So far AiPT! has thoroughly enjoyed this manga series. Like any series though, a volume could stray from the golden path. How does volume 3 compare to the first two great volumes and will the excellence stay high as we near the release of volume 7?
Noragami: Stray God Vol 3 (Kodansha Comics)
Things are getting a little more complicated in the latest volume as Yato continues to become weakened. I wouldn’t recommend starting this series here, but if you did this is where we’re at: Yato is a lower level god in Japan who helps those in need for their tithe. He has a shinki, which is a weapon named Yukine who used to be a lost soul. He recently used to be a living human child and died, but was reclaimed by Yato and effectively saved. Unfortunately Yukine is a bad kid wishing he was human again. He steals, breaks things and lies which all come back and hurt Yato. This is what is weakening him and making him less than up to snuff. This volume focuses on Yukine’s continuing bad behavior and eventual growth to get beyond his human desires.
Adachitoka writes and draws a solid entry here, although if you’re coming for action expect very little of it. Instead it’s all about Yato’s forlorn behavior as Yukine continues his selfish ways. In a lot of ways this volume is all about respecting your elders as Yato is a father figure to Yukine. That message is strong and works effectively, although it might just carry on too long here. It gets a bit boring after awhile, although the climax of Yukine’s lesson is interesting with a surprise to boot.
Bad influence much?
Meanwhile, there is a stray Shinki that’s afoot who’s also Yato’s ex-shinki. There’s a lot of time spent explaining what it means to be a shinki with no owner or a shinki with many names. It’s a cultural element that’s interesting, but again it runs on so long it gets a bit boring. She does pose an interesting element of threat and danger, but not enough time is given to her position and the mysterious backstory to make her relevant.
Hiyori Iki continues to be the human character to tie us to these gods. She’s still waiting for Yato to do something about her half Ayakashi problem. Ayakashi are basically evil spirits who are covered in eyeballs and infect people, causing them to do bad things. She got this problem ever since she was hit by a bus and Yato saved her, but he continues to do nothing about it. Anyone expecting a resolution to this storyline shouldn’t expect much. This character continues to be super caring for Yato and Yukine, but I don’t know why. I suppose she has an affinity to them since they are otherworldly, but they treat her with so much indifference I don’t see why. Adachitoka could have a lot more relationship building here.
The art continues to be quite nice although with no action scenes to speak of it’s very much a slower ‘talking heads’ type of volume. The crowning achievement in this volume is Yukine’s change. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s a nice blend of angelic innocence and demonic darkness. Little details continue to make the character dynamics interesting though, with facial expressions getting big or small to suit the emotional moments for the characters. Overall it’s quite nice but needs more action to get back to volume 1 level quality.
In some ways this is a bridge volume that carries our characters forward in their relationships but the bigger issues are still lingering without change. The lack of action makes the art feel a bit stilted but it’s still exceptional. Overall this is a good for fans of character but ends up being too slow to make this a winner.