This post contains spoilers from the Noragami manga that has not yet been covered in the anime. We suggest you refrain from reading this post if you aren’t familiar with the plot of the manga!
In the previous part of this post we saw that Yato being Tsukuyomi explains how a minor God survived all these years even without a shrine, and solves the issue of Amaterasu knowing that Yato was just a fake name. However, if Amaterasu knew Yato that well, then why did she act as if she was meeting him for the first time after he was captured for tearing apart the heavens with Sekki? Also why was she hell bent on executing Yato, without even giving him a chance to explain himself. We’ll try to answer those questions in this part, and also take a look at how Yato’s inherent nature does not align with that of a God of calamity!
You can jump to the other parts of this post by clicking the links below!
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Why the strange behaviour Amaterasu?
Yato asunders the heaven with Sekki while stopping Bishamon who was on the verge of killing Father (the crafter, the sly antagonist, the roach that never dies) in Noragami Chapter 69. And for this “grave and heinous crime” Yato was captured (even though he stopped Bishamon) as a rebel and a traitor. The interesting part? Amaterasu, who knew that Yato had a real name back in chapter 37 of the manga, was now acting as if this was the first time she heard of Yato (Chapter 70).
And immediately after this scene, Amaterasu orders Yato to be executed and Yukine to have a punishment worse than death (locked in a box till eternity)! We’d like to point out is that in these chapters (Noragami 70-71), Amaterasu does not seem to have one ounce of anger on her face( meaning she was not in a fit of rage while she passed the judgement) and the death sentence suddenly came out of the blue. She only shows a hint of frustration when her decision is overturned. Why is Amaterasu behaving so strangely?
To answer this question, we’ll quote a small section from this blog here!
As a representative of Heaven itself, Amaterasu has absolutely minimal power to act on her own personal wishes. Her thoughts and feelings about the things transpiring around her have to come second to maintaining the power, virtue, and authority of Heaven. The entire establishment of the gods–and the gods power over earthly and therefore human affairs–literally rests on her. If she bows her head, if she allows her personal feelings to get in the way of what is “right,” then all of Heaven, all the gods, all humanity in turn, could crumble into chaos and ruin.
This kind of explains why Amaterasu could have feigned ignorance on her part. The blog mentioned above then continues to argue how she “never really intended to execute Yato and Yukine” and should not be seen as a bad character in the series. While that’s one way to look at it, there are many who believe that Amaterasu certainly wanted to execute Yato. The reason for this assumption is quite far fetched, but kind of interesting.
It is possible that Amaterasu wanted to execute Yato so that he can reincarnate as Tsukuyomi back in heaven. From the previous post, we know that Tsukuyomi was banished from heaven (because he killed Uke Mochi) and that even if he reincarnates, he can’t go back to Takamagahara. But if Yato really is Tsukuyomi, then in the series he is back to being a part of the heavens (though he is ‘registered’ under a new identity), thanks to Hiyori and her shrine. So basically, we can assume that if he reincarnates now, he will go back to heaven and Father will eventually have to relinquish control over him.
Yato tearing apart the heavens was a blessing in disguise for Amaterasu, giving her the perfect reason to forcefully reincarnate her brother and let him know about his real identity! This would also give her a greater control over how Yato would be brought up (no culling maybe).
But then, was Yato’s reincarnation guaranteed? It sure seems so. As Arahabaki tells Hiyori, if Yato gets executed, the heavens will certainly restore him! (Noragami Chapter 71)
P.S: Notice how Arahabaki says Yato will be “restored”. Restored to his original position? Or is this just a statement that is “Lost in Translation?”
This argument should only be taken with a pinch of salt (even if we go 100% with Yato is Tsukuyomi theory) as there are many flaws that arise with ‘Amaterasu wants Yato to reincarnate’ theory!
The major (tin-foil) assumption that goes into this theory is that Amaterasu is the one who placed Father as a guidepost for a reincarnated Tsukuyomi (the goofball God we all love!) If that’s the case, then why didn’t Amaterasu stop him when she saw that he was using Yato to further his personal motives?
Father is someone who has constantly changed his appearance throughout these years. Even Yato admits early in the series that he doesn’t know what Father might look like (Noragami Chapter 39). So has this changing appearance saved him from the wrath of the Gods? Or has he tricked them into believing that he is already dead. Whatever the reason, Amaterasu probably believed that Father was dead/MIA. This assumption is one of the more plausible ones, seeing how Amaterasu suddenly loses her cool when she knows that this crafter, i.e Father, is a human who returned from the underworld (Noragami Chapter 76). And even though Yato promises to kill him, Amaterasu too plans to mobilise the heaven’s army. Is it because she doubts that this crafter is the guidepost who was assigned to Yato long back. Is Father really that powerful?
This theory still kind of sits on the fence. But the questions raised about Amaterasu’s behaviour in the series are quite legit, and it points to the fact that she and Yato have some kind of a history. Is she trying to protect Yato, or does she have any ulterior motives. We can’t wait for Adachitoka to reveal more details about her in the coming arcs of Noragami (because there are some who believe that Amaterasu was reincarnated too, especially due to her appearance).
