Noragami – 04

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Despite being susceptible to street-market scams, when Yato tells Yukine and Hiyori straight-faced that every dream he has will become real, part of us believes him, as they do for a fleeting moment. It’s just that, at his present pace, it could take several millenia to do so. Also, this entire episode was essentially an elaborate dodge of his responsibility to stop Hiyori’s out-of-body experiences.

Or perhaps we just can’t see far enough in Yato’s plan for helping Hiyori, as he decides the time is right for her to meet his “girlfriend” Ebisu Kofuku and her many-named regalia Kuro/Koku/Daikoku. We had a notion that perhaps this Kofuku would provide some valuable answers regarding Hiyori’s situation, but she’s a bit of a clumsy airhead, and the meeting is cut short by a job request.

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But perhaps as a result of his recent visit to Kofuku (more on that later) when Yato appears he ends up knocking his client off the building atop which he was perched. Yato conducts formal introductions with the client, one Urasawa Yusuke, who then regales Yato, Hiyori, and Yukine with his tale of woe about a lovely girl he met who drove him bankrupt, unemployed, and considering suicide as the only way out. Did we mention their entire encounter with Urasawa takes place while continuously falling a seemingly infinite height?

The “highly mobile” setting lends an urgency to the situation that is comically subverted by Urasawa and Yato’s utter lack of haste. Ultimately Urasawa’s girlfriend is revealed to have been Kofuku—goddess of misfortune (Binbougami)—a bond Yato severs with Yukine, earning Yukine kudos from fellow regalia Daikoku. The potential is there for Yato to achieve his dreams, but Kofuku warns Hiyori that Yato was once a fearsome war god who’d fulfill any immoral wish in exchange for adherence. If Yato were to return to his bad old ways, will Hiyori and Yukine run away (as Yato seems to instruct Hiyori), or stay by his side to redeem him?

7_very_goodRating:7 (Very Good)

Binbougami ga! – 13 (Fin)

Ichiko stops Teddy and Momou from soiling Momiji and she escapes out the window with her. Ranmaru catches them in midair, and they hitch a ride with Bobby to get away. Teddy and Momou are in hot pursuit, but Ranmaru takes on Momou. Using Bobby’s “Jazz Hyper” charm, Ichiko takes on Teddy, but gets knocked out. Keita looms over her when she awakes, and she asks him a “hypothetical” question about Momoji that she already knows the answer to, she races back to Momiji, catching her as she’s falling from the bridge, then dropping her in a passing garbage barge. She returns to her normal, abrasive self.

Well now, that was a pleasant surprise: a finale that tied everything up neatly and entertainingly, completed Sakura Ichiko’s arc, and providing plenty of high-stakes action and more kinetic comedy. The episode juxtaposes scenes of motion and stillness (with appropriate changes in tone) and gives the whole cast something to do – even Nadeshiko has a (real) cameo. Ranmaru and Momou’s duel is particularly badass, with all the requisite pre-battle banter one would expect of a shounen anime. But one reason this episode worked is that its resolution wasn’t as simple as Ichiko’s original goal of saving Momiji.

At the episode’s beginning, Ichiko didn’t want Momiji to change back because “things were easier this way”, by the end, and with prodding by both Teddy and Keita, she decides to not allow Momiji sacrifice her godhood. But she claims, as always, to be doing it for herself – as friendly and lovable as Momiji-chan was, Ichiko knew deep down it wasn’t right, sparring with the insulting foul-mouthed Binbougami-ga was simply more entertaining. We’d also say that Momiji’s mission was successful: Ichiko’s gone from a lonely, bitchy luck-vacuum to someone with friends she cares about and shares her fortune.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Binbougami ga! – 12

After being bathed by Ichiko and Ranmaru, Momiji has lost her powers and become a regular human, who begins to be noticed by everyone around her. This irks Ichiko, who still suspects treachery. Her suspicions go too far when she makes Momiji cry and run away. Ichiko catches her and apologizes. Life continues on with normal Momiji, until Teddy gets thrown into a garbage truck and returns to his normal twisted self. Teddy and Moumou then plot to make Momiji dirty so her God powers return.

