Noragami Aragoto – 06

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All in all, that arc was certainly worth waiting for.

So the Bishamon arc comes to a close, halfway through the second season of Noragami.  I have a few issues with that way the final act played out, but on the whole the play was a rousing success.  It was Noragami 2.0 – everything was enhanced and magnified, the stakes higher and the character development more intense.  And it that’s not what you want from the second season of an anime, I don’t know what is.

Who fared best here?  I would say Yato and Yukine, of a certainty.  That’s ironic in the sense that the two of them were supporting characters here, after being very much the lead players (sorry, Hiyori) for much of Season One.  As for Hiyori herself, she was pretty much an afterthought for most of the Bishamon Arc – even when she was important to the plot it was in a passive role.  And as for the two main characters, they were both exposed for the very flawed characters they are.

Yato was pretty much on-point through the final two episodes of this arc.  When Noragami is in its lighter mode Yato is typically on the business end of most of the humor, a sad sack of a God scrounging for nickels and begging favors.  But while he’s always dialed the badass up big-time when the chips are down, he’s also very much the voice of reason here – the calm and unruffled enforcer doing what must be done and saying what must be said.  And Yukine, of course, gets past his grief over Suzuha’s death and spontaneously levels up when the chips are down.

For all that, though, I can’t help but feel like all the principals involved in the story got off too easily.  Not that Bishamon (losing much of her “family” again) Kazuma (being exiled and then critically wounded) and Kugaha (getting an unwanted manicure and being turned into a Nora) didn’t suffer consequences – but I think all three of them could have had it a lot worse.  I even found myself sort of agreeing with Kugaha in sense – I don’t think Veena is a very good Bishamon, and she really did bring all of this down upon herself.  But that doesn’t mean Kugaha isn’t a total scumbag for the way he tried to exploit the situation.

Equally as important, I think, is the question of whether Bishamon and Kazuma really learned anything.  Bishamon decides to release Kugaha rather than destroy him (a debatable choice to begin with), and her behavior by the end of the episode suggests she may not really get the problem here. Exchange diaries are not going to fix the bigger problem, no matter what she’d like to believe.  Kazuma does get it, I think – and understands how complicit he is in all the tragedies that have happened now and in the past – but his desire to be loved by Veena and be by her side is so strong that he’s easily lured back into the fantasy bubble she’s created around herself and her Regalia.

Ultimately, of course, the one pulling the strings here seems not to have been Kugaha, but Nora.  Or perhaps I should say Nora’s father, who I don’t believe we’ve been introduced to yet.  It appears she’s taking her marching orders from him, and that he’s some sort of non-corporeal spirit at this point – or I suppose it’s just as possible that he’s a figment of her twisted imagination.  Nora has been teased as a villain since before even the Bishamon arc, so if she’s indeed going to take center stage at last perhaps the next arc could live up to this one in terms of stature.  As good as this season of Noragami has been so far, I have pretty high expectations.

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  1. K

    I think Kazuma knows what needs to be done going forward to help Veena as Hiyori explained to him the relationship between Yato and Yukine in the last episode as to how they talk things out instead of putting on a happy face. Veena also knows the diary isn't enough but you have to start from somewhere.

    Enjoying the new season so far but would still like to see more development for Yato….

  2. S

    Yeah, I feel you about the characters getting off too easy. Bishamon letting Kugaha go had me screaming – you hold a grudge against Yato for CENTURIES and then you let that asshole live? Even if one considers having one's name revoked to be a fate worse than death for a Regalia, Nora still shows how a cunning and crime-inclined mind can still do PLENTY damage in that position – in fact possibly more, being now unchecked, so killing him would have probably been more responsible. And then, for the entire second half I thought I was seeing a whole host of death flags flying above Veena's head, but I was apparently wrong. I think Veena dying would have brought more closure to the arc and at the same time would have provided us with an interesting chance for more world-building – seeing a reborn Bishamon learn her place in the role of a God.

    Oh well, as it turned out, the story was mostly focused about how emotional earnestness works better than keeping a smiling facade all the time. Fair enough. I am still a bit puzzled by the insistence on this ideas that "Gods can do no wrong" but I guess it could be interpreted as them acting as a "paragon" in this world, so it's not that they can't do evil things – it's that no one can punish them for it, so it's up to their own sense of responsibility to act rightly so that humans can follow in their example.

  3. s

    ("Gods can do no wrong" but I guess it could be interpreted as them acting as a "paragon" in this world, so it's not that they can't do evil things – it's that no one can punish them for it, so it's up to their own sense of responsibility to act rightly so that humans can follow in their example)…that's pretty much how i interpreted it and i think the narrative wants us to see it that way as well (this is why yato said that shinki the link that allow god's to understand right and wrong). The conclusion of this arc isnt asking the viewer to accept bishamon and kazuma's catharsis outright. Rather, it wants us to understand that bishamon and Kazuma are still trying to be better people. Will they regress back into their old ways? this conclusion attemots to create an air of ambiguity around that question. But at the end of the day, the arc wants us to see that they have improved as people slightly and are on their way to recovery.

