「福の神の言伝」 (Fukunokami no kotodzute)
“The God of Fortune’s Message”
What a way to end it.
Unlike last season—or even the last arc, for that matter—Noragmi Aragoto’s second half concludes not with the flash or spectacle of some epic, high-stakes battle, but instead, with the grace and gratification of closure—glorious, glorious closure.
One of my biggest fears heading into this last episode was that it would mainly concern itself with the skirmish waged between the heavenly gods and Yato & co.—leaving little to no time to tie up the myriad of loose ends strewn about the landscape of the narrative. Luckily, the season finale jumps right into the aftermath of last week’s kerfuffle, as we waste no time away from exploring what our main cast has taken away from preceding events.
What I’d like to address first and foremost is how Yato was handled this week. Previously, I had my doubts that this season’s latter half—while still excellent—would address Yato with something even really close to the kind of excellent development delegated to his former rival in Noragami Aragoto’s first half. I made it clear that I was hoping for some deep exploration into the chasms of Yato’s dark past—particularly concerning his relationships with Nora and his ‘father’—which the episodes continued to avoid doing, week after week.
However, the season finale provided Yato with a character arc which was at least as profound—if not more so—as Bishamon’s—despite not depicting the aforementioned character history I so previously longed.
This was because of Ebisu’s absolutely integral role in the plot.
In previous episodes, it was made clear that Ebisu represents Yato’s ideal of himself: put simply, a good god—a stark departure from the bad god he’s been for most of his life. Over the course of this season and the last, Yato had made obvious his ambitions to rework his image and life purpose in pursuit of this image—a noble god adored by millions across the nation. In short, he sought purpose and moral righteousness through the gratification and acknowledgement of those outside of himself—of people who he’d never even met before. He thinks by catering to them and building a name for himself, he will attain happiness.
But obviously, this causes for a plethora of conflict. Yato—thinking a widely known name is what he seeks—turns to Nora on apparently multiple occasion in order to quickly achieve this, sustain himself, and go on with his business. He doesn’t realize the folly of his ways—his negligence of those he holds most dear on his quest for the recognition of other people. This is the Yato who first comes into contact with Ebisu.
Ebisu’s genuine desire to help humanity resonates with Yato. However, unlike Yato, Ebisu could give a rat’s ass what other people think of him. The heavenly gods don’t mean jack to him—even his own, personal life means nothing to him. All he wants is to help people. That’s seriously it.
This mentality is the ticket out of Yato’s suffering—what he needs to finally cut ties with his previous life, and what he needs moving forward. He’s got to realize the sentiments of millions of people shouldn’t mean anything to him—his loved ones are the only lives which should matter. The god he wants to become isn’t necessarily one with a big fancy shrine and thousands of regalia, but one which is undeniably good. Good to his close ones. Good to humanity. This is his key to happiness.
This is how Yato is to become a helpful god. At first, it seems the cause is hopeless. Ebisu’s moral righteousness seems to be deeply inherent. How can Yato—someone who’s been raised since birth to kill people—possibly attain something like that?
Well, first and foremost, he should stop trying to find the answer by himself and consult his loved ones. When Yato finally cuts ties with Nora (been a long time coming dammit, how freakin’ satisfying was that?), he abandons his only previously guaranteed outlet for making a name for himself, and in turn, becoming a relevant god. As a result, he realizes the need now to consult his friends, and cries out desperately to Yukine for help. This demonstrates the first time Yato has truly—helplessly—relied on Yukine as his exemplar—relinquishing all power and control in this dynamic. He’s coming to Yukine as he truly is, openly displaying his inner turmoil and conflict for the first time.
As such, Yukine provides him with the course of action Yato needs to take in order to become what he desires: do exactly as he’s doing now. By coming to Yukine in desperate search of advice, he’s already doing what his previous self would never have done. Yato is now turning to his loved ones to become the kind of god he holds highly—to come even close to Ebisu’s morality. Screw everyone else; screw conventional forms of success for gods; screw having copious amounts of followers, regalia, and so on. All that matters is he stay true and faithful to those who love him the most, and ain’t that a lesson each o’ us could take to heart.
This proves for a character arc which leaves me utterly gratified in the wake of this finale, despite not being provided deep exploration into Yato’s past. I thought I knew what I wanted, but Noragami Aragoto proved otherwise to me. This season—and more particularly this latter half—has by no means been a perfect run. The pace was often rushed and choppy, and many elements of this most recent arc have not been assigned the time and development they really needed to make some of the battles more engaging. However, I’m able to look over these missteps after a conclusion like this one, from a show which continues to spit in the face of the status quo in favor of a strong and ever-evolving cast of characters. Powerful and profound, this series has humbled me once again.
However, Ebisu wasn’t just a conduit to Yato’s development, but a fully-fleshed (despite being a cosmic being transcendent of phsycial matter, HA HA EY OH k i’ll stop) character in himself. On his deathbed, he realizes that Yato’s words ring true—sometimes it’s pertinent to take a step back from relentless altruism and think about one’s self. It’s important to take a break from thinking about what others want and really consider what oneself wants. It showcases the dangers of excessive selflessness, in contrast to Yato’s previous selfishness, making for a fascinating character dichotomy. Not only does Yato learn from him, but he learns from Yato. As a result, Ebisu is a deeply impactful and memorable character, despite being a more recent addition. Really shows the series’ focus on excellently developed characters and dynamics. Utterly superb.
And that’s a wrap! What a series and what a season. Judging by the post-credits stinger (what a twist amiright? Suddenly adds greater relevance and meaning to Episode 10’s creepy cold open), there’s still a greater story to be told with these characters—one which might finally gimme the sweet deets on Yato’s backstory (can’t help me if I’m still curious hue hue). I’m incredibly excited for Noragami’s (likely) inevitable third season! Thanks for reading (￣▽￣)ノ