Adachitoka’s 2011 Noragami volume 1 is the first installment in the titular series. It was first published in English in 2014.
One day all Japan will bow to Yato, greatest of all the nation’s gods! Today, however, he is merely a minor kami, known to a very very few and worshiped by none. He lives by performing miracles for the desperate, five yen a wish.
It’s a living…
“People Who Wear Sportswear”:
Mutsumi’s eccentricities — frequent absences, aversion to personal pronouns, and wearing the wrong school uniform — draw entirely the wrong sort of attention. Subjected to endless bullying from her venomous classmates, she is desperate for a solution. She is even desperate enough to see the magical ad that Yato has inscribed on walls across the city, including the wall of the bathroom stall in which Mutsumi is hiding.
Mutsumi is not all that impressed by the track-suit-wearing minor god. He seems to be rather resentful at having to deal with such a petty issue as school bullying. It’s not a minor issue for Mutsumi, and, unfortunately, calling on Yato has added an extra complication to her life. She is now aware of the supernatural influences surrounding her; she can see the ayakashi, the eldritch monsters who inflame her nasty classmates and feed on their nastiness.
If she is fortunate, her down-on-his-luck kami will be up to the task of saving her!
Poor Mutsumi! To quote the cover of Stephen Zielinski’s Bad Magic, “There are things people weren’t meant to know. Some people know those things anyway. Sucks to be them.” And unlike Zielinski’s characters, Mutsumi is totally ignorant of the skills she needs to deal with the world as she now sees it. I assume the steps Yato takes over the course of the story will resolve all of her issues. However, as she’s apparently a one-story character, it seems unlikely that readers will ever find out if there were long term consequences to her meddling in the arcane.
There’s a lot of room for Yato to experience personal growth in this series, given that he is arrogant, unsympathetic, and unsuccessful. He’s such a loser that his magical weapon Tomone demands to be freed from his service.
“A House Cat, A Stray God and a Tail”:
Shorn of his magical blade, Yato is effectively defenceless. Good thing for him that his next task is so straightforward: find a lost kitten. Single-minded pursuit seems just the thing to resolve the case. Pity that immortal Yato disregards the bus bearing down on him. More of a pity that kind-hearted student Hiyori Iki does not.
Hiyori wakes in hospital to learn she survived being hit by a bus without any visible injuries. Or so it seems. At random moments, Hiyori’s soul floats free, leaving her physical body comatose and helpless. Some teens would panic on finding themselves in a ghost-like state. Hiyori? Not so much.
The difference between Mutsumi and Hiyori (aside from the fact one is an ongoing character and the other is not) is Hiyori isn’t profoundly depressed and so has the energy to deal with out of body experiences in addition to all her other teenage problems. Oh, wait, there is a second difference: thanks to her obsession with professional wresting, ghost Hiyori isn’t nearly as defenceless as Mutsumi was.
Other teens would be alarmed at this development. Hiyori adjusts quickly to her new abilities, using them to help grumpy Yato. Her intentions are good but her results are mixed.
In her defence, if the giant monster she led straight to Yato had been open to domestication, it would have been awesome. As it was, nobody died (quite) and Yato does end up with a replacement mystical weapon. So the misstep with the Godzilla-sized ayakashi was forgivable,
When I say “mystical weapon”, I mean “wandering soul of the dead who sometimes takes the form of a weapon.” In this case, the ghost is a boy named Yukine and his weapon-form is a sword.
The Noragami series could head in several different directions after this. It could be “the comic adventures of an incompetent god and its only worshipper (of sorts).” It could also be “the grim tale of what happens to students who learn too much about the world.” The art is appealing, the characters amuse me, and the story is engaging enough that I will read a few more volumes of the series and see where it goes.