Oh my gosh, you guys, this volume was so good! ...That's the main thing I remember about it. I had a whole slew of things I was trying to keep in my head so I'd remember to include them in the review, but many of them have been filed away. So let's start at the beginning and see what I can remember.
First, Hiyori calls Yukine and is freaking out because of Yato's disappearing act. And she's so distraught, it's so sad! And Yukine is so calm and reliable, oh my goodness! I don't remember when it is he says he just feels like it's not really a big deal, but it's so weird that he thinks that, because he was the one that was freaking out so hard about the slightest possibility of Yato's dad dying. I guess being locked in that box changed his perspective some. He really seems to have grown. Yukine is the best.
So Yato's going off to defeat his father, but first, of course he needs a powerful shinki, so he goes up to the Frozen North and has a flashback! To when he was interviewed by Amaterasu about the whole business, and oh my goodness, you guys, I hated that scene so much. I mean, when we were in the moment doing the first draft, it was just kind of okay, here's the deal with the Heavens, they don't want humans to be able to come back from Yomi, whatever. But then they had to have that whole weirdo thing about... It was really more how Amaterasu said it than what she said. I don't even remember what it was anymore, just that it was ridiculously difficult to render in English. Something about musubu and musubu...creation and binding...and the concept of musuhi in Shinto, which, let me tell you, our online Shinto sources were not super helpful. I mean, the concept is easy enough to understand, but when you're trying to understand it in terms of "how can I make this a decent wordplay even remotely like the Japanese?" suddenly my brain can no longer process it. Let's move on from this sad topic.
Yato goes to see our good friend Bucky. I think we're sort of getting the hang of the hillbilly speech pattern, so it wasn't quite as time-consuming...as Takemikazuchi's scene later. Why are we so bad at fancy talk? We need to watch some high-falutin' British show, I think. We have Downton Abby on our Amazon queue, but no time... Anyway, we were pretty excited that Nana killed herself a bar, because Davy Crockett (known for killing hisself a bar when he was only three) also uses the hillbilly dialect, or at least he does in the Disney retelling (he is from Tennessee, though, which is where Granny Clampett is from). Unfortunately, we couldn't have them calling it a bar, because that would be super confusing, so we did add the E and use bear. And we'll just have to keep the amusement about bars to ourselves.
We also learn about how Bucky's organization works, and how all of his shinki are children, and he's got some child spirits living with the group that aren't shinki, too. And they all call him Pa, which is so sweet. It was sad to find out why there were so many child spirits hanging around, though. Also Shiiho was pretty cute, and I hope that he and Yukine do get to be friends. And of course, the reason Yato was there was because he, like Bishamon, wanted to use Nana to face the crafter. Dun dun DUN! Bucky didn't like this idea none, so he banished Yato from his realm. But next is the curious part--he sends Nana to keep an eye on Yato until he leaves. I think that was a pretty silly thing to do, since the surest way to make sure Nana isn't made into a stray by Yato is to do anything other than attaching her to him like that. Like, literally anything else. So my theory is that he was okay with the idea, but he wants to make sure nobody thinks he is, so when he got mad at Yato and threw him out, it was just an act (there were a lot of witnesses, and there's no telling where there might be a leak, so you have to make it convincing), but he sent Nana to keep an eye on Yato so if she decided she was okay with it, then Yato would be free to abscond with her.
But despite all his loserishness, Yato has too many scruples for that (although he does struggle with the idea for a hilarious second), and instead he grills her for information, and that's where he learns that there are shinki who don't obsess about their deaths, and those shinki can fight the crafter and Chiki, because they can remember their deaths and not go all ayakashi on anybody. And when Yato asked Nana why she didn't obsess over her death, she said it was because it was worse to see someone you care about die. The scene took on a whole new meaning for me, because I recently read the fifth omnibus for Alive, the series Adachitoka worked on with Tadashi Kawashima, who died of cancer around the time Alive ended. And when you look at it that way, and you consider Kazuma's rant later in the volume, and the crafter's whole hatred of the gods, it makes you wonder if this whole series came about as a way to process Kawashima-sensei's death.
