There are two planes of existence: the Near Shore and the Far Shore. We, the living, reside in the Near Shore, while demons and evil spirits dwell in the Far Shore. However, these evil spirits can still cause chaos on the Near Shore for the humans. Our only saviors are the gods, deities that wield powerful spirits known as shinki who can defeat the evil spirits. One of these gods, Yato, is a very minor deity with no shrine to call his own. He does odd jobs in order to make enough money to get by, and during one such job he and a middle school girl named Hiyori Iki’s paths collide, changing their lives forever.
The plot of Bishamon’s traitorous shinki Kugaha continues. He realizes that the only way to take down Bishamon is to separate her from her guiding shinki, Kazuma, and force her into battle in a weakened condition. Unfortunately, he is provided with all the tools for the job thanks to the hapless and unknowing Yato, who Bishamon has sworn to be her enemy.
Noragami is a series that will appeal to fans of action and suspense as well as the general comedic slice-of-life crowd.
Noragami’s narrative has gotten to be incredibly impressive as the series has progressed, and the fifth volume has quite a strong story. The story is told from two primary perspectives: Bishamon’s friends and followers, and Yato’s friends and followers. This allowed the story to maintain the amusing moments and bits from previous volumes despite the darker turn without compromising the tone. While Yato continues his usual hijinks, he serves as a good contrast to Bishamon, whose followers are plotting her downfall. The amusing Yato moments are, if anything, even more clever than usual, and I couldn’t help but chuckle at certain bits.
What was most intriguing, however, is Bishamon’s present crisis, as it not only has brought a more significant danger to the characters than previous volumes but also serves to tie together several of the plot points from previous volumes, including the history behind Yato and Bishamon’s feud. It’s a very tense and well-written arc of story, and one that made me unable to put the volume down until there was nothing left for me to read. While the primary villain working with Stray to take down Bishamon is hardly abnormal for his motivations (he wants power, surprise surprise), it is his methods that are particularly engrossing, as they bring out the best in many of the primary characters of the cast from previous volumes by engaging each of them on a personal level. This allows for significant confrontations both for Yukine and Yato, which I can see substantiating even further in the future.
While the story itself is good, there are two artistic elements that really make Noragami an excellent series, elements that I find myself appreciating more and more as the series continues and the quality maintains a steady level of excellence. The first of these elements is the art; Adachi and Tokashiki are very excellent artists, and their panels and style are crisp and vivid. The character designs are anything but bland, and I have had very little trouble identifying characters following their initial introductions because they stand out from the rest of the cast and are easily recognized.
The second element of artistic style that greatly enhances Noragami is something that can be attributed directly to Kodansha Comics USA: the translation is immaculate. I’ve found myself (despite lacking in knowledge of the Japanese language) consistently impressed by the quality and attention to detail in the translation, details that are made clear in the back by the translation notes. The translators clearly explain their methodology and reasoning for just about everything they can. Through these detailed explanations they not only provide fascinating cultural and grammatical context for the series but also highlight their own knowledge, as they must have identified these situations and made clear quality choices in order to maintain the integrity of the writing in the transfer from Japanese to English.
I have one complaint about Noragami’s fifth volume, and that is that it ends on a huge cliffhanger. It was more-or-less like ending at the climax of the story, which was disappointing because outside of this, there were few issues to speak of. The entire volume is incredibly engaging and well thought-out, but it will be incredibly hard to wait until August for the next volume to release. Thankfully, starting this fall the series will begin serializing monthly instead of every other month, so the wait will be less arduous.
Noragami has continued to improve from a good series to a great one, and volume 5 is most definitely a good read. The new darker and more intense story line is placed in with the more comical side of the story in a way that prevents tonal dissonance and creates an intriguing narrative. This is all aided by the wonderful art and excellent translation, making this one of my favorite volumes of manga currently available in English.
Noragami Vol. 5 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on June 23rd, 2015. The series is currently ongoing in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine, and had an anime adaption by Bones which aired from January 2014 - March 2014. The sixth volume will be released on August 18, 2015, and the series will begin to serialize monthly in English starting this fall.
*Copy provided for Taykobon by publisher.
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