The slow turn of Noragami to the dark side is actually not a turn at all, since that darkness has always existed side-by-side with the very effective comedy. Nevertheless it’s been impossible not to pick up on the feeling that the ratio was changing, and the series about to head into grimmer territory. There was news this week that BONES is adding an anime-original character to be played Takahiro Sakurai (and designed by the mangaka, Adachitoka), which has the manga readership rather upset. It’ll be interesting to see how the inevitable shift into original material impacts the feel of the show as a whole.
For now things are still firing on all cylinders – BONES is delivering top-notch visuals here (yes, Lawson’s is in the Production Committee), the story is getting more and more interesting and so far, even Yukine’s character is working pretty well for me. He’s definitely slipped into the catalyst role, bringing a lot of interesting elements out in both Yato and Hiyori. I get that he’s supposed to be pretty unsympathetic and he certainly is a brat – his negative impulses “stinging” Yato to the point where he can no longer purify himself. And those negative impulses are coming fast and furious now. Even more depressed and skittish than usual, he’s jumping at shadows and using Borderline against even the tiniest phantom (you know how it is with boys that age – they learn how to do something new and they can’t stop doing it), and he succumbs to the impulse to steal the skateboard he’s been eyeing since last week’s episode.
Yukine remains both a link between Yato and Hiyori as surrogate “parents”, and a bone of contention between them. When Yato calls Yukine on the carpet over the theft Hiyori lies to protect him, despite his betrayal of her kindness and trust. For me though, it’s hard to judge Yukine too harshly because he’s obviously been dealt a pretty shit hand in life (and death), and at this point he’s basically being used as a killing machine against his will. But before these three get the chance to air all this out fate intervenes in the person (Kami) of Bishamon (Sawashiro Miyuki) – who we saw briefly last week. She’s a War God with a particular vendetta against Yato (it was her Shinki he killed) and a bevy of powerful Shinki including the lion Kuraha (the superb Kazuhiko Inoue) – coordinated by the bespectacled Kazuma (Fukuyama Jun) – at her disposal.
The fight between these two Gods is wonderfully choreographed and animated, but it also reveals all sorts of interesting things about the parties involved (including the aforementioned information about whose Regalia Yato killed). I note that Bishamon refers to Yato as a “God of Misfortune”, which is quite different than a War God. Then there’s the comment Yato makes after Bishamon destroys a small woods in her attacks on him, that she’s “given up a bit of immortality” in the process (that Gods forfeit some of their lifespan for killing mortals is an interesting notion, especially considering Yato’s past).
It seems likely this struggle might have ended in Yato’s death had Hiyori not gone to Kofuku for help – though her remedy might just have been worse than the disease. It’s no surprise disaster follows when a Bimbougami unleashes her power, and in this instance it’s a “vent” in the Earth which unleashes a flood of phantoms into the world of the living (I assume there’ll be consequences for that later). I think we’re seeing some interesting recurring themes developing here: actions have unintended consequences, and sometimes there are no good choices, only bad options to decide from.
What we’re left with, overall, seems like a pretty grim situation for all concerned. Hiyori is no closer to a solution, and Yato and Yukine’s relationship seems completely untenable. Not only does he have no desire to be a weapon, his impure thoughts – of which he has plenty – are slowly killing Yato (or so it seems). The wild card here is Nora, who enigmatically pops up at the end of the episode yet again. I feel like a baka for not noticing it until a couple of viewers pointed it out last week, but of course she’s the “Nora” of the series title – which certainly indicates her role is significantly more important than we’ve been let in on so far. She seems more than willing to let Yato use her however he likes – so why is he so reluctant to do so?