So anyway, Yato's trying to figure out where to get a good shinki and then it occurs to him that of course his father is going to want to kill Bishamon and why the heck didn't they have anybody guarding her when she was lying unconscious in her mansion? So he panics and tries to get to Takama-ga-hara to warn them, but he can't because he doesn't have access to his shrine anymore, so he goes to her nearest shrine to see if anybody can help him, and oh my goodness, we had the hardest time trying to figure out which shrine this was. We knew he was still in the Frozen North, so we looked up a list of shrines to Bishamon, and fortunately Wikipedia had them all listed by region, and there were only three in the north, and only one that really seemed like a likely candidate. But most of the pictures of that shrine online were not of the exact building they were at, or if they were, it wasn't from an angle that we could say definitively that it was the same place. Fortunately, and I don't remember how, we found a blog post by someone who went there and took pictures of everything so we were able to match it up, and that's how we were able to write a translation note. Tadah!
Anyway, Yato runs into none other than Kazuma, the dude who was missing all through the previous volume, and (dun dun DUN!) he smells like blood. Meanwhile, we cut to a scene of Koto standing over Bishamon about to impale her. And he says, "See you next time, Bishamon!" and then he actually does impale her. And we're like, "What." and also a little like, "WHAT!?" And also a little like, "How can we render that so that it clearly implies that she's going to be replaced?" because he really just said "mata na," with emphasizers on the "mata," but Athena suggested "next time," and I was like, "Oh my gosh, that's perfect!" and there you have it. I was really happy with that translation, but it also made me wonder if we're on too much of a wavelength with that guy. He's so easy to translate!
Well, we actually took this volume to Disneyland to translate, and usually after a chapter, we'll get up and take a break, but this was too intense, and we were too determined to prove that what we saw happen had not actually happened. I mean, come on, Kazuma's not stupid enough to leave Bishamon unguarded, and yeah, maybe he disappeared, but surely Kuraha and Kinuha aren't that stupid, either. On the other hand, they did kill her before the commercial break (although I was looking at it from a weird angle, so my brain had an easier time choosing not to process that information), so there we were sitting by Casey, Jr., and I was yelling about how I refused to believe it.
Well, next we get a flashback of Koto's murderous act, and then Kazuma hears Bishamon call to him, and he runs over to her...and she's a child. And she asks, "Who are you?" and I'm like, "NO! It's not true! I refuse to believe it! This is a dream or something!" (And I actually did say this out loud.)
Then we go back to Koto killing her...and she turns into Kugaha! What! What kind of a trippy--!? on the one hand, and on the other, "AHA! I KNEW it! I knew Kazuma wasn't that stupid! HA!" So Kazuma had somehow enchanted Kugaha to look like Bishamon, and on top of that, he made it so that Kugaha's blood turned into a snake and attached itself to Chiki, and now he can find her. Dun dun DUN!
So we cut back to Kazuma, who is explaining all of this to Yato, and oh my goodness, Kazuma looks so derailed at this point. He's just so...I don't even know. Like you can tell something is broken. And he's talking a lot like Koto...I mean, not in the fun way that makes Koto so easy to translate, but in the "I hate the gods, I love only Veena, I'll do whatever I have to to get what I want and I no longer have any scruples" sort of way. ...But you know, come to think of it, Koto did give us a fair amount of trouble in this volume, because of the flashback to when he told Yato his "true identity" or whatever that was supposed to mean. He's an "arazaru mono," which means "thing that isn't." And we had a heck of a time trying to choose a good word for that. We were like, "Well, the obvious choice is 'nobody,' like in Kingdom Hearts," but that didn't fit in the context because he said he and an ayakashi were both "things that aren't," and since the ayakashi wasn't humanoid, it just seemed off. Not that I don't love animals, of course. It's a linguistic thing. Or something.
Anyway, the point is Kazuma is ready to be a stray, and he wants Yato to do the honors, even knowing full well that killing Yato's father will end up with Yato's death...which, Athena points out for the first time, means that Yato wouldn't be able to revoke the name (unless Yato got replaced, but we're pretty sure Kazuma wasn't really convinced that would happen...especially considering...wait...I'm going to have to get back to this subject), which means he would be a stray for all eternity. That's some pretty intense devotion. The interesting thing, to me, about it, is that Kazuma lays all the cards out on the table and say he will be a stray to go kill the crafter, and he thinks, somehow, that even though it will very likely result in his ceased existence, Yato will be willing to do that. I think that even Kazuma doesn't realize how much he really does trust Yato.
