Noragami - Series Collection (2014) (NTSC)

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Released 16-Sep-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Audio Commentary-Episodes 6 and 9
Audio-Visual Commentary-Episode 4
More…-Textless Opening Song
More…-Textless Closing Song
Trailer-US Series trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 290:27 (Case: 300)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kotaro Tamura
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Maaya Uchida
Bryn Apprill
Hiroshi Kamiya
Jason Liebrecht
Yuuki Kaji
Micah Solusod
Aki Toyosaki
Alexis Tipton
Miyuki Sawashiro
Elizabeth Maxwell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI ? Music Taku Iwasaki


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Yato (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya / Jason Liebrecht) used to be a powerful war god but these days he is only a minor deity, a scruffy, track suit wearing, underachieving god with no worshippers and no shrine of his own, sleeping rough in the shrines of more popular gods and dreaming of becoming important. He is a “delivery god”, accepting 5 yen wishes from people to do jobs like finding lost cats, cleaning doghouses or removing mould from bathrooms. On occasion he also battles phantoms, sprites caught between this world and the next who possess individuals and cause them to be depressed and even commit suicide. The phantoms come in all shapes and sizes, from huge butterflies, frogs, scorpions and snake-like creatures to tiny puff balls, and in a wide variety of vivid colours, including blues, greens and reds. To defeat these phantoms gods use Regalia. These are the spirits of people who have died which, when branded, become the servant of the god and turn into weapons, such as swords, the gods use against phantoms or against other gods.

     As Noragami commences Yato’s Regalia has quit, fed up with being the servant of a minor, slobby god. Crossing the road chasing a missing cat, Yato is almost hit by a bus but is pushed aside by high school student Hiyori (Maaya Uchida / Bryn Apprill) who is struck by the bus instead. Hiyori survives, seemingly uninjured, but the incident has left her a half-phantom / half person, someone still in this world but who has out of body experiences when her “soul/ spirit” leaves her body; replete with a red “tail” she is able to see the phantoms and enter Yato’s spirit world. Yato also acquires a new Regalia, Yukine (Yuuki Kaji / Micah Solusod), a difficult young boy.

     Over the course of the series, Yato’s past is gradually revealed as he interacts with other gods, including the pert, pink haired Kofuku (Aki Toyosaki / Alexis Tipton), god of poverty, and her fierce Regalia Daikoku (Daisuke Ono / Ian Sinclair), and the statuesque, scantily clad blonde war god Bishamon (Miyuki Sawashiro / Elizabeth Maxwell). Bishamon wants to kill Yato for something that occurred in the past and has a variety of Regalia at her call including a lion on which she rides although her chief Regalia, the urbane Kazuma (Jun Fukuyama / Eric Vale), has a different attitude towards Yato. And who, or what, is the mysterious Nora (Rie Kugimiya / Lauren Landa)?

     The core of Noragami is an interesting spirit world that are quite Japanese, with a myriad of gods, although it is easy enough for western audiences to follow. This is because the world is simply and economically explained through the character of Hiyori, new concepts are introduced gradually and the series concentrates on only a few characters and does not overcomplicate things. There is sadness, in the corruption and deaths of humans brought about by phantoms, and the series makes comments about loneliness, friendship and belonging. But Noragami also contains a broad sense of humour, the characters are interesting and the inter-relationships are nicely developed. Initially antagonistic, Yato and Yukine try to work out their relationship with mixed results. Yato is egotistical, ambitious but definitely an underachiever, Yukine can be petulant and rebellious while Hiyori is not a helpless girl, having a penchant for martial arts although she can still be jealous of Yato’s female acquaintances. Other characters are also great fun, with the calamitous Kofuku very, very funny and Bishamon definitely not someone to mess with!

