One thing that struck me immediately about Noragami is that there were so many connections that could made in the series to Christianity. Joseph of Medieval Otaku (who’s now on Twitter, by the way), thought the same:
The most surprising thing about Noragami is how many of its themes one can tie into Christianity despite its Shinto background. As a minor example, we have the fact that Yato only takes 5 yen coins for his services. Spiritual gifts are priceless. Since they cannot be equated in any way with material goods, money given to religious institutions are rather tokens of good will than amount tendered for particular services. All the money in the world would not be the equivalent of a single drop of holy water.
I recommend you check out Joe’s article, as he goes on to make more interesting connections, particularly to Catholicism.
Of course, I’ve charged into this week seeing many links as well, mostly New Testament in nature, but episode nine added an even more ancient flavor through a pivotal plot point that played like an allegory.
Leading up to this episode, Yukine has slowly been turning toward sin, almost right from the start. Fed by fear and sadness, he continues down this path, turning fully toward it in episode eight. And as he sins more and more, Yato pays the price through a growing blight – one that grows out of control, to the point where only an ablution, a dangerous ceremony, can heal him.
As Yato lays dying because of Yukine’s sinful actions, three shinki must come together for the ablution to take place. Two are found, but a third is hard to come by. Desperate, Hiyori turns to a very threatening place – the Temple of Bishamon, the home of the god who most wants to see Yato destroyed, for assistance. But here also dwells Kazuma, a shiki of Bishamon who admires Yato and owes him for some unknown event in the past.
With much trepidation, and understanding that her life is at stake, Hiyori screams and yells as the temple entrance to plead for Kazuma to come along, knowing that if Bishamon would come out instead, she, Yato, and Yukine would all perish.
In the Bible, a similar set of circumstances occurs in one of my favorite books, Esther. The titular character has become Queen of Persia, and becomes dropped into a dangerous court intrigue that is very personal in nature. A close adviser to the king, Haman, has become jealous and angered with Mordecai, a Jew who has risen in stature, and connives to have the king order an edict that will have Haman and all the Jews killed. Little does Haman know, but Mordecai is relative of Esther’s – and not just, but as close as a father to her. But matters are complicated, as Esther cannot approach her royal husband unless summoned, under the penalty of death. And yet, she does so in order to put into action events that will save the Jewish people from genocide. The holiday of Purim celebrates this act of bravery.
Esther’s courage saves Mordecai and her people. Hiyori’s saves those important to her – Yato and Yukine. They each disregarded themselves, sacrificing to do what was right and what was loving. In our own lives, we rarely, if ever, face life-threatening situations. Our dangers are discouragement, humiliation, pain, and suffering. In Esther and Hiyori, we can inspiration to stand tall against our own struggles – and maybe a lesson, too, in how we may overcome.