“My centuries-long dream has finally come true…a shrine of my very own…I almost gave up after I was told I don’t need one…if only my kid self could see me now…” -Yato
It seems only appropriate to end this year’s 12 Days of Anime with Noragami Aragoto, which incidentally aired its last episode this week. Noragami Aragoto, a story deeply steeped in Japanese tradition with a dash of supernatural hijinks, at its core, is a story about family.
Family isn’t just something we have. It’s something that we also make. Aragoto opens with Bishmonten’s arc, a cautionary tale that focuses on what happens to a family when it loses communication and trust. Behind their carefully honed facades of positive cheer, both Bishmonten and her numerous Regalias play out a parody of “One Big Happy Family” and it’s unsurprising to see that forced happiness is no happiness at all. In startling contrast, Yato and Yukine’s intimate and heated relationship becomes more family-like and preferable to the stifling generosity of Bishamonten. For families to thrive, its members must be honest. Both Bishamonten and Kazuma learn this the hard way as their ties of loyalty and faith are tested in each other.
In the second half of Aragoto, the family focus shifts from that of Bishmonten’s to Yato, as he balances the double lives and double families he belongs to. As much as Yato wants to, for the first time, to live a fulfilling existence and do something good for the world, his old familial ties to his enigmatic maker, “Father”, and Regalia, “Hiiro” shackle him, literally pulling him down to the Underworld.
“Yato-gami…your drive to live…you would have made a good god of fortune, one that helps people.” -Ebisu
Often, when we are separated or away from our family, the more we feel the ache of their absence. Hiyori and Yukine–with the help of their friends and allies–all rush pell-mell to save Yato and realizing that while you can love and be close to your family on a level deeper than any friendship, you can still know almost nothing about them, their past struggles and the people they were before.
Noragami Aragoto ultimately brings a message of hope, prioritizing the future over the past. Despite having known Nora (Hiiro) for so long, from the very beginning, he rejects her unchanging philosophy, abandoning the eternal for one of transience, choosing change over stagnation, growth over malaise. As Hiyori’s Soul Call unearths his true name for all to hear, Yaboku, at the same, repudiates his old name and identity, cutting old family ties to suit his renewed goals to be “Yato” a god of fortune (in training), and a proud member of our heroic, loving family of three.
A very Merry Noragami Christmas to y’all. Here’s to our family and friends, who have to put up with us every day of the year.