Over Analyzing Anime: Noragami

oaa noragami

Hopewell Valley Student Podcasting Network 

Show Name:  Over-Analyzing Anime: 

Episode Title:  Noragami

Episode #2

 Hello everybody! And welcome to fifteen minutes of time killing. You are listening Over-Analyzing Anime the podcast with your host and anime enjoyer, who can’t call themselves a connoisseur for having never watched Berserk, Hannah Pietras  

In this episode of Over-Analyzing Anime the Podcast we will discuss: the themes and symbolisms within the anime Noragami. 

Segment 1: What’s it about? 

In times of dire, sometimes you’ll see a strange phone number scrawled in red. And should the desperate choose to call,  the Yato-god will answer, ready for your wish to be heard- for the cheap price of five yen, of course. 

Yato dreams of being a “God of Fortune ” and having one million worshipers, but without a shrine, he’s practically unknown- a god without a name. He spends his days as a “self proclaimed delivery god”, doing odd jobs here and there and executing “ayakashi ”, malevolent spirits that feed off of darkness and corrupt the good in human’s hearts. But after his shinki- human souls that when gifted a name by a god, can transform into weapons- gets fed up with Yato’s compulsive behavior and sleeping on the steps of another, more famous gods shrine in the cold at night, quits, Yato finds himself unarmed, and must find a new shinki before ayakashi come prowling. 

But just as things seem grim for the delivery god, fortune comes his way in the form of  middle schooler, Hiyori Iki, a young girl with the ability to see phantoms and spirits, who “supposedly”saves Yato from being hit by a truck, taking the blow for him. Hiyori miraculously survives, but finds that her soul has been shaken loose, allowing her to leave her body as a half ayakashi. Yato charges her five yen to change back, but is unable to fix her condition unless he finds a new shinki. Hiyori agrees to help him, and things finally seem to be looking up for the minor god. 

Segment 2:  Inspiration

Bishamon, also called Bishamonten: is a japanese war god who is a member of the Shichi-fuku-jin(The Seven Gods of Luck, a collective group of deities from India, Japan, and China respectively who bless their worshippers with good luck and fortune all year. This includes the warrior Hindu-Buddhist deity Daikokuten(who in Japan is transformed into a god of Wealth and prosperity. His virtue is fortune),Benzaiten(Hindu goddess of water, who in Japan is the Goddess of Arts and Knowledge. Her virtue is Joy,) Fukurokuju(brought from China’s Taoist-Buddhist religion and the God of Wealth, Happiness,and Longevity whose virtue is longevity. Hotei, god of Happiness and Abundance, and who was apparently based on the Chinese merchant Budaishi who virtue is Happiness, and Jirojin, god of Wisdom and virtue of Wisdom). He is identified with the Four Heavenly Kings, and is the Buddhist guardian of the north and the leader of Yaksha(a broad class of nature spirits connected with water, fertility, trees, the forest, treasure and the wilderness with a broad range of characteristics),  known Vaisravana or Píshāméntiān in China. Vaiszravana is also associated with the The Twenty Devas, a group , Buddhist dharmapala(defenders of religious law) who protect  the Dharma, the Buddhist doctrine which is the universal truth common to all individuals at one time, and is used to represent how everything in the world is connected, as proclaimed by Buddha. Kubera in Hinduism, king of the Yakshas, and god of wealth who is correlated with earth, mountains, all treasures such as minerals and jewels that lie underground, and riches in general.   Bishamon is always displayed as decked in full armor,standing over one or two demons(symbolizing the defeat over evil), and carrying a spear and miniature pagoda( a hindu or Buddhist temple or sacred building, typically a many tiered tower) He his the guardian of the righteous and is the Buddhist patron of warriors, as well as the defense against evil. He is the lord of wealth and treasure, and also one of the Shitenno- a group of four gods who protect the four cardinal directions(the dragon,.  His virtue is dignity. 

Shinki: The name of the vessel is in Chinese, while the name of the Shinki is Japanese. 

Binbougami(in the shinto religion, kami is multie-spanning term in that it includes gods, spirits, deified mortals,ancestors, natural phenomena, and supernatural powers. Kami have power over people’s everyday lives and are thus worshiped, given offerings, seeked help from, and impetus for their skills in divination. Kami’s are associated with nature and known nationally, but a lot of kami’s are localized to small rural communities, and each family has its own ancestral kami, because within the religion, when people die, they become kami.  Kami transcends the cognitive ability of humans. Truth manifests itself through observation of the world around you and undergoes transformation in infinite varieties in time and space.The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered one of the most important kami)  : A god or a kami who inhabits a human being or his house to bring misery and poverty. Generally, Binogami appears as a skinny, dirty old man, who employs both uchiwa(a handheld fan) and kendama(a traditional japanese toy. It consists of a handle(ken) and a pair of cups(sarado) and a ball(tama) that are all connected together by a string) in his hands and wears one broken geta(traditional japanese sandals) on his foot. As a kami, Binbougami cannot be killed, but a story in the Niigata Prefecture states that you when you light an irori- a traditional japanese sunken hearth fired with charcoal- on omisoka- the japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year, traditionally celebrated on the final day of the twelfth lunar month- it will ward away Binbougami and attract fuku no kami(the kami of good luck) . It is also said that the hospitality of the inhabitants will turn Binbougami into fuku no kami. 