  4. g

    I don't agree. It's much more complicated. The system is very simple but the tight net of relationships between gods, religa and living people are much more complex.

    People form societies and self-regulate themselves by the laws, traditions and ethics codes but there are parts, which can't be controlled, granted or fulfilled by neither society nor its' rules – you have to understand then the gods in Japanese system are born form these unfulfilled desires and wishes (except gods, who were involved directly in myth of creation) – exactly opposite to big monotheistic religions, gods are created later, after people, and they don't send people rules, how to live and be righteous but they are mere a reflection of humans' morality, therefore they act as people wishes them to act – conclusion: they can do no wrong and their actions are actually humans' faults.

    Now, why does Bishamon act so differently than you could expect from a proud war goddess? And wasn't for you weird than the mighty calamity god Yato, who indiscriminately was killing all people, religas or maybe even minor gods, once known by everybody, now is an obscure character, who had to change a profile to survive?
    Well, it's because two things. First – because people's morality, laws, traditions can change and indeed have changed not once in the human history (and so people desires and wishes – accordingly to times they live). It just could mean motherly, protective Bishamon it's what modern people desire more, couldn't it?
    And second one – it's where religa come to play a big part and it makes their relationships with gods much more balanced than it seems at first. Once humans, who were thought rules of their societies and lived by them, after their deaths, as religa, they bring them directly to heavens and teach gods. Leading religa can actually completely shape a newborn god as they wish. That's why ideally the leading religa should be somebody, who the most righteous one. And that's why Kazuma has felt so guilty and inadequate, even asking to release him. But just like Veena said people can make mistakes (and it's a part, which make them human), because they have a capacity to learn from them.

  5. s

    of course it's more complicated than that…but the short version is that gods cannot do evil things because they are a creation of unfufilled human desires that cannot be satisfied through social human norms. As such, they are a paragon of the world in which humans should follow which in turn shapes the nature of their actions. It's a cycle really, like the idea of language in the subject of deconstruction. The idea that god created us, however we created language and through language, created god, so in turn, we created god and follow in his example (an example in which arguable we created through language…..makes your head hurt)

  6. m

    Wow, thanks, these comments enlightened me! Basically we create Gods according to our image of a God and that is how Gods act, according to a human's set of higher morals. This really helps connect a large part of the story, and explains why a God's existence is so fragile and dependent on human's wishes.

  7. s

    yea it's quite interesting, and that in turn is what i respect about noragami. On the outside, it's got quite the simple premise, but underneath it all is quite a bit of subtext that the narrative expects you to pick up on without telling you outright. Even when noragami sometimes relies on simple bare bones exposition to get some points across, it earns points back by competently intertwining it's existential subtext within the narrative

  8. R

    I really like how Yato puts Kugaha's scheming and misdemeanor as "the whining of a spoiled brat who wants Mommy to notice him more", as it is exactly what it is with Bishamon's obsession with being a good "mother" despite having too much to handle..

    And while this whole "exchange diaries" deal might not fix everything, at least it serves as a good start, since she now gets to start a more intimate and relaxed conversation with her other regalias.

  9. G

    I really enjoyed this arc. Its gonna be an uphill battle to top this arc. Its probably a horrible mistake for her to let him go, we will probably see Kugaha back again one day to cause more drama.

  10. E

    I found Yato's line about gods not being able to be judged for right or wrong pretty interesting, he mentioned that in the first season too but I'm starting to wonder if thats going to hold up throughout the series, the gods being as weak-minded as they are. I also feel a sort of sympathy for regalia, theyre inferior to gods by default, so when Kuagaha mentioned his plan what came to my mind instantly was how fragile it was, if the new Bishamon had some sort of outside influence Kugaha's reign would easily be toppled.

    BTW, Kugaha didn't become a stray, strays are regalia with many names, by revoking his name Bishamon just sentenced him to become a wandering spirit.

  11. m

    Maybe the comment, "Gods can do no wrong" is supposed to allude to the fact that Gods are impartial and holds none of the human desire. I assume it is a long-held belief because Gods cannot waver, if so, how will their followers have faith?
    But this comment does seem a little flawed, as we see from Yato and Bishamon, both do express some human-like flaws. It would be good if this was explained further in the story.
    All in all, I enjoyed this arc. It hit all the right emotional notes for me. Even though the end did seem a little cop-out, it does work for the better (after all, a new Bishamon may not be a better Bishamon. And I've not seen a God kill his regalia outright before, excluding those who were tainted. Maybe it was hard to kill Kugaha because he believed himself righteous and had no real ill intent).

  12. T

    While I will agree that the diary is the start of a new beginning for Bishamon to create a healthier relationship with her regalia, I personally feel she has not really learned anything from this experience. Its a given she will create a large family again so I do wonder what the long term plan is for her to prevent this incident from happening a 3rd time? I guess its just the way it was executed b/c I dont "feel" the effects this all had on her and kazuma.

    Either way I'm glad this arc is over and we can move onto the other character in the OP (the one with the black coat) He looks interesting.

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