujiwara is so painfully oblivious to the situation at hand, but it is pretty hilarious actually.

In the next segment, Kaguya sees a commoner’s lunch for the first time when Shirogane brings lunch to school. This kind of reminds me of when Haruhi introduces the host club, which is filled with rich boys, to instant coffee in the anime Ouran High School Host Club.

Kaguya’s lunches are prepared by private chefs. I can’t even imagine that. But then, for my school lunches I just walked downstairs (I was cyber-schooled) and either had leftovers or whatever my mom made. So boxed lunches and cafeteria lunches were both not really part of my high school experience. Kaguya’s boxed lunches look like gourmet restaurant meals.

Kaguya really wants to ask for a bite because there are foods in Shirogane’s lunch she hasn’t tried before. I don’t think I would ask that sort of thing. I am not as shy as I used to be, but I am not quite straightforward enough to ask for someone else’s food, except if it were a sibling I was asking. I might just say that it looks amazing and secretly hope to be offered some. Not pride in my case…

Fujiwara has no such reservations, and Kaguya is super mad at her when Fujiwara asks to try Shirogane’s food. Shirogane notices the scornful glint in Kaguya’s eyes and is instantly uncomfortable. Passive aggressive much?

Indirect kisses never made sense to me, but Fujiwara took from the part Shirogane ate from. To me, any kind of kiss = germs, which = disgusting.

You are what you eat, so eat something cute!

Fujiwara

The next day, Kaguya tries to make her lunch look so delicious that Shirogane has to ask for a bite, but it backfires when Shirogane just says they should all eat together. However, Fujiwara offers her food instead, which has the little octopus sausages Kaguya has been dying to try. As a result, Kaguya is no longer mad at Fujiwara.

I kind of didn’t expect that. I thought the reason she wanted to try Shirogane’s food was because it was Shirogane’s food. But she actually just really wanted to try particular “commoner’s” foods. That really is quite cute….just kidding, of course. Poor Shirogane always worries that Kaguya will say that to him.

This battle is considered a win for Kaguya.

The narrator tries to explain the psychological complexities of why Kaguya won’t confess until she tells the narrator to leave her alone. Um….how does that work? Can the characters hear the narrator? I doubt that will come up again, but I guess that’s fine. I mean, this is all supposed to be just funny. Strike two for suspension of disbelief.

The outro is adorable and I love it, showing Kaguya with wings and Shirogane with a plane holding hands in the air. It gives me hope that their relationship will be really sweet in the future. The song sounds really nice too, and as an avid listener of anime music, I would say it is one I would listen to more often.

Overall, I enjoyed this first episode. Seems like they are two tsundere-types. For those less familiar with anime, those are the cold, stoic types that tend to soften over time. It’s a trope that is overused, but it can be done right, and I think it has been done well here. The concept overall seems pretty unique. This is shaping up to be a good anime.

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Anime, Reactions, Shows

Komi Can’t Communicate S1E1

I enjoyed writing my first episode analyses and reactions so much that I decided to try another one. I think I am going to alternate between Yuri on Ice, Komi Can’t Communicate, and Kaguya-Sama: Love is War. That’s not set in stone yet, but is pretty likely. Mention in the comments if you feel like I should do a different show. Almost anything on Netflix, Crunchyroll, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Hulu is fair game. I avoid shows with lots of gore or strong sexual themes.

Spoilers for Season 1 Episode 1 Below!

First off, we hear a little girl singing in Japanese. The lyrics to the song are about hoping to make a hundred friends in first grade. Cute. My first thought is, this is the protagonist’s childhood.

Wrong, just a random pedestrian.

The real star of the show is the teenage girl walking down the sidewalk to school. Apparently everyone within range of sight thinks she is drop-dead gorgeous. I am clueless when it comes to beauty, but even I know she is beautiful. I mean, only because all the other characters are gawking and blushing at her appearance. Otherwise it would never have occurred me to label her as beautiful or consider her appearance at all. That’s just me, I guess. But still.

I have never seen people react like that in real life. I guess the only equivalent I could think of is how a person would be treated if they were suspected to be a celebrity.

There is a cat too, a black cat. It got me thinking. Are black cats considered bad luck in Japan too, or is that just a western thing? After a quick google search and checking several websites, I discovered that black cats are considered GOOD luck in Japan.

