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Alethea & Athena
Noragami volume 13 
27th-Apr-2016 10:26 am
We're updating a little early today, because our schedule is weird! We're going to visit our friend and new ward member today to help with some lessons from the missionaries, and at some unspecified time, Gaston will be coming for a trip to Disneyland tomorrow. We should have known he was going to call yesterday, what with all the new deadlines added to our schedule. Anyway, in addition to wanting to go to the Food & Wine Festival one more time before the month was up (which we wanted to do, as well, so it's good that he called because we wouldn't have been up to walking there this week), Gaston remembered that our birthday is coming up, so there was talk of this being a kind of birthday thing. Not quite sure how that's going to go.

Also, we're still on Book Watch, so we're kind of in limbo as far as what we should be working on today, and when that happens, the (probably incorrect) answer is escapism.

But anyway, we can't miss Review Rednesday, especially on a week when we're set to review Noragami! (By the way, we're also pretty excited that a new volume of Missions of Love came out this week! I think we did that translation over a year ago.) So without further ado, here's the review! Spoiler level: high.

Noragami 13. Wow, this volume was intense. It was so intense and so fast that it almost feels like I dreamed the whole thing. But first, a very important detail must be addressed: is that a hidden Mickey in Yato's hair on the cover? Speaking of the cover, Yato looks oddly young. In fact, through the whole volume--at least in the flashbacks--Yato seemed to fluctuate in age. I guess that kind of thing can happen with a god, or it was unintentional.

Anyway, this volume did go in a different direction than we were expecting. After all the stuff with Sakura in the previous volume, we were pretty sure it would start heading for Yukine backstory land, but Hiyori and Koto took us on a detour! This is a very good thing, actually, because we have it in our heads that Yukine's backstory is going to be like the Main Thing, and once they get to it, the series will end. And that would be very sad. Right now, we have a theory that Yukine is somehow related to Hiyori's brother, based solely on the fact that we never get a clear shot of Hiyori's brother's face in the one flashback where he shows up. And wow, this volume was jumping around the timeline. But it was fun.

I'm not sure I can write coherently about this volume, actually, because even though we read through the whole thing again today, my thoughts are all scattered around because of Disneyland arriving in the middle of busyness. So we had this wall of intense focus set up, and then a trip to Disneyland came along and shattered it into little pieces. Either that, or I'm having a hard time focusing because I've had a cold.

Anyway, one main thing that we noticed was Chiki. In the hands of Yato's father, the stray becomes a kind of staff used by a Buddhist priest. We have no idea what this means for the character or the series, but we think it's important to note. It's also worth noting that in his battle with Yato, Koto is wearing an outfit that resembles the garb of a Buddhist monk. The interesting thing about all of it is that the whole series is very heavily rooted in Shinto mythology, so then you bring a Buddhist priest along and it's like what are you trying to say, exactly? ...Come to think of it, it might just be a jab at (or nod to, if it's friendly) the Rumiko Takahashi series Rin-ne, with its similar but much more Buddhist premise. (I guess this would be a good time to point out that in the anime, Koto is voiced by the same actor as Rinne. Now I'm starting to wonder if that was intentional.)

What happened in this book again? Oh right, Hiyori! Oh my goodness, that was some serious stuff! It was especially interesting to see Hiyori's thought process as she was turning into an ayakashi and how that drove her to attack Yato. It makes you wonder if all ayakashi feel similarly. Probably not all, actually, but most maybe? Like the little girl that Yukine wanted to help. In fact, that little girl may have been a hint that ayakashi aren't just monsters to be feared, but are perhaps souls to be saved, as well.

Which reminds me of Sakura again...and I thought I had something to say about that, but now I can't remember what. Oh yeah! I have a little theory (that I'm not super attached to) that maybe a shinki can become an ultimate vessel if he or she learns his real name and gets his or her memories back and can still maintain a human form. On the other hand, we have a theory that the stray knows her real name (as evidenced by her little transformation when she attacks Yukine in volume twelve), so if the first theory were true, she would already be an ultimate vessel.

And speaking of the stray, WHAT DID SHE DO TO TSUGUHA!? Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!! That's so scary! And Yukine, too! It looked like she nicked his name! Can that heal on its own, or is that going to be an issue? It's probably going to be an issue, isn't it? And oh no, Tsuguha! She gets all the bad luck, man! I really hope she's okay.

But back to Sakura. We pulled out volume nine, because there's a flashback to when Ebisu summoned ayakashi and we wanted to make sure it matched, which meant checking the picture to see what the original Japanese was, but the point is, after that, I had a copy of volume nine sitting on the desk next to me, and it has Izanami on the cover in her Yato-seducing form. As you all know, she looks a lot like Hiyori, but one thing we didn't notice before (because we couldn't have known it was significant) is that she has a lock of hair with beads on it that looks exactly like the lock of hair that fell to the ground when Yato slew Sakura. Awwwwww. Poor little Yato. I still have this vague hope that Sakura can be brought back somehow. They have introduced the queen of the dead, after all, so maybe?

I want to comment again on how great Yukine is! Reading books on gardening and shrine building! Awwwwwww!!! He's so sweet and helpful!

