As luck would have it, I get to cover this show on a week like this one (Thanks Ebisu!). Maan… Talk about one hell of a hard episode to watch. Noragami has always been a series that’s had an underlying sense of tragedy and pain to it, one that’s sat beneath its sharp comedy and generally heartwarming moments but…
This week’s episode had the darkness come to the forefront, and man, was the whiplash extreme. This was an episode that was made to incite pain and discomfort in the audience, and while it did do all that, and it all hurt, it was still pretty engaging and enthralling too.
We picked up from where last week left off, and we dove deeper into the entity that is Yato. What is Yato? How does he exist? Is he a god of war? Or a god of Calamity? And how does Yato relate to Nora/Hiki and the mysterious “father” figure? All those questions were things that we came into the episode with, but the mystery continued to deepen rather than offer any easy answers.
Also continuing the trend from last week, was the pain and misfortunate being hurled at Yato. This week felt like the start to him slowly losing the things that matter the most. I remember Dee highlighted quite beautifully, the odd and unique situation that Yato and Hiyori have and have been in since the series’ inception. It was discussed at length by myself and a few other folks in the comments last week as well….
So how heart breaking was it, then, to see Hiyori reach the point of forgetting Yato and falling for some other guy? Quite a bit I’d wager. The thing that came to my mind was the Japanese concept of netorare, and how accurately I felt that sensation here.
Now… Before you stab me with that scary pitchfork you have there, I realize that netorare is often associated with hentai, which Noragami is clearly not. The very essence of netorare, however, is that of a nice guy basically losing his significant other to another person, behind their back. A version of that situation, I’d say, was quite prevalent in this episode.
What really heightened the pain, however, was the fact that Hiyori just wasn’t aware of what was happening. She’d gone on too long without seeing Yato, and is now beginning to forget him. So the fact that this new guy, the guy we saw last week on the stairs, in swooping and making his moves and winning her over… Well it’s all an unfortunate tragedy of circumstance, more so than anything else.
Its kind of beautiful, in a painful kind of way, how Noragami set this all up. Since the series started back up, there’s been the lingering question of how plausible this whole happy relationship between Hiyori, Yato and Yukine really is. The implications have always been that its not, that a god and a human associating with one another so deeply can never end well.
There was going to be heartbreak at the end of this, I think I knew that at least. What I didn’t know, what I never expected, was for it to come so darn soon. I think that’s what’s so powerful about this whole moment with Hiyori going to Capypa Land, and slowly but surely falling into the arms of this boy.
Capypa Land is the place where Yukine, Yato and Hiyori had been planning to go to. It was supposed to be their shared moment, and yet… Things continued to go in a much different direction. In a way, Yato continued to get replaced by the more immediate, more close human guy, and that, seeing that sense of loss and having your heartbreak, netorare really is an accurate way to describe it I think.
And of course… Then there’s that whole kiss at the end of the episode. Yeah, that one moment made me understand how gods in Noragami must feel after being corrupted. Damn Noragami, you’re really really doing it huh? Just straight in the feels… Argh!
The final thing I’ll say about Yato and Hiyori is that, I think this week did indirectly confirm that they have romantic feelings for one another, regardless of how appropriate that is. The fact that Hiyori kept thinking of Yato, of wanting to go with him to Cappyland, and then when she was buying the small gift, well those things hinted at that.
I think what sealed the deal on Hiyori’s end, however, was the fact that she continued to feel “weird” every time she got closer to the orange haired guy, as if it was “somehow” wrong even though it was clear she felt attracted to him. Yato, meanwhile, Yato had his own moment of seeing the goddess of Death, Izanami, take on Hiyori’s form, the form of the person most precious to him.
I suppose that’s as good a segway as any to jump into the other half of this week’s episode. While Hiyori continued to drift away, and Yukine calmly waited for Yato’s return, Yato himself took a trip down into the underworld to try and rescue “the conjurer” and win his freedom.
There was some speculation last week, by Dee and by the rest of us in the comments, but it turned out that conjurer was not some new character, but rather Ebisu himself. And Boy… Are things starting to crumble around Ebisu and his odd obsession with controlling the Ayakashi.