Ebisu: the patron of fisherman and tradesmen. He is portrayed as a fat, bearded, smiling fisherman, most of the time carrying a rod in one hand and a tai(sea bream-a red snapper- a symbol of good luck)and wearing court clothes or hunting clothes. He is a popular Shinto deity with those in the food industry(the indigenous religious beliefs and practices in Japan and which literally translates as the “the way of the kami), and the only deity native to Japan. Some Shinto shrines Ebisu is correlated with Hiru-ko(generally translated to leech child) who is the son of the creator couple Izanami and Izanagi, who discarded him for having no bones by setting him adrift in a reed boat. Ebisu is also sometimes affiliated with Koto-shiro-nushi(“Sign Master”) , a son of the mythological hero Okuninushi and is analogous with happiness because of the role he once played as pacifier in a quarrel between earthly and heavenly realms.  His virtue is honesty. 

Segment 3:  Symbols and Themes

The main themes of Noragami are connected to the writings of Shintoism. 

Noragami obviously draws heavy inspiration from both Shintoism and Buddhism with the selection of gods plucked from both major religions in Japan portrayed, but is also referenced in its main attributes. In Shinto there is no absolute right or wrong(unlike a majority of monothesistic religions which have specific commandments) and nobody is perfect. Shinto places humans on the definite side of good and states that it’s human nature to do good and that any evil done in the world has its roots in evil spirits. Shinto rituals are performed to keep away evil spirits by purification, prayers, and offering to kami. 

Obvious parallels to Noragami in that ayakashi amplify humanity’s darkest nature and they must be killed by a god to purify the afflicted. Kami likeYato take an offering(a five yen coin)  while kami like Bishamon are invocated to defeat Ayakashi by the will of humans-  she will continue to be reborn as long as humans wish for it- and a gods and heaven’s power grows during time of conflict and strife with the help of prayer. This is also best exemplified in Ebisu, who desired to make the world a better place by using the masks(and then later seeking the Word, brushes ingrained with Izanami’s spirit that can be used to control ayakashi like puppets and name them as if they were Shinki). 

Shinto is most readily observed in the social life of the Japanese people, their way of thinking and acting and their values rather than in some official doctrine. 

 Buddhism-Shinto Amalgamation.Emphasis of Makoto no kokoro(heart of truth) and magokoro(true heart). Sincere attitude of people doing their best work or in their relationship with others, and the ultimate wellspring of life is in one’s awareness of the divine.  Magokoro constitutes a productive life, in order to achieve communion with Kami. But this sacred nature rarely reveals itself,and purification symbolically removes the dust from someone’s mind and impurities that cover one’s inner mind. Yuki being unable to accept his death(taking money from an old man for fixing his tires even though Yato only charges about five yen, pickpocketing a watch when he realizes that as a ghost, most people have trouble seeing him unless he calls himself to attention because they’re on the threshold of Nirvana and then will be easily forgotten afterwards,  and blighting his master,,therefore causing Yukine to need an ablution and admit to his sins. Yuki uses his power as Yato’s guide to make Yato a better person and god of fortune.

In Shinto, kami’s will is said to produce a mystical power that gains protection, cooperation, and approval of all other Kami. Bishamon and Yato being at odds with one another, but every god that has a shrine being forced to pledge allegiance to Heaven in order to prevent dissent.  

Humans keep growing and developing. Shinto adheres to a cyclical approach, in which there is a constant recurrence of historical patterns. Bishamon knows that only humans can cultivate and becomes sad that they´re only playing house with the new ha clan because a god is unable to love and must obey their nature. 

Another theme is coping with abuse and recovering by surrounding yourself with people who care for you. This is best displayed in Yato, who was born from the wish of “His Father”, who hates Heaven and feels that it’s an insult for Heaven to wear a human face if they’re just gonna act like the mountains and rivers and sit back and allow people to suffer. He made Yato “cull the heard”- murder innocent people in order to weaken Heaven’s power from the lack of prayer- and even made Yato tell the Gods Greatest Secret(their Shinki’s name before died- causing Sakura, the first person to ever trully care for him and who was teaching Yato to be a better person, to become an ayakashi. Father would even sick his own masked ayakashi on him. But after meeting Yukine and Hiyori, Yato is able to gain the courage to release Nora(and separate himself from Father’s influence)  and kill Father- even though he was afraid that if Father died he’d also disappear. 

Music Credits:   List the artist and song name

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In this episode, I will review the themes and symbolisms within the anime Noragami.

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