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Noragami, Vol. 1

Welcome to first midweek manga review of the 2015! As mentioned in Monday’s review of Ajin: Demi-Human, Vol. 2, I’ll be posting two reviews a week for the month of January, but only the Wednesday reviews will get the news round ups. So, before we get to my review of Noragami, Vol. 1, let’s take a look at some of the news highlights from the last month or so…

And now onto the midweek manga review of Noragami, Vol. 1!

Noragami, Vol. 1Noragami, Vol. 1
by Adachitoka
Kodansha Comics, 200 pp
Rating: Older Teen (16+)

From Adachitoka, artist of Alive: The Final Evolution, comes the supernatural action/adventure comedy, Noragami. Noragami, Vol. 1 introduces us to Yato, a down on his luck god desperate to build up a base of worshippers. Unfortunately he’s not a terribly likable fellow and has zero marketing skills. As a result he’s forced to leave his number in some rather suspect places, such as alley way walls, bathroom stall doors, park benches and more. As one might suspect, the kind of requests, prayers and pleas for help he receives are not exactly up to his demanding standards, thus hijinks ensue.

I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from Noragami, Vol. 1 when I cracked it open and while I wasn’t exactly blown away by it I have to admit that it got a few chuckles out of me. Yato’s a horrible salesman with poor customer service skills, scaring off customers as easily as friends. As one might imagine, the first volume is full of world building as we’re introduced to the cast and the basic rules for the supernatural aspects of the world which co-exist invisibly with our own. Noragami, Vol. 1 feels a bit samey, it didn’t have a whole lot that differentiated it or made it stand out from the slew of other shonen titles, and the one thing it does have gets a bit repetitive after a while. The book’s biggest asset is its sense of humor. Much of this is based upon Yato’s inability to relate and sympathize with others, resulting in him being a bit of a pompous dick. His attitude often sabotages his attempts at climbing the spiritual ladder as it where, forcing him to take on humorous minor jobs such as searching for lost cats and plumbing emergencies. Unfortunately that’s about all there is to the humor, and after a few hundred pages it does start to wear a bit thin. There’s some physical humor courtesy of Hiyori, a customer and victim of the supernatural world that Yato inhabits, who just happens to have a wrestling/MMA obsession, but it’s not really enough to save the book from feeling a bit bland.

Page from Noragami, Vol. 1 Adachitoka’s artwork was nice, but seemed a bit dark given the light sense of humor that the book general has. The ayakashi, the primary antagonists of Noragami, Vol. 1, aren’t terribly interesting to look at or see in action. Their depiction seems to straddle the line from frog like blobs to flying snake like blobs. They’re meant to represent negative emotions run amuck and when they latch onto someone they do reinforce the idea of a shadow or negative emotion overtaking someone, but when they float around on their own and attack individuals they’re just kind of… there. Yato’s a fairly typical slick looking shonen protagonist wearing contemporary clothing, in this case a hooded sweatshirt which he’s constantly teased about. Thankfully Adachitoka does include backgrounds quite often, which is great as it gives the ayakashi a chance to do creepy things like emerge from walls, wind around trees and more. Likewise the locations often help reinforce the comedic nature of the series, such as when Yato first appears in the book, seated atop the a stall in the girls room.

Noragmi, Vol. 1 was fun in places, but nothing about it really grabbed me or hooked me. Nothing about the book left me wanting more or to come back and see what happens next. There are some interesting ideas, I actually like the idea of a down on his luck god taking on this menial tasks, but it’s just not enough. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the translation notes in the back of the book. They explain, at length, a lot of the word play that was present in the Japanese language edition, some of which wasn’t possible to translate for various reasons and they give an interesting glimpse into Japanese word play. Ultimately, Noragami, Vol. 1 was an acceptable but unremarkable read.

Noragami, Vol. 1 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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  1. January 12, 2015 at 2:57 pm

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