Noragami was, very nearly, the best series that aired this winter 2014 season and that includes the carryover series. The only series that were able to beat Noragami were Silver Spoon 2 and Hunter x Hunter.
I was thinking about how good this season turned out when the thought came, unbidden, that in all my years of watching series from Bones that I’d never seen one of theirs that was as strong and perfect as Noragami. I felt the gears in my brain grind to a halt. I thought to myself – That cannot be! Surely there has to be something better. However, I checked their list of works out and couldn’t find that something better. Now, because of my past rocky relationship with Bones there are a number of earlier works I never watched; so I inserted that degree of uncertainty in the title to reflect this. 🙂
In the last 10 years, which is an eternity in anime fandom, the only major Bones work that I’ve not yet seen and could impact this discussion is Darker than Black. (Which tempts me to change the title to narrow the time frame down and increase the certainty shown.) Based on opinions of people I’ve read and heard, earlier Bones works that I’ve yet to see and could change my assessment of Noragami include: RahXephon, Wolf’s Rain, and Scrapped Princess.
I’m assuming there will be disagreements to this assertion; so, setting those titles I just mentioned aside, lets run through the list to see where I’m coming from.
The first group I’m going to remove are those series that are complete failures, these are:
The next group that gets removed are those series that fall apart at the end (the most common problem of series done by Bones), they include:
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Eureka Seven
- Chiko, Heiress of the Phantom Thief
- Xam’d: Lost Memories
- Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
- No. 6
I realize the love Eureka Seven has by many fans which might one day get me to try it again but, for now, I really disliked how weird the story of the second half of the series became.
The next group are those series that have other pacing issues:
- Soul Eater
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Soul Eater started really slow, taking about 20 episodes to really get good, and the anime original ending was rather wobbly. Not as bad as the prior group but still a detraction to the series. FMA: Brotherhood starts off with the story horrendously compressed as it attempts to get through the material already covered in the first Full Metal Alchemist series with extreme haste. A good series, much less a superior one, shouldn’t require one to watch something else to fill in the story it doesn’t want to spend time on. Un-Go is probably my second favorite Bones series. To reach that point, however, it required watching the OVA – which was released well after the series – to explain just what was happening in the series. And, once again, a good series should not leave important back-story to a separate OVA (and releasing it after the fact was a double whammy). Even with the OVA, Un-Go cannot beat Noragami because the mysteries that are the center of Un-Go are rather lame. A decision to spend more time on fewer mysteries or to add more episodes could have made the mysteries more compelling.
The series of the next group suffer from other types of issues, they include:
- Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean
- Blast of Tempest
- Space Dandy
Eureka Seven: Astral Ocean told it’s story much better then the first series but the main characters weren’t that interesting or likeable which weighed the series down, as did the couple of plot turns that could have been handled better. Blast of Tempest displayed streaks of brilliance but was overall a bit too uneven. Space Dandy has been even more uneven. Each episode could be anywhere from unwatchable to pretty awesome and it’s hard to really like a series that is that unpredictable. The second half of Space Dandy might be a completely different experience and it could challenge Noragami, check back in the summer to find out.
This leaves one series – Star Driver – and Noragami was an all-around better series then Star Driver.
Now, there are a few series that I did not account for yet. My impression of those are they, most likely, are not good enough to rate a mention. If fans of these series think I’ve done a disservice to these series then, please, leave a comment explaining why I’m wrong. I don’t mind if it means I discover a good series. 🙂
So, that leaves Noragami at the top of a rather sizable heap. The question could be asked, why Noragami? What makes it the best.
For starters, Noragami has the quality animation one would expect from Bones. The series is plotted perfectly to fit in it’s run length. It has a good ending which is even more impressive for a series that is ongoing. The ending is anime original and it’s as good as the rest of the series. The music is stellar. The characters are compelling and full of depth and drive the story. The setting is interesting. The story is interesting. The seiyuu did top quality work.
Basically, Noragami did everything right about as perfect as possible and that’s why I can say that it might just be the best TV series from Bones.