Noragami Aragoto – 08

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Even Gods, it seems, aren’t immune from daddy issues.

Noragami continues to be a dark ride.  Even when it’s in comedy mode, despair always seems to be lurking in the background, as if these are characters that fate simply won’t allow to have a free pass.  There’s a strange kind of duality of tone to the series as a result of that, a feeling that’s quite distinct from any other anime I can remember.

The most literal manifestation of that, of course, is Nora, who actually does seem to be hovering in the shadows all the time.  She’s been the mysterious darkness that’s accompanied Yato since the very beginning of the series, and though things seem to be looking up for Yato when the episode starts, it comes as no surprise when she shows up to spoil the party.  Yato finally has his Shrine, he’s actually gotten it permitted by the city government (persistence pays off), and it seems he may finally be on his way to a respectable Divine existence.  But a respectful existence is exactly what Nora doesn’t want Yato to have.

The A-Part is fairly low-key, but with Noragami, you assume light moments have dark implications.  When Manabu-kun, the meek boy Hiyori and Yato helped survive bullying in the first season, shows up to try (unsuccessfully) to confess to Hiyori, it’s a light and cute moment.  But the larger import is that Manabu has forgotten Yato – the implications of which are central to this plot.  When Yukine goes to train on invocations with Kazuma, it’s further evidence he’s maturing into a stalwart young man and leads to some excellent comic bits.  But you can bet that Yukine is learning skills he’s going to be forced to rely on for survival (his own and Yato’s both) in the coming crisis.

The gist of the situation is this – with no believers, a Kami like Yato simply ceases to exist.  So why has Yato survived all these centuries?  Daikoku significantly muses that Yato must have “some other believers somewhere”, but the weight of responsibility clearly feels very heavy to Hiyori.  If Manabu and those like him forget Yato, it won’t take long for her to do so too – and what happens to him (and Yukine) if she does?

Trouble arises on two fronts.  Ebisu is experimenting with using phantoms as Regalia, and this is obviously connected to Nora, who summons Yato (by text message, no less) into the night and proceeds to force him down a path of murder and revenge like the Calamity God of old.  Why is it that Yato is willing to submit to Nora (he uses her real name of “Hiiro” at last)?  Is it because of the “Father” she keeps obliquely referring to, a figure even more adept at lurking in the shadows than she is?

We can say this much at least – a disappearance of a week isn’t long enough for Hiyori to start forgetting about Yato.  That doesn’t stop him from fretting over it though, and it’s the fear over that which finally seems to snap Yato out of his bloodlust trance. This is really the first time we see Nora actually holding Yato aganst his will, but it’s not clear that on her own she’d be able to withstand his full force of rage.  She doesn’t have to though, as “Father” finally appears (sort of) and tells her than Yato can go free if he performs a job – rescue a conjurer from the Underworld.  And that, seemingly, will be the major plot driver of this arc…

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5 comments

  1. R

    I like that they actually showed how Yato's and Bishamon's relationship have now improved from mortal enemies to annoying (Yato) and annoyed (Bishamon) neighbors.

    Though, Yato coming under Nora's/Hiiro's control is a bit sudden. Still, this is arguably a lot better take on the whole "gods must not be forgotten" theme than the haphazard Rabo arc in the first season (which I never liked).

  2. K

    Nora guilt-trips Yato with the "I'm a Nora because you." thingy. I haven't read the manga, but this arc seems to be setting up a "flashback" arc for Yato and Hiiro's exploits together. I still love the underlying theme of Noragami: Gods, not matter what they do, are never wrong.

  3. e

    Because they are treated as some kind "force of nature"
    It's the same case as when humans chopped down trees thoughtlessly and face the consequence.
    As the god of calamity. Yato was born from human's hatred and vengeful heart. Humans hurt humans themselves.

  4. m

    The whole ritual behind Yato's contract killings really feels reminiscent of the Elder Scrolls' Dark Brotherhood, loved the mood of it all. I wonder how it's related to Yato's longlevity, as we've seen with the faild confession it only takes a short while before he's completely from memory. It might be that his superstition just survived clandestinely in some circles over the centuries but it also feels like there's more behind it with the whole father character and the weirdness that surrounds the Ebisu-god.

  5. m

    At some points in the episode, I kept having this illusion that the interactions of Yato and Nora were flashbacks from the past, and then it would occur to me that it is in the present but even then, I can't shake off the disorienting feeling. I felt the kidnapping of Yato there felt a little abrupt and forced, so this was one of my least favourite episodes through the series. I still have high expectactions of this arc though

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