After eleven episodes of being annoyed, pestered, poked and prodded by the God of Misfortune, this week Ichiko comes to grips with a prospect heretofore unthinkable: a kind, pleasant Binboda Momiji who has no desire to bother her at all; on the contrary, only wants to be her friend and to be happy. We don’t blame Ichiko for being skeptical…initially. Callously throwing dinner Momiji lovingly made back in her face was a bit too mean, but we did like how the art style turned to Death Note mode, with Ichiko as the ever-skeptical L and Momiji as the outwardly affable Yagami Light.

Of course, that’s a great anime being parodied by a just-okay anime for not much reason. But for what it’s worth, we enjoyed the nice Momiji, while she lasted, and to its credit, the episode didn’t end with “everything back to the way it was”; a revitalized Momiji in trickster mode getting right back to making Ichiko’s life a living hell. Instead, it cuts to the credits with Momiji willingly facing her fate, which is kind of sad. Ichiko was so busy suspecting a scheme, she didn’t stop to appreciate what a nice person and potential friend the powerless Binboda Momiji was.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Binbougami ga! – 04

Momiji avails herself of the aid of her masochistic dog god pal Inugami Momou. She stimulates him into the form of a tiny, cute puppy for Ichiko to pick up. Once inside her apartment, Momou is to use a gadget to drain Ichiko of her fortune. However, when he sees the good, gentle, sensitive side of her, he can’t bring himself to do it, especially after he activates another gadget that causes her treasured box of Suwano’s letters ends up in a landfill and she searches through the night. While washing Momou in the bath, he returns to human form, and he sees the side Momiji was talking about.

This week Momiji gets some reinforcements, and we get a fresh perspective on her, not from another misfortune god, but from a dog god. We didn’t think much of Momou, especially when Momiji broke out the S&M routine. But his inner dialogue when observing Ichiko reveals a clearer head than Momiji, who is extremely jealous of her fortune, no matter what she says. He also realizes one night that Ichiko’s fortune is an almost Perfect Defense, even helping her foil his plans in her sleep.

The punishment Momou receives never ascends to Ren Höek-esque lyricism, but this series definitely knows how to toss its characters around. The worst he gets is when he reverts to human form – in her naked arms. She rips the bathtub off the floor and beats him with it, which is just plain nuts. Still, his time with her wasn’t in vain: he learned that Momiji wasn’t telling the whole story, only half of it. Ichiko most definitely is a short-tempered, violent brute, but when it comes to family (Suwano), she’s a big(-boobed) ol’ softie.


Rating: 6 (Good)

P.S. The priest/exorcist guy just kinda took up space this week…

Binbougami ga! – 03

Taking stock of everything she has, Ichiko thinks about what’s next, and decides it’s a boyfriend. She decides to start with the guy sitting next to her in class, Keita who loses his student card. She goes to his house to return it, and he invites her in. Ichiko learns he’s poor and living hand to mouth with lots of siblings to care for. After arguing they’d be better off with money and offering them some, Keita asks her to leave. The next day she bribes his brother Ryuu with a rare card, but Ryuu drops in the sewer, then gets trapped down there. With help from Momiji and her own fortune, Ichiko saves Ryuu, and Keita forgives her past offenses.

In case there was any doubt, a rich girl like Ichiko who was essentially raised alone by her butler is a bit…ahem…lacking in the social graces, as this episode aptly illustrates. Especially when it comes to the poors…by the time she realizes what she’s gotten herself into, it’s too late to back out and she must improvise, and she does, badly, by grossly oversimplifying the plight of Keita and his family, insisting they’d be happier if they had more money, then tossing a fat wad of ¥10,000 ($127.25 US) bills on the ground. Her ‘unique’ gesture of charity is met with disgust, and rightly so. You don’t shame a breadwinner in front of the wee ones.

Is Keita a bit too rigid and proud when it comes to any kind of alms? Perhaps, but that’s hardly uncommon: humans on the whole don’t like having to depend on handouts. Keita believes he only deserves to exist if he stands on his own two feet. That’s where the character for “person” (人) comes in. Sakura initially imagines it as one person being propped up by others (which is actually how she lives her life), but she then learns it’s actually two people supporting each other. People are defined by those around them; and the more Sakura interacts with others, particularly those less fortunate than her – the larger her shriveled heart will grow.


