「神祝き、呪きき」 (Kamuhosaki, Hosakiki)
“Divine Acclamation, Imprecation”

A powerful reminder of why I love this series.

This week’s installment of Noragami Aragoto delivered on some emotionally and thematically resonant material. From the expansion of the mythos to the revelations concerning Yato and Bishamon, this episode put out some mad powerful stuff. Though I was initially disappointed that not much was made of Yukine’s “death,” the rest of the episode quickly made me forget any sense of discontent.

One of the things I’ve loved about Noragami from the beginning was its restraint concerning the sort of powers and weapons attributed to these gods. It never goes the route of Shonen (which isn’t at all a bad way to go, but I appreciate its faithfulness and maturity to the subject). From the very beginning, the God-Regalia relationship could have just been some cursory explanation/gimmick for some neat superpowers and cool battles. Instead, the connection between a God and his/her regalia is approached in an allegorical and intelligent manner—the nature between servant and master, saved and savior, cared for and caretaker, mentor and student, friend and friend, and so on.

In this episode particularly, I appreciate how the ‘blessed vessel’ feature was handled. It wasn’t played up as some rad new power to kill things with as much as some new insight on how a regalia should treat their God—positive reinforcement for a shinki’s loyalty. We learned something new about what regalia are capable of in the world of Noragami, but also the way in which they are meant to interact with their masters.

The exploration of Kuguha’s motivations also shed some light on the God/Regalia dynamic. As the series has made apparent in the last couple of episodes, the sheer quantity of shinki which Bishamon has adopted disallows any means of intimacy between God and regalia. This service (to pick up any shinki possible) is Bishamon’s ultimate flaw—her hamartia, if you will.

Kugaha paints pretty clearly the picture of the situation. Bishamon’s regalia merely smile and pretend to all get along to keep up with appearances—to make their master feel happy and at peace. No matter what worry, grief, or concern they might harbor, they keep it under wraps lest they intend to harm their savior (via blight). As a result, Kugaha feels unsatisfied with the dissonance, as well as the resulting sullying of the war god’s mighty name—feeling it more appropriate that someone with his sensibilities take it.

This runs directly parallel with what’s really going on in Bishamon’s head and heart. As this episode makes obvious, she has been holding in some monumentally intense agony and grief for the loss of her previous regalia by means of suppression. She does so by utilizing Yato as an outlet through which to channel her suffering—by warping it into misplaced hatred. Previous episodes have shown us this in spades, particularly in the case with Kazuma’s banishment. She seems to hate Yato more than she grieves the loss of her former shinki.

In actuality though, she merely refuses to honestly deal with her emotions. She’s doing everything she can to avoid it—picking up any lost soul and protecting them with her life in order to compensate for her past failures in doing so and pretending everything is alright with her regalia, all the while blaming Yato adamantly—perceiving him as this devilish, morally repugnant entity (which he clearly isn’t anymore, at least currently) for anything wrong in her life. She pretends that everything makes sense on the surface—killing the god supposedly responsible is the only sensible action to take, simple as that—just as all her Regalia are all smiles in front of their master.

However, such sentiments are futile in authentically representing reality—Bishamon is keeping down a level of torment and grief which cannot be quelled, just as her shinki are masking the presence of some deep worries. They just keep building up in both cases, more and more, until eventually the bottom just falls out. Blight upon all is the ultimate consequence, as Bishamon is wholly corruptedunrecognizable even—and as a result, is more directly involved with the death of her family.

She failed to appropriately deal with the problems at hand, just like with her previous ‘Ma’ family where she was unable to mitigate their squabbles, and through a long chain of events, was ultimately left with just Kazuma. Her inability still to deal with what’s pertinent—her undying grief and the unsatisfied sentiments of her servants—as well as really learn from her past mistakes, has led to history repeating itself. Through Bishamon’s actions—or rather, her inaction—we can learn the true importance of dealing rationally and effectively with our emotions and the matters at hand. Damn I love this series.

Kazuma’s death—apart from being sad 🙁—represents Bishamon’s ability to finally let go of the past, as well as learn from it. Though melancholy, it is ultimately necessary. Her last attachment to the past has been shed, and Bishamon can now move on and grow as an individual. It’s really powerful stuff—this is some truly intelligent and profound storytelling.

Apart from all that though, I still feel as if Kugaha is a somewhat bland antagonist. Though allegorically, he is meaningful—as the culmination of all the denial, unmerited anger, and ignorance on part of his master—I can’t help but be kinda bored with him as a character. I’m thinking this will be amended, though, with the subsequent episode, as Yato alludes to some serious ass-kicking that’s about to go down with the guy responsible for all this carnage.

