Noragami – 08

Noragami - 08 -2 Noragami - 08 -18 Noragami - 08 -27

Another week, another rock-solid episode of Noragami.

This continues to be the most consistent series of the season in more ways than one, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy to figure out.  Starting with the fact that I’m not yet 100% sure if this is a full-fledged dark story or just a really good supernatural comedy/thriller with very dark undertones.  And then there’s Yukine.  Am I missing the writers’ point by feeling sympathy for him when I’m supposed to be hating him, or are all the viewers who hate him the ones missing the writers’ point?

There’s no question that the Yukine problem would have been quite a different situation if there’d simply been better communication all-around, and I can see where that might frustrate a reader/viewer.  The weird thing is that Yato seems to have a good grip on the nature of the problem – in fact he sums it up perfectly in saying that Yukine is “at a difficult, dangerous age.  And he’s stuck there forever.” So why is it, then, that he hasn’t made more of an effort to try and communicate honestly with Yukine and make him understand his reality?  Is it a pride issue?  Instead, there’s a strange sort of disconnect where he and Hiyori play good cop/bad cop parent roles and Yato slowly succumbs to the blight Yukine’s impure thoughts cause him.

The flip side of that, of course, is that even “normal” families biological and otherwise the world over suffer due to rotten communications between adults and teenagers, so there’s certainly nothing unrealistic in this situation. If this episode was supposed to be a condemnation of Yukine’s behavior, it had the opposite effect on me.  Seeing him confronted with the emotions being inside a middle school brings to the surface just makes his situation seem that much more tragic.  Yukine doesn’t even know how he died, but he knows that he was a part of something like this once – and he has enough primal memory to make him realize how much he longs for the normal life which he’s doomed never to have.

The impetus for the trip to the school is a job for Yato – a request from a middle-school boy named Manabu (Murase Ayumu) who’s being bullied by a trio spurred on by a ringleader (Hanae Natsuki, who’s everywhere these days).  Yato takes the boy’s ¥5 but his solution to Manabu’s problem is an interesting one – he gives him a box cutter (actually two) and effectively tells him to figure things out for himself.  Naturally, there are voices in Manabu’s ear (the sound direction in these scenes continues to be spectacular) spurring him to succumb to his baser impulses and cross to the other side.  Manabu shows the fortitude to stand up to those voices in the end, but while Yato claims to have been ready to stop things before they went too far, the entire confrontation between bully and victim has an extremely ominous tone to it.

Meanwhile, being inside the school is a brutal experience for Yukine, who’s more aware than ever of how alone he is, and how much he’s lost that he can never get back.  The contrast between Manabu and Yukine’s situations is stark – the one still has time to change his fate, but not the other. Yato’s advice to Manabu is to forget about making lots of friends and try to find one unique person that can be a true friend, and he confides to Hiyori that he’d “like one myself”.  As this is happening Yukine is succumbing to his rage and going on a window-breaking spree, which has a predictable effect on Yato, accelerating his blight to the point where he loses consciousness.  As always Hiyori’s impulse is to follow Yato’s instructions and seek out Kofuku and Daikoku, but not before she reveals the truth of what his thoughts are doing to Yukine and angrily orders him to come along.

It seems pretty late in the game for Yukine to be finding all this out – he knew that his thoughts were linked to Yato but clearly not the extent to which they were damaging him.  I’m not sure it would have made any difference to his behavior – but then, I suppose we’re about to find out.  Daikoku’s reaction when the trio arrive is ample proof that things are mighty bad indeed, and it seems that for better or worse this whole situation is going to be if not resolved, at least confronted a lot more directly.