Meanwhile, Yukine's back in Tokyo trying to find Yato when who should appear but the stray. Koto has abandoned her as a liability, and we're all so surprised, I'm sure. It's really really tragic for her, but very in keeping with Koto's character, the stupid jerkface. And this is where I actually start to think that maybe she and Yukine could be a cute couple after all. We can be pretty sure she's not playing him anymore, so it's less irksome to see him falling for her.
So we cut back to Yato and he's doing the naming incantation! Oh my goodness, I'm so excited! I mean, I get that being a stray has a lot of connotations that are super bad, and there's even some comparing it to cheating on a spouse, which really seems like a fair comparison when you think about how...well, when a god names a shinki, that shinki's whole life flashes before their eyes, so it seems like a pretty intimate thing, even if the shinki has no idea it happened. But I can't be the only one who was curious to see what kind of a shinki Kazuma would make for Yato, can I?
And then the vessel turns out to be a pair of dollar store scissors, and Yato's all, "Yeah, I don't think this is going to work," and I'm looking at this new shinki, and I'm like, "Did Kazuma get a haircut? Because he looks kind of different..." And then it turned out not to be Kazuma, and I was like, "Oh, Adachitoka! You're such trickers!" (Athena reminds me that we looked up some Japanese fan reactions to this chapter (sometimes it helps us make sure we're understanding sentence correctly), someone pointed out that dollar store scissors can be pretty good.)
But the point is, Yato didn't want to make Kazuma his shinki, because they were friends and he knew how intimate that whole thing could be and he didn't want to make things weird. And I was so insensitive about it, because I was with Kazuma. "Come on! You know he'll be a good one!" But meanwhile, Hiyori has decide to look for Yato herself, and her nose has actually led her all the way to Sendai to find him. (Side note: soon after we translated this volume, a Facebook friend tagged us so we could see a video of a bunch of missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doing a flashmob performance of the 3/11 memorial song in the very mall that Yato and Kazuma spend most of their time in in these two chapters.) But before she can get to him, Kazuma intercepts her! And oh my goodness, all of Kazuma's monologues in this volume. I'm not sure if "raw" is an accurate way to describe it, but they're definitely emotional.
So here's the thing. He talks to Hiyori and tells her that being in love with a god is basically the worst thing ever, something he knows from experience. And he curses her (we don't know if it's a legit curse curse, like something he learned from Iwami, or if it's more of a metaphorical curse at this point, but he did point his phelanges at her) so that not only will she realize that she has been crushing on him [Yato] all along, but she, like him [Kazuma], will never be satisfied with their relationship. And this goes back to what we were saying about Yato ceasing to exist and Kazuma being a stray forever. It's possible that he deliberately planted this seed in Hiyori's mind so that she would never forget Yato, thereby ensuring Yato's survival. On the one hand, he seems a little too loopy to think that far in advance, but on the other hand, if he's "crazy like a crafter," it would super be in character. But we still don't have any idea what he meant about protecting Yato from disaster.
Well, back in town, there's a convenient ayakashi attack, and after we first translated it, I was like, "Wow, that's convenient for Kazuma that the ayakashi happen to attack like this," but it's already an established fact in this series that ayakashi are attracted to gods that don't have shinki to defend themselves with, and to spirits who haven't been made into shinki (or ayakashi), and there happened to be some of those hanging around. So Yato's trying to fight off the ayakashi, and he can't, and Kazuma shows up, and Yato's all, "Oh good, someone who has powers to fight with! Use your borderline!" And then it gets to be a game of chicken, because Kazuma's all, "Nope. If you want my help, you have to make me your shinki." And the look he gave Yato...was actually pretty Yukine, like a sulky teenager, and it was hilarious. And I was also like, "YES!!!!" Because I am a sadist.
So Kazuma gets his wish and now Kazuma has a new name, Kazune. And I have to tell you, I think it is so brilliant that the kazu in Kazune has the same radicals that make up the ma in Kazuma, because basically it means that the name Yato gave Kazuma was Kazuma, and like Yato says later, Kazuma will always be Kazuma. But there's another thing about this kanji that I think is fascinating, although I might just be overthinking things (or being overly optimistic). I might have mentioned in our review for the last volume that somehow I got this crazy theory (because they pointed out that the death of a god is really only the death of their memories) that maybe somehow they would figure out a way to bring those memories back, and then we could have Uncle Ebi back, as well as a nice dramatic death scene for Yato and more chances to see a super cute child version of him. So I was super optimistic about that when I saw the kanji for Kazune, because it looks a lot like the reki in rekishi, which means history. See where that's going?