As an English major, I was taught that most artistic and linguistic choices are not only intentional but that even simple ones have meaning behind them. In other words, the animators and writers wouldn’t include a black cat for no reason. My guess is that since a black cat crossing your path in Japan is good luck, it is a reflection of how the “hot” teenage girl has had the good fortune to be born attractive. So the show wants our first impression of her to be that she is a lucky, beautiful girl. Interesting.

The black cat runs away from the attractive girl when she gets closer. That seems like a bad sign for her luck, or at least like the universe is giving her mixed signals.

The narrator chimes in with information about Itan Private High School, but just normal observations.

It’s Tadano’s first day of high school and he is reflecting on how it is strange that an average joe like him got into a school like this. My first thought was, this is going to be one of those wish fulfillment anime where the average guy gets the love and attention of the super pretty girl, isn’t it? I don’t actually mind that trope that much, as long as it is not a harem anime.

I guess we’ll see.

My goal for the time being…is to read the room and live a peaceful high school life.”

Tadano

Tadano’s desire to “read the room” and basically just fit in without drama is super relatable. When I was in high school, blending in was not so much my intention as disappearing completely. I was in cyber school, which made it easy to avoid social interaction. I wanted my high school experience to be as uneventful and peaceful as possible. Which isn’t really what happened, because I was a ball of stress with horrible mental health.

At this point, it’s pretty obvious that Tadano’s high school experience likewise is going to be anything but peaceful. After all, why would he be a main character in this show if it was going to be boring? His goals kind of remind me of Saiki from The Disastrous Life of Saiki K, who just wants to live a normal, peaceful life. The main difference is that Saiki has a somewhat negative attitude while Tadano is definitely upbeat, even if they both want to “live inconspicuously” in their pursuit of happiness.

The narrator already seems superfluous because she explains that Tadano is shy. A tell don’t show moment for sure–I’m sure we could’ve figured that out for ourselves.

Apparently Tadano tried to be unique in junior high and it backfired–growing hair out, being apathetic, trying to learn bass, having a cringey username are all listed as things he did to stand out.

Tadano’s first impression of that pretty girl from earlier is that she is menacing because all she does is stare at him. We learn her name is Komi, but not from her, because she doesn’t say a word and just runs away.

Through no act of her own, Komi immediately becomes the most popular girl in school, and Tadano is despised for being the one who gets to sit next to her. I never was in public school, but I have always thought it is a mixture of looks and charisma/people skills that tend to make people the most popular. A pretty girl may be popular, but if she has the “wrong” hobbies or habits or personality, she will never be the MOST popular. That was the vibe I got from TV shows I watched with public schools in them.

The narrator says that Tadano’s high school life was doomed from the start. I kinda wonder why no one tried to sit beside Komi before him, but maybe they were all too nervous. He just did it by accident. When I was in classrooms for the first time in college, I either chose the front row of seats or the back row of seats. It depended on the amount I was interested in the class. If I thought I would be bored, I would sit in the back so I could get away with writing for fun on my laptop. I almost never chose my seat based on who was sitting nearby, except when I shared a class once with my best friend. Tadano seems to put even less thought to who he sits beside than me.

They all start introducing themselves to the class. I HATED introducing myself to groups of people when I was a teenager. Agari’s way of introducing herself, when she could barely get the words out, was basically me. Except she blurted things out pretty loudly, while I mumbled. But I can totally understand why Agari and Komi would struggle with this.

For Komi, there is a long uncomfortable silence before she goes to the board and writes her name. The teacher’s reaction to the swish of Komi’s skirt is disgusting. She shouldn’t be fawning over a minor like that. It’s gross.

When she writes her name and returns to her seat, she is met with cheers and confetti. A little over-the-top, but the anime makes a point. Komi is popular but no one here really knows her or cares that she shares nothing but her name. She is just a pretty face to them.

Oh, and typical. Komi drops her eraser and it bumps Tadano’s foot. He tries to return it and a classmate dressed like a ninja throws something at him. Tadano has made himself a target. I hate to see behavior so petty. How is Komi supposed to have friends if anyone who gets close to her is punished for it?

