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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Anime, Shows

The Delivery God Yato is At Your Service!

Anime Review:

Noragami Season 1

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Trigger Warning: This review covers the topic of suicide

Overview

Pros

  • Interesting characters with strong character development
  • Comedic elements balanced with dark moments
  • Attractive art style
  • Good animation
  • Love the music
  • Great intro and outro

Cons

  • The flippant way that the show deals with suicide

Warning: Limited Spoilers Ahead!

Review

Noragami, which literally means “Stray God,” is about a minor god of calamity named Yato who does not even have a shrine, and is trying to gain popularity during a time of peace. Gods of calamity are mostly prayed to during times of war or unrest, and if gods are forgotten, they cease to exist. So he has taken to doing odd jobs anywhere from finding lost cats to cleaning bathrooms.

In the midst of the cat-finding mission, he is almost hit by a bus, and a teenager named Hiyori saves him, even though being hit by a bus would not cause any permanent damage to Yato. Hiyori is hit and her soul leaves her body. She recovers from her injuries, but has a new problem where her soul keeps slipping from her body and leaving her body asleep wherever she goes.

It becomes a real issue for her, so she enlists the help of Yato to fix her. That is easier said than done, however, because he has no idea how to do that.

When we first meet Yato, he has a falling out with his regalia (which is kind of like a servant that turns into a useful object–a weapon, for instance). He releases that regalia from her duties and is thus unable to properly fight, since she was his weapon. Soon after the start of the season, he finds a new regalia and names him Yukine. Yukine is a teenager who has trouble dealing with his emotions and is rebellious. Yato is hurt every time his regalia misbehaves because of the bond between god and regalia.

Phantom

The phantoms in this anime are Yato’s frequent foes, and their design is interesting, usually almost fluorescent. There is a big focus on eyes when a phantom is appearing, which gives the sense that they are always watching. They appear when a person is extremely stressed or on the verge of a breakdown. The especially large one shown above appeared during exam season.

I love Hiyori’s personality–her kindness, her temper, her love of martial arts. She is a mere mortal, but able to stand on equal footing with Yato and get her point across. She is funny, too. In her spirit form, she has a long pink tail. Upon finding that if the tail is damaged, she will be unable to return to her body, she laments that she is not “wireless.”

Noragami intro

The intro is beautiful, using a limited color pallet to make the whole thing seem like a work of art. The color in the eyes and certain details really pop because the background is simple-colored. The song, Goya wa Machiawase, is a rousing song with the theme of moving on from the past, even if it means metaphorically killing your past self. It is perfect for this anime, which becomes increasingly apparent later in Season 1 and in Season 2.

The outro is not as good, but is still attractive with its likewise limited color palette and strong contrast. It has the trope in anime songs of the person walking and running.

If someone wants to die, let them die.”

Yato

Yato handles suicide in a way that is not great. His opinion is if that someone wants to end their own life, in most cases others should not interfere. Since he is a morally ambiguous character and this opinion is not necessarily supported by the creators, it is not problematic. However, at one point a man tries to commit suicide by jumping from a building and then falls for a ridiculous amount of time. This is obviously meant to be a humorous, if a bit dark, scene. I don’t think that suicide is a topic that should be treated lightly, which is why I listed this as a con.

I won’t spoil any of the ending or more of the plot points. I feel that what I have discussed so far gives a glimpse into what this anime is like and is sufficient to show that it is worth watching. I would recommend this for fans of fantasy and comedic anime.

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Anime, Music

My Top 10 Favorite Anime Songs in 2021

In 2020, I completed my first top 10 anime songs list. Now that it’s 2022, I am taking a look back at 2021 to see how my top ten has changed.

One thing I changed since 2020 is that I now use Spotify instead of Pandora for all my musical needs. It’s just better for me–I can look up specific tracks from various anime and add them to my playlist. Below is a sneak peak of my full anime playlist on Spotify.

One of the major differences you will notice with my new top ten is that it doesn’t include any songs from Fairy Tail. That is not because I don’t like those songs any more. It is because I have been introduced to new anime since then that have broadened my tastes. A few songs like those from Angel Beats made a reappearance, but my top ten has certainly changed.

Why do I listen to anime songs? Some I listen to because they remind me of anime I enjoyed. Some I listen to because they have a great sound. And some I listen to because I have read and appreciated the lyrics or translations of the lyrics.

Below I have listed my favorite anime counting down from #10 to #1.

