There’s nothing wrong with averting expectations. I want to make that very clear before I explain a little grudge I have against the finale of this episode. But in so doing, you need to do -something-, because otherwise you feel like you’re treading water. And really that’s the feeling I have right now: that Noragami is stalling for time. Or, even worse, is more aimless than it originally let on. Which was pretty aimless to begin with.
However an important part of this week comes at the very begining, that of greying the sides in this conflict between Yato and Bishamonten. We meet the latter at her bath with her regalia, Kazuma. Kazuma is relieved that his master is set on getting rid of the phantoms she feels responsible for. He raises his voice at her, but she is already planning to take care of them first before going back after Yato.
After the credits roll Hiyori is bringing snacks to Yukine. It doesn’t exactly bug me, it certainly helps with the masquerade and all, but this is really just all part of one big point to mess with your expectations. Nay, to turn your expectations into desires. I’ll explain this when we get to the REAL crime this episode.
Anyway, Yato is waiting for her instead. Yukine ran away, and Yato doesn’t really care, so long as he’s around when the monsters show up.
Surmising it’s most logical that Yukine be at Tenjin’s, Hiyori goes there. Yukine WAS there, but Tenjin turned down making him a regalia. The reason would be he would become a Nora. It seems to be a title, not a specific name (though perhaps one inspired the other). Now, Tenjin’s regalia blush as if he’s talking about something dirty, thus reinforcing my opinion of Tenjin as a dirty old man. This explains why Nora had SO MANY marks on her arms and legs. Nora aren’t trusted because they have divided loyalties.
Oh is that a fact Noragami? Oh-ho-ho-ho-hoooo…we’ll be getting to THAT soon as well.
But the reasoning here is something I can’t entirely agree with. I have to get metaphysical here for a moment…so bear with my occult ramblings. And not a word out of you, Vidoq.
Names are powerful. For example, one of the first things for exorcists to do, and this goes across nations, religions, and schools, is to learn the “demon’s” name. Because knowing a name gives you power over something. And this is demonstrated a lot in magical series, I’m sure you can think up at least one example (Loveless springs to my mind).
But honestly what is a name? Tenjin adopts the VERY traditional view that it is disrespectful to your parents (in a broader sense, your family), but a name is what you choose to respond to. Many people change their names upon marriage. Some people change them to distance themselves from family (such as, oooohhhh, the Binladen family, as his Western relatives are now known).
My name is Anna. That is not my birth name, I chose it (my last name has changed since birth as well). And I have used it for so long I don’t even blink at hearing my old name anymore. I don’t respond because it is no longer a part of my identity. But the more ingrained it is into my identity is what matters about it.
If you were to call me a different name, say, DataportDoll, I’d probably miss a beat or two before answering (with a “Whaaa?”). It isn’t a strong part of my identity.
Take an alias I use a lot…say…SuccubusYuri, I know that is me. That has been my online identity for many years, in many mediums, such as my warcraft battletag and fanfiction profile. But I “know” someone is talking about ME when they use that name, far more than I do the DataportDoll name, because the latter is just something I used MANY years ago on a web forum (that no longer even exists) but is tied to my sense of self as a critic so I use it here.
Maybe this just became a sticking point for me after Death Note, because I DO believe that souls have names, independent of your given name. And this idea that your name, even if you hate it, even if you don’t KNOW it (as may be the case in these things with adopted kids), is somehow sacred and beyond your power just really pisses me off.
Because the reason you don’t call someone something else isn’t to respect their families, it’s to respect THEM. Hiyori wants to be called Hiyori, and that should be frikkin enough for you. I instinctively dislike it when someone decides to start calling me “jasmine” or “charlotte” because by refusing to use a name I consider MINE (I accept Yuri and Anna these days), they are diminishing a part of MY identity. That is why there is so much emphasis on slave names, and boot camps not using your proper names, because it is an effort to break your identity with their own. Not because my parents had some mystical power over my soul just because they felt it would be silly to name their kid “Tittywanker”. (Note: that isn’t actually my birth name. But that would also be a good reason to change it.)
This has been the Occultist inside Anna raging at cartoons for the better part of an episode summary. Tune in next week.
I will, of course, try to keep Noragami’s interpretation of this in mind as I’m sure it’s a major plot point.
Tenjin says he wishes to never have associations with Nora, so he is unable to answer about the girl Nora stalking Yato. Only that Nora are used by gods to perform jobs you don’t want your personal regalia doing.
…Which you know means it’s going to be revealed she moonlight-escorted him to a play or something once.
So Yato contracted with this Nora to do something even the God of Calamity found distasteful? Oh this should be good. She still seems quite keen on being used.
Well, Hiyori just happens to stumble into Bishamonten. Damn, girl, you just have the worst luck. Kazuma is the first to see her, and after binding her, casts a spell on her. When Bishamonten appears right before her. My favorite gag this episode: Hiyori praying for the gods to save her…then thinking of Yato…and resigning that she is royally boned.
But Bishamonten and her other regalia can’t see Hiyori. And it’s safe to assume Hiyori would be dead if Bishamonten knew about her.
