Adachitoka’s Noragami Volume 9 collects issues 32 to 35 of the adventures of the stray god Yato. The manga was first published in 2013; the English translation was published in 2015. Included in the volume are
32. “She Who Invites” (誘な女 “Izanami”)
33. “Wielder of an Iron Will” (イシ椎い持ち “Ishi Tsutsui Mochi”)
34. “Such Were Their Desires” (斯く在りし望み “Kaku Arishi Nozomi”)
35. “Death” (死 “Shi”)
Things are not going well for Yato and his former shinki Nora. In fact, the two find themselves in hell.
Dispatched by the mysterious Father to protect Ebisu, god of fortune, Yato and Nora accompany Ebisu down into the underworld, which is ruled by Izanami, goddess of the dead. She’s someone whom most people do their best to avoid. But Ebisu is determined to improve his ayakashi-demon-control skills and for that he needs to get magic brushes only Izanami can provide.
Izanami just happens to be Ebisu’s estranged mother. She abandoned her deformed son ages ago. Despite this, she’s not unhappy to see her son. Not so much because he overcame his disabilities to become one of the most beloved of the gods, but because Izanami has spent ages in solitude. She was lonely, which is why she has tried to bind the ayakashi.
Izanami presents a pleasant facade to her guests, appearing to each in the form that would put them most at ease. Her true form is a rotting skeleton. Just so, any initial impression of amiability is a ruse; desperate to have company, she’s unwilling to let her visitors leave. Her abilities are impressive; even gods like Yato and Ebisu will have a hard time escaping her.
It may not matter. The other gods have discovered that Ebisu is the sorcerer responsible for binding the ayakashi. This is a crime for which the punishment is death.
As previously established, gods (or at least gods who still have worshippers) reincarnate when they die, so being executed is really more of an inconvenience for gods. Or so every previous version of Ebisu has convinced himself, the god of luck being peculiarly prone to dying thanks to his unconventional hobbies.
He’s wrong in thinking there’s no downside to death. Something of the god survives each death, but something does not. The current Ebisu realizes this only after he’s committed himself to actions which he is unlikely to survive.
The author provides a subtle hint as to how this all works out for Ebisu in the form of scenes featuring the next incarnation, still a boy, being mentored by his surviving shinki. Unfortunately for the current incarnation, he belatedly realizes he doesn’t want to die. One has to wonder how often past Ebisus came to the same realization, too late.…
Adachitoka seems to have fun slowly dialing up the horror in the scenes with Izanami. At first she seems perfectly presentable, thanks to her power to project illusions. Then the flesh-eating insects begin to fall out of her clothes and friendliness turns into desperation. It’s even eerier that she never stops smiling, even while trying to trap her visitors in hell.
I detect a running theme in this manga: parents and other authority figures often suck. I cannot wait to see how this is developed in future volumes.…