In Noragami, not only do we get to know the origin of the Gods but also the importance of their instruments. In every religion, Gods are seen to be adorned with weapons or objects, which gives them a sense of identity. While Gods of War are seen with sharp weapons and garb; Gods of Wisdom and Knowledge often possess instruments of literary importance.
The instruments and the drappings that we see them carry are nothing but Shinki.
Well,can anybody become a Shinki? Do they turn into a stray easily? Let’s find out!
What Is Shinki In Noragami?
Shinki are weapons of a God. Adachitoka mentions in their work as a note, that the word “Shinki” is supposed to be pronounced as Jingi(神器). As per the Kanji, we find in the original manga, Shinki translates to the Japanese terms ‘shin’(神) which means God or a Holy Spirit, and ‘ki’(器) which means an instrument. So, in literal translation, Shinki is God’s instrument. We see that almost every God in Noragami possesses at least one Shinki after naming them. It is a mutual benefit situation where a God owns a lost spirit and gives them a purpose in the afterlife.
A Shinki’s vessel form differs among God. Not all Shinki can transform into a deadly weapon. While some Shinkis turn out to be ruthlessly destructive and formidable, others can be as harmless as a cow!
So, as Father says, a Shinki’s vessel materializes putting together the nature of the master and the attributes of the spirit. This is why Yatogami, the God of Calamity has always had sharp objects to rend ayakashis; most of them were swords of different sizes as a weapon as his Shinkis.
Since deities exist because of people’s wishes God tries their best to keep them safe even after death as part of their family. Human beings come out as the most virtuous entities in the mortal world. Gods are born from them. That is an explanation why these Shinkis climb up to become Guides. Masters with a single regalia turn to them for showing the future. This forms an indestructible bond between them.
A very endearing example of shinki-God relation could be how Yato was almost like a light for Yukiné, who was afraid of the darkness. Continuing that is Ebisu and Iwami’s relation. Kunimi tells (albeit painfully) that Ebisu always trusts Iwami no matter how many times he reincarnates. Indeed, Iwami is like a diary for Ebisu and tells him about his missions and desires in every reincarnation.
Who Can Become A Shinki?
Generally, pure untainted spirits can only become Shinki or Regalias(神器) whom the Gods use for various tasks and purposes. They are the spirits of people whom they think to deserve a second chance in life. They are provided with reasons and determination in the afterlife. Shinkis have the ability to transform into items or weapons and serve their god when their name has been called.
That said, it is not always that a Shinki will respond to a summoning. It’s hard to tell whether all shinki are capable of this. Yukine is a hafuri here, so we can’t be sure if his new status affects his ability to resist his master’s call or not. However, there are other instances of shinki not coming when their master summons them. Takemikazuchi’s senior shinki outright refused to respond to his call the night they killed him. And then there’s Kiun who apparently can simply sleep through being summoned.
This aspect of regalia gets much more problematic when a Nora enters the scene. Hiiro ignored Yato several times- when Yato and Ebisu called her at the same time, she chose Ebisu; when Yato was calling her to fight off the masked ayakashi, she did not respond.
Warrior Gods and gods like Yato, use their weapons to slay ayakashi. Because ayakashis are tainted spirits who gave in to their dark side. They have nowhere to go other than roaming around in the Far Shore waiting for salvation. These pure loose spirits, without a name, eventually become ayakashi fodder. Only brave deities like Bishamonten and Ebisu open their arms to these homeless spirits even if they get blighted.
But there is a way to make ayakashi as regalias too. Father has been naming ayakashis for a long time. He uses the Word of Yomi or Koto no Ha to name them. Even Ebisu tried to bear that power but he always ends up unsuccessful.
The Crafter has mastered the art of naming ayakashis and he even named Mizuchi, who is an unholy water spirit. Yato confirms that Ayakashis can turn into regalias. That is why it was not surprising for him to see Yukine as Father’s shinki.
When Does A Shinki Become A Stray?
Noragami has always placed heavy emphasis on names – be it Gods themselves or their trusted shinkis. While the names of Gods differ from culture to culture and even through ages, a shinki’s name is sacred.The act of receiving a name, is a prestigious badge of honor to a mere human spirit.
Then what happens when a Shinki receives more than one name? They become a Nora or a Stray. As Adachitoka explains in the manga, Noras are similar to any stray animal. Different masters call the same Shinki with different names.
Shinkis can also become strays if their masters die and never reincarnate. In such a case, Gods born from a kids game or a single wish tend to meet this fate and their unfortunate death may leave their Shinki masterless. These Shinki with a name are hopeless. They can defend themselves against ayakashi but they eventually lose their way. These shinki become purposeless unless a kind God like Ebisu wants to give them a second name.
They are despised by Gods but ironically a good number of them prefer to keep a Nora handy. They use these stray Shinkis to do their dirty work; which they don’t want their own Shinki to drag into. And that makes Nora a double-edged sword.
A Nora has more than one name. So when faced with the enemy having a mutual Shinki can turn the table in a battle. Another advantage is that Noras become immune to spells and incantations. If the opponent doesn’t know all the other names of a Nora, it becomes difficult to draw the hierarchy.
Although these “respected” Gods take a Nora to do their bidding, some Gods prefer using them as their only Shinki. And surprisingly they are as potent as any other regalia. The notable one among them has to be Hiiro; as Father’s weapon dubbed Chiki. Chiki is a fatal weapon amongst shinkis when it comes to battle. There are barely any shinkis that can actually put up a fight with Chiki. This overpowering comes from the fact that when Chiki touches any other shinki, the shinki’s name cracks.
What Is A Blessed Vessel?
A shinki can evolve from its original form to a better form after sacrificing themselves for their god. A shinki with this characteristic is called a Blessed regalia (祝の器, hafuri no utsuwa, meaning a blessed vessel) or a hafuri vessel. However, this is a rare sight even among old Shinkis with a strong bond.
Once a shinki becomes blessed regalia, the new form will last forever, and it also grants a power upgrade in vessel form. But, is being a blessed vessel always a reason for celebration? No. The word “Blessed” is only a euphemism for “Burial” ; in the same sense we use “rest” instead of “illness.”
The Shinki that gave shape to this phrase, “hafuru-mono” or “hafuri” was Arahabaki’s shinki later has been named by Bishamonten as Nana. Her impressive act of faithfulness towards her name scares the Heavens and that is why she is the “burial vessel”.
The gravity of a hafuri is quite evident from Takémikazuchi’s fixation on Kiun turning into one. However, a few beings from the far shore are not the keenest about turning into a hafuri, and Kiun is one of them. While some may think that he is spouting things out of jealousy, he is actually trying to help Yukiné.
Kiun’s fear is established by his master’s past, as the God of Lightning is forbidden from using his true power. Hence, he fears that if he were to become a blessed vessel, he would lead to his master’s downfall.
However, the hierarchy of Blessed Vessels does not rank above Amaterasu’s Three Imperial Treasures. They are absolute and no spells can make them submit. Thus, blessed or not all Shinkis are the same when it comes to the Heavens.
What do you think about the other aspects of a Shinki? Can Yukine come back to Yato after being Father’s Shinki? Let us know in the comments if we missed something!