i read a few analyses last night that were really quite good. good enough that when i woke up this morning, despite knowing that i have a meeting i need to prepare for in <4 hours, i felt i had to sit down and write this first, lest it continue haunting/distracting me throughout the day.
they postulated that noragami, once you take away the supernatural stuff,is at its core about child abuse, and the struggle to overcome that and escape/become independent from one’s abuser. here were some of the articles on the relationships between characters (they are quite long, and also contain many spoilers, so I wouldn’t read them unless you’re at least mostly or all caught up on the manga):
i would definitely agree with their analyses, and maybe that’s partly why i was so drawn to noragami in the first place (beyond the funny hijinks, minor romance, and cool fight scenes). there’s something pretty dark being explored here, and you can pick that up even within the first episode/chapter (though in pretty different ways between the anime and manga, as they focus on two different things due to the anime being a condensed version of the manga).
i think i’ve always been drawn to want to help those who are hurting, or pretty dark things in the human psyche – those suffering abuse/neglect, going through depression/suicidal tendencies, caught up in gang violence or drug abuse, eating disorders… even to the point of morbid curiosity of what makes people like murderers or serial killers, kidnappers, or rapists, tick. if understanding the depravity of people can help get people out of that situation, then i will learn it. though sometimes i worry that i’ll lose my own humanity and compassion in the process. hate the sin, love the sinner. i think that’s what my subconscious self is doing.
i used to wonder how i had such a strong sense of right and wrong, and why it was so incomprehensible to me how people could do such atrocious acts to other people. i recognize now though, that it was God all along. because though I have few memories of what I was like before I self-declared as a Christian (and mind you, I didn’t really even know what that meant at the time), the few that I have were not always good. I was definitely selfish and mean sometimes, especially to my sister, who was probably the only person i had to deal with on a constant basis. we got to see some early videos of when we were kids (like when she was just born, and when of course the sense of self was just developing) and i can definitely see why i turned out that way based on poor parenting in regards to knowing how to make someone feel like they are still important rather than being suddenly cast aside and neglected, suppressed, devalued, etc, after the 2nd child was born, which i do have distinct memories of, even all the way through college. though they didn’t know better either.
and that’s ultimately probably why i’m drawn to these types of stories/people. because i had also been in a somewhat similar situation and know the pain. i didn’t have anyone to depend on at the time (though in hindsight, God was the one who held me up through that time), so i want to be someone others can lean on. luckily in my case, i think it was more a situation like what the analyses above talked about – where the parents are also abuse survivors and didn’t know how to truly connect or communicate with others (including themselves), which in addition to give poor modeling to the child, also causes parentification of their child when they become emotionally needy and dependent on their child to provide the support their own parents never gave. i definitely don’t think we’ve had it that bad compared to some – luckily no physical abuse, but definitely at least one of my parents, and maybe both, had issues of emotional/neglect abuse. both are certainly stunted in emotional growth, though in different ways, and like the analyses said, it causes the children to have a difficult time connecting with others as well.
though i guess intellectually i know stuff like this when reading other articles, for some reason after reading noragami and these analyses, it suddenly made a lot of sense in my own life. maybe this is the reason i have always felt kind of disconnected and alone – why i’ve always felt hard to really make that connection with people or hold long-term friendships. not just because i’m an awkward person by nature, but because i literally don’t know how to be close to people, and maybe over the years i’ve come to be resigned to it. i recently read a couple articles on emotional abuse in relationships, and was a bit shocked to identify that i had done some of the things they describe as being emotionally abusive. of course not the manipulation parts because none of it was intentional and anything i did stemmed from my own insecurities in the relationships (and don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of things that legit kept me feeling insecure in the relationships, as well as other things on the guys’ part), but it doesn’t excuse the fact that i also did not always treat them right. and the funny (not really) thing? looking back, the things i did do were all things that were influenced from my parents – subconsciously learned (unhealthy) coping/defense mechanisms, if you will. seems like these things are cyclical after all. at least now that i’m aware of it, i can try to consciously fight against those tendencies in the future. hopefully.
the analyses also touch on common traits for children of abuse that yato exhibits: lack of self worth/self efficacy despite being able to do a lot of things, narcissism and self-centeredness leading to difficulty empathizing with others, higher likelihood of being homeless, unemployed, unable to control finances, others responding to them as if they are worthless or not caring when they disappear for periods of time or thinking to seek help for them, leading to reinforcement of their abusers’ words and them feeling like they have no other alternatives than going back to the abuser (aka learned helplessness), using siblings against each other, having a child-like naivete – a common thing in abuse victims because of not being allowed to develop normally socially especially at a young age, going overboard with affection, being deeply afraid that others will leave him… all of which explain a lot of his behaviors in the manga. sadly, i actually rather liked/hurt for yato a lot throughout this manga, though i didn’t really know why. now i do. it’s because i have many of the same issues/thoughts, and would react similarly. and yet also have the same impulses he does despite everything – trying desperately to make others happy, even though he doesn’t quite know how.
