Episode Director: Shuuji Miyahara (Episode Director on Naruto episodes 53, 61, 69 and 77 / Episode Director on Bounen no Xamdou episode 7 / Episode Director on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood episodes 19, 40, 52 and 60 / Director on Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Third Ending Sequence)
Storyboards: Tomomi Mochizuki (Storyboard Writer on Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch episode 12 / Storyboard Writer on Log Horizon 2 episode 2 / Storyboard Writer on Gundam G no Reconguista episode 14)
Script: Deko Akai (Series Composition on Akagami no Shirayukihime / Script Writer on Yes! Precure 5 episodes 26, 32, 37 and 44)
Kaji Yuuki. Hoo boy I knew I recognized that voice. His work with Yukine especially with this episode is fairly low key. Not as aggressive like Arslan Senki‘s Silver Mask. I just hope Yukine, being a teenage boy won’t deliver angsty drama that this series doesn’t need.
Shinki are people that have already died, we know that much is given. Phantoms, as revealed here, attach themselves to humans harboring negative emotions. Shinki are the polar opposite of them in that they truly want to live. The first three episodes have barely touched the surface on these beings. Yato put it strongly when he says that if a human wants to commit suicide then so be it, it’s already been possessed and there is no use saving the soul whether its dead or alive.
Remember when he cured his hand last episode with simple medicinal techniques? In a sense I can see why they’ve made Hiyori into this spiritual guide to Yato. She may be the key to giving him the answers he’s pushed aside. She’ll give him the chance to grow up as a God. I really like how this translates back to Hiyori and her own situation. She’s caught up in both worlds trying to grasp all she can about her spiritual side from Yato but in all honestly, he doesn’t have a clue how to help her. It’s a balancing act with his character. Teetering between his outward appearance (untrustworthy and selfishness) and his humanistic desires of compassion that come up every now and then. This makes him a very likable character because he’s not predictable.
The introduction to Tenjin is a segue into this that captures Yato’s swaying attitude when it comes to saving others. Now that I think about it, the previous episode we saw him sleeping at a Tenjin shrine inevitably foreshadowing the God Tenjin’s appearance along with his collection of Shinki guised as Japanese Shinto maidens. Otherwise known as Miko (巫女). Tenjin is quite literally the deity of Sugawara no Michizane. One of the most well-respected and well-known Heian scholars and poetic figures in Japanese history! I like how composer Taku Iwasaki captures deification by adding in a Hichiriki (double reed Japanese flute) and the Tsuzumi ( a Japanese drum of Chinese and Indian origin) to his music. It’s culturally inviting of Shinto traditions and its amazing how Iwasaki modernizes it by dropping down a keyboard and a set of electronic beats as Tenjin appears.
The whole shrine scene is probably my favorite out of this episode because it shows right through Yato’s actions. Not to mention how Yato’s former Shinki, Tomone shows up as one of Tenjin’s shinki. All I can think of with this episode is “identity” and how individuality separates every one of us. The big clue to this is Yato describing the Far Shore’s effect on regular humans. Yato and Yukine aren’t noticed from afar and can only be taken in to the natural world when situations call for it like the restaurant scene. Certainly a unique way in exploring characterization and this identity motif. There were also a lot of other parts in this that highlight this point as well. Yato runs at the seat of his pants trying to earn money, Tomone refers to herself as Mayu and the most important: Tenjin notices that Hiyori is something not human, spirit or god. He even questions whether she should be involved in their fight with phantoms.
In Japanese, Hiyori means weather which is extremely crucial to the supernatural aspects of Noragami, I’m amazed how this series as a whole so far has invested so much time exploring the Shinto religion. For those that don’t know there are 3 types of Gods or Kami as they’re referred to in Japanese Shinto. The first is that gods can take form of certain weather events, landscape formations, water and even forests. With Noragami, the Shinki represent this first type. The second is this idea that gods are attributed to the presence of dead ancestors. Blood related or honored by a population . I don’t believe we’ve seen this yet in the show. The third and final type of Kami are souls of the dead. That are souls that are revered for their bravery, commitment and service. Perhaps a few of the phantoms represent this I guess I’ll see once I finish up with this first season. In a broader sense, Noragami places Shinto beliefs throughout with this idea of nature, harmony and balance. Tenjin phrased it precisely when he said “Disorder among people means disorder in the heavens”. Another piece of this has got to be that Yato is connected to Yukine’s thoughts and feelings whether those feelings are perverted or not.
This soundtrack is awesome. I’m enjoying this series a ton.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10