Well, unfortunately, when we actually looked up the kanji, it didn't mean history, it just meant calendar. I couldn't really figure out a way to reconcile that with connecting memories...until I remembered that Hiyori's diary is her calendar!! Ha ha! And Adachitoka made sure to give us ample reminder of that fact in the next chapter. Adachitoka also reminded us a few times that Kazuma's name from Bishamon, which means "omen," helps him to see and understand omens. I'm not sure if that came across as obviously in the English version. We did check to see if we'd ever given the translation of that name, and Bishamon mentions it in a flashback somewhere, so we used the same word, but the reader would have to remember that that word was used in connection with his name, and it was back in volume five or something. I think we mentioned it in the note about Kazune, though. But the point is, if the omen Kazu gives him power to see and understand omens, then maybe the calendar Kazu will give him power related to calendars somehow? Also, I wonder if this means Yukine might have some snow-related powers. I mean, the chapter where he shows up is "Like Snow," so I do think there's a lot of significance to that. But only time will tell about any of this.
The next chapter is devoted to how much of an emotional ordeal the whole thing is. Oh, it was so sad, with Yato feeling bad about betraying Yukine and Kazuma drinking himself into a coma over betraying Bishamon. I'm pretty sure this is one of those things where you can be dead set that that's what you want to do, and if you're that sure about it, you can do it without feeling the need to undo it, but it's not until after you do it that you realize how badly it's going to affect you. And the super tragic thing about it is that if Yato knew that the crafter didn't have Chiki anymore, it may be that nobody needed to betray anybody! I mean, wouldn't Yato of all people know that if Kazuma put an alarm on the stray, Koto would drop her like a hot potato? Maybe Yato doesn't know that the alarm would be clearly visible to both Koto and the stray.
And speaking of such things! Oh my goodness, when they start tracking the stray. They're going to find her hanging out with Yukine, and I can't even imagine the kind of drama that will ensue. Yukine betrayed Yato by taking in the stray, Yato betrayed Yukine by making Kazuma a stray, Kazuma and the stray have snakes on their arms that want to eat each other... Oh my goodness.
I wanted to talk about Kazuma's portrayal here. The whole time, we were always noticing his shirt and its level of dishevelment. When he first showed up, it was clearly unbuttoned on top, and of course his tie was gone. While he was talking to Yato in this chapter, at some point we noticed it was fully buttoned again, and that was also where we were like, "I was sure I saw him wearing a tie somewhere..." So that's when we decided to go back and track the progress of Kazuma's wardrobe. He was basically tie-less throughout the whole volume, except! in the flashback with Iwami. And can we talk about that for a second? Wow, when Kazuma wants to manipulate people, he can manipulate people. I mean, we always knew he could be super evil if he really tried, but wow.
Of course, we looked for when he buttoned his shirt back up, and now that's one of my favorite scenes. ...Or one of my favorite pictures of Kazuma, because I don't remember exactly at what point it happened. He was talking to Yato, probably about the whole new shinki gig, with the new name and how did you like Rekki and all that. There's one panel where he puts his hand up to his collar, and you can tell from the context it's because he's thinking about the new name that just appeared right where we can see it through his unbuttoned shirt. From then on, his shirt is fully buttoned, and you know it's because he's ashamed of this new name. Oohhh, poor Kazuma. Athena just pulled up the page where Yato thanks Rekki for saving them, and you can see a very subtle blight on each of them, and the attention to detail in this series is so amazing, I love it so much. Also, I should talk about Rekki and oh my goodness what an awesome shinki. It's like not even fair.
