Noragami Finale: Dying traditions

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Lesson learned: don’t cover up your natural scent with deodorant.

Episode summary: Rabo destroys Hiyori’s memories right before Yato’s very eyes to enrage our hero into becoming a god of calamity again, but the trick doesn’t work. Even though Yato definitely goes SSJ over (what he believed to be) the loss of his good friend, the guy nevertheless throws himself in harm’s way to protect Hiyori’s lifeless body from falling debris. As a result, this act of selfless love somehow revives not just Hiyori but her memories as well. Then with Yukine’s help, Yato puts Rabo out of his misery for good. Afterwards, Yato takes up Tenjin’s advice and finally tells Hiyori that it might be better for her if she cut off all ties with him and Yukine, but the girl refuses. And with that, all’s well again in the world of Noragami.


• Rabo laments that the world is no longer full of strife. As a result, few people ever make vile wishes anymore to keep him in business. His shrine has fallen in decay, he’s jobless, and the gods’ unemployment check is start to dry out. But seriously, this is probably why Yato stopped being a god of calamity. Our hero might be slightly immature, but he’s got more business sense than this guy over here.

On a less serious note, I think Rabo’s solution is obvious: just stop being a Japanese god. Hey man, the world’s still full of strife… in like Sudan or something. See, the modern world is all about globalization, and unfortunately, Rabo’s too small-minded to think outside his Japanese box.

• So while Yato is yelling then apologizing to Hiyori, what exactly is Rabo doing? Watching these two interact with rapt amusement? That’s why your business is falling apart, man. You’re too inefficient.

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• Again, I’m not sure I follow our villain’s thought process. He gazes at Hiyori and goes, “I see.” This probably means that he agrees with Nora, i.e. Hiyori has made Yato soft. But like I’ve said in previous posts on this show, Yato has stopped being a god of calamity long before he met Hiyori. And it’s not like if you kill Hiyori, Yato will just go, “Welp, being a good guy and trying to mack on a middle school girl didn’t work out. Guess it’s back to being a killer again!” But of course, this leads to Rabo going directly for Hiyori, and you know how it is: anime heroes always go SSJ when their loved ones are hurt.

• I like the small stains on Sekki subtly informing the audience that Yato and Yukine are losing this battle without, y’know, the characters having to directly tell us that they are.

• I actually wish Noragami‘s universe had been fleshed out a little more. It’s hard to imagine that there’s a community of gods out there since we’ve only gotten to known Kofuku, Bishamon and Tenjin. As a result, it’s equally hard to discern how divine folks might feel about this latest conflict between a god of calamity and an ex-god of calamity. I think one thing that has always bugged me about the anime is how small-scale it is. Presumably, the conflict between Yato and Rabo threatens the entire Tokyo area, but other than Bishamon possibly stepping in to lend Yato a helping hand, there’s a strange lack of response to a potentially calamitous event.

• So Rabo has an empty left eye socket, and in his final form (everyone’s got a final form), he somehow absorbs the calamitous storm overhead into said eye socket. In doing so, he gains himself a crazy Phantom eye, though I’m not exactly sure how this makes him stronger. This scene actually looks kinda cool.

• The duel between these two aren’t badly choreographed; like the short-lived duel in last week’s episode, it’s actually pretty good. It’s just too bad it isn’t likely that we could have gotten an entire series worth of action this interesting. As a result, the Yato’s previous “battles” with the Phantoms from earlier episodes were, well, less than inspiring to watch.

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• Well thanks to the power of love, Rabo literally destroying Hiyori’s memories before Yato’s very eyes means nothing. So we get one last panty flash for the road.

• Remember how the themes at the start of Noragami had emphasized the plight of youths and unemployment? Well, you could argue that this entire arc is related to NEETs in a way. Older folks with tradeskills like Rabo might not technically be NEETs because they aren’t untrained. Nevertheless, to the modern world, they are untrained if you don’t know how to operate a computer, work a printer, fax an important document, etc. In the past few decades, there have been countless of stories about how older job seekers are increasingly having trouble finding work because they aren’t as technologically-gifted as the younger folk. They didn’t grow up in a time where picking up new skills on a computer was expected of them. But instead of adapting to the changing times, some of these older folks would rather sit around and complain about how the world has changed against their liking. In response to a similar sentiment from Rabo, Yato exclaims, “Quit bringin’ up old times that don’t mean anything now!” So in a way, this arc is a metaphor about how the old guards of Japan are unable to let go of their dying traditions. As a result, they can’t adapt, and for some of the jobless, they become like Rabo and go nuts.

My only disappointment is that Rabo has no real plans as to how he and Yato might revive the old traditions. He just wants to die by Yato’s hand because he’d rather go down in a blaze to a former friend than fade away into obscurity. As a result, the social commentary here becomes rather flaccid.

• Is anyone else disappointed that Bishamon didn’t even stop by to lend a hand? She pretty much just faded away from the storyline. What a waste of a character.

