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Shinki ( (しん) () , shinki, lit. "divine vessel/instrument"), known as regalia in the anime,[1] are spirits that gods use for various tasks and purposes.

Origins

A Shinki is made from a loose spirit ( () (りょう) , shiryou) of a dead human, particularly ones who died through murder or accidents.[2] Because of this, it is common for shinki to be young,[2] although there are exceptions such as Kuraha and Ruha.

Loose spirits can be partially or fully corrupted by ayakashi.[3] If a human commits suicide, their loose spirit will be completely possessed by ayakashi since their soul has already given in to evil. Therefore, these souls can never become shinki.[2] However, if a loose spirit is attacked by an ayakashi and only partially corrupted, they can potentially still become a shinki, although their vessel form will be partially or entirely unusable (e.g. dull, torn, broken, etc).[3]

Lifespan

It is unspecified whether shinki have a natural lifespan. However, it is shown that they can live for over 1,200 years.[4] They can also be killed by other beings of the Far Shore, such as ayakashi,[5] gods,[6] or other shinki.[7] When a shinki dies, their name disappears, and the owner god will sense it.[3]

Creation of a Shinki

When a god sees a loose spirit and wants to take them as their shinki, the god must give them two names: one for the human form, and another for the vessel form.[8] The kanji character of the vessel name will then be imprinted on the soul’s body, marking the ownership for the said spirit. This imprint seals away the God's Greatest Secret, which includes details of the shinki's past life, including name and cause of death.[9] When the creation process is completed, the god immediately becomes aware of the details of the shinki's life.[10]

It should be noted that many of the Kanji used to name a shinki to use the older form or an alternate form of the supposed characters, or uses the on'yomi version of the character. Therefore, watchers and readers may notice that some of the Kanji imprinted on the shinki’s body look different than the actual character.

Naming

The first pronunciation is used in the shinki's human name, and it is based on the native (kun'yomi) reading for the Kanji character. Using this name changes the shinki into their human form. Usually, another Kanji character of the god’s choice is added to the first name to become the shinki’s name as a person. This Kanji character serves as a shinki's "family/clan name", and a god can have one or more family names as desired. For example, Yato’s is "ne" ( () ), Tenjin’s is "yu" ( () ) and Kofuku’s is "dai" ( (だい) ). Bishamonten has two family names, "ma" ( () ) for Kazuma and "ha" ( () ) for the rest of her shinki.

The second pronunciation is the vessel name, and it is based on the Sino-Japanese (on'yomi) reading for the said character. Using the second name changes the shinki into their vessel form. Usually, the character "ki" ( () , meaning "vessel") is added to the end of the second name to become the shinki’s name as a divine vessel.

Vessel Forms

A shinki’s vessel can take the form of objects,[3] including weapons[11] and clothing,[12] or animals,[12] including mythical creatures.[13] It is also possible for a shinki to maintain their human appearance in their vessel form, although this seems to be exceedingly rare.[14] It is said that if a vessel takes an anachronistic form (not of the era they were named), it means that the god and shinki are particularly compatible.[15]

An individual shinki's vessel form will vary from one owner god to another. For example, Mayu takes the form of a dagger as Yato's shinki,[11] but a smoking pipe as Tenjin's.[2]

Some vessel forms have unique abilities. For example, Chouki has tracking abilities[12][16] and Chiki has the Liberation ability.[17]

A Shinki's Past Life

The God's Greatest Secret ( (かみ) () (ごと) , kami no himegoto) refers to a shinki's real name from when they were human. The name bestowed to a shinki by a god seals the memories of the shinki's human life, including their true name.[9] If a shinki learns their true name, the posthumous name given by the god is destroyed. They then become instantly corrupted by the memories of their own untimely death, turning them into a karma ayakashi. At this point, the shinki's soul is unsalvageable, and the only option is to slay the karma.[18]

Notably, The Stray seems to be immune to her Secret, as she is aware of how she died[19] and is able to discuss the topic to no ill effect.[18]

Responsibilities of a Shinki to Their God

A shinki is meant to obey their master at all times and control their emotions. It is considered disrespectful to their master for a shinki to bow to a different god[2] or to draw a borderline against their god.[20][21]

Yato is stung by Yukine

Most importantly, a shinki controls themselves from falling into temptations that lead to committing sins. This is because the name bestowed onto them is actually connected to the god’s life. Therefore any kind of disturbance - intense emotions, sins committed, death - will be sensed by the god in the form of stabbing pain through the back of their neck. If it continues, it will eventually become blight.[22]

Yukine's back, covered in blight

Hiyori assumes that this pain goes in both directions, but this is not the case– the pain only transfers from the shinki to the god.[23] Since shinki were previously humans, they understand the concepts of good and evil. On the other hand, gods cannot do "wrong"[24] since good and evil are human constructs. Therefore, a shinki's sins transfer pain and blight as a way of teaching their god right and wrong.[23] Notably, since concepts of right and wrong vary between individuals, the definition of a blight-causing sin also varies. For example, Kugaha commits many acts of manipulation and violence but does not blight his masters since he believed that his actions were righteous.[24] And, although Yukine blights Yato whenever he has base thoughts, Takemikazuchi reasons that this happens only because Yukine was wrongly taught to believe that his urges are sinful.[25]

When a shinki blights their god, appropriate action is taken against them. Usually, an Ablution ritual is performed for the shinki, forcing them confess all of their sins. Depending on the severity of the offense, the shinki may be excommunicated after having their name released,[26] or in severe cases, killed by their god.[22] However, gods seem to vary greatly in how they approach this. For example, Yato,[22] Bishamonten,[7] and Kofuku[15] have endured extensive blight instead of releasing or killing their shinki, but Tenjin has revoked a name after being blighted only once.[26]

Releasing a Shinki's Name

When a shinki wants to quit their job and serve a new master, it is common practice for the god to release the name given to them. To do so, the god must write the kanji character of the shinki's name, then say their vessel name, followed by "I release you." The name imprinted on the shinki will then disappear, reverting them to a loose spirit.[11] Once released, a shinki cannot be given a second name by the same god.[27] The abilities obtained as the god’s shinki will disappear,[2] and they also lose the ability to draw borderlines.[28]

Strays

Notice spoiler.png
"You wanna dig out my tush-crystal, Yukine?!"
The contents of this article and/or its subpages contain manga spoilers.

Strays ( () () , nora) are shinki who have more than one name imprinted on them at once, meaning they have more than one god as their master. Since their loyalties are divided, strays are feared[29] and scorned.[30] Typically, gods will only name a stray in order to use them for unfavorable tasks they would not subject their clan shinki to.[31] However, there are exceptions; namely, Ebisu, who has welcomed strays and even given them the same clan suffix as the rest of his shinki.[32]

It is demonstrated that strays have a particular advantage against other shinki. In order to use a