For one thing, he’s in dire straights because of all the corruption from his conjuring events, so much so that Yato himself is sent with Nora to rescue him. But even further away, The Takamagahara god collective has deduced his actions and have a “warrant” out for his arrest.
But Ebisu is hardly aware or bothered by anything, and he’s got an obsessive focus on what he wants, the Locating Brush. I have to admit, I wasn’t too fond of Ebisu last week, but this week he won me over as an endearing character.
I think what makes Noragami such an impressive show is that nearly all its characters are extremely well done. Unlike Kuga, who was a flat out evil villain, Ebisu seems like a more well-rounded antagonist. He’s not detestable, but instead feels like a more Shakespearean figure, one that’s had his own obsession consume him.
That and he and Yato play very well off of one another. Whether it was the hilarious comedy segments between the two, or whether it was how completely Ebisu dominated the pace of everything this week, it was all fun to see.
And honestly, it was also great to see Yato back, in a sense, as more of himself. Last week had made it seem like Yato was in hazy state, not quite in his right state of mind. This week’s Yato seemed more or less completely in control.
And its good that he was, because as Nora let is be known at the start of the episode, one wrong move could’ve landed them both into the underworld for eternity. Izanami, the goddess of death, resided there after all, and meeting her seemed like signing your own prison sentence in the underworld. A life sentence that is.
And as you’d expect, despite trying his best not to, Yato ends up face to face with Izanami by the end of it all. The meeting isn’t all bad though, as we learn some interesting little tidbits. For one thing, we learn that Izanami is immune to disappearing, as her existence is tied to the very act of living or dying, which are things that are never going away.
More importantly, however, we learn that the Ayakashi exist because of her. Izanami is a lonely god, one that’s suffering from the pain of solitude, and breeds the Ayakashi to deal with it all. That’s quite the revelation, as it lays the very foundation of the Noragami universe bare and open for all to see. The Ayakashi exist because of Izanami, and Izanami exists because of life and death, so there’s no way to remove the Ayakashi, they’re a symptom of the very act of living.
Of course, while the audience gets a few very important nuggets of information from the encounter, the reason Ebisu is there is to retrieve a location brush. His whole plan is interesting to watch unfold, as he more or less tricks both Izanamai and Yato into the idea that he’s agreeing with her demands, all the while just angling to get the brush and then run away.
There’s a gorgeously animated clash between Yato and Ebisu, which serves as a bit of a tease to what I assume will be a more proper battle later on. Ebisu edges out a victory, but only because Nora also serves him under yet another name.
With the brush in hand, Yato and Ebisu make a break for it, with an angry Izanamai promising to never let them leave. Before they do go, its important to note that Ebisu calls Izanami “mother”. That puzzles Yato, but I think I get the meaning and significance of those words. If Inzanami is the being that results from life and death, then she indirectly led to all the other gods being created by the living humans and their “wishes”.
In any case, Yato and Ebisu have to make it out of the underworld now. The dangers are immense, but I think the thing that breaks my heart is Yato’s driving force to get out of there. Its Yukine and Hiyori…. And as we all know, what’s waiting for Yato on the outside might not be the things that he’s so eager to get back to.
In the end, I’ll just say that it was an honor and a privilege to cover Noragami this week, and to stand in for Dee, who we can all agree does a phenomenal job every week. For those of you that felt some whiplash from the sudden change in writers, I apologize, It was just that kind of week for Noragami I guess. Dee will be back next week though, so your regularly scheduled programming will resume then.
Dee is back next week! So look forward to that and don’t worry, next week doesn’t have anything to do with Hand cream… I think! XD
Tags: fall 2015, hiyori forgets Yato, izanami, netorare, noragami, noragami aragoto, noragami aragoto episode blog, noragami aragoto recaps, noragami aragoto review, noragami aragoto screencaps, noragami episode blog, noragami recaps, noragami review, Noragami Season 2, norgami aragoto episode 9
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