Noragami – 05

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Noragami continues to deliver right on schedule.

Not only is this the only new full-length series this season that hasn’t really had an off week, Noragami seems to have raised its game to another level in the last two episodes.  There’s not an element of the show that isn’t working for me at the moment, and even if it doesn’t often amaze it never ceases to hold my interest.  My only concern continues to be the one-cour schedule – it’s becoming increasingly clear that there’s a mighty big story underlying this show – but with a little luck and decent Blu-ray sales maybe we’ll see something more down the road (in addition to the already announced OVA).

One of my favorite things about Noragami is that it manages to balance offbeat humor and serious darkness as few series can.  This show can be very funny – the facial expressions, the situation comedy, the dialogue – but it’s obvious that there’s a yawning pit of despair underlying the premise.  Every week it peels back the veneer and lets us have a peek at it here and there, but never for too long.  I have the suspicion that at some point the show is going to go extremely dark indeed, and that moment will be all the more impactful because of the way it keeps our guard lowered with its effortless charm.

At the heart of all this is the developing three-way dynamic between Yato, Hiyori and Yukine.  Fundamentally, it seems to me as if the situation is this: both Yukine and Hiyori are tangled up in a terrifying world that offers countless dangers to their very souls.  And their only lifeline is Yato – their survival and eternal salvation is dependent on a being who’s both supremely unreliable and capricious as only Kami can be.  That’s where the story gets a little frightening – Yato may have saved the day (pretty much every episode so far) and he does seem genuinely capable of compassion, but this is not necessarily a good guy.  He’s not someone I’d want to have to depend on, but Hiyori and Yuki have no choice.  And I think both of them realize this only in the most abstract and fragmentary way so far – neither of them (especially Hiyori) realizes how screwed they are.

That Hiyori is still very much naive is obvious in the way she insists on yanking Yukine away from Yato (quite literally in part) and looking after him herself, and in the way she chooses to do so.  The portrait of Hiyori that’s emerging is of a girl whose life has been pretty sheltered – she seems to have no grasp of just how wealthy her family is, for starters.  And she also seems to have no awareness of what her presence does to the libido of a 14 year-old boy (even dead boys are obsessed with sex in this mythology, clearly).  It’s a good impulse – Yato certainly isn’t suited to provide for a child – but as ever, Hiyori has no grasp of the reality of the situation.  Both in terms of what it means to look after a troubled adolescent  – especially when you’re still an adolescent yourself – and in terms of just who (and what sort of being) Yuki is.

Yukine is emerging as a sort of lynchpin for the story in many ways, I suspect.  The scenes at Hiyori’s house are alternately moving and very funny (especially his reaction when he thinks he’s followed Hiyori into the bath, and learns that was actually her father) but sadness and menace underlies Yuki’s character at every moment.  We see more evidence that even be Reglia standards he’s not normal – his “Borderline” ability shocks Yato – but also that he’s quite poor at controlling his impulses.  This manifests both when Hiyori invites him to sleep with her (which in his defense, she should have known better than to do) and when she takes him shopping and the thinks nothing of petty theft.  The story behind Yuki’s demise has yet to be told, and I suspect it’s going to be a harsh one (this kid is really afraid of the dark)when it is.

Yato goes AWOL after Hiyori (quite gently, really) scolds him for stealing a skateboard, and ends up crossing paths with the ghost of a little girl who’s been killed by a hit-and-run driver while waiting for her mother.  Here’s yet another really grim Noragami plotline – the girl has no idea what’s happened, and Yuki doesn’t want to be the one to tell her.  And when he lets the truth slip, she flees from him and ends up getting possessed by a phantom in the process.  It’s only Yato’s arrival in the nick of time (as usual) that ends up saving Yukine himself, but all he can do for the girl is to eliminate her – which at least saves her soul from eternal damnation.  As happy endings go, it’s not much.

As I said, Yuki is proving to be an important catalyst for the story in many ways.  How to deal with him has already shed more light on Yato and Hiyori’s characters than anything else yet, and as Yukine’s path grows darker I suspect that will become even more true.  Yato’s (almost gleeful, it seems) declaration that one day he’ll exact “divine punishment” against Yuki is an unsettling moment – it and his own literal declaration of the fact still more proof that this is an alien, remote figure whose motives and morals are not for a mere human like Hiyori to understand or judge.  There’s a lot going on here, obviously, but as always it’s brought off with splendid style and artful direction – Noragami is never less than interesting to look at and listen to, and it seems we’ve only scratched the surface.

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  1. B

    It caught my attention that Hiyori said she liked yuki's smell, the phantom are always saying that. She might be slowly degrading into one.

  2. Yes, and she said the same thing about Yato last week.

  3. s

    well she is half phantom; and as it was illustrated this ep, Yuki's smell only invigorates how she feels about Yato's scent (and perhaps her some growing affection for him), which leads to my theory that the phantoms are attracted to the smell of human misery, to which Yuki seems to harbor and to an even greater extent, Yato.

