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Noragami Aragoto Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

noragami-aragoto-coverThings continue to be tough for Yato!

What They Say:
Life for minor god Yato isn’t getting any easier. He’s still broke, shrineless, and his partner-slash-sword-regalia has zero respect for him. Worse yet, Bishamon, one of the deadliest war gods, is after his life. Blaming him for the death of her past regalia, she won’t stop until she kills him. But there’s more to that story than she could ever realize. And as if that’s not bad enough, there’s someone working against her behind the scenes! Can Yato take on a god as powerful as Bishamon Or will things take a more dangerous turn?

Right when he thinks things have settled down, Yato is forced into working with Nora and must brave the underworld in order to help a fellow god. The catch He may end up stuck there if he can’t figure out how to escape Izanami, queen of the underworld. Between all of his godly drama, Yato still needs to figure out how to help Hiyori. But all options lead to losing her, and he’s not willing to make that choice–no matter what. Five yen doesn’t even begin to cover his trouble!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the new English language adaptation in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that works a very good balance between dialogue and action so that each is well served and the action gets a good presence in just about every episode – and not just for a brief couple of seconds. Those areas have some really good movement to them across the forward soundstage with it as the characters flit about and the monsters have their own particular impact. There’s not a lot of bass in some of the scenes but it’s well represented overall. Dialogue works in a similar form where it has some solid placement and good uses throughout with the supernatural aspects. It’s mostly straightforward in general but it flows well throughout and some of the moments of depth provides for the right impact where needed. Both language tracks are clean and clear throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2015, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episode series is spread across two discs with nine on the first and four on the second. Animated by Bones, the series has a very strong look to it with some great detail and fluid animation that brings it to life. With a real world setting for most of it, we get to move through the familiar of school rooms, modern homes as well as a few temples along the way as well. But we also get plenty of exterior locations where events take place and it comes across as pretty fully realized, making for the character animation to feel like it’s well placed within it. Colors are a bit more earthen in tone here, though there are some moments of great pop and vibrancy, and it adds to the overall atmosphere of the show and its supernatural elements. Detail is strong throughout and it has a good clean look about it all.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this limited edition release brings us a heavy chipboard box that holds the two Blu-ray cases inside. The main box panel is a good one with the main cast all together in a shrine setting with heavy reds that really gives it some strength and impact that so many covers miss out on. The result is a moody piece that really works well thanks to the combination of artwork and color design. The back panel goes for a black and white design for the background while placing Bishamon here so that she gets to stand out in a really great way.

Within the box we get the two Blu-ray cases where one holds those discs and the other the DVDs. The design is appealing as it works off of the Japanese release aesthetic with the white backgrounds and colorful character artwork. The back covers go for a dark red approach with a breakdown of the episodes by number and title across their respective discs as well as what extras are included and where. The covers all also have artwork on the reverse side that follows the same overall design with more of the Japanese cover artwork used to good effect.

With this limited edition we also get a special bonus with an envelope that includes a number of really beautiful art cards that are basically postcard sized. They’re thicker than normal and made of great cardstock so that the artwork with its colors really pops out in a beautiful way, making it a wonderful looking release..

Menu:
The menu design for this release is certainly familiar enough but it has some simply but nice design elements to the navigation strip itself. That’s done in in a darker shade of gray to it with the selections in white while the end of it has the sea green to ti with the volume number attached to it. The strip runs the length of the screen and has a good kind of weight to it. It’s a minor touch, but one that just clicks well for me. The rest of the menu is given over to the clips from the show itself and it works a good range of sequences in short form with character panning moments and some action bits. Overall it’s a solid menu in terms of functionality and it has a good strip to it as well, but I keep hoping for something more creative and thematic to be put into play with their menus sometimes.

