16 December 2014

12 Days of Anime: Noragami

In the year of talking about major kami and yokai, there is a little show on Netflix called Noragami that focuses on forgotten things, on a minor god so small, he doesn't even have a shrine to 'live' at.

Yato is exasperated. He's trying to raise money to have a small shrine - anything will do, really - by taking 'delivery' jobs, odd jobs, anything. His Regalia weapon for exorcising Phantoms (monsters borne out of emotional pain/anxieties) has just quit, he's alone, and in his own words, it's as if he's nothing. He doesn't want to be just nothing - he wants to be somebody - but he just doesn't know how.

A girl called Hiyori can see him, just as she can see anything else; she can also hear the thoughts of those around her, on edge or not. A room full of anxious students trying to take an exam becomes a room full of bullies telling her to just hurry up and die, that she's not even trying, she's different and weird and can't she just read the atmosphere already. She can see yokai (called Phantoms, here), and the otherworldly, and fears that she is different. That she is not the lady her parents wanted her to be. After trying to save a boy (Yato, the minor god) from an oncoming bus, she is struck by it herself and is now on-the-fence between the Near Shore, where the living are, and the Far Shore - in other words, between the living, and the dead. She's not quite living, but she cannot sleep when she ought and falls asleep / "loses her body" frequently - but she's not entirely dead, either.
She seeks Yato's help, and Yato agrees - charging the five-yen coin customary donation ("everyone knows you give five-yen coins to kami!"), because after all, there's no such thing as a free wish.

This is no Attack on Titan, and unlike the other Funimation-released show Inari Konkon Koi Iroha (available through Funimation at last check), this show does have battles and start out with more drama. In a way it's a bit like Inari Konkon as a series had a slightly older brother; instead of focusing overmuch on the relationships between characters and making it a slice of life / romantic comedy, this series is action, recognition, and about two hurt beings. This is no great like CLAMP's xxxHolic, but it's fun and interesting - a look at how deities and the forgotten operate in modern Japan, alongside modern anxieties like passing major exams or the pain one might experience in hospitals.

That's why it appeals to me: because it is about the lost and forgotten. The broken, the desperate. 
And how important recognition can be.
From Episode 1 of Noragami.

2014 personally brought a lot of change into my life, and while it's been rough, I have received a lot more personal and professional support. I got out of a toxic situation. I presented at more panels and traveled to more places than last year. I've worked harder on this site and on panels, translated for ghost and monster stories, and got to meet more people such as the wonderful Helen McCarthy or Zack Davisson. I also had more work opportunities than I had before, even to the point of writing for Anime News Network and starting work on a game.

For those things, I'm grateful, but there's always the phantom of seeing other things: loss of work, jeers, insults, threats. So as we near the end of 2014, I hope that those phantoms - born out of emotional pain and anxiety - can melt away, like softly falling snow upon a shared umbrella, and usher in a better 2015.

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