We here at AiPT are talking a look at every current volume of Noragami available, leading up to the release of the seventh volume this October. Our very own David took a look at the first volume and awarded it the prestigious 10 out of 10 score (the second manga on the site get such a rating). I’m jumping in now to take a look at the second volume and see where the series take us from here. Is it good?
Noragami: Stray God Vol. 2 (Kodansha Comics)
Written and drawn by: Adachitoka
Translated by: Alethea and Athena Nibley
My thoughts on the first volume of the series were pretty positive. Maybe not as positive as Dave’s were, due to not a lot happening outside of setup, but the volume still presented fairly interesting leads and a universe for us to explore. Reading through the second volume, I was a bit worried that it would have been more of the same. However, the second volume of Noragami turned around very quickly and is overall a great book, introducing brand new characters to series, starting some intriguing new storylines, and throwing out an antagonistic force that I’m rather curious about.
Volume 2 starts similarly to that of the first volume in the first two chapters. Each of them tells their own separate, done-in-one tale with a main focus on world-building. New ideas and concepts are introduced, building off or expanding on previous ones. We learn more of the idea behind the partnership of a god and his shinki, how they affect one another, and also how people can or cannot see spirits or the ayakashi. While not story-heavy (though certainly heavy on the drama and tragedy in one chapter), it’s very interesting and fascinating stuff due to the way the characters talk about these things and the personalities on display. The second half is when the storylines start kicking in, showing us how the bond between Yato and Yukine is affecting one of them in a negative away and introducing new characters and gods, including a dangerous warrior god called Bishamonten. Things start getting tense, new layers and mysteries are unveiled, and the manga looks like it has a direction to go in. It’s quite exciting, especially seeing how the characters act during this time.
He’s right. The Sorted Trash collection has some fabulous discarded clothes.
Character-wise, there’s some development with the cast, while adding new individuals to mix. Hiyori Iki probably gets the least amount of growth of the three leads outside of a few minor points; he’s more of the audience surrogate than anything. Yato doesn’t grow as a character either, outside of showing a maybe a bit more attachment to Hiyori, but that is more than made up for with more revelations about his character’s past. He used to be a warrior god and from what it sounds like, he was quite vicious and had a large body count, including someone important to Bishamonten. It puts the character into a different light and makes you wonder what exactly caused him to change. Then there is Yukine, who gets the most development (makes sense since he appeared at the tail end of the last volume) and has a few hints about his past as well. There’s signs of jealously and darkness in him that is slowly growing throughout the book, whether he realizes it or not. While there are definitely shades of a nice person in him, he is someone to keep an eye on over the next couple of volumes to see what happens to him and Yato.
The writing on the book is pretty solid overall and there’s a lot to like. While still definitely setting things up for more stories down the line, the execution of the writing keeps things interesting through its lively characters and serious stakes and moments. Things are always on the move and there’s never a slow moment, holding your attention easily. The characterization is solid, including for the new characters who are introduced this time around. They are all rather distinct and memorable in their own ways. The dialogue is great as well, having a lot of personality and emotion to it. They sound real enough and even when a lot of exposition is dropped to explain things, it remains interesting to read due to analogies used and character tics on display. The tone combines a lot of comedy, seriousness, melancholy, and hints of tragedy together. The writer does a good job of balancing all of these moods and emotions just right. No dramatic moment interferes with a comedic moment and vice versa, so the book doesn’t come across as off putting.
Really? Here in America, I think we call that vandalism.
Lastly, we turn to the artwork and it looks utterly great here. The characters are all drawn well and are expressive when it comes to their range of emotions and their overall designs. Maybe there are some similar looking facial features at times, but nothing too bad. The action is flashy and exciting—every person’s movement and motion is detailed. The monsters and creatures are all eerie looking and whenever the manga tries to be horrific, things do feel creepy (like with the chapter featuring the little girl ghost). The layouts are good as well, making the story easy to follow no matter how cramped the pages can get. It’s a great looking book and I have no real complaints with it.
Is It Good?
Noragami: Stray God Vol. 2 is a strong continuation of the series. While still dealing with a bit of setup and world building, the strong writing and intriguing ideas presented are more than enough to keep you enthralled for the entire ride. Add in some great artwork and fun characters, this is certainly one of the better mangas currently on the market from Kodansha. Give it a look if you haven’t already.