Rating: 7 (Very Good)

Binbougami ga! – 02

Momiji enrolls in Sakura’s school and harasses her all day. On the way home, Sakura is grabbed by a starving travelling monk, but ignores his pleas. Back at her home, Momiji is squatting in her closet, and the monk followed her home; her positive energy and Momiji’s negative energy drew him there. He equips her with “robes” and a weapon called the Souin Shourai, and she picks a fight with Momiji, who is surprised to learn Sakura can manifest her fortune into summoned animal allies. Sakura wins the fight and kicks Momiji out, but is left with the priest, her animals, and Momiji’s lazy samurai allies occupying her place.

We’re still impressed with the sheer volume of comedic material this series has dished out in its first two weeks, and were even able to discern some of the anime it spoofs in mere blinks of the eye. This week lost none of the manic energy and verve of the first episode, and it’s a pleasure to listen to Hanazawa Kawa firing with both barrels. Momiji’s Uchiyam Yumi is no slouch; with not one but dozens of different voices. The new kid on the block, Bobby the priest, is a welcome and hilarious addition to the cast, coming on too strong for Sakura’s taste, but actually aiding her in her battle against misfortune incarnate, Momiji. We especially like how he kind of fades into the background during the climactic battle…as if the series sensed that he’s better in moderation.

This episode eschews drama with more action and parody, and it isn’t boring even for a moment. The series points out in the omake that they’re only arround for one cour, so they’re clearly making the most of what they’ve got. Sakura and Momiji truly are two sides of the same coin. You’d think the god has an advantage here, but Sakura proves she won’t let her take her misfortune without a fight. Momiji’s direct approach has only made Sakura bolder and more cognizant of her powers. Momiji faces an uphill battle.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Binbougami ga! – 01

The rich, beautiful, brilliant and arrogant Sakura Ichiko is visited upon by a “god of misfortune” named Momiji whom she calls a “binbougami”. Sakura is throwing off the balance of fortune, and drains the fortune out of those around her, and Momiji is there to “correct the imbalance.” Sakura quickly rejects her, but when her butler and only family, Suwano has a heart attack, she consents to having fortune “drawn” from her body by Momiji, making her into a normal person. However, Sakura steals the extracted vial of fortune and smashes it, spreading good fortune throughout the immediate radius and helping Suwano recover. Sakura relieves him of his duties, and a week later he is engaged. Momiji moves in with Sakura, whose fortune levels remain too high.

Sakura is a perfect girl in virtually everything but humility and modesty. She knows she’s got it going on and looks down on those less fortunate; she’s even immune to the abuse some of her envious, bitter classmates dish out. But she’s also immune to feeling any kind of closeness to anyone, even the legions at school who worship the ground she walks on and are at her beck and call. All her good fortune has left her isolated and alone. All she has is Suwano, the fiercely loyal butler who she’s always taken for granted. For us, this is the underlying drama that bolsters this otherwise madcap comedic series. So even if Momiji is there to do one job – relieve Sakura of her excessive fortune – there’s the possibility of her becoming that first friend…whether they’d admit they’re friends or not.

That being said, as a madcap comedy – with its dizzying pace and variety of jokes, gags, cultural references, swearing matches, and music by Final Fantasy veteran Hamauzu Masashi – this is very good stuff and very encouraging if it maintains this quality. Kana Hanazawa has a long leash to unload on her new (and to her, very aggravating) roommate Momiji. Both are exceedingly fun to watch, especially when locked in verbal or physical combat, which is almost all the time. We liked the decision to focus on the two of them, allowing us to learn a lot right out of the gate. As it seems Sakura is the Spindletop of fortune, Momiji has her work cut out for her, especially since Sakura has no intention of letting Momiji succeed in ruining her future.


Rating: 8 (Great)


Car Cameo:
Suwano chaffeurs Sakura around in a somewhat stylized but still recognizable Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.