Noragami Ep. 9: Penance

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I approve of Yukine’s daring, new look! How chic!

Episode summary: In order to cleanse Yato’s blight, three Regalias must perform an ablution, a ritual where the corrupted Regalia — in this case, Yukine — must confess to and be punished for his crimes. At first, Yukine resists, but he eventually gives in and avoids becoming a Phantom. Everyone gets all teary at the end of the episode.

Notes:

• Not even a cold opening this week, so you know the situation’s dire.

So this is what we’ve come to:

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Yukine literally sees Yato writhing in pain on the ground, and yet the kid still has nothing but bitter contempt for his master. Honestly, he is a caricature by this point, but I suppose we crossed that threshold long ago when we learned that he actually had the nerve to steal a donation box for disaster relief. It’s just such a pity. This entire arc could’ve been condensed into a couple of tight, well-composed episodes, and in doing so, perhaps we would’ve avoided this tragic game of one-upmanship. Basically, because this whole “Yukine is a spoiled brat” storyline took so long to play itself out, the narrative had to consistently one-up Yukine’s transgressions to keep us gasping. Oh, the kid stole a skateboard? Well, now he’s going to steal a donation box! Oh, he can’t stand being around Yato? Well, now he’s going to look at his dying master with burning hatred and contempt! But the problem is that Yukine’s a kid, so even though the story keeps trying to one-up his transgressions, he can’t actually commit a serious crime. He just does petty thug stuff, but you can’t keep one-upping petty thug stuff forever, y’know? If you take the serious approach, the logical endpoint of one-upping petty thug stuff is that it stops being petty at some point. Since the story doesn’t want us to completely hate Yukine, however, the one-upmanship forces the story to abandon its seriousness in order to keep itself going. As a result, Yukine ends up stealing a donation box.

• The situation might be dire, but it doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves to a little fanservice! Way to go, Noragami:

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Mmm-hmm, a sexy, blighted shoujo sure does lend a legitimacy to our current state of affairs. Better throw in a full-bodied side view for good measure.

• Mayu is willing to help Yato, but an ablution apparently takes three Regalias to get the job done. Why? Probably just for story reasons. But lemme guess… since Tenjin’s other Regalias are too frightened by the circumstances to volunteer, Daikoku’s going to have ask one of Bishamon’s Regalias to aid in this ritual that we’ll no doubt get to see. It’ll most likely be Kazuma too since the guy claims to owe a debt to Yato, but it might be interesting if Kazuma lends a hand with neither Bishamon’s knowledge nor her blessing.

• We then see Daikoku beg for help at several different other shrines, shrines that presumably belong to various different other gods that we just don’t get to see. Kinda disappointing, honestly. I’m curious who those other gods are and what they actually look like.

• Tenjin: “You must slay Yukine, Yato!” Remember how Yato’s notorious for having killed a Regalia in the past and this is why Hiyori was advised to be extra careful around him? I wonder if it’ll be suddenly revealed that in the past, a colder, more brutal Yato had no qualms about punishing a former Regalia, but because the incident was so traumatic, this explains why he’s been way too lax with Yukine.

• Whoops, my bad. It isn’t Daikoku who goes to ask Bishamon for help, but Hiyori. But I was right about one thing: he’s not aiding in the ablution with Bishamon’s blessing whatsoever. I can smell drama on the horizon~

• I really wish anime would stop with this whole “Lemme cover up your mouth real quick from behind to get your attention!” nonsense:

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Yes, I know Kazuma wants Hiyori to shut up lest she draws Bishamon’s attention and thus incurs the goddess’s wrath, but put yourself in that situation. If someone had grabbed your shoulder firmly instead, you’d still shut your mouth up real quick, right? Or would you continue screaming away like an idiot? C’mon, we all know the first answer is the right one, so grabbing Hiyori by her mouth as you can see in the screenshot above is completely unnecessary, and to be quite frank, just a tad bit rapey.

• Let’s just have Yukine one-up himself once more for good measure. He tries to leave the premises despite Daikoku’s claims that he’ll kill the kid if he does. I guess Yukine’s a wannabe badass now or something, and he doesn’t believe other Regalias has the guts to kill him if need be. I mean, how else would you explain the kid’s flippant behavior toward a death threat?

• It turns out Yukine’s behavior has been so bad that the kid now stands the risk of becoming a Phantom himself. The high-pitched squealing from the Phantom is kind of undermining the gravity of the scene though. Oh no, Yato’s about to die and we need to perform this ablution now! And… we have neon eyeballs squealing away as if it’s little kid’s toy. Okay then…

• Kofuku: “As former humans, only Regalias can judge the sins of other Regalias.” Well, that’s nice. At least we have a proper court of law in the spirit world. The problem is that Yukine should’ve been disciplined by either Yato or Hiyori a long time ago, but they allowed the situation to fester to the point that the kid now requires a “beating” from other Regalias. The implicit message here, however, might be a tad bit problematic though. It’s certainly expected in Asian cultures to rely upon corporal punishment to keep unruly kids in line, but many studies have shown that this sort of discipline has no longterm benefits for the child. But regardless of how the rest of us choose to divide ourselves up on either side of this contentious issue, I must admit that Noragami is merely being consistent with the culture it chooses to reflect: “Culturally, many people in the region believe a certain amount of corporal punishment for their own children is appropriate and necessary, and thus such practice is accepted by society as a whole.” My own anecdotal experiences would back that up.

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• The simpler message is that Yato and Hiyori make for some bad parents.

