Noragami’s Yato and Yukine are an odd, or rather, seemingly dysfunctional pair. They’re both so broken beyond reason that they’ve gone full circle, making them exactly broken enough to be the perfect fit for each other. Of course this isn’t unusual for any kind of protagonist, but it’s not every day that you see two such opposite people thrown together, who then actually manage to make it work.
So why is it that the two of them work so well together, and would it be different if they’d ended up with someone else? To answer that, we take a look at why Yato and Yukine need each other.
1. Yato is kinda hopeless...
Despite being our heroic and, errrm, valiant main character, it’s evident from the start that Yato has not got it together, in fact he starts off as being, well, kind of pathetic. Virtually penniless, and quickly losing his only Shinki, in part due to his “sweaty hands”, Yato is not quite the God of Calamity he claims to be, with his lack of believers making his existence in this world itself a bit shaky.
But then along comes Yukine, someone young, impressionable, who has no idea how hopeless Yato is as a God (and as a person), though admittedly he learns these things quite quickly. Yukine gives Yato a little project to work on, if you will, with him knowing so little about the world as a new Shinki, and Yato wanting a subordinate around that he can order about. Even the though the two end up more as partners than anything, having a Shinki like Yukine, who knows when to take orders, helps Yato keep what little ego he has left intact, and stand around other Gods without feeling like a total failure.
Although often coming off as an egotistical pain in the ass, Yato can be surprisingly negative at times and can struggle to find ways out of tight situations. Despite his own shortcomings, Yukine gives Yato not only the encouragement to keep going, but a reason to not disappear or go back to his old, and probably easier, ways of killing and calamity.
2. but then so is Yukine.
Yato’s hopelessness is hidden behind his relentless enthusiasm and charisma, whereas Yukine is not so good at either of the above. At 14 years old, Yukine is still only a child, so not only does he know very little of the Far Shore, Gods and Shinki, but he’s not even finished compulsory education! So an uneducated spirit stuck in perpetual puberty, sounds great.
Yukine’s inability to trust others is one of the biggest factors in the development of his character, with him going out of control for a majority of the show’s first season and trying to get away from everyone. Although Yato might not seem like the best person to solve the problem, given his laziness and general untrustworthiness, the fact that he won’t give up on Yukine despite the pain and Blight he’s causing is something Yukine really needed, to give him some place in his current world, and someone who he can really trust.
Given his youth, Yukine will no doubt continue to have problems with trust and coping with his own emotions, but Yato’s unorthodox but honest methods are exactly what he needs to pull himself together. The fact that both Yato and Yukine have their own problems and trials helps change their bond as God and Shinki into something much closer and more equal, where they learn to understand and help each other.
3. They're homeless, both literally and...
As we know Yato and Yukine are currently without residence, being kindly put up by Kofuku and Daikoku, but a home isn’t just a place to eat dinner and sleep at night. Having only been in the Far Shore for a relatively short time Yukine actually knows very few people, and had to make a completely fresh start with no one close to him at all. An odd contrast to Yato, who was once known by many but has gradually been forgotten or scorned by those who still know of him.
Both have ended up in a situation where they have no one close to them, friends or family, until Hiyori Iki helps bring them together. Despite her presence being pivotal to the forming of Yato and Yukine’s relationship, as the one who forced them to be honest with each other, such as during Yukine’s ablution arc, the two have reached a stage where even without her around, they function like a family unit.
Although wanting to be very much the superior, guardian type, Yato ends up being like an older brother to Yukine, sometimes guiding him, sometimes screwing around with him, but always wanting what’s best for him. Yukine in turn is the good kid, younger brother, trying his best to improve for both their sakes, and dealing with the results when Yato inevitably does something stupid. Although they often seem to be at each other’s throats, it’s that silly banter and pushing each other’s buttons that lets them feel like they’re in safe company, and gives them a home to come back to.
4. Strength is earned, not bought.
One of the big differences between Yato and Yukine, and the other Gods and Shinkis, is the journey they are on, growing as people. Whereas other Gods are well settled with their shrines and with long standing Shinki around them, Yato and Yukine aren’t quite there yet, with them only recently finding a place to sleep at night, let alone anything else. And it’s because of this that they’re perfect for each other, going on a journey that Yato couldn’t do with an older, more experienced Shinki, and that Yukine couldn’t do with a God that actually had his life together.
At the heart of it, Noragami is a story about the two of them fighting off old foes and memories, and creating a new, stable life where they can both be happy. And the biggest part of that journey is the two of them getting stronger, both physically and emotionally. Although an incredibly strong fighter, Yato has to become stronger morally and emotionally, becoming someone others can rely on and who can look after himself. Yukine on the other hand has to become stronger physically, so he can protect both himself and the people he cares about, hence his eventual becoming a Blessed Regalia.
The fact that the two of them are going through these hardships at the same time is what bonds them together so tightly, which is hard to do under normal circumstances. With any other God Yukine may have never become a Blessed Regalia, and with any other Shinki Yato may have once again fallen into his old ways of death and destruction.
5. Opposites attract.
If it’s not obvious enough already, Yukine and Yato are pretty different when it comes to almost everything, with Yato being a strong, old, trickster, and Yukine as a weak and young, but honest boy. But as they say: opposites attract, and there are few better examples than this pair.
These differences are what make them essential to each other, being able to fill in each other’s flaws and weaknesses, and helping each other understand when they are wrong or need to do something differently. This stands for the big events, like Yato trying to stop Yukine from committing sins, to the little things such as Yukine trying to stop Yato’s daily bouts of laziness.
Like most partnerships, it can be important to be able to balance each other out because after all, no one’s perfect. But as guys with some serious issues, Yukine and Yato have some serious balancing out to do.
So Yato and Yukine have got quite a lot going for them, and given the cast of Noragami so far, I’m not sure anyone else could lead either of them down the right path. On top of that with Hiyori by their side it seems nigh impossible to tear them apart, though their bond is often put to the test.
So what do you think about Yato and Yukine? Are they the perfect fit, like peas in a pod, brothers? Or do you think they should ditch each other and see how that goes. Let us know in the comments below.