Noragami Aragoto – Episode 6: “What Must Be Done”

May the gods be ever in your favor.

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It was pretty clear this was going to be the big finale for our half-season-long Bishamon story, and Noragami capped it off in fine fashion. This season really is everything you could want from a sequel, as it brings back all the things that made the first season good (stylish action and music, a great sense of humor, characters you wanted to hang out with, a complex but coherent world with a lot of room for growth, bursts of philosophical or emotional depth) and grows them in unexpected and exciting ways, introducing new characters while also revealing new facets about old ones, and developing them all through conversations and conflicts alike.

The wider and deeper cast has raised the stakes both globally and emotionally, and this finale didn’t disappoint in terms of big, gorgeous fight sequences as well as small, touching character beats. Simply put, Noragami has catapulted from “good” to “great,” and if it can keep this up it’s not only all but locked in as one of my top anime picks two years running, but could very well become one of my favorite shounen adaptations of all time.

So. You know. No pressure, Part 2.

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 5: “Divine Acclamation, Imprecation”

So I have good news and terrible news.

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Another action-heavy episode of Noragami this week, not that I’m complaining: Slick-looking supernatural fight scenes are one of the elements that give this series its appeal, and as usual, they don’t disappoint. Yato and Bishamon continue to duke it out with well-directed choreography under gorgeous skies and along to great background music, the kind of tracks that enhance the scene—adding both tension and a whiff of tragedy—without distracting from it. (I’m looking forward to snagging the soundtrack when it comes out, that’s for sure.)

And lest you think I’ll have nothing to talk about this week, rest assured that “action-heavy” does not mean “plot light.” A whole mess of events went down this week, which brings us back to that good news and terrible news I mentioned before.

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 4: “Wish”

Storm’s a-comin’. A-yup.

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We’ve been heading toward this godly showdown since season one, so it’s no surprise that last week’s kidnapping(s) serve as the spark that finally sets the whole thing ablaze. Yato’s on the warpath, Yukine is right there with him, and Bishamon is only too happy to cash in that Revenge Card she’s been carrying for centuries. Too bad they’re all pointing their weapons at entirely the wrong person.

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 3: “False Bond”

The characters’ worlds may be unraveling, but Noragami‘s narrative is as tightly woven as ever.

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Three episodes in and Noragami shows no signs of slowing down its full-steam-ahead plotting, yet there’s never a moment where things felt rushed or confusing. This is partly thanks to the wise inclusion of short lulls between the conflicts, moments that allow the cast (and audience) to digest and react to the conflict that just took place, but it’s also a testament to the show’s confident, character-driven storytelling style. Events don’t just happen because the plot needs them to—individuals make them happen, interacting with and affecting one another in ways true to their established strengths and flaws alike.

Simply put, this show’s firing on all cylinders right now, and it makes me groan every time the end credits roll and I have to wait another week to see how Bishamon and Yato’s rapidly accelerating crises are going to turn out.

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Panning the Stream: Sequels and Carryovers Edition (Fall 2015)

♪ Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back~ ♪

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While the fall premieres haven’t been quite as dismal as I’d originally feared, this is one season where most of my excitement was reserved for sequels, and so far they’ve done a solid job of not disappointing. Two 2014 favorites are back and just as fun as ever, campy vampire fiction makes its triumphant return, and we head to a familiar setting after nearly a decade away.

This season’s a little odd in that we have some sequels in the traditional sense (i.e., stories that pick up right where the previous season left off) as well as some “sequels”: stories taking place in the same universe but with different characters, locations, and time lines, making them fairly accessible to newcomers. I’ve divided them up accordingly below, so hit the jump for familiar faces, or locations, or both.

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 2: “One of Her Memories”

We’re just diving right in this season, ain’t we?

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It’s another strong (albeit painful) outing for Noragami this week, as various relationships are strengthened, frayed, or shattered altogether, characters confront the tenuous bonds of memory, and a particularly nasty antagonist sets his plans into motion.

Oh, and speaking of that antagonist—well, I pretty much called it last week, but as soon as he started mustache-twirling I realized I story-predicted myself into a predicament. So to clarify something important: Yes, I did start reading the Noragami manga, but I stopped at the end of the Yukine arc, meaning that everything happening in Aragoto is new to me, too. So you don’t need to worry about me giving away any plot points. (And if you have read this part of the manga, no spoilers in the comments section either, please!)

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Noragami Aragoto – Episode 1: “Bearing a Posthumous Name”

The Noragang is back after nearly two years away, but it’s like they never left.

Screenshot_2015-10-02-13-18-49The first season of Noragami snuck up on, sucking me into the world and characters a little more each week, and despite a somewhat rocky anime-original final arc it ended up being one of my favorite shows of 2014. I started snagging the manga once Kodansha brought it stateside, so needless to say I was pretty stoked when BONES announced a second season in the works. (Oh, and if you haven’t seen the first season yet, it’s available on Funimation, Hulu, and Netflix in various sub/dub formats, so you have plenty of binge-watching options.)

I’m covering this one over at Anime Evo, so same drill as we did the past two seasons with My Love Story. The posts will also eventually wind up here in their entirety, just so I have them for my own records.

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The Josei’s Top 10 Anime of 2014: Part 1 (#6-10)

Because no anime blog is complete without a proper Top 10 list.

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Glancing Upstream

I’ve seen some people calling this a weak year for anime, but I’m not sure it’s that so much as it’s just a very top-heavy year—the upper tier was a massive cut above the pack, making the rest of the shows seem a little lackluster in comparison. It also featured some disappointing adaptations and originals, and any time you get excited for a series and it doesn’t live up to those expectations, it can make the whole year feel weaker. Fortunately, off-the-radar “sleeper” series had a very good year, particularly when it came to comedies and sports shows, and a few strong sequels and long-running series helped give 2014 a much-needed boost in terms of quality.

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