    I think Enzo nailed it in saying that Yato, while having some semblance of compassion, is not really someone you can rely on. The impression i get is that he is trying to change his ways from his past war god self, but some habits die hard, and that darkness in him still shows itself from time to time. Being a war god, he has probably never had to be relied on before or had to care for others, so even though there's that compassionate side of him, it doesnt always show itself in the clearest way; that's how i feel about the situation

  4. K

    Best show of the season. Not saying much for this one, but still nice. Bones has kept Winter from being a tragedy. And I just read that there will be 'two' OVA's. Hooray 😀

  5. C

    What an interesting concept, that Gods only learn through their regalia! Showing Yato right from wrong seems like a hell of an effect/responsibility.

    Ahhh Noragami <3 Hopefully they can time a nice mini conclusion for the ending although i'm definitely already sold on checking the manga out anyway 🙂

  6. f

    mmm, I don't think that's the case. Gods don't 'learn' anything from their regalias, seeing as how they've lived several times the lifespans of regalias and they're pretty impartial to what is actually morally wrong/right. But as far as I see it, Gods don't actually feel burdened/tied down by those standards because they don't apply to them in the first place.

  7. C

    Yeh you're right that they aren't solidly tied down by human standards but I believe Yato mentioned somewhere this ep that he found out about morals due to his regalia. I was more referring to how Yato feels physical pain whenever his regalia even thinks of something 'bad' (although I have no idea what's judging that something is bad). Right now I'm thinking he did learn from that ghost regalia girl Nora and that's why he's running around being a decent delivery god fellow instead of a war god. Who knows though if he really learns , it does seem rather human 😛

  8. m

    gods learn about human morals from regalia, because they don't use the same standards themselves. i would say they understand humans from these former humans. It isn't about yato learnng right from wrong, in the direct sense.

  9. m

    maybe regalias are able to influence yato's moral code, but i think ultimately yato has already set his own morals himself

  10. t

    Noragami still delivers the goods.

    the realtionship between the 3 MC is so dynamic but we can feel the dissonance and it's getting stronger and stronger. Yato and Yukine aren't getting along too well, not to mention that the latter still hasn't found out about Yato's killing a Regalia.
    even with Hiyori, her act of taking care of Yukine kinda surprised but it didn't totally came out of nowhere..we can feel that she is more concerned with Yato's past and bizarre-eccentric nature, demonstrated by – "gods can do whatever they want". while this may be true and Yukine can't do everything he want (aka shoplifting even if you're Shinki/ghost), this is heading toward a climax in which Yato won't have much more patient to Yukine. after all, Yukine is still 13-14 and is easily influenced and having hard time (also demonstrated by the case of the young ghost girl).

    in the meanwhile, we finally get new character which we've seen in the OP. she seems a badass and has some interest in Yato.
    so Noragami doesn't focus only on the MC and random encounters with bad-ghosts. but also start to move forward in other levels.

    I've been told that last week, Noragami skipped a bit and now returned to the order. and yeah, it seems like they skipped a bit and returned. but also are doing some modifications. they still deliver the goods and convey the correct feeling, but I hope these are minor modifications and changes, even though the more I read, the less certain I am…but this is still the essence of Noragami, something that is enhanced in the anime because of the great art and OST of BONES, really really great job BONES.

  11. f

    I absolutely fell in love with this show for this season (i know, not saying much), but am loving the off-guard humor that yato is able to inject, despite all the dark clouds looming in the distance. I couldn't help myself and blasted through the entire manga series (I couldnt resist) and one thing I am sad about it the fact that this is only a one cour series, because there are a lot more intriguing places left to explore.

  12. i

    Still probably the only trope I hate really. Oh, and this episode was fine again.

  13. R

    man, i am really digging how they depict the phantoms here. that voice mixing really ramps up the creepiness factor.

    so the gods learn morality (and possibly human emotions) through their regalia. that probably explains why yato is such a broken character inside. that regalia-killing incident in his past must have taught him something so invaluable to him that he carries that loss so deeply. am guessing that Nora is also tied to it.

  14. M

    "man, i am really digging how they depict the phantoms here. that voice mixing really ramps up the creepiness factor."

    Strong flowers of evil vibes from the phantoms again this week, good shit. Possibly the most entrancing episode of the season so far.

  15. w

    That face.. Oh my god that was fantastic. IMO at this point Noragami is probably both the best comedy and best drama of the season, which doesn't seem like it should be allowed happen.

    Also are we allowed speculate on who Nora is to Yato? Seeing as her name's in the title and all, she might just be very plot-relevant.

  16. a

    It's pretty funny because when Hiyroi and Yato were trying to get Yukine to come to them, it was like a parent custody fight. (We all knew who was going to win)

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