• Somehow, nobody decides to do anything about Nora even though she played an huge part in creating this entire mess. As a result, she just walks away from this incident as if nothing had happened. Uh…

• I know we’re supposed to feel all fuzzy about Hiyori’s desire to stay by Yato’s side forever, but uh… y’know, he’s been around for centuries or possibly longer. Meanwhile, she’s only about to become a high school freshman…

Final thoughts:

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Noragami is an okay show. As long as you keep your expectations down, you won’t be too disappointed by it. Nevertheless, the anime did start out with a whole lot of promise. It had a chance to say something truly interesting about the nature of fame, joblessness, NEETs, youth discontent, etc., but in the end, the story was unable to tie all of these ideas together. As a result, I feel like that the show’s somewhat incomplete. Not incomplete in the sense that the plot is incomplete. Rather, it just feels as though the story hasn’t had enough time to stew. As such, I don’t think it all comes together. It’s just a mishmash of loosely-related themes and underdeveloped characters (other than Yukine). The early episodes felt aimless, and the last three episodes felt tacked on at the last minute (I realize it was an anime original arc).

The emotional climax of the series occurred at the end of Yukine’s arc, so in other words, four episodes ago. To finish with Rabo and Hiyori’s rescue, therefore, was a bit odd. The romantic subplot between Hiyori and Yato was never really fleshed out (so she likes his smell…), so as a result, Yato’s sacrifice for the girl isn’t as impactful as it could’ve been. Rather, Yukine’s development was the emotional crux of the series, and Bones knew this. That’s why so much attention was devoted to his arc even though I still ended up having some quibbles with it. Nevertheless, I’ve discussed those quibbles at much length in previous posts, so I won’t rehash them here. Basically, all I want to say is that I thus find it weird to tack on a short three-episode arc that doesn’t really come anywhere close to matching the emotions of Yukine’s fall and redemption. The Rabo arc feels like an afterthought.

Certainly, the action in the last two episodes are far better than anything we’ve gotten in the first ten weeks of the show. Nevertheless, this was never really an action anime. Perhaps the show should have added a few more episodes to the start for the series, thus saving Yukine’s story for the finale instead. Then again, Bones probably felt it was more appropriate to end the series on a standard good guy vs. bad guy clash. Either way, I’m not too terribly impressed with this show. It was utterly forgettable.


6 Replies to “Noragami Finale: Dying traditions”

  1. i agree. the ending arc of rabo felt so tacked on. cause, really, nothing came out of it. that part of Hiyori willing herself to regain her memories totally pointless. if they were really looking for a good way to finish this, then they should have continued with the Bishamon plotline. i really don’t understand why they dropped that in favor of this, Bishamon and Kazuma were actually far more interesting as characters than Rabo ever was, so it was a total disappointment when they were domoted to extra without even fully exploring their plot.

    1. I guess the problem was that it WAS tacked on. They probably didn’t want to mess with the possibility of getting a season 2, so they couldn’t do anything relevant with manga characters like Bishamon or Nora. Rabo was of course the typical anime-original doomed character. At least this mini arc held out better than your run of the mill filler. Though really, Noragami feels like it’s Hipster Bleach. It was nice but little more.

      1. yeah, i hear that a lot. many fans were saying that Bones wanted to reserve the Bishamon arc for a possible season 2. still, that isn’t really a good excuse for a lackluster ending. the way they put Rab;’s arc at the end just nosedives the series.

        compared to this, Arpeggio: Ars Nova did a better close. while they did an anime original ending , it really did feel like a proper ending. Kongou rightfully felt like the final opponent the heroes had to fight because she was built up the right way. unlike here, where Rabo was not given such development.

        1. I am not a manga reader and I have my own bones to pick with filler arcs – which usually range from forgettable to godawful, and this makes no exception. TV writers really don’t seem good at pulling off good stories in these cases, and the constraints they have are only partly an excuse. But yeah, I just wanted to address the general reasons. They could have still written something more compelling with what they had, I guess they just didn’t care to do so (or there are explicit instructions to keep the writing crappy in order not to outshine the manga that this anime is basically advertising).

    2. It’s just weird. They had to introduce Bishamon to the story because Kazuma had to be present for Yukine’s ablution. Unfortunately, Bishamon just disappeared completely from the story because Kofuku told her off. It’s just a bad way to handle an adaptation, and I usually give studios a lot of leeway in adapting other people’s works.

      1. they kept on insisting that it was because Bishamon’s arc was too lengthy to be translated into the last part of the anime (saying that they need at least 10 eps), and that it was the mangaka’s idea to have an anime-original arc.

        still, it was very much a lame excuse for how badly it was handled here. Bishamon’s character buildup didn’t amount to anything. as far as i know, an adaptation sure be able to self-sustain its story outside of the source material, but aside from the yukine arc, Noragami’s anime version fails miserably here.

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