「偽の結合」 (Nise no ketsugō)
Noragami Aragoto continues to move along quickly but comfortably.
A bevy of substantial developments occurred during this week’s episode that ranged from explicitly consequential to implicitly significant. Let me dive right in.
What got probably the most screen time this week was the banishment of Kazuma from Bishamon’s domain, and for good reason too. Our cunning antagonist Kuguha had been planting the seeds for this conflict for a little while now, but some unfortunate alignment of circumstances brought it on a little earlier than planned. Now, this incident is particularly intriguing because it, for the first time, presents a very clear and pointed disagreement between Bishamon and her closest Regalia.
Kazuma has clearly always wanted what’s best for “Veena,” but the presence and sentiments concerning Yato are adamant enough on both sides to incite a falling out between the two. This adds an intensive layer of intrigue to their past struggles—we knew Kazuma’s stance on Yato might’ve pissed Bishamon off, but not really to the point of complete banishment. The fact that Kazuma referred to Yato as Bishamon’s “savior” further adds to this fascination. As the discussion between Bishamon’s other Shinki reveals, the history between Bishamon and Yato is known to almost no one else, which is going to make the inevitable reveal all the more fascinating.
And how about when Yukine just lays down the truth on Bishamon. And on her own turf!!(damn!!)! I really appreciate the exploration of the God/Regalia relationships in this season, and sort of contrasting dichotomies that arise from them. It’ll be sick to see how they resolve into the main plot by the season’s end. Maybe when Bishamon—guilt-ridden for not paying proper attention to her Shinki—sees how well Yato takes care of his, she maybe softens up and makes amends with our protagonist (just a shot in the dark)?
Something I wasn’t entirely keen on was the role that that pink-haired Regalia played this episode. We caught very brief glimpses of her throughout these past few episodes, and I felt her inclusion in the episode’s climactic battle felt a bit rushed and out of place. Her sudden involvement with Kuguha doesn’t necessarily come as any surprise, but it certainly does not feel like an organic development (since we know little to nothing about her so far, including where she stands with Bishamon and how Kuguha so easily employed her). I have faith, though, that subsequent episodes will amend this issue.
Another substantial development, I think, is the hint of some significant affections shared between Yato and Hiyori. Now, I’m hesitant to use the word romance, but I don’t think it would be entirely inappropriate here. Some feelings have been very briefly and ambiguously hinted at in the past, but I feel that some of the dialogue between the two early in this episode made significant strides towards introducing and establishing something greater felt than friendship between the two. I’m not so sure how I feel about a blossoming romantic subplot suddenly forming between characters whose relationship has remained for the most part, static and meaningful enough (the words unnecessary and contrived come to mind).
However, this series has surprised me in the past (making me like a character I initially found grating, Yukine), so I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if the series goes on to convince me that this is not only a good, but necessary direction to take these two characters (change is scary). Although it could very well be the case that the episode was merely heightening the friendship between the two to make this week’s cliffhanger all the more impactful, in which case, I’ll eat my shorts.
The episode’s climactic battle was fine enough. Nothing particularly spectacular or crafty in terms of Kuguha’s schemes in abducting Hiyori, but it’s exciting to see the stakes ramped up so high by just the third episode. What I found especially intriguing was the lack of power which Kazuma held over Kuguha, and how that might be explained later on (perhaps the something to do with Nora’s involvement?).
This week’s episode makes some noteworthy and substantial developments that paint a picture for the direction of this season which I find captivating and intriguing. It spend much of its time planting more seeds and introducing more questions in ways that I didn’t entirely see coming, but find natural and interesting nonetheless. I look forward to how many of these developments will pan in the following weeks.