Extras:
The extras for this release are fairly straightforward as we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences. For English language fans, a new commentary track is included as well as a video commentary track – though I continue to wish they’d provide some sort of captioning for it for those who want to hear from the voice actors but are hard of hearing. Add in some promos along the way and it’s a good selection of extras.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the successful winter 2014 anime season that introduced the Noragami property to anime viewers, the second season was quickly put into production to cover more of the manga series. Arriving in the fall of 2015, it wasn’t a rush job itself as the series once again looks great and brings some of the much-anticipated material out in a great way with quality at the forefront and a strong cast associated with it. I enjoyed the first season a whole lot but I also knew a good part of my enjoyment of that season was that it was a small show. Yes, it dealt with some bigger issues toward the end but it also spent most of its time just dealing with Yato, bringing together his group that was pretty small in itself, and digging into the relationship dynamic with this god that really wants to get a shrine and put things where they need to be.

This season is one that feels like it goes bigger and operates with two main arcs that in turn draws back on what I liked from the first. That’s not to say it’s a bad season by any stretch but it just reduced the things I like. The second half of it in particular was problematic in this way for me as it shifted Yato to a minor role almost, going on an adventure with Ebisu to deal with things and disconnecting him from the rest of the cast of characters for multiple episodes. That does have its moments because he and Ebisu are a whole lot of fun to watch together as they dig into the underworld as Ebisu’s quest brings him to what he needs and we see how Nora has been manipulating him in a way for her own goals. But this disconnect reduces what I really liked in his interactions with Yukine and Hiyori and over the course of the month separated we have Hiyori even largely forgetting about him because of the nature of how all of this works with gods and the like. Yes, the show goes wonderfully big at the end with Heaven’s Punishers coming to dole out their punishment and there are some wonderful quiet moments in the finale, including dealing with Nora, but the second arc just didn’t work that great for me.

The first half of the series does fare better for me in a lot of ways as it does work some smaller stories at the start to reconnect us with the characters and give us more time with Bishamon, who is a huge fan favorite by all accounts. While that is fun and we do get good things with it as it progresses, I rather like exploring her past more and some of those that are aligned with her and others. Yukine gets some decent time at points and digging into those areas, such as Kazuma, goes a long way toward making them a lot more interesting with their layers and depth because of how they serve her while also having a complicated past with Yato. Bishamon’s past alone makes it a difficult thing as we see when she had gone out of control a long time ago and they needed his help, but it’s these kinds of things that really work well as we see it more through Kazuma’s eyes than anyone else’s.

Exploring the nature of those that are around these more powerful beings is a big part of what does make this show work. Hiyori’s time being trapped for a bit with Kazuma has that reveal come through in a natural way and the exploration works well. Yukine’s becoming a Blessed Vessel is also explored well and the pieces of the past that impact the present are ever present it seems. The way it’s all layered together over multiple episodes rather than an info-dump or even just providing a hint and then ignoring it for most of the season goes a long way toward making it a lot more interesting. Often, it’s easy to just put supporting characters on hold because they serve a single purpose early on and little more than fluff after that. Here, they have multiple reasons to be involved beyond that early period and because of the length of time some of these relationships exist they’re able to have something more complex for the viewer to chew on.

In Summary:
Noragami in its first season made itself a lot of fans and the manga fans found themselves even more excited to have a second season to share with them. There are a lot of things to like with this season as it really does expand on the world of characters and their interactions as gods, Blessed Vessels, and more. For me, it almost feels like it goes too big too soon but I’m glad it did even if it didn’t click quite as well for my tastes. Yato’s reduced role in the second half is problematic for me because I dislike the whole break up the group for a bit routine. What helps balance that are some good character stories in that mix as well as everything we got in the first half with Bishamon and the others that dug into their histories and the connected nature of it all. Funimation delivered big for fans of this series with another limited edition but also in the beautiful art cards that are worth it as they’re just so wonderfully done. A very fun series that as a whole is one of the more interesting ones of the last decade for me involving gods and a very well put together release from Funimation to make the fans happy.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Promos, Textless Opening and Closing plus a special envelope with 14 art cards, including 3 special pieces inspired by the traditional artistic stylings of the series.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: February 21st, 2017
MSRP: $84.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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