The realization that I have not written about either Noragami or Witch Craft Works since writing Renuntiato Brevis struck me. Yet, these are my two favorite shows from the winter season. Now, that they have ended and the Spring season is impending, the time to write a few final thoughts on these shows is more than ripe. The following article is a nicotine powered ramble I wrote while enjoying a blend of Latakia, Virginia, and Cavendish pipe tobacco on a beautiful, sunny day.
The most surprising thing about Noragami is how many of its themes one can tie into Christianity despite its Shinto background. As a minor example, we have the fact that Yato only takes 5 yen coins for his services. Spiritual gifts are priceless. Since they cannot be equated in any way with material goods, money given to religious institutions are rather tokens of good will than amount tendered for particular services. All the money in the world would not be the equivalent of a single drop of holy water.
Then, the progression of sin which we see in Yukine follows a very Catholic understanding. First, he commits slight faults because of his attachment to earthly things. The effects of his peccadilloes are seen in the small blight produced on Yato, the god to whom he is attached, but this can fortunately be removed by pouring holy water on them. In the same way, prayer, holy water, and penance remove venial sins through the grace of God. Then, Yukine moves on to greater offenses until he does something so terrible that Yato is rendered prostrate. Who can forget that those who do grave sins “are crucifying once again the Son of God” (Hebrews 6:6)? His offenses lead to him hardening his heart toward Yato so that he needs to be forced to undergo the absolution ceremony, which requires confession. In the same way, sin hardens our hearts to God and constant mortal sin produces a hatred of Him. Similarly, absolution must be accomplished with confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I was more than a little surprised by all these parallels.
Might I add that the final battle is spectacular? The conflict between Yato and Rabo borrows heavily from Rurouni Kenshin. After all, Yato is trying to escape his past as a god of calamity by doing good deeds and Rabo’s desire to make Yato a god of calamity again reminds one of Shishio’s wish for Kenshin to revert to his manslayer self. Well done!
Witch Craft Works is as flawed as a Sir Walter Scott novel but about as much fun! The plot meandered until the end, and the revelation about Takamiya’s condition and the state of the world was scattered as randomly as buckshot throughout the show. Yet, from Tanpopo Kuraishi to Kasumi to Chronoire Schwarz VI to Kagari, the characters stood as some of the most likable of any show I’ve seen. Might I add that the end featured a great villain? Our heroes must have been as tenderhearted as God to let her live! They could make six or seven more seasons, and I should probably watch all of them.
To tell you the truth, I even liked Takamiya. He’s a hapless dope, but his heart is in the right place. One of my favorite moments from the Winter season occurs when Evermillion asks Takamiya for his eyes as an exchange for dispelling the petrification spell on Kagari. Takamiya heartily agrees–happy that he can undo her spell so easily! Of course, Evermillion admits that she is jesting, but this “I love you more than my eyes” scene touched the Italian part of my soul.
For one more religious allegory, Takamiya and Kagari’s relationship reminded me of a cradle Catholic with the Lord. Most Catholics are baptized as infants. Similar to Takamiya’s arranged betrothal, these Christians are not consulted as to whether they want to be joined with Christ’s Body. Yet, once introduced to Christ at a later age, we become so enamored of His goodness that we accept this relationship, the initiation of which we had no say. In the same way, Takamiya finds himself ecstatic to be loved by the beautiful, intelligent, and caring Kagari. But, how lucky we all are to be loved by the infinitely Beautiful and all-Loving Source of Wisdom and Knowledge?
Let’s see whether the new season will provide us with shows this great.