I’m a bit lukewarm about this episode. I can see what it’s trying to accomplish, but at the same time, a large part of it is rather dull and uneventful.
Episode summary: When Yato refers to Nora as his friend with benefits, Hiyori freaks out and separates Yukine from him. Her reasoning is that Yato is a bad influence on the young Regalia. Eventually, the girl loses Yukine, who wanders the streets and runs into another spirit. The spirit is of a young girl waiting for her mom to pick her up. Unfortunately, Yukine tells the spirit that her mom is never coming, which causes the young girl to fall to the corruption of the Phantoms. In the end, Yato has to show up and save Yukine and Hiyori from the now corrupted spirit. On the side, a new character is introduced to the story in form of a gun-toting, lion-riding blonde. She too has a interest in Yato for some reason (don’t we all!).
• We start off with Yato teaching his Regalia how to form a “borderline” in order to protect himself from Phantoms. When Hiyori asks if this is something she could do as well, Yato informs her that only Regalias possess this special power. That seems rather arbitrary to me. On a related note, Yukine’s tsundere act here is a little unnecessary. It adds nothing to the scene, especially since Yato didn’t even react to it. I think Yukine just ends up making himself look ridiculous.
• Again, the anime tells us that Yukine is extraordinarily powerful despite being new at this whole Regalia thing. Is there anything he’s bad at? It’s just that, so far, this makes for a bit of a flat, uninteresting character. We have to ask ourselves what Yukine’s potential means. Is it reflective of something meaningful about his character? Does he have great power because of a personality trait (this is represented as resolve in an anime like Kill la Kill) or as a result of an event in his past? For now, none of this seems to be the case. He’s just powerful because he’s powerful. Certainly, Noragami has time to rectify this, but until then, Yukine remains boringly static.
• Out of nowhere, Hiyori accuses our hero of being depraved. According to last week’s episode, it’s likely that she crush on him. So I wonder if she’s just retaliating because he called Nora a friend with benefits. I mean, honestly, what’s depraved about having ex-girlfriends and friends with benefits? This just makes Hiyori come off as rather prudish. Sure, a stable life is important for raising a child, but… uh, Yato isn’t raising a child. And it’s equally condescending and oblivious to call Yukine a perfectly good child that wouldn’t dare harbor any perverted thoughts.
• Oh yes, she is quite oblivious:
Yukine: Are you a rich girl or something?
Hiyori: Don’t be silly. I’m just an ordinary high schooler.
How often have I heard that before? Oh we’re not rich! We’re middle class just like everyone else! The middle class just happens to range from $30,000 to $300,000 a year!
• Maybe it’s just me, but Hiyori’s really coming off unlikeable in this episode. It seems like she’s stonewalling any attempts to reason with her. Anything she says or does is automatically right.
• It is rather nice to see an anime character actually have both of her parents not only alive — not only in her life — but functional as well. Hell, Hiyori’s parents look absolutely blissful to be in each other’s company, a far cry from what you might see in other series. Hm, they’re also rich, but maybe that’s just a coincidence.
• Somehow Yukine’s smell reminds Hiyori of Yato.
• Oh my god, Yukine is jealous of Nora: “It’s not like you need me.” Then he storms off like a dramatic, little bitch. What the hell am I watching?
• So to recap, Yato’s privy to Yukine’s thoughts, and if the latter ever gives into a temptation of any form, it causes pain in the former. It must suck to be a Regalia. You don’t exactly ask to be one, and not only that, you have no privacy either. I suppose this probably implies that a god’s relationship with his or her Regalia must remain strictly business. After all, wouldn’t it be considered temptation if, say, Yato and Nora are truly friends with benefits?
• According to Yato, the idea of right and wrong doesn’t apply to gods. They transcend ethics or something. That’s a little odd to me. Now, if you derive justice from the divine and the divine alone, then maybe you could perhaps argue Yato’s case here. But if you derive justice from reason, and seeing as how Yato’s a thinking entity regardless of the fact that he’s a god, it’d be silly to think that gods can transcend even that.
• I guess if Yukine ever goes too far, Yato won’t hesitate to kill him. After all, it’s rumored that he’s killed a Regalia before.
• Again, I really wish the Phantoms were actually imposing. This should’ve been a scary moment where we see the despairing spirit of a young girl get lured away into the dark. Unfortunately, the Phantoms are just too comical in their depiction, and this completely takes me out of the moment.
• Well, for what it’s worth, we revisit the idea that hope is not only powerful, but it keeps us from destroying ourselves. The spirit of the young girl has always managed to avoid the numerous Phantoms she comes across because she’s held onto her hope. Y’know what? The better word to use here is actually ‘faith.’ The young girl has always had faith in her mother. She has faith that her mother will pick her up one day. Obviously, the viewer knows that this will sadly never happen, but what the little girl believes isn’t, according to the anime, as important as what that belief can do for her. And as we can plainly see, faith protects us from corruption. When Yukine tells the girl that he doesn’t think her mother will ever come, this is when she loses her innocence.
We don’t explicitly see it, but I would venture a guess that, all of a sudden, she becomes acutely aware of her mortality or lack thereof. The little girl pretty much loses her bearings. Everything, from her sense of self-preservation to having any idea of right and wrong, goes flying out the window because she now realizes that she is no longer alive. And once those humanly concerns are gone, there is nothing left within her but a powerful yearning for her mother. And unfortunately, this powerful yearning needs to be quelled — fulfilled, even — at any cost. In her desperation, the spirit of the young girl allows herself to be tricked by the Phantoms into thinking that they can lead her to her mother.
She becomes corrupted as a result, a rather sad development. In the bigger picture, we have a story about gods struggling to remain relevant in the modern day, so it’s only fitting that the idea of faith holds so much importance in the narrative. We also can’t forget how this entire episode has been about Hiyori and Yukine’s lack of faith in Yato. They don’t believe he can take care of the latter, but it’s evident that Yukine could have turned out much like the spirit of the young girl without Yato’s protection.
• I don’t think any of us expected otherwise, but it’s worth nothing anyway that, according to Yato, the spirit of the young girl is beyond saving. She’s lost her sense of self as a result of her loss of faith.
• So what are we to make of this entire episode? What was the point in seeing Yukine spend a boring day or two with Hiyori? I mean, the characterization here is sort of weak, so what is Bones hoping to accomplish? I think an interesting contrast can be drawn. Although life with Yato is harsh, brutish and difficult, Yato gives Yukine a sense of purpose. Had he not become Yato’s Regalia, Yukine would’ve just been one of the many wayward spirits wandering the streets of Japan. Not only that, he stands the risk of corruption, either through temptation or at the hands of malevolent Phantoms. With Hiyori, Yukine obviously has a much more comfortable life, but it is also a life without meaning. As a result, he gets bored easily and his mind wanders more often. An idle mind then lends itself to temptation.
To put this all into perspective, a wayward spirit is a freeter. Work gives us meaning in life, and even though Yato is poor and destitute, he essentially gives Yukine a job. When we have nothing to do, that’s when we stand the risk of falling to our vices. Hiyori may have the best of intentions for Yukine, but she can’t exactly put him to work. Even though she can provide for kid — even though she can just buy him anything he wants like a skateboard — it doesn’t provide Yukine with that sense of accomplishment that he can find through work as Yato’s Regalia.