Anyways, I’ve rambled on long enough about why this episode is so fascinating and enjoyable. I’m looking forward to how this season will continue to engage me emotionally and intellectually.

 

Preview

33 Comments

    1. aiha being alive was the main cause of bishamon’s blight; killing her defeats the purpose of her being a necessity to weaken bishamon. Kugaha needed all the blight from aiha and the pain of veena losing shinki by him killing them in order to fully weaken bisha

      sonicsenryaku
      1. She was a double-edged sword actually. Killing her would have prevented her from freeing Kazuma and Hiyori, which would have thrown a wrench in his plans, but they were late in doing it. Killing her would also cause Bishamon pain though temporarily.

        WarriorsHeart
      2. Instead of killing Aiha, I think what Kuguha should have done is to simply imprison Aiha (just like Hiyori and Kazuma) when he saw some hesitation from her. Alas, somebody needs to throw a wrench in his plans.

        Raiu
  1. There’s also the fact that Kazuma was a bit like that too; not telling Bishamon the truth for so long because he also naively believed that her hatred of Yato was ultimately a good thing because it seemingly was got her out of her funk from losing her previous Regalia and the only thing to keep her going. In my own mind at least, it also felt like Kazuma’s form being that of a nail was like how his own survival as the only previous Regalia was how he, in a way, kept Bishamon “nailed down” in the past, but now his death removes that nail and frees Bishamon to, hopefully, be able to move forward.

    HalfDemonInuyasha
  2. I have to just keep saying how good Noragami’s background ost and voice acting is interlinked as well as the animation, I think I can’t get enough of how excellent it all seems (my personal view.)

    And to me, the main highlights of the episodes are:
    (1) Yukine becoming a blessed vessel: with Yato choking like that, my presumption that Yukine would come back had been reduced to 0. And when Bishamon points out “a god of calamity having a blessed vessel is absurd”, I felt even more proud of the Yato/Yukine interlink. Let alone the fact that Hiyori mentions their relationship and comparing to Bishamon also adds to the still developing relation between Yato and Yukine – which in all honestly, since season 1, has progressed smoothly and bitter-sweetly. But I also felt bad for Yato, “you’re the first to change for me” line made me think what other weapons did Yato have before? Well, besides Nora.

    (2) Aiha’s rescue of Kazuma and Hiyori, and how Kuraha is so cool!

    (3) Yato and Nora: Nora always throws in lines here and there that really throw the charecters all around. From Yukine’s ‘poor boy’ from last season, to the ‘tangling bonds’ from this season. I feel like this gives us a little insight over Yato’s past, since there is something both Nora and Rabo from last season say he “forgot” and in this season, he just went into zombie mode (well lost his senses xD) and almost finished Bishamon. Is Yato one to end tangling bonds by killing people? (don’t answer me, just my assumption lol). Anyhow, I am glad Hiyori was still there.

    (4) Yato cutting down Bishamon

    (5) Death of Bishamon’s weapons and her own suffering. That crying scene, and all her crying face/animation is sooooo engrossing!

    (5) Kazuma’s death: the moment when he just pushes Yato is so… epic? there’s nothing to say here that your review hasn’t already explained!

    Ty for your review!

    Cheers, M.

    Mi-Chan
  3. Good review, but you forgot to mention one of this years best VA performances, that scene in the end where bisha says “so many of my regalias have died again” felt so real my eyes became waterfalls.

    illusion
  4. Glad so much closure has been given. Now the only thing they need to do is defeat the bad guy. … I just wish his motivations for these plans were clearer and more understandable.

    starss
    1. it’s like he said, he’s had it up to here with bishamon’s behavior. This arc is sort of here (among other things) to demonstrate the danger that a shinki can pose to his/her master when he/she does not agree with his/her methodology; and kugaha is not pleased with bishamon’s behavior, which as we have seen, is inexorably tied to her past and ill-mannered coping mechanisms she chose to deal with the death of her clan

      sonicsenryaku
  5. “Don’t worry, killing a god is no big deal.” Well daymn.

    Yet another Badass Yato quote to add to the growing collection. I’m really loving this show and your reviews, and this was one of the best episodes I’ve seen so far.

    PS. Aragoto OST Composer, you da real MVP.

    stripe
  6. I think one of the reasons I love this series is even when they do change little things from the manga, the feel is still the same feel, so it doesn’t feel wrong and I don’t get pissed about the editing.

    HG
      1. I was actually confused going to episode 1 of Season 2 after watching the 2 OVAs. Hiyori reverted to her middle school uniform when she should be already in high school with a coat. And then the Sakura viewing OVA was mentioning a character who I can’t recall was mentioned in Season 1.

        It turns out, the OVAs happened after season 2 when I finally connected the dots.

        Raiu

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