「彼女の思い出の一つ」 (Kanojo no omoide no hitotsu)
“One of Her Memories”
This early in the season, and Noragami Aragoto already has me absolutely hooked.
The second episode of Noragami Aragoto didn’t feel the need to be as patient as last week’s installment. Not ten minutes into it, and my heartstrings were already slamming against my chest. Not only that, but this episode managed to flesh out and expand on the already established character dynamics in a masterfully crafted manner. It plants seeds for the plot in ways that don’t just feel like deliberate exposition.
The bonds between the main trio of protagonists have been expanded upon and strengthened immensely by the events of this chapter. Early on, the tone was cheerful and upbeat—Yukine finally made a friend of his own! The news seemed to put everyone in good spirits, even those barely associated with him. This, I think, presents Yukine as the sort of heart and source of pathos which bonds many of these characters—something which feeds into how the audience receives him. He really has come a long way from the little punk he was during the first season.
And it is from the early conversations between the Yukine and his Suzuha that I think this episode displays its most emotionally powerful material. Though the exposition explaining Suzuha’s past past and his bond with a young girl wasn’t a particularly lengthy segment, it was nevertheless an intensely emotional experience. It was kinda surprising—I mean, we were just introduced to Suzuha at the end of last week’s episode, and then we immediately dive into his backstory. It was certainly unexpected, but in a good way—I didn’t expect to find myself so deeply invested so early on. It cut deep, and was beautifully told and animated. His subsequent death was thus made all the more painful (especially with how gruesome it was)—his feelings will forever remain unfulfilled. Really reminds the audience that most of these characters can’t escape a cold, hard association with death. The stigma of a life cut far too short, both in terms of years lived, and goals accomplished.
Suzuha’s story then quickly opens up doors for a myriad of other developments. First of all, the introduction of the tentative quality of Hiyori’s role in the lives of Yato and Yukine. While it was apparent from the start that Hiyori would only be with the gang for so long (she only agreed to stick around until Yato amended her little out-of-body situation), the weight of her presence and potential departure was made heavier by the notion of potential amnesia.
While Yukine acknowledges that Hiyori will eventually move on with her life, the idea that all the memories, bonds, and emotions they shared together would be for naught made the realization all the more painful. I mean, it’s already happened once in the past—is it as inescapable as it was for Suzuha? Who’s to say that the next time it happens won’t be permanent? These are more questions which I’m hopeful will be addressed throughout the season. They place a sense of fearful urgency around Hiyori and where she stands with the others, and reinforce the substance of her relationships.
Furthermore, what Suzuha says about where he stands with Bishamon made ripples throughout the rest of the episode, especially concerning the relationship between Yukine and Yato. After Yukine mentions a quick gripe with Yato, Suzuha briefly explains the lack of closeness between him and his “superior” due to the large capacity of regalia in her possession. Despite her kindness, she can only do so much herself to insist a sense of familiarity between herself and her shinki (when she approaches Suzuha’s friends, they quickly hide their worries and instead express a contrived and disillusioned complacence).
Yato, on the other hand, shares an intensely intimate bond with his only regalia, Yukine. Though the two squabble from time to time, they share everything with one another, evidenced in this episode when Yukine confides in Yato his worries about Hiyori. The fact that Yukine is constantly envying a larger amount of friends is then put into perspective—if he had so many other companions, would he have a bond even close to the one he has with Yato? This underscores the firm and unprecedented intimacy which the two share. The nature of quantity vs. intimacy is intriguingly explored and dissected—hopefully more will come (perhaps a potential motivation for Kuguha concerning Bishamon?).
This episode also did much to clearly establish this season’s main antagonist: Kuguha. We learned just enough to perk our interests, such as the reveal that he’s in cahoots with an old season one favorite, but not too much to quell our curiosity. His motivations are vaguely explored—something which heightened the level of mystique surrounding him. Also, though the fact that he was not evidently the source of Bishamon’s blight was likely some form of cover-up or trickery, perhaps the series is implying that Kuguha’s intentions are potentially righteous, if in an oddly twisted way? Who knows, but it’s something interesting to think about.
The concluding skirmish between Kuguha and Yato reinforces just how seriously badass and intimating Yato can be. Underneath all that fluff and silliness is a remarkably competent god—a duality which I’ve always loved about Yato, and which I hope will continue to be explored.
Overall, this week’s episode was a stunning way to get the wheels turning for this season. It introduced a bevy of developments and questions I wasn’t expecting going into this season—especially this early on—that’s keeping it fresh, exciting, and profound. It also managed to expand and reinforce the already well-established bonds between the main characters in new and interesting ways. Nothing but high expectations going into the rest of the season.
P.S. I forget to mention last week how awesome the new OP and ED are, both in the way they look and sound. While I don’t think they’re as great as what the first season had to offer, they’re still great pieces of production, and as the series progresses, maybe I’ll like ’em better, who knows?