I caught a few episodes of the anime of Noragami on Crunchyroll and enjoyed it so much that I thought I’d read the original manga. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the anime, but liked it enough to continue on with the series. The animation team did a great job taking the gist of the story and featuring the best parts. I’ll have to post a review of the anime as soon as I finish watching it.
The story in Noragami volume 1 is about Yato, a would-be Japanese god, who is hiring out his services to mortals in order to build enough devotees and funds that he can build his own shrine. He occasionally drifts off into daydreams of being surround by adoring worshippers, usually female, in a shiny new shrine. The concept of a god trying to earn his place in modern Japan as a revered deity is a clever concept that plays off of traditional Japanese concepts of gods, but with a modern twist. Unfortunately, the story takes a while to get going—almost as long as Yato’s shrine will take to be built with only ¥5 donations.
I felt the art was mediocre at first. It wasn’t bad, per se, but it wasn’t inspired. Then the calibre of the drawing jumped around the middle of the volume. From then on there was a creativity to the panels and action that I found pleasant. The artist/author, Adachitoka, illustrated a section in the back of the volume that gives some insight into his skill level and competence. It seems that Noragami volume 1 was his first solo project. I suspect there was something else at play, however.
The first half of Noragami volume 1 seems to represent a false start because not only did the artwork improve halfway through, but the story did as well. Yato isn’t a very interesting or likable character. None of the characters were at first. Then Adachitoka introduced Hiyori, the human-turned-spirit-warrior. She is so much more well rounded than Yato.
In many ways she is a typical high schooler, but she has a secret love for wrestling, and is just enough out of step with the world around her to enable her to see Yato. Saving him from getting hit from a bus changed her when she was hit instead. She now resides in both the physical and spiritual world. Her spirit has a tendency to leave her body accidentally, giving people the impression that she has narcolepsy. Instead of being freaked out, however, Hiyori is irritated when her body is left behind, and there is a joy and delight to her explorations of being a spirit.
Her character is so delightful that I can only assume that Adachitoka finally became engaged with the story in Noragami volume 1 once she was introduced. Yato needs work, but as long as Hiyomi is along for the ride, the story should be entertaining. I look forward to the second volume of Noragami to see if Adachitoka continues to improve as he picks up steam.
Release Date: September 2, 2014 (USA)
ISBNs: 1612629067 (9781612629063)
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Original Release Date: July 15, 2011
Original Title: ノラガミ1
Language: 1 (mild oaths)
Sexuality: 0 (but I wish there had been some)
Violence: 1 (mild conflict, car accident, tension, battles)