The true nature of gods:
In this part we’ll try to explain how a God’s true nature cannot be changed. As Arahabaki points out to Yato during the Kumuhakari (meeting of Gods), the inherent nature of a God’s character and his mind essentially remain the same even after they have been forcefully reincarnated and brought up under the watchful eyes of heaven. The shinkis who act as their guideposts can only diminish this inherent nature to a certain extent and not curb it entirely.
Take Daikoku and Kofuku’s example. Kofuku’s inherent nature as a God of Poverty is to cause trouble to others in a way that makes them go broke. Daikoku (her shinki) sure tries to rein her actions, but he never really changes her inherent behaviour. Because, that’s not possible. The same goes with the rebel Emishi Gods, who felt their blood stirring as they watched Yato stand up to Takemikazuchi. This was due to the fact that the Emishi Gods’ disposition is to rebel against the heavens, as they had unfairly(Gods can be wrong? No?) annexed their village (Noragami Chapter 59). Even a major God like Takemikazuchi (who is also known as the God of swords) has an inherent nature of fighting battles and going to war (can be seen when he thanks Ebisu in Chapter 58 of Noragami)
Yato avoided the Emishi Gods’ question to him about his inherent nature. Why? Because he feels uncomfortable doing the things a God of calamity usually does. Consider Rabo, a human who was reborn as a god after evil wishes were made upon his death. He is a fellow God of calamity who has an affinity towards killing Humans, Gods and Ayakashis alike. He is shown to have a cold and cautious personality. If Yato truly is a God of calamity he shouldn’t feel uncomfortable “culling the herd.”
Yato has been deceived by Father since he was a child. Rather than considering killing humans as his duty, Yato is under the impression that he is “playing” with Nora. The better he got at “playing” the more attention and praise he received. If Yato had any doubts in his mind, they were allayed brilliantly by Father (an evil guidepost). He even goes to the extent of asking Yato to refrain from interacting with others so that he doesn’t get influenced by the outside world.
However, once he encounters Sakura, his base emotions become clearer. Fans have been right to point out that Yato changed his behaviour after Sakura told him that killing people was wrong. However, they often tend to miss the point that Yato ACTUALLY HELPED SAKURA TOO. Knowing that Sakura will be Ayakashi fodder soon, Yato decides to give her a name and make a shinki out of her (Noragami Chapter 46). He even goes to the extent of hiding her from Father. Why? Because he realised Father would not be in accordance with his actions.
If Yato is Tsukuyomi then it would explain why his disposition is so different from that of a God of Calamity. Tsukuyomi is shown to be someone who cares for his subordinates and helps people (though he is also known for his anger too in some versions). But very little information is available about Tsukuyomi out there (if going through ancient Japanese mythological records is not an option). He is mentioned frugally in the Nihon Shoki compared to Amaterasu and Susanoo. Nothing much about his personality is known, other than what we have seen from other literary adaptations (some of which portray him to be a humble god who fulfills the wishes of his followers).
Till Sakura teaches him, Yato was unaware of how the world worked. The only thing he knew was killing. But once he started understanding the ways of people, their joys and their sorrows, he wanted to help them more. When Sakura goes to Tsuyu (Tenjin’s plum spirit) for help, the latter advises her to put her master’s innate divine nature to the best use. Tsuyu is telling Sakura to use Yato’s intent to kill to protect people and kill Ayakashis, however, it seems like Yato’s killing intent disappears quite soon and he is more inclined towards helping everyone (Noragami Chapter 47).
No one asked Yato to help Sakura. If his base emotions were that of a God of Calamity, he shouldn’t have batted an eye at the problems of a lonely spirit. Even after everything that Father did Yato’s base instincts still make him reach out and care for others.
Father might have managed to nullify the threat posed by Sakura, but Yato was still confused and hesitant to continue with the “cull”. This behaviour can be seen in a slightly older Yato (Noragami Chapter 87.2) Yato wanted to remain loyal to his father when he was a kid, but he also came to hate the idea of killing people as he grew closer to his inherent nature.
These conflicting emotions resulted in Yato not having a strong ingrained personality which he could relate to. We can see how confused he is inside in Noragami Chapter 39 when he asks Yukine to help him. He wants to be a God who can bring happiness to people, but thanks to his father, all he is good at is slaying things.
As Tumblr user hellanoragami points out in his post here;
Yato is so, so screwed up as a God. He is very flawed, and I think that’s because he was raised to be something he never was. Even Ebisu called his dreams “humble” and made it obvious that he thought of Yato’s ideals and dreams to be a bit different. Gods exist for the people, not themselves. So clearly, Yato is an oddity.
The True Nature of Gods is an argument which strongly points to the fact that Yato indeed is Tsukuyomi. But that’s not the only one. In the next part of this series, we shall focus on all the foreshadowing and the easter eggs hindden in the plot which further strengthen the theory of Yato being Tsukuyomi!