After last week’s episode, I decided to erase any expectation I had for BONES to follow the manga material properly. And unsurprisingly, they continued to do their own thing by mixing and mashing their anime-original content with the original material of the Conjurer Arc. Regardless of having rid of my expectations, I was still frustrated with their decisions. This episode had a whole lot of flashbacks, and the changes they made just so Yato would be the one to witness Ebisu’s death, to make it so the burden he carries of being unable to protect Ebisu even heavier did not appeal to me. Perhaps it is because I consider it unnecessary to have to make Yato suffer even more than he already is to begin with. It also sadden me that they cut out some of the really cute scenes between Yato and Ebisu, and instead, tweaked to have little moments. But regardless of their mix and match tactics, BONES did technically wrap up the arc properly. From Yato taking Ebisu to the Olive Tavern, to releasing Hiiro in order to move on and pursue his dream to become a God who will bring happiness… BONES were at the very least able to make sure they kept and stayed true as much as they could to some of the most important parts of the original material. One could say they didn’t by having Yukine invited with Yato to witness him release Hiiro, but technically speaking Yukine and Hiyori were originally both there- just uninvited and eavesdropping in the shadows.
The one critique I have for the finale is: During the first half of the episode, I felt they had failed to convey what was the most important thing Yato wanted to do due to the heavier atmosphere BONES had created. The second half more or less gotten back on track with having Yato release Hiiro, symbolizing him letting go of his past to pursue his dream and to protect his present relationships.
And this is precisely what makes this arc so valuable and will remain to be one of my many favourites. This is the arc where Yato finds the courage within him to start letting go of his past, and pursue his dream to become a God that will bring happiness. In fact, I found it interesting when Ebisu brought up how it Gods must have an instinct of what they are meant to do. However following thoughts I wanted to share may contain some spoilers, so for those who have not read Noragami Volume 12, proceed with caution or skip.
[spoiler] This perked my interest because as we read about Yato and his past, the more we learn the more it implies he in fact had his own instinct to bring happiness, but due to how he was brought up, the instinct was discouraged and neglected. We know from Bishamon’s Arc, Kugaha wanted to become her exemplar, and lead her become the true and merciless God of War. He wanted her present self to be eliminated and reborn just so that he can direct her on the path he wanted her to take. This shows that a God who is reborn, unless they have the most trusted and faithful exemplar or companion, they can easily be exploited and manipulated. I find this a particularly important hint because from the first day we the audience had met Yato, he wanted to bring happiness. [/spoiler]
Last but not least, I can now talk about Trash Dad! Yes, they revealed Fujisaki is in fact Trash Dad, so if you were wondering why everyone was so livid about seeing Fujisaki kiss Hiyori, well now you have a reason to! Trash Dad deliberately been working to ensure Hiyori would come to forget Yato and Yukine’s existence altogether. He considers her (and Yukine) a threat, and nuisance who has too strong of an influence on Yato. With Yato having released Hiiro, Trash Dad isn’t going to stay quiet about that. Hiiro had also shared how Trash Dad did in fact play a role in nudging the Heavens to kill Ebisu, and had Ebisu go to the underworld to fetch the Locution Brush in his place, knowing he would be in deep trouble if he were to have been caught. So basically Ebisu was his scapegoat, and he wanted Yato to “protect” Ebisu so he could return to the surface with the brush and then retrieve it once he was killed off. And that’s exactly what happened. The brush is now in Trash Dad’s hands, and he is already having too much fun with it. By fun, I mean being trash.
I would be lying if I said Noragami Aragoto wasn’t a good season, in fact- BONES did a really good job. Although they had a couple of slip-ups and episode twelve was more or less considered a train-wreck to some who are people who read the manga beforehand, that shouldn’t take away how good of a job they did with Bishamon’s Arc and the better moments of the Conjurer Arc. The animation quality of the combat scenes were fun to watch as always, the soundtrack was epic if not more as the first (which makes it a real shame how they actually had to cancel the release of Noragami Aragoto Original Soundtrack due to Islamic sound samples). It particularly enjoyed how BONES made it so Hiyori and Yukine and Hiiro even were more true to their characters. In fact, most noticeably, BONES wasn’t afraid to embrace the darker elements of Noragami this season. Back during the first season, I called out on how they softened the tone of the story too much, which as result affected characters like Nora/Hiiro. Perhaps my favourite episode was one of the most brutal ones, Episode 2: Suzuha’s Death, simply because the execution was impeccable. In the manga, Ebisu’s death naturally tops it, but because BONES just dragged on that fight for far too long and switched it up too much, I couldn’t feel sad when it finally happened, (though they did pull my heartstrings today when they finally showed us Ebisu’s last words, this time in Yato’s arms of how he doesn’t want to die).
With how they wrapped up this season, they made room and kept it open for an opportunity to adapt a third season. There is no better season finale cliffhanger than revealing the big bad villain, trash dad’s identity. I would certainly be happy to see them adapt a third season, there are some amazing material to work with. I know a lot of fans would love to see a certain arc animated- and I would too, but I would REALLY like it if BONES were to follow that said arc faithfully because I would hate them to cave too much into the Yatori Fanservice when there are already plenty of beautiful original interactions to begin with. But from here on out, the story gets a lot more complicated, so it makes me wonder if BONES would need to adjust their production plans. It becomes more difficult to adapt due to how many things start happening. I see a risk of a lot of material being cut so they can focus on the more important ones, so it will be interesting to see how they proceed if they decide to produce a third season.
Overall Score: 8/10
Story/Plot: 8/10 – For most part, stayed faithful to the original story-line, and embraced the darker tone of the series.
Characters: 8/10 – Characters being adapted more faithfully, and by doing so, permitting beautiful character development.
Animation Quality: 8.5/10 – This season been fairly solid all around. The actions scenes were fantastic to watch.
Original Soundtrack: 7/10 – The only reason why I am grading this a seven is because it is more or less the same as the first season, lacking new standout tracks.