     Noragami is a heap of fun, something that may not be expected given the plot synopsis. The series creates an interesting, but understandable, world, it looks beautiful with the very deep and detailed backgrounds, the characters are interesting, the phantoms colourful, the writing light hearted and the action nicely staged. The series of 12 episodes aired on Japanese TV between January and March 2014. This Noragami – Series Collection contains all 12 episodes of this first season on two DVDs; episodes 1-7 plus one audio commentary are on disc 1 while episodes 8-12, two commentaries and the other minor extras are on disc 2.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Noragami is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very good looking anime. The lines are strong, and backgrounds deep and detailed, the snow, cherry blossoms or night city scapes all looking beautiful. The background colours are often quite muted, but this is intentional for when phantoms appear in rich and vibrant blues, greens or reds they make a vivid contrast to the backgrounds. Red and yellow sunsets also look beautiful while blacks are rock solid and shadow detail excellent.

     There is some slight ghosting but otherwise marks and artefacts are absent.

     The English subtitles are in American English in a clear white font. The subtitles are not burnt in when the Japanese dub is selected so they can be removed for Japanese speakers. I noticed no obvious errors, although slang terms such as “coz” are frequent.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As is the case with many Funimation releases, audio is a choice between the original Japanese in Dolby Digital 2.0 at a low 192 Kbps or an English dub in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. I listened to the episodes pretty much alternatively as the audio and subtitles can be changed on the fly with the remote.

     The Japanese is surround encoded so the rears do feature music, some panning effects, such as trains passing, and ambient sound. The overall effect, however, was fairly flat, and in this case the English 5.1 dub has noticeably better separation and depth especially in the rears. However, both audio tracks come to life with phantoms’ cries and sounds during the action, although I will say that neither track is top notch. The sub-woofer added some bass to phantom action and train wheels.

     The English voice cast were also quite good making a decision to stick with the original Japanese, which I still do prefer as it sounds more intense, more difficult than usual.

     The music by Taku Iwasaki is exciting and diverse, using voices on occasion as well as piano and electronic instruments. Both the opening song by Hello Sleepwalkers and the closing song by Tia are catchy and infectious.

     This is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Disc 1

Commentary – Episode 6

     US ADR director Mike McFarland plus Bryn Apprill, Elizabeth Maxwell and Micah Solusod (the voices of Hiyori, Bishamon and Yukine respectively) sit together to watch the episode. They have a good time, laugh, make jokes and funny voices and occasionally talk about the show, such as the voicing of the phantoms and the character of Bishamon. A pretty standard Funimation commentary.

Disc 2

Video Commentary – Episode 4

     This is an commentary on episode 4 featuring US ADR director Mike McFarland plus Bryn Apprill, Jason Liebrecht and Micah Solusod (the voices of Hiyori, Yato and Yukine respectively) where we see the four sitting together in the recording booth while the episode plays in a small box on the lower right hand side of the screen (sometimes this is swapped and the four are in the small box while the episode plays). They watch the show and laugh (especially Bryn Apprill who is very loud), but perhaps because they are on camera there is less silliness than usual in Funimation commentaries. They do manage to discuss voice acting and a little about their characters amid the frivolity.

Commentary – Episode 9

     Mike McFarland (US ADR director and voice of Rabo) and Bryn Apprill, Ian Sinclair, Alexis Tipton and Micah Solusod (the voices of Hiyori, Daikoku, Kofuku and Yukine respectively) laugh, make jokes, talk over each other, discuss school uniforms and occasionally their characters and the series. Pretty inane mostly.

Textless Opening Song (1:32)

     The opening song without the credits.

Textless Closing Song (1:35)

     The closing song without the credits.

US Trailer (1:24)

     The US trailer for the Blu-ray/DVD combo.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US release of Noragami – Series Collection is a Blu-ray / DVD combo which has the same extras as our Region 4 DVD. For DVD buy local.

Summary

     A scruffy, underachieving minor god with no worshippers, a young girl who has out of body experiences, the spirit of a petulant, dead, young boy, loneliness and phantoms that corrupt the spirit of humans and drive them to suicide should not be as entertaining and funny as you get in Noragami. This is an interesting balancing act for an anime but I can say that Noragami pulls it off. Certainly I was not expecting it to be so much fun.

     Noragami ends up on a pleasant note and it is nice that a second series, Noragami Aragoto, has been produced and started showing in October this year. Bring it on!!

     The video is very good, the audio fine. The extras are not extensive and are the same as are available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, November 30, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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