Hiyori asks why, after what happened last episode. Kazuma says while he will fight his master’s enemy, he personally feels a debt to Yato. He recognizes the Blight is from Yukine, and he recommends disposing of him ASAP. Kazuma can’t fathom Yato’s actions. It’s a fate anyone can see coming from a mile away. Hint, it’s death. Kazuma asks Hiyori to protect Yato from his bad choices. He doesn’t want to lose him.
…Yaoi shippers, now is your chance. This as ripe as it’s gonna get.
I can certainly see why kami would distrust Nora. I mean, if Kazuma was a Nora, he’d be completely low and despicable for hiding things from his master. But because he is not, we know his intentions are pure as the driven snow. This regard for Nora makes sense, but the extremes it is displayed in Tenjin and his regalia is unbased. Regalia do subvert their masters from time to time, it seems. And Kazuma does that without being Nora. I can’t tell if the show is trying to tell us Nora are that bad, or if Yato is that swell. Either way, this whole “stray” thing feels contrived.
Yato drags Yukine along for a job. Basically being a store attendant. That’s a new one. But Yukine isn’t impressed, he thinks Yato should get a REAL job. No doubt tapping into your lazy parents who came of age after a depression, huge war, and a labor shortage, which is totally the same as an overflooded, aging job market, right?
Of course it turns out the contract is from Kofuku…huh…Well Yato isn’t going to let her set one foot into a STORE, so much slapstick ensues.
Suddenly Yato gets zapped. And not a little one. Like a huge, huge, semi-unconscious from the blow zap from Yukine. Yato is extremely pissed this time, far more than previously. He used to just be annoyed, and wore his patience thin. But this is rage. He just can’t find it.
So Yukine runs out in a huff, discontent that Yato thinks so little of him. When he trips over Kofuku. And drops the plastic bins of change for disaster relief (certainly rubbing that Fukushima nerve).
Really? Fucking really? Couldn’t we have just had him rape a six year old or something? I don’t think we’re making Yukine out to be bad enough. I still feel a shred of sympathy for the kid, maybe he should steal an ambulance, and go for a joyride where he runs over Hiyori’s grandma repeatedly, leaving tire tracks on her face and just ruining any possibility of an open casket funeral. Oh! Then he can appear at that funeral, and start fucking the corpse, because he isn’t over the moral event horizon yet.
Actually that scenario would be an improvement, because then I would give a damn about what he was doing.
Okay, here’s the reason this is happening: Noragami is trying to be clever to play into our expectations that Yato will give in to temptation and call Nora to his side. In order to do this, they have decided that, instead of giving Yato a more ruthless dimension, they will instead push Yukine so far over what is acceptable that it never even occurs to us, the audience, that he should bother with Yukine.
Because Kofuku’s job is a phantom extermination, and Nora watches the whole time. She constantly chides him to claim her power. And this is the opposite of Kazuma. Sure, we haven’t SEEN a lot of Nora, but she seems dead set on having Yato claim her. She seems more devoted to Yato than Kazuma has been acting with Bishamonten. This isn’t even counting Yukine being an obstinate brat. Again, it’s still early, but I’m having a hard time swallowing this Nora crap when it is the opposite of what the screen is showing me.
But Yato perseveres with the Sekki, not the Nora girl’s weapon. He says that even though Yukine is a jerk, he’s still YATO’S regalia, and no one’s going to tell him what to do with it but himself. We are supposed to feel awe and concern that Yato is so devoted to Yukine, when the only reason we feel that way is because Yukine’s behavior has been so manufactured, from ignoring Hiyori’s kindness to stealing charity money, that he seems too far outside the event horizon we have to wonder how he was classified as a “pure” soul at all.
The manufactured conflict aside…
I am reminded of Deep Space Nine when the main antagonist, Dukat, is demoted from Admiral to captain of a freighter. And he runs battle drills, laments the sorry state of his ship, but keeps it battle ready. Why? Because no matter where Dukat is, his ship is his flagship, his center of power. Yato displays a similar attitude towards Yukine. Yato is a god with nothing, and the Sekki may not be the best regalia, but it is his. Just like your car is YOUR car, be it brand new or thirty years old.
I’m also sure Yato is considering how he himself is misunderstood. It is obvious that whatever Yato did was personal for Bishamonten, not OBJECTIVELY wrong, because Kazuma still holds him in high regard. So slaying that regalia did not make him an enemy of all regalia, just one kami got a little bent out of shape over it.
And, more pragmatically, Yukine is still exceptionally powerful when he is working properly, and Yato, as a war god, almost certainly wants to master such a powerful weapon.
This episode frustrated me mostly because this “conflict” was so silly we could have skipped this episode. Where did we end things last week? Yukine poisoning Yato, Bishamonten pausing her hunt for Yato, and Nora sitting unused, begging to be wielded.
Where will next week’s episode start? The same. Damn. Place.
Noragami’s wrinkles are showing. I am worried that we are now entering the phase where it diverts from the source material. And if this is the first crack at that, I am fearful for the second half.