So we learn about Kazuma's past, and it just seems so very Kazuma. When we found out his name was Kiyotsugu, we were like, "Yeah, that sounds about right." I seem to remember feeling the same way about Tsuguha and Yui, but Yui might have been more because the kanji for Yui had to do with clothes, and she's clothes as a shinki, so... It makes me that much more eager to learn what Yukine's mortal name was. Yato's little narration about Kazuma's past was also a segue into how Yukine died, and we finally learn the truth! ...that we had been suspecting for several volumes now. I mean, we may not have been suspecting it so much if they hadn't added a line in Aragoto about Yukine having problems with his father in life. It kind of makes me angry that they added that line...actually I was angry about it long before this volume. Like, what purpose does that serve, to give it away that much sooner? But anyway, that revelation about Yukine segues into a little imagined scene about Yukine with a new Yato, and that was pretty cute. It was also cute to see Yato commenting on Kazuma's underage drinking.
So let's go back to Yukine and the stray. First, actually, I wanted to mention the Russian roulette onigiri, because it was just so brilliantly done. First, it was great that Kofuku made them, but she was the first one to get a bad one. And the bad one was just wasabi, which seemed so utterly normal, but then Daikoku got one with a chocolate bar, and it escalated from there, and it was great. I'll be honest and say I hoped the stray would get a bad one, but I guess it's okay that she didn't. Now that she's being less evil, it's definitely a lot easier to sympathize with her. And the way she was playing with all the things at Kofuku's house, and how it reminds you that she is just a little girl, and she never really got a chance to play with toys like a little girl would. The connection between becoming a shinki and having sex was made when Yato and Kazuma were discussing their new relationship, so now that we have the stray revealing that she wanted those names because she felt like something was missing... I feel like you hear a lot about people sleeping around because they're trying to find fulfillment, but they never find it because that's not how you get it. And I think that's what was going on with the stray. And now she's going to find real love and acceptance with Yukine, awwwwwww!!!
I will say, though, that the thing that endeared her to me most was when Yukine gave her his Capyper hoodie. That scene was great, because he's all, "I promise it's just out of the kindness of my heart!" and then his reaction to her wearing it made me go, "Suuuure it is." Oh, but I do love Yukine. I thought it was so cute when he was like, "You can teach me history!" I have to tell you, I love people who want to learn stuff. But of course the stray tells him to promise not to, and she has good reason to--she of all people knows the dangers of shinki learning about their past--but we're pretty sure Yukine will be fine. I mean, doesn't it occur to anyone that the reason the blessed vessels get that way is the same thing that makes them immune to Chiki? Well, maybe it's not, but I think it is.
Oh, and Hiyori! Now she's finally made to realize that she loves Yato, and Tenjin says you have to forget about him whether you live or die, and she's like, "Then what was the point of any of this?" and then the volume is over! Aaaaaahhhh!! Oh!! And it was so cute when Yato told passed-out Kazuma that he had a crush too! We were like, "Nooooooo. Really?" I think everybody in the whole series is well aware of Yato's crush on Hiyori. Oh! And Hiyori thinking of Yato's good traits! Bwa ha ha ha! You have to read it, you guys. It's great.
The Atrocious Manga at the end was great, too. The first one seemed like not much, but it just kept escalating, and it got better and better. The ending was great, but the best was when Kazuma mentioned how kind it was of Yato to call him Kazuma instead of Kazune, and Yato was like, "Megane would have been funnier." It's so stupid, but we cracked up so hard. And the best part about the whole thing is that earlier volumes have proven that everything that happens in the Atrocious Manga is still canon, so you know they're going to finish that manuscript in time for Comiket.
...Speaking of Kazune. There was a Kazune in another manga we translated that also was heavily based on mythology. And in the anime of that series, he was played by Miyuki Sawashiro, who plays Bishamon! Tadah! It comes full circle. But it does make me wonder if there's some significance to that name that we're missing...
Oh my gosh, what a great series. I love it so much. I'm so glad we got to post this review today. It's also a good reminder to pull out the Stray Stories pamphlet lyschan was so kind to obtain for us. Oh how I love this series.
And I have more exciting news! We have two new releases this week! Fire Force 16 and the Sailor Moon Eternal Edition 5! Aaaaaahhhh!!! Check 'em out, guys!
And tune in next week for our review of Hatsu*Haru 7, which we'll hopefully remember to post before we leave for Anime Expo!
Today I'm thankful for getting to post a new Noragami review, having a lovely time at the temple, having a lovely time at lunch afterward, finishing our work quota today, and also having time to watch lots of Miraculous.