the nice thing in the manga is that you can see his growth – that through his relationship to yukine and hiyori, and then by extension his growing relationship with kofuki, daikoku, kazuma, bishamon, etc, he is starting to finally have people who believe in him and he is starting to learn to trust in them in return. he’s starting to understand that there are alternative motivations and ways to live life than the one he’s experienced, and also that it’s ok if he can’t be the one to save everyone (i.e. the situation with hiyori’s family). and so, it’s a nice message. that though he is not yet free of his ties with his abusive family, improvement and growth from one’s past is possible.
on a completely separate note, noragami also strongly reinforces for me the fact that this is why all these “lesser” gods that people worship cannot be the real thing. sure, some of them are very strong, and certainly can kill people for not obeying or believing in them, but ultimately, the ones in power here are humans. because in this belief system, once these gods are forgotten, they cease to exist. and so, how much more powerful and amazing is our God – the one who existed before we began and will long after our earthly bodies fade, the creator of the universe, unbound to human desires and will and who does not have faults like these other gods, a God of true justice and impartiality… yet one who humbled himself for our sake, and let his son die on the cross for our sins just so we can be reconciled to him. an all powerful, yet loving God who never changes. this is such a contrast to the gods of Noragami, based primarily i believe on the shinto religion, though they draw from buddhism and maybe others? as well. (i completely missed the reference to the gods in Naruto until now btw – apparently amaterasu, susanno, tsukinomi, izanami, izanagi, etc are all gods in this religion o.0… which have also lead to an interesting theory that some are floating around regarding yato and father’s true natures…)
anyway! ok i think i’ve stream of conscioused myself out now since i’ve started being distracted enough that now i’m looking up something about amaterasu (if what this theory is is correct on who one of the characters is) so about time to head to lab. lost about an hour but oh well! should be able to concentrate better now.
edit: though upon reading this article on amaterasu, i’m wondering why the tsukiyomi theory people think he’s tsukiyomi when he seems to match up a little more with susanoo (the storm god who was apparently mischievous and destructive (including killing people on earth) who amaterasu quarrelled with and cast from heaven… and who is now more associated with love and marriage according to one site 0.o? would follow yato’s changing depiction from war god to his portrayal now, though you could say he always had a good heart to begin with). though i guess the moon and water motifs have shown up a decent amount… but it could be argued that they show up more when scenes involving father show up, rather than being related to yato.
@___@ WAIT. if the theory that yato was a god who reincarnated was true, might it be possible that nana was yato’s shinki, and that’s why she defied the heavens (amaterasu) for her master’s sake when he was being cast down?? @____@ and that would ALSO explain why amaterasu has a little girl’s form, since she was cut down by nana after yato’s banishment, and maybe now amaterasu wants to save yato after her reincarnation and learning all he has gone through since his reincarnation. @___@??? it wouldn’t make sense for father to be her original owner, as she seemed to have no recollection of him when they met. although… that might also not work considering yato’s been alive for centuries so if amaterasu was cut down soon after, she shouldn’t be a little girl anymore… so was she reincarnated again for some reason?
in any case, i think there might be something to the theory that yato was reincarnated, because it would explain why father is so concerned about making sure he’s not killed, b/c then he’d no longer be under his power after his reincarnation. the speculation that it has something to do with name-suppression spells that someone came up with might also not be too far off the mark.
and while i’m at it, for the record, i’m going to go out on a crazy limb and state that i think nora was a child that father killed (maybe even his own?) but he told her before he killed her (pretty sure she died by drowning btw given the blackness and the bubble) that he would turn her into his weapon/shinki so she died knowing that and was at peace and that’s why she was ok knowing about her death. the only problem with that theory is shinki are made from spirits who wanted to live, so that would only work if even though she trusted in him to do that, she still somewhere in her heart wanted to still live before she died. i dunno. but anyway. nana basically proves that not all shinki who know a god’s secret will become an akayashi – as long as they are not overtaken by their feelings of anger or jealousy, they can retain themselves, and nora apparently was the same. it could be argued that both yato and bishamon were right in wanting to save sakura and tsuguha – perhaps if they could have somehow calmed them down like yato did when hiyori was turning, they could actually have been saved. sakura at least seemed to still retain some of herself before the end, and was just only begging to be killed b/c she perceived the pain of her final moments of being used before dying to be too painful to survive. i really think this idea is going to play in later… likely b/c yukine will have to overcome the same thing.
also… were those takemikazuchi’s memories of kiun from his past incarnation right before he transformed? or was it just memories of how kiun was the only one who liked his lightning? (also, kiun is totally becoming a hafuri vessel in the next chapter lol. and anyway, the only reason takemikazuchi wanted one so badly is because he’s been in the same situation as yato – always feeling betrayed and that no one loves him for who he is. so i’m glad he has one now). how nice it must be to have someone that devoted to you.