You can have a Hiyori in any color, so long as it’s pink.
More catch up!
Noragami begins this week with a flashback. In it we finally establish Rabo, a fellow god of calamity who roomed with Yato for a time, doing jobs together and the like. Just their jobs always involved slaughtering people. And we see he’s still at it today, massacring people openly in the street.
Coming back from the intro, Hiyori does seem to remember Yukine, but not Yato. Er…damn how does that work now? She knows Yukine is dead, right? Sooo…what, she just doesn’t know about the Regalia thing?
Yukine and Yato are later stumped. Stumped? Wasn’t the ONE thing on Yato’s mind last episode that he should cut her ties with him? Yet he is completely unable to see it right in front of him?
All the usual anti-amnesia tricks apply. Yato shares stories and pictures in an attempt that Hiyori’s memory arrives. But she politely humors them, and goes about her business with Yukine.
Time for more drastic measures.
We see Yato and Yukine carrying art supplies home. Yato has spent ALL of his money on them. Okay episode, you did one thing right. It’s sweet that Yato finds Hiyori’s presence important enough in his life that he willingly loses all of his progress on his own shrine towards the slimmest hope of winning her back. I really really liked this and it was very subtle, never mentioned, but it doesn’t really need to be. It’s a very elegant scene even though it is msotly existing to serve as “see how silly Yato can be”.
But now Nora appears. She spills the beans that she severed her ties. It’s a very simple scene, and very forward. Again, that Nora is playing a bigger game here than just being Yato’s friend with benefits. She seems to be getting through, but now it is Yukine who reels Yato in. Rabo appears and attacks the pair.
This fight is pretty good. But it’s mostly Rabo just testing Yato’s power. They leave, Nora promising if Yato can beat Rabo she will restore Hiyori’s memory.
Time for backstory! Rabo was a human who was a subterfuge agent, and was killed to ensure his silence. But he was apparently so effective he was inadvertently deified by his peers. He became a god of calamity, which is defined here as a god who grants primarily bad wishes. Murders and the like.
Tenjin suggests Yato just let Hiyori lose her memories. And Yato seems to grudgingly accept it might be for the best.
Yukine won’t be deterred though. He makes a little picturebook for Hiyori, a visual play that he reads aloud for her. It’s a rather touching scene…but…well I can’t keep going without addressing it.
The biggest problem this episode is the Hiyori scenes. She doesn’t feel like Hiyori. I can buy she might be super polite to Yato because he is now a stranger who hasn’t done anything creepy to her. But with Yukine she still retains that dead, hollow voice. It undermines the tragedy I’m supposed to see here when Hiyori is no different upon inspection than a Hiyori clone, or a “different” Hiyori somehow.
Now we can argue that “Oh that’s the point, she’s losing more than her memories of Yato”, but, this picturebook scene is broken by that. Yukine is being very intimate with Hiyori here, sharing his weaknesses again so soon after the wound and trying to implore her to remember. But the only thing in my head is “You’re wasting your time Yukine, that isn’t Hiyori. And you’re pissing me off by continuing to insist that it is.” EVEN IF we attribute it to Nora taking way more than she intended in her initial cut, by losing her major personality traits, like her defensive aggression, her determined, optimistic nature, her extroverted, high energy conversation, I don’t give two shits about this person.
In Cardcaptor Sakura, during the fight with Yue, Sakura is shown a vision of what the world would be like “if everyone forgot the person they loved most”. In this world where people are missing “pieces”, much like Hiyori here is missing pieces, we see the tragedy of that world in how they act differently. How the things that now give them the greatest joy do not even evoke a smile. How they no longer feel love for those things that mattered most to them. How, in effect, the characters we knew are now dead, a slightly different person walking in their skin. What makes it work most? Is that they all don’t even realize anything is wrong. THAT is the evil committed, they all seem content to live this visibly sub-par existence. That is the tragedy, and that is what compels us to root for Sakura to avert this world.
But here, the scenes about Hiyori are trying to get me to care FOR HER. She struggles at school to remember, she struggles in the bath to think of why things are familiar. The show wants me to give a damn about this Hiyori, but that is not Hiyori at all.
Let me now add the disclaimer that all of this does not have bearing on what happens next. In part because Hiyori starts talking more in her own cadence again.
Yukine finishes his little play, and Hiyori applauds, but apologizes she still cannot remember. She asks to borrow the notebook, suggesting that maybe if she studies it, she will have a revelation. No sooner does Yukine reluctantly allow this, and hands it to her, than she pauses, blinking, and with the most innocent smile asks if the book belongs to him.
This was fantastic.
Nora reveals to Yato that Hiyori’s memories are slowly dripping piece by piece.
Well his hand is forced now. Yato and Yukine have to battle Rabo, and before they do they visit Hiyori, telling her they will earn her memories back one way or another. As they teleport, Hiyori grabs onto them, and her soul goes with them.
I have to say I do not like the forced bit. I would have preferred if Yato had made the moral choice himself to save Hiyori’s memories of his own accord. But this way, with Yato at first acquiescing, it’s that sort of “if you love something let it go” mantra, and only when it’s for her own good does he intervene. Both say things about Yato, good and bad.
On the whole this episode was decent in the backstory elements surrounding Rabo and I liked the scene where Yukine learns about Yato’s past. If it had focused more on those elements it probably would have been stronger. But the Hiyori stuff just kills it, like I said, because it just does not feel like Hiyori. This is probably one of the weaker Noragami episodes. How will the season finale stack up? Well, we’ve already seen it and all, playing catch up here! But shh, don’t spoil it for anyone!