Noragami - 08 -8 Noragami - 08 -9 Noragami - 08 -10
Noragami - 08 -11 Noragami - 08 -12 Noragami - 08 -13
Noragami - 08 -14 Noragami - 08 -15 Noragami - 08 -16
Noragami - 08 -17 Noragami - 08 -19 Noragami - 08 -20
Noragami - 08 -21 Noragami - 08 -22 Noragami - 08 -23
Noragami - 08 -24 Noragami - 08 -25 Noragami - 08 -26
Noragami - 08 -28 Noragami - 08 -29 Noragami - 08 -30
Noragami - 08 -31 Noragami - 08 -32 Noragami - 08 -33
Noragami - 08 -34 Noragami - 08 -35 Noragami - 08 -36


  1. s

    Yato seems to have this "figure it out on your own" type of mentality that he likes to administer when trying to provide growth to those around him (like he did with Manabu; I think you called him Ayumu a couple times in your write up due to the seiyuu) and im pretty sure that's the same thing going on with Yukine. The downside is that he is hurting in the process but i figure Yato probably thinks its pointless to talk to Yukine; instead he'd rather have him tackle his problems head on.

  2. That approach could be argued to be faulty if it leads to Yato's dying, it seems to me. And that's the direction things seem to be headed until something forces a change.

  3. m

    i agree with sonic. i think the whole point of a god is that you cant interfere too much when you're trying to render help. yukine needs to figure things out himself, though yato really shouldnt just let him rampage, though i doubt anyone can stop him

  4. t

    it's true that Yukine problem could be solved by better communication. but it never happened in first place (and in fact it would never had happened) because Yukine is "at a difficult age" and Yato is..well simply Yato. he isn't the "let's talk about it" type and will try to make Yukine understand (and Yukine wouldn't bother to try to understand)..he isn't his mother.
    Yato is dealing with it by "bring the problem to the edge" like he did with that kid Manabu.
    I think it's a good thing in both cases, because he lets things simply flow the way the should. of course, when necessary he'll take action. the biggest disadvantage, like with Yukine, is that it accumulates like snowball and in this very case Yato didn't stop Yukine. he didn't deal with the problem when it was already a serious problem. sure, he wanted Yukine to fully understand all consequences he(Yato) kept implying, but he ended up in a very fragile state.

    I feel Yukine's pain. even if he is going too far, and yeah, he is, and his actions are unacceptable, but I can understand where this is coming from. he is so confused..wondering what and why the hell he is in this world but in fact it's not really like that.
    I don't know how much he remembers from his past but definitely he remembers what it feels to be a student and with it's only natural for him to be so frustrated and confused and just..explode (a little more and he could be like Youpi…a "little". LOL)

    it was a fantastic episode of Noragami. demonstrating why this series is in good hands of Bones.
    the story too is so great, and it's just like our characters – in-between supernatural comedy thriller and a bit of dark with a lot of meaningful elements inside it.
    the whole development of this story since the start till now (and later on) is laid down so well with the right combination and touch of all elements.

    BTW, Noragami OVA #1 is already subbed. it's good as Noragami and as OVA should be. THO I recommend watching it later on (at least after next week ep), wait for this "arc" to end. de facto, it doesn't really matter even if you watch it now, but it's better that way IMHO.

  5. M

    The sound direction sounds like something inspired by Aku no Hana at times. Working a charm here. The depiction of school life for Manabu felt familiar too. I like that his show is never hesitant to dance in the dark.

    I certainly empathize with Yukine (Kaji is liek owning it imo ^o^ ), though yes it's odd that the ferocity of his situation has been downplayed and outright rejected by other characters – Yato is an incredibly dull blade in that sense. Or maybe he's silently hoping Yukine will self destruct and take the self-loathing Yato with him? Nobody else wants anything to do with Yukine, except Hiyori who finally knows where she's gone wrong and looks charged to save the day MMA way!

    The last half of the episode started feeling especially animu original to me – likely a sudden shift up in gear for the final stretch .

  6. M

    "Am I missing the writers' point by feeling sympathy for him when I'm supposed to be hating him, or are all the viewers who hate him the ones missing the writers' point?"

    Definitely the viewers 😛 I mean like,quite a few people hated Hikari & Haruki since they failed to understand them at all so it's totally not surprising that someone like Yukine is getting this much heat on other forums. Heck,I don't exactly like him either so I figured it'd be pretty hard to have any sympathy for him,yet I still did.

