Things are coming to a thrilling climax in the world of Noragami as the final volume of the Bishamon arc begins.
Warning: Spoilers for the ongoing anime Noragami Aragoto.
Yato and Bishamon are locked in a deadly battle whose origins have been orchestrated by Bishamon’s rogue shinki Kugaha. Meanwhile, Kazuma and Hiyori are desperately trying to break out of their confinement and stop Kuguha’s planned mass murder.
Noragami is a series that will appeal to fans of action and suspense as well as the general comedic slice-of-life crowd.
Volume 6 served as the conclusion to the Bishamon arc of Noragami (so as I said, spoilers for you anime viewers). While the arc has been strong from the beginning, this volume managed to conclude it successfully in so many ways that I would argue this is one of the single best volumes of manga I have ever read.
Ever since Bishamon was first introduced, she has been posited as an enemy of Yato’s for unknown reasons. The previous volume explained the reason that Bishamon hated Yato, but this volume actually took the backstory further and went into detail about Kazuma’s time training as a shinki and the internal strife that Bishamon’s Ma clan of shinki faced during that time. The entire story is incredibly engaging both because it ties into what is happening in the present and because it once again utilizes the setting and Japanese mythology to create a story interesting in and of itself.
Perhaps the most interesting facet of the story for me at this point has been the concept of the antagonist. While Kugaha has been set up as the primary villain at this point in time, in a way everyone seems to be their own enemy as the problems from the past between Yato, Bishamon, and her handling of her shinki would have come to a conflict eventually even without Kugaha’s help. That being said, Kugaha’s motivation is not entirely evil as it is selfish. His primary goal of having Bishamon be reborn so that he can guide her is less outright detrimental for her as it is beneficial for himself, as opposed to if he was attempting to become a god instead, and the distinction adds a layer of depth that you don’t often find in similarly styled conflicts.
Yato and Bishamon also continue to battle. The development of the relationship between Yato and Yukine is really showcased when the going gets tough, because although at first appearance Bishamon and her shinki are the more harmonious group, Yato and Yukine know each other far better and by sharing their own emotions they are able to work better as a team. As great as the character development is, the artwork of Noragami is really what makes it all work so well as both character motions and emotions are drawn in vivid detail and really help immerse the audience in the characters and events, especially the during dramatic moments.
The epic battle that began in the previous volume between Yato and Bishamon takes place for most of the volume as the other developments such as Kugaha’s attack and Kazuma’s past are explored for the readers simultaneously, and this narrative structure works so well because all of the stories are individually strong. For me and other readers, it almost feels like getting extra story, and the volume feels much more voluminous because of it. Even once everything more or less comes to a conclusion, there is a significant amount of questions left unanswered, especially surrounding Yato and Hiyori’s relationship moving forward and Stray’s future plans for Yato. I appreciated the way the volume concluded because while it wrapped the current conflict up nicely, it also left clear hints of what is to come.
Noragami’s 6th volume was an excellent conclusion to what was already a fantastic arc of the series, and is one of the best volumes of manga I have had the fortune to review. The compelling narrative and visuals make for an incredibly intriguing story that I highly recommend you read if you are even remotely considering picking the series up.
Noragami Vol. 5 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on August 18th, 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 with a second season currently airing. The seventh volume was released on October 13, 2015, and the series will begin to serialize monthly in English starting this fall.
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