The obvious flaws in this season, though a step up from the dreadful Yukine arc of the first season, did not stop me from enjoying the hell out of this show. Each and every episode kept me hooked with rapt attention. Despite the great shows that aired this year, this even became one of my favourite shows to have an aired this year. A true AOTY contender, if only for me.
This is going to be one hell of a messy and long post so let’s get those bad things out of the way first.
I have a few major issues. One is that while I did enjoy the use of cliffhangers in this show (which is different from creating unreasonable twists every episode, Yuri Kuma) after awhile it was easy to catch onto the pattern. Sure, I’d be swayed and excited when the episode ended on a huge dramatic note and then that shitty Tia song came on. But I knew. I knew that at the beginning of the next episode, the cliffhanger would be immediately resolved.
And it was every time. Yukine’s been cut in half, episode ends. Episode stars, Yukine is okay. Hiyori forgets all about them, episode ends. Episode starts, Hiyori remembers them. This happened other times but I found those to be the most egregious examples.
I feel something similar to this is how there are such key players in this season that weren’t present or mentioned in the first season. I understand this could be because they weren’t in the source material or cut out/not mentioned because they didn’t think they would be getting another season at the time but it makes it hard to be surprised or care that Kugaha was actually – SUPRISE, SURPRISE – evil or that Aina has feelings or whatever.
I thought that would be the same for Ebisu but that wasn’t the case in the end.
Conversely, the last episode doesn’t do this and I did appreciate how they handled the aftermath of such a big event from the previous episode. Ebisu has clearly died and we just see flashbacks to the actual event. Although, what we’re shown there is pretty much exactly the same as what we saw last episode. Except for, you know, the blood explosion.
It just gave it a nice feeling and a bittersweetness. A new Ebisu is here but the old one died terribly and it was a horrible event for everybody involved. I’ll go into more detail about the final episode after, though.
Second problem was that the underworld part seemed to go on for so long. It got old very quickly. Of course, what was going on outside of the underworld was more interesting but there was still just so much focus on Yato being there that got tiring at times.
Of course, it got livened up by Ebisu escaping or Bishamon going to find him but it just felt like that part dragged. Definitely the only part of the season that was even a little boring for me.
Third was, and this is very unforunate, how little Hiyori does. Now I know that Hiyori plays an important role in motivating the guys and giving the shrine to Yato is an important catalyst in changing Yato (though, evidentally, not as much as Ebisu’s death) for the better.
But it’s so hard to tell other people “oh no, Hiyori’s actually great” when her role seems to be forgetting them and getting captured. It’s a shame since there’s a variety of cool and badass ladies in the series and she just… doesn’t get to be one.
I was hoping she would become badass some how even if it was just a little. But her role is support and that’s what she does best. Still, I wish there was something more I could point to for her to show how useful and great she is. Even if I understand what she’s supposed to do, it still doesn’t make her look very exciting or interesting.
But I still like Hiyori a lot. Her relationship with (and the blossoming of feelings toward) Yato is super cute. Well, so is her sisterly relationship to Yukine. The amusement park kiss was such a pretty shot too. Though that whole little storyline felt so weird and out of place given all that was happening.
I had thought it was just laziness that the kisser wasn’t mentioned again after Hiyori remembered them but the after credits scene of the final episode provides one final shocking twist as per the Noragami Aragoto standard. I hadn’t seen it coming and I’m not sure if that’s foolish of me or not. Maybe it’s just a dumb twist. Kind of?
Like, maybe the reasoning is explained more in the manga but why take that form at all? Was it just to go after the girl that Yato is close with? Or is there another reason?
I desperately want more but I hear conflicting reports about if there’s enough material for another seasonso soon. But unfortunate all the same. I don’t know if I actually want to start reading it. I’m not fond of the art style and I don’t want to have to sit through the Yukine arc again. Maybe if I find out where the second season leaves off, I’ll start reading from there.
When the season started, I didn’t think a Bishamon arc sounded very exciting at all. She hadn’t done much in season one but antagonize and seemed to be a rather dull villain.
How wrong I ended up being!
In both major arcs this season, both characters that are set up to be villains end up incredibly sympathetic and likable. Though Bishamon looked cool and is voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro (so I have to like her by default), I never expected to see so many sides of her.
I thought she would just be a stone-cold badass and that’s it. She was still that, of course. But she was also a fashionista who just loves her family so damn much.
Same with Ebisu. I expected stoic and serious all the time. Not clumsy dork whose just doing his best because he loves everybody so much and just ends up running with the wrong crowd.
Both he and Bishamon have tragic ends to their arcs but some how survive and end up as better people.
Well, the character development in this season overall was pretty stellar and definitely one of the reasons I loved it so much. I complain about Yukine’s awful arc in season one but I think that just makes his jump here to semi-responsible adult that much better.
He’s trying so hard to be a good person and help Yato but it’s difficult and things don’t go his way. Yato doesn’t go his way. He also loses a dear friend and must recuperate from that.
He became so much more likable from season one and yet this change feels completely natural. I feel like I’ve watched the entire process of him going from being a little annoying shit to a genuinely decent and good person who I like a lot.
But hey, the same could be said for Yato. I just had the chance to watch the first episode of the first season again and obviously the difference between that and the final episode of Aragoto is staggering.
In the final episode of Aragoto, Yato is devastated by the loss of his new friend. Of a god that believed in him and that had genuinely been a good person. Despite that, he had still died and Yato had been powerless to save him.
Yato decides to change and stop being a god of calamity. He askes Yukine for help doing this and severs his ties with Nora once and for all.
The whole discussion about “what do I do now? how do I change?” was both interesting set up for the future of the series and a conclusive end to the anime if there really isn’t a season three ever planned. Yato’s got a new goal and direction and he’s got people beside him to support him so he can accomplish these things.
It’s a satisfying ending.
Or it was, until that aforementioned twist.
I gotta say I do feel a bit bad for Nora in the end. I mean, yeah, she’s super evil but she seems to also be being manipulated by Yato’s “father”. And with Yato severing ties with her, I feel like she’s lost the one person she was even a little close to.
Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but Nora is I think my favourite Rie Kugimiya role ever. I never imagined she could play such a great sounding antagonist. She was creepy and coy and just all kinds of perfect.
In the end, I loved this season a whole lot. More than I ever expected to. It was like a snack that exactly hit the spot. Despite that, I recognize it has quite a few faults. Nothing that ruins the show while watching but in general just reflects poorly on the series.
I’ll be waiting warmly for season three now, thanks.