Big things have been happening over the past few chapters of Noragami: Stray God, getting a much closer look at the relationship between a god and his Shinki while also exploring more of this mysterious character known as the Stray. Will things continue to heat up? Let’s take a look.
Noragami: Stray God Vol. 4 (Kodansha Comics)
Translated by: Alethea and Athena Nibley
After finishing up the conflict between Yato and Yukine, I wasn’t sure where the manga would be going. Noragami: Stray God has been a surprisingly light on story kind of series at this point, choosing to focus more on its characters and the conflicts and drama they have with one another. That’s perfectly fine, since this allows the creator to tell a different kind of tale and draw readers in through the strong characterization, but it still ultimately felt like it was missing a hook of sorts; something else that ups the stakes, adds a new and interesting conflict, or at least gives something else for the audience to grasp onto.
Happily, this volume really delivers on that, setting the stage for some real drama and excitement somewhere soon or later down the line. The story here starts focusing on two new plotlines (or at least expounds upon one plotline that hasn’t been given much focus yet), each with their own unique problems and conflict. The first: what happens to the friendship between Hiyori, Yato and Yukine after her problem is fixed? Will they stay friends or is she destined to forget the two like all humans do after they meet or encounter spirits? It’s heavy stuff and a serious issue with how it’s presented and the examples that keep popping up of this happening to others (though I’m not feeling this stronger connection between Yato and Hiyori the story seems to be implying exists). I love how the manga interweaves it with past stories and also with the other major focus of the volume: Bishamonten and the growing number of Shinki she has.
The writing by Adachitoka continues to be great and even improves in one area. A lot of the manga previously has had a lot of exposition going on in order to make everything introduced in the series make total sense in the logic of this world. Most of the time, the exposition has been fairly enjoyable in how it used examples to clarify certain points at times. It can get tiring though, so it is very nice to say that the issue really cut down on a lot of the explaining. Everything talked about was built off old ideas that are reintroduced in interesting ways and didn’t bog you down in the details (for the moment at least, since the excommunicated situation mentioned at the beginning seems like it was brought up for an important reason). Otherwise, the dialogue is solid, the humor and drama are still pretty effective, and the characterization and writing mechanics seemed fairly strong. It’s wonderful as usual and I’m hoping it continues to improve itself.
Noragami: Stray God Vol. 4 feels like the series is hitting its stride now. All the exposition and buildup of its of world and characters are done, and the story is taking off by raising the stakes and the drama of the situation through its excellent writing and characterization, leading to such a fantastic experience. This is such a strong series right now and it has the makings of getting even better than it already is judging from this issue. Here’s hoping the future looks bright for this manga.
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