Everyone keeps talking about how DC and Marvel have cool movies because their heroes are today’s gods. It’s almost as if nobody knows how damn cool Japanese gods are! Kodansha Comics continues to publish Norgami as we get closer to the second season of the anime hitting American television screens, but can the manga sustain its quality?
Noragami Vol 5 (Kodansha Comics)
This is turning out to be my favorite manga to date. The action is fun and the world is very compelling and almost mystical in its fairy tale nature, but what really gets me is the culture. There are a lot of interesting gods I never knew existed in Japanese culture that appear in this manga. Plus, each of these mangas concludes with a fascinating translation notes section which explain cultural elements from Japan or translation issues.
The plot is thickening quite nicely too, with Shinki Kugaha plotting the downfall of his god Bishamon, Yukine feeling awful after losing a new friend Suzuha—also a shinki—and Kazuma, another shinki of Bishamon, going against his own place to do the right thing. A quick primer for anyone new to this series (though if you started here you’d be quite lost) is basically this: shinki are lost souls who have become servants of gods and can be turned into weapons. The main character is named Yato and he’s a low level god with only one shinki. Bishamon wants his head due to him killing her shinki centuries ago. Meanwhile Yato has promised to help Hiyori with her half human problem as she dips into the world of the dead.
I told you that you need to read the previous volumes!
Adachitoka really kills it in this volume, as a major reveal of Yato’s past is discovered and the stakes are raised exponentially. Kugaha takes the center stage as the villain of sorts and as he plots and makes his moves we learn more about the fascinating world of gods and the shinki that supposedly follow them. Basically, the last third of this manga is an action sequence that leads to one hell of a cliffhanger. There are so many interesting reveals and ties back to Yato’s past I can’t see how this isn’t the most fulfilling volume yet. Well, until of course you read volume 6.
Bad guy throwing shade.
On top of all that, Hiyori and her issue are finally being attended to. It was a major problem I had with volume 3 and it’s nice to see that storyline progressing.
The only gripe I’d take with this volume is the lack of anayakashi, aka evil demons. They’ve typically popped up here and there to be little demonic bastards, but don’t appear too much here. There’s one massive one later, but I won’t say anything else. Yato’s ex-shinki, known as Stray, also drops away in this volume which is an odd move. She was strange and an interesting promise of another side of Yato in the previous volume, but goes away completely here. Albeit Kugaha needs to take center stage for things to work, but it would have been nice to see more of her here.
The art continues to be excellent with nice backgrounds and a good sense of acting from the characters. There are the occasional aside reactions that look like they’ve come straight out of an anime that can be a tad annoying, but usually their comical effect works. The war goddess Bishamon continues to be exploited on the sexual side of things, but that is to be expected right? She’s so frail and weak though she seems to be more of a representation of women in general which is not a good one. She also goes through a very odd wardrobe change that’s jarring. It is between two chapters, but for her to go from open tucked in button down shirt and pants to black bra, jacket and mini skirt is a little weird. I guess Adachitoka didn’t think she was sexy enough for the climactic battle?
Button up that shirt!
Is It Good?
Major reveals and interesting plot twists make this a fantastic volume that can’t be missed!