Friday, March 18, 2016

A Spiritual Observation of Noragami

Spring Break is finally here, and in celebration I bring you a long-overdue anime post! The anime I'm going to cover today is officially my all-time favorite –right up there next to the currently-running mystery series, Erased. Today I give you Kotaro Tamura's Noragami.


I must admit, when I first started this series, I was a bit weary. I'd heard so many good things, yet whenever I tried the show, I was thrown into chaos, confusion, and, believe it or not, despair. *More on this later.* It took me all of three tries to get through the first five minutes of the series. But you know what they say: third time's the charm, am I right?

Once I got past the depressed introductory character (who I've come to realize isn't crucial to the story in any way, shape, or form), I was okay. In fact, I was more than okay. I was a little intrigued to say the least. Yes, there were still some weird neon-colored stingray-like creatures, and a tracksuit-wearing guy who granted wishes for five yen, but it provided for some interesting character development, if I do say so myself. I instantly wanted to know more about Yato's (the tracksuit-wearing guy's) relationship with Mayu –another intriguing individual *but on an entirely different level*. And it wasn't too long after when Hiyori and Yukine entered the picture. They were the ones that stole both Yato and I's hearts from the very beginning.

You see, Yato is the god-figure of many things (delivery, calamity, etc). When his regalia (a servant-type character that has died a horrible death on earth), Mayu, resigns from her position, Yato finds himself at a complete loss. The story takes a turn when an earth-bound, wrestling-loving schoolgirl by the name of Hiyori saves Yato's life –in both a physical and emotional sense. During one of their encounters, they run into a phantom or two. Phantoms are the demons we fight every day –lies, temptations, concerning thoughts. In a physical sense, they are depicted by the stingray-like creatures I mentioned before as well as some of the other monsters you might find under your bed.


Anyway, Yato and Hiyori run into a couple of these creatures, and Yato again finds himself in a sense of despair as he is left without a regalia to fight by his side. As the tension closes in, the delivery god notices something out of the corner of his eye –an empty vessel ready to be used at a moment's notice. The servant is summoned and Yato and his new regalia, Yukine, defeat the phantoms and save the day. However, Yato and Yukine's relationship isn't always as successful throughout the rest of the series.


Yukine was a troubled adolescent when he died, and now as a regalia for a lesser-known god, he feels quite the same. As he tries to find his way in his new life, he makes mistakes and rebels against his master more than a few times. Yukine's disobedience causes Yato physical pain, otherwise known as blight. The effects of blight got me thinking more in a spiritual sense than anything else. I recalled all the times I'd been told that my sin hurts God and wondered just where exactly in the Bible that concept originated.


After some consideration I concluded that there are indeed many instances that confirm such reasoning. The most obvious of these is the pain that was endured by Jesus, God's own Son. Jesus gave His life up for His regalias (us), even though it was their blight (our sin) that nailed Him to the cross. Much is the same with Yato. He carried the pain of Yukine's offenses, despite the fact that he could have easily released the regalia at any time. Yato stuck by Yukine's side no matter the cost, because he loved the child just like my Heavenly Father loves each and every one of you.


Just as God's children at some point realize such love, Yukine's eyes are eventually open to his faults and wicked nature, and he becomes broken over his sin. But God is gracious, and so is Yato, and at Yukine's repentance, the delivery god offers the new regalia a permanent spot in his kingdom. You can feel that same sense love and belonging too, if you want. All it requires is that you recognize your shortcomings and apologize to the One who lives and reigns over you. Then you are free to serve and fight life's phantoms alongside a God who loves you unlike anyone else.

"You with nowhere to go and no place to return, I grant you a place to belong."