    It's probably a case of whether the viewers can try to understand people or get on their high horse and start preaching about what's right & wrong. It's quite harder here though,since everything Yukine's doing is indeed wrong. That's why I'm amazed at how this show's managed to still make some of us feel sorry for him. Truly a great episode,next week can't come sooner!

  7. R

    I'm in the team #Ifeelsorryforyukine. For the character, knowing that yuki kaji isn't GE's favorite va, I'm really impressed by the performance of kaji. It's really a good work.

  8. M

    Abstaining from snark towards Kaji is all the praise GE will offer the former here. #Ifeelsorryforkaji

  9. k

    The situation between Yato and Yukine is not unrealistic at all, which actually makes it a pretty interesting dynamics. What really bothers me is how the narrative seems to be blaming the victim, both in case of Yukine (yes, he does bad things but ffs he's a child in an impossible situation and Yato's behavior with him just makes everything worse), and Manabu, whose entire resolution rests on assumption about one individual's behavior, and even without that it seems to be an incredibly risky and short-sighted solution.

    "the sound direction in these scenes"
    Sound engineering, actually. Most likely they had a single actor (or two, a male and a female) say the lines and then the sound engineer worked his magic. (Sound, or rather voice direction is instructing the actors during recording. Most everything else is done by the engineers.)

  10. Is the narrative blaming the victim? Or is it showing us characters who are really bad at communication, and that's the point? I'm not so sure – I think the series is holding its cards close to the vest on that score.

  11. k

    To put it this way, I'm not entirely sure that the narrative recognizes the relationship between Yato and Yukine as fundamentally screwed-up, Yukine's vulnerable position and the full extent of Yato's responsibility. The vibe I'm getting is that Yato "knows best" and acts appropriately, and it's Yukine (along with Hiyori until the end of this episode) who doesn't realize and appreciate what he's doing. I guess we'll see in the next episode.

  12. g

    Well, the rumors of this series heading into anime-only material have yet to come into fruition. Probably will after this current debacle is done with. Dang, wish this could have a second cour

  13. w

    You're definitely not alone in your opinion on Yukine. I've really felt for him the whole way so far, especially in this episode. That scene where he's crying in the changing room, and it's drowned out by the BGM and Yato's narration caught it best. Poor kid.

    He's clearly a lost soul; no memory, no sense of identity, barely understands the world he's been pulled into and no one's actually taking the time to explain anything to him. His attitude and actions may be poor, but they're very understandable and I don't really see how any viewers can hate him for it.

  14. M

    The same way the anime community loathed Shinji Ikari for slumping into depression. If they don't like a character, they simply won't "relate" to them.

  15. w

    Funny you mention Shinji, I was actually thinking about him as a good comparison. I thought he was a pretty compelling lead too, and anyone who didn't like him completely missed the point.

    If they were moe-girls on the other hand…

  16. C

    Will you be writing a review for the OVA?

  17. Yeah, but given that several people have suggested waiting until after this arc ends at least, I plan to do that.

  18. J

    The folk that did the first version out are English challenged.

  19. m

    I think the point is to think "he's a really bad kid, but it's bc of his situation". Sympathize but don't justify and let him off the hook. Like any troubled kid who acts out due to a bad at home life you can understand why he acts how he does, but it certainly doesn't excuse his behavior. You want to help him bc you feel like he can be better. And that's what makes him a well written character. That he can simultaneously invoke disdain and sympathy. The people who hate him must not realize that they get to see the whole picture, while Yukine only knows his part of it. He didn't seem to realize how much he was hurting Yato, and Yato's sacrificial behavior in regards to Yukine certainly doesn't make the kid look any better. But he lost his life way too young, and is left to be homeless and forgotten by those he has any interaction with. Left with a seemingly uncaring guardian who hasn't once made any attempts to let Yukine know what is happening or how much he really cares. So you can't blame him for thinking the way that he does. Though you also have the whole "accept responsibility for your own actions" side as well. I think that's what makes him a great character overall, the fact that he isn't one dimensional and brings out strong feelings from viewers.

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