• I guess Yukine’s biggest sin is that he covets. On the plus side, at least there’s no head in a box this time.

• We first see a montage of Yukine acting out, but there’s nothing new there. It’s stuff we’ve seen already from previous episodes, e.g. vandalizing the school, stealing a skateboard, etc. When Yato then goes, “I need to say his name…” we then get treated to a montage that is, I think, supposed to show Yukine in a better light. Why? So the audience can say, “Yeah, this kid’s life is worth saving!” The whole thing just strikes me as funny though, because it certainly feels like the story is having trouble digging up any scene of Yukine that really shows him in a good light. At his best, the kid was only neutral.

• To be honest, Yukine’s transgressions aren’t serious enough. Would you really become a life-threatening Phantom just because you stole a skateboard and smashed a few windows? Shouldn’t the kid have to commit murder or something grave like that to warrant such a fate? Well, he did admit to trying to molest Hiyori… but whatever, I just can’t see sentencing a kid to death because he lacks remorse for committing the crimes of a petty thug. The story could’ve come up with something a little less moustache-twirlingly evil than stealing a donation box, but at the same time, Yukine’s list of transgressions aren’t quite serious enough as a whole to make me think he’s some super corrupted Regalia that needs to be put down like Tenjin had exclaimed earlier in the episode. It’s like this… you put down your dog if it has rabies, because it is now a threat to everyone around it. You don’t put a dog down, however, just because it shit on the carpet while smirking at you, y’know? This is how I kinda feel about it. The donation box thing would be like the dog mocking me by shitting on a carpet. I’d give the dog up, but I wouldn’t kill it.

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• Oh well, all’s well that ends well.

• This guy, though:

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He’s just going to have to ruin things for our heroes. So are we finally onto the final conflict of the series now? Or is this a two-cour series?

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17 thoughts on “Noragami Ep. 9: Penance

  1. Artemis

    It’s certainly no surprise that Yato and Hiyori make bad parents – the former being little more than a child herself (only one year older than Yukine, I believe) and the latter being a none-too-sensitive war god.

    Incidentally, I was actually quite impressed with how little fanservice we were given in this episode. Granted, I expect the shower scene could have been skipped entirely, but I didn’t feel as though the camera was lingering excessively on Hiyori; what we did get seemed fairly inoffensive and even rather tasteful to me.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      what we did get seemed fairly inoffensive and even rather tasteful to me.

      Disagree. Since it’s not as though her breasts were blighted or anything, could’ve just shown her from the back. I certainly felt what we got was gratuitous. She’s still in high school, after all.

      Reply
      1. Artemis

        They could have shown her from the back, certainly, but I wonder if that wouldn’t have felt just as gratuitous? It’s like it would have been objectifying her more, since then you wouldn’t have seen her face – in which case it’s more of a body than an actual person.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Showing the back of one of the show’s main characters for a split second would’ve objectified her more than what we got, which was both a close-up of her shiny cleavage and a full-bodied profile shot where we can see the curves of her breasts and ass crack? If you say so… Clearly, we’re not going to agree on this so whatever, I’m done with this topic.

        2. Artemis

          Agreeing to disagree is fine with me, and if you’d rather not argue the point then I’m quite happy to drop the topic. However, I don’t think there’s any reason to be rude about it.

        3. E Minor Post author

          I actually bit my tongue on a topic that I feel rather passionate about. But alright, I’ll make a mental note not to reply next time.

  2. mangotoanime

    The amoral gods Yato and Kofuku get away with murder and driving people into suicide. And Yukine becomes a monster because he’s lonely and stole some pocket-change. This show is so unfair.

    Reply
    1. Naota

      This has bothered me pretty much the whole time. There’s no objective measure by which someone is blighted by “bad deeds”, or any frame of moral reference towards what entails “badness”. Is there some external code of laws or beliefs that when violated blights these spirits, or is it merely subjective, and they in fact blight themselves through guilt at actions they perceive as wrong?

      Only the former really makes sense, but then that means that a sociopathic Regalia could basically do any number of horrible things and never worry about being blighted. Is this how Nora operates?

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        There’s no objective measure by which someone is blighted by “bad deeds”, or any frame of moral reference towards what entails “badness”.

        In the show’s fifth episode, Yato pretty much said the idea of right and wrong doesn’t apply to gods. So if the Regalia do bad things, they blight their masters, but their masters can pretty do whatever they want. I know it’s stupid, but that’s what the anime said.

        Reply
  3. ChaosCallMe

    Every time I touch someone’s shoulder from behind to get their attention, they scream bloody murder. Apparently I move like a ninja, and apparently most of my friends (yes, they’re often female) are too high-strung. Maybe I should try clasping their mouths instead, but I’d be afraid I’d end up being an article on this blog. Hmmm… I guess I’ll just hold up cookies behind them. That way they smell the aroma and they slowly realize someone is bearing gifts behind them, causing them to calmly turn around and not get freaked out. CRISIS AVERTED!

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well maybe next time Kazuma could just put a finger to her lips instead of completely palming it.

      Reply
  4. ChaosCallMe

    And wtf on that shower scene? Something about that (besides the obious sleaze) looks really weird. The coloring and the composition just looks… off. Jarring. And does she really have to play with the showerhead like that? Phallic symbols never fail to protrude from the anals of anime. A shame, really. Anime has great potential as an art form, but 96% of the time it gets ruined by misogyny, perversion, dumb use of male characters, and RANDUMB LOL HUMOR ROFL

    Reply

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