#10: Netsujō no Spectrum by Ikimono-gakari

I will preface this by saying that I do not actually like The Seven Deadly Sins at all so far. I do, however, enjoy the first intro song for this anime.

The song is all about love. The singer explains that the love and words of another person have changed her. It has a great sound to it, which is why I liked it even when I hadn’t known the translation.

#9: No. 7 by Jibaku Shonen Band

I love, love, love this anime. The art style is beautiful, the animation is superb, and the characters are loveable. The anime is called Toilet-bound Hanako-Kun.

I know, weird name, right? I didn’t expect to like it when I heard the name, but it was recommended by my best friend and so I couldn’t pass it up.

The song is great, except it starts with weird whispering that I can’t figure out if I like or not. Otherwise it probably would be rated higher.

#8: Gurenge by LiSA

I really enjoyed Demon Slayer Season 1, even though it is not the typical style I like to watch. I generally prefer lighthearted anime, and this anime is a bit dark. I love the bond between the two main characters, siblings Tanjiro and Nezuko.

The song is all about becoming strong for someone else. I love the way the song flows. It sounds beautiful.

#7: Sincerely by TRUE

Violet Evergarden is one of the most touching anime I’ve ever watched, and the intro song is beautiful to listen to. It is all about the power of words and that fits the anime so well. Violet has spent her whole life being trained and used as a weapon, and it is not until after the war ends and she takes a job as a ghostwriter that she learns empathy.

#6: The Red Means I Love You by Madds Buckley

This song is not from an anime, but it is inspired by one. The Red Means I Love You is based on Himiko Toga, a girl from My Hero Academia who drinks blood from people in order to change her appearance to match them. She only drinks the blood of those she is infatuated with–guys and girls alike. The song is about her obsession with blood and her feeling of being an outcast.

#5: Goya No Machiawase by Hello Sleepwalkers

This song is a bolder rock song with the theme of moving on from the past, even if it means metaphorically killing your past self.

#4: Kōkai no Uta by Sayuri

This song I mostly like because of the way it sounds, but it has decent lyrics about moving forward when you don’t have the strength. Eri is an amazing little girl from My Hero Academia and I associate this song with her because the outro that included this music was filled with glimpses of her life.

#3: Brave Song by Aoi Tada

Brave Song FULL VER. - Lyrics and Music by Angel Beats ! arranged ...

This song is the outro to the anime Angel Beats. It is about a lonely girl who is struggling to be strong in the face of adversity. It ends with the realization that she will someday be left only with memories of her friends.

The song fits the anime well, which is definitely one of the saddest anime I have ever watched. The song seems to refer to Yuri, who has a tragic backstory that explains the brooding nature of this song.

Spotify doesn’t have a good version, so here’s the Youtube one.

#2: Ichiban no Takaramono (Yui final ver.) by Girls Dead Monster

This song is so incredibly sad and happy at the same time. I can’t say much more without spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that without explaining what the song is about. The English translation of the title is “My Most Precious Treasure.” This is not on Spotify, so the Youtube link is here.

#1: Red Like Roses Part II

Okay, a quick disclaimer. Some people consider RWBY to be an anime, some do not. The people who do not consider RWBY an anime generally hold the position that all anime must be from Japan.

However, there is so much overlap in styles now, with western countries exploring traditionally Japanese styles, and Japanese companies exploring traditionally western themes. As a result, the line between what is anime and what is not has been blurred.

Furthermore, RWBY appears on the anime streaming service CrunchyRoll.

Personally, I will refer to RWBY as an American anime. If you disagree, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Red Like Roses Part II is about the tragic loss of a loved one and dealing with grief. It is a fast-paced rock song, and unlike the others in the list, this one is completely in English.

I love the imagery used in this song, such as describing blood as “red like roses.”

While glancing through the comments on Youtube, I found that many people could relate to the songs theme of loss, especially the line: “All the joy that I had known for all my life, was stripped away from me the minute that you died.”

The wonderful thing about the songs from RWBY is that they reveal more about the characters and create depth. They also are just good stand-alone songs even without the anime – the lyrics are relateable for many people even without the context of the show.

I fully recommend checking the song out because it is my absolute favorite.

Conclusion

Even if you haven’t watched anime, I would recommend you listen to these songs and see if you like them. Who knows, maybe you’ll like them.

I plan to analyze most of them at one point or another so you’ll be seeing them again.

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