Noragami and the power of words.

(From left) Kazuma, Bishamon, Hiyori Iki, Yato, Yukine, and Ebisu
(From left) Kazuma, Bishamon, Hiyori Iki, Yato, Yukine, and Ebisu

The tongue has the power of life and death,
              and those who love it will eat its fruit.
                                                                                     (Proverbs 18:21)

Noragami is without a doubt one of my most favorite series in recent years. I stumbled upon the manga by accident soon after it was launched, and it revived many years of anime draught in my life, when I was just about to give up. Yato was unbearably endearing, and his relationships with those around him amused and touched me on many occasions.

Many themes come to mind with this series, but the power of words and the things we say is something that resounds with me the most.

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I’ve thought long and hard how to write this post, because it’s a subject that is close to my heart. It always bothers me when people don’t care enough about the things they say – words that are gracious, kind, understanding, stern, solemn, mournful, angry, offensive, tactless, sugar-coated, and hurtful. There’s such a fine line between being nice and being truthful, and what we say can literally make someone feel at ease with us, or swear to have nothing to do with us again.

Words are powerful. And we have the power to choose what we want to say.

I’m still learning the importance of choosing my words with care with everyone around me, particularly those closest to me and the ones I work with. It’s so easy and far too tempting to use words that are convenient to me but offensive to others. I’ve had so many occasions where I’ve regretted the things I’ve said because of one split moment of frustration.

It’s so true that what we say can have an effect on others. We think it’s something that can be easily brushed aside. What was that saying? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never kill me”?

It’s probably one of the biggest lies anyone has ever said. Think back to the last time you had that ugly fight with your family. Or an argument with your best friend that led to a relationship breakdown. Or a nasty rumor about you – or created by you – that lingered for weeks and months. There’s a reason why some people have buried such moments in the farthest recesses of their minds: they still hurt.

Toughened heroes like Yato can get beat up on so many occasions himself, but even he gets unnerved by the things people say about him: “It doesn’t matter how many housemaid wishes you grant. You’re a nobody. No one will ever remember you… Until then, please don’t fade away.”

Which is why Noragami resounds with me so much. Because if you think about it, many of the things that were said – whether by antagonists or even other gods like Tenjin – did have an effect that would unleash a series of events.

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Napoleon Hill had once said: Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. Of all the characters, Nora understands this the most, and manipulates everything and everyone around her with this knowledge, especially Yato, Yukine and Hiyori. She’s like a worm that crawls under your skin and never goes away – which is why she’s one of the worst antagonists in anime history in my book.

Suzuha’s tragedy wasn’t just having Kuguha – a senior shinki who taught him what he knew about horticulture – stab him in the back; he believed what this vile traitor said, even when it wasn’t true, since there were other shinkis who were concerned over his disappearance.

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It’s also interesting to see how using hurtful words also reflects a state of the heart – Nora is a stray, and Kuguha only wanted Bishamon to be the strong god that she was supposed to be, instead of someone who takes in lost souls willy-nilly. Kuguha feels insecure that his mistress isn’t living up to her reputation, and Nora (sorry, spoiler alert) has major daddy issues, and completely resents Yato for (sorry spoiler alert again) releasing her as his shinki, thereby completely severing all ties with her.

I’d like to see how words can heal as much as they have hurt people. Yato has been fortunate to have Hiyori with him as a healthy partner. But while this story unfolds, let this be a real-life lesson and reminder to speak wisely; it doesn’t take a lot of words to either make someone’s day.

Or break it.

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