Now back to Yato and the whole thing about making Hiyori his shinki. Oh man, that would have been wild. But she wouldn't have remembered who she was before, so it really would have been pretty depressing (and exactly what Yato's father wanted, of course; then he'd just take Yukine away and Yato would have lost all his support in becoming a god of happiness). But here's the other interesting thing: back in volume one, Yato told Hiyori he would have liked to make her his shinki, but he didn't. The best explanation for this is that he was remembering what Sakura taught him, which means Adachitoka has definitely thought this story through and once again disproves the theory set forth by a certain reviewer that the series "has no idea where it's going."

And the other really sweet thing about how that whole chapter went down. It's mostly come up in gags and little asides made in passing (or quickly interrupted) that Yato desperately wants to marry Hiyori. So the scene where he tells her he can't make her his shinki, even if it is what she really wants, is that much more touching. He loves her so much, and that's exactly why he can't tie her to him. Oh man, it's so great and so sad. Oh, but the way Hiyori recovers after everything. She was so cool, telling Koto she would rebuild the hospital. I'm still a little worried about that line, because it's really a pretty straightforward translation, but it carries so much weight. There's the obvious part in that it means just what it says, but it also means she's made up her mind about what she wants to do with her future (and her indecision on that point was a major theme of this volume), and that she's not afraid of Koto. It's just so intense!

Other than that...the scene with the brushes, and the scene where Koto accuses Hiyori of liking Yato, and the scene where Yato and Yukine are being her bodyguards are all really great! What I really love about that last one is how Yukine is never afraid to call Yato out on his nonsense or say, "No, that's stupid," but when it comes to keeping Hiyori safe, he's all in, regardless of the ridiculousness the job may entail. That's another thing I really love about this series: how much everybody cares about each other. (The gag manga at the end with the sharks was great, too!)

Oh man, this series is sooooo good! You guys have to read it!!!

Today I'm thankful for getting to look back on Noragami (now that we're all caught up with the Japanese releases, we don't see it nearly as frequently (for now, that's a good thing)), getting close to another ending in Labyrinth of Andersen (maybe someday I'll have time to write more about that), having plans for a birthday trip to Disneyland (actually, we have tentative plans for two), really enjoying the series we worked on yesterday (and will probably work on today unless the FedEx guy shows up in the next ten minutes), and the birds chirping outside.
27th-Apr-2016 09:59 pm (UTC)
Agh, the difficulties of reading these reviews three volumes later... at first I was like "What happened in this particular one, again?" and then "Hohoho, what a quaint little theory that is!" (no disrespect meant, I know you wrote this in the past and we were all in the same shoes at the time) and then "AHHHH!!! AHHHHH NOOOO AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!! :( :( :( " But I've had thoughts along the lines of your ultimate theory too... We'll see, sooner or later.

Interesting point about Koto and Buddhism. Also about sharing a voice actor with Rinne :)

I've thought that about Yato's apparent-age fluctuating too. (looking back through 13 now, he really does look kinda baby-faced. haha.) I remember when I read a Stray Story that was in Kodansha's online magazine at one point (it hasn't yet been collected in a book), I thought Yato looked really young and I was worried something had happened to him. But since nothing has happened by this point (long since that Stray Story was written—and I don't recall any indication it was breaking chronological order), it must just be artistic variation. (I'd guess unintentional... hmm, now I wonder if these chapters were written around the same time as that story?)

On your line about Hiyori rebuilding the hospital—I definitely thought (since before, not just reading this now) it came through clearly that she had made a firm decision about the path she'd pursue, in contrast to her earlier uncertainty.

Sigh. I need to go reread adorable Yato and Hiyori scenes again now and cheer myself up... (it's so true about how much everyone cares about each other!! on that note, maybe that's also a point in favour of carpenter's-apprentice manga Kanna to Decchi? I feel like that series also does well in showing how much everyone cares... y'know, for the Mythical Time when you run out of new manga to read (and everything else to do). Or the Hopeful Time when Kodansha licenses it, maybe???)

I also feel motivated to work on v16 some more now (which is good since it's due Monday) so thanks for that!!
28th-Apr-2016 01:38 am (UTC)
I know, it was the same way with us! We were like, "La la laaa, volume thirteen," not even thinking about what happened, and then when I copied the review text, Athena read the first sentence and was like, "Oh yeah, this volume WAS intense!" and I was like, "What? ...OH YEAH!" (Yeah, I think my reaction to the first theory was along the same lines.) At least it ultimately had a happy ending.

Speaking of theories, we learned something about a potential double meaning on the term for "ultimate vessel" (thanks to Devil Survivor, oddly enough), which on the one hand has us going, "Argh, WHY didn't we look into that better!?" (if only we knew eleven volumes ago that just because a word has kanji doesn't mean that's the only meaning Adachitoka is going with) and on the other hand gives us more clues to how to become one. The word for "ultimate" (tsui) can also mean "pair", as in "one of a set of two". Other half, maybe? I'm not even going to try to figure out a word that can mean both that and final, though. It's already too late.

That is odd about Yato. Athena's theory is that after volume twelve, Adachitoka went through a transition phase where it was hard to get him back to the right age. If they're as rushed on Noragami as we are, we can totally understand not having time to properly refine the art (which looks great anyway).

Oh, good, the translation came across just fine. I think I worry too much about that kind of thing.

Generally any series where I see characters caring a lot about each other is a favorite. Skip Beat! is another great example. We'll definitely have to keep Kanna to Decchi in mind! Maybe Kodansha will license it, especially if their other shoujo titles do well! In the meantime, it will have to wait until we're feeling rich or self-destructive again.

Yay, 16! That's a good one! They're all good ones.
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