Ya know, I’m actually growing concerned I may run out of cool opening credits to talk about. Either that, or I’ve forgotten way more than I remember.
None of which has anything to do with this weeks offering. This 2014 series from Bones truly does have an excellent opening sequence, which I had completely forgotten about until I ran across it trying to remember the name of another anime, which I have also completely forgotten.
Turns out, slamming your head into a wall has negative consequences. Who knew?
For those who have not seen it, Noragami is a present day set story about a minor god called Yato, who dreams of one day being the most famous god of them all. The only problem is that he’s terrible at being a god, is hopelessly lazy, and worse, is a god of calamity, so nobody really wants him around in the first place.
Don’t mistake it for a light hearted comedy romp, or average slice of life story, however. Noramagi relentlessly tackles heavy ideological story lines, slowly unveils the inner nature of Yato as a god driven by painful regrets and boundless hope, and completely avoids anything remotely like a villain at every turn.
In fact, the second season largely casts Yato as the villain, albeit one of necessity, while his antagonists are always multi-faceted characters driven by their own wants, desires, ideology, and beliefs that are frequently more legitimate than Yato’s own. The second season especially is a powerful exploration of why villains are sometimes necessary, and the painful burden of compassion, as Yato is tasked with committing unforgivable acts to save the life of a fellow god, one that already hates him. Out of compassion, he does it, too.
At every turn, Noragami avoids the traditional to carve it’s own path, and this is well reflected in the opening credit sequence.
The stark backgrounds cast Yato instantly as a figure struggling with his moral compass, while the flickering 3D effects hint at greater depth to him and the world. His constant approach to the lights call to his desire for fame, while the absence of detailed figures around him shows his isolation from the very world he wishes to see him.
Another interesting thing they did was avoid using any kind of background when introducing the other gods that Yato encounters in his journey, using instead a simple gray backdrop that deprives them of any kind of moral leanings of their own. The only god we see cast against any kind of backdrop other than gray is Bishamon, and there the half sketched world that showed Yato’s isolation turns to a vibrant yellow, rather than the blue used for Yato. The difference is vivid, revealing Yato’s depression against Bishamon’s passion.
Damn. Now I’ve got the feels about Bishamon all over again.
The only figures we do see sharing space in Yato’s blue and faded world are Yukine and Hiyori, the only friends Yato really has. The interdependence of their relationship is a cornerstone of the series as a whole, so showing them as being not just inside his world, but an integral part of it hints towards Yato’s need not so much to be worshiped, but to just be noticed, and cared about.
It’s a cleverly multilayered opening, all set to the rocking tunes of Hello Sleepwalkers “Overnight Appointment”, giving that extra bit of grit that tells you right up front, this isn’t gonna be all fun and games.
Now do yourself a favor, and go check out Noragami. By the end of season two, you’ll be thanking me, and getting them Bishamon feels, too.