Komi stares at Tadano again, and the unhelpful narrator chimes in again with “Tadano chose to pretend he didn’t see anything.” Um, yeah. I could see that.

After Tadano is knocked out by a stampede of students trying to get near Komi, he only wakes up to hear Komi admitting to herself that she can’t speak in front of other people, and playfully and kind of sadly saying meow to a toy cat. (Another black cat–I’m sensing a theme.)

Tadano awkwardly says he didn’t hear anything she said. Not very convincing. Someone who didn’t hear wouldn’t know she said anything to begin with, so they wouldn’t have made that comment. That’s why even though I talked to myself at home as a teen, the instant I was outside my home, I was dead quiet when I wasn’t spoken to.

When Komi tries to run away, Tadano panics and asks if she struggles to speak with people. The narrator, who I have already come to hate, says that Tadano gets it. It was kind of fun that she said he “leveled up” in understanding like in a video game though.

Komi is depicted as catlike in this scene, probably to show how jittery and shy she is. She writes on the chalkboard asking how he knew she couldn’t talk to people.

I don’t know…perhaps it is the fact that she goes into full panic mode every time someone talks to her and never speaks around other people. Is it safe to say that is a dead giveaway? Are people so blinded to her beauty that they don’t realize her emotional state at all? Literally no one has noticed this before? How? How did she get all the way to high school without anyone coming to that realization? In Kindergarten, the only grade in which I was in a public school, the teacher discussed the possibility of having me tested and put in special education classes because I did not play much with the other kids and rarely spoke. I didn’t have a communication disorder, but I know that Komi was written to have one. How did teachers not realize something was up? Is school so different in Japan that they would disregard a student who never spoke? What about verbal presentations? Or, as a elementary student, show and tell?

Suffice it to say, I have questions.

Komi clearly struggles with self-esteem. She perceives those around her as getting nervous and not interacting with her because no one would want to talk to someone like her. I feel the same way sometimes. Well, a lot. Like, why does anyone even want to talk to someone like me? Honestly, so far I feel like both Komi and Tadano are pretty relatable characters. No doubt many other people could relate as well.

Komi outpours her feelings onto the chalkboard by writing her innermost thoughts, showing her deep anxiety and her desire for connection. Finding someone she can finally communicate with is clearly cathartic.

It was hilarious when Tadano thought she was crying but she actually had a case of the hiccups. Unexpected. I try not to predict anymore, but I don’t think I would see that coming even if I had tried.

Komi believes this is the last time Tadano will talk to her after she shares her struggles. Now, I don’t have a communication disorder, but I do have a serious mental illness. Every time I share with a new person my diagnosis, symptoms, and struggles, I have an almost overpowering fear they will reject me. It’s why I haven’t talked or written much about it, even though I want to be my true self in my writing.

Komi is afraid to let people know her true self as well. Even though I know Tadano is very unlikely to reject her, I still feel for her and understand her concern.

And he doesn’t reject her. He writes on the board to communicate with her as well. It’s super sweet. They cover the entire chalkboard as the chalk dust falls like snow. It’s a beautiful scene.

Komi admits she wants to make a hundred friends. A HUNDRED? What is this, Facebook? How would you even keep up with that many friends? But then Tadano says she only has 99 to go now, which I admit, is cute. Tadano decides he is going to help Komi make 99 more friends.

Now intro time? I’m guessing this is going to be the intro in future episodes, though it is appearing closer to the end of the episode now.

The intro is pretty, for sure. I like the different themes and the upbeat music.

The narrator tells us some actually useful information. This high school’s only criteria for acceptance is an interview, and acceptance depends entirely on character. It is a school that has a reputation for being filled with unusual people. (Kinda like how the cyber school I attended ended up being a net for people who were incredibly passionate about specific hobbies, were highly intelligent, or were kicked out of their previous school, among other reasons.)

I thought the episode was over when the credits rolled, but there was more. Komi couldn’t speak when she was called on to read in class, and the teacher used that as a reason to reflect on his teaching methods and had everyone start reading silently. Odd how he pretends to understand Komi when he knows nothing about her.

That’s the real end. Kind of weird to sneak that last tidbit in, but cool I guess. I liked it. It could go in a great direction or a terrible one from here.

Did you watch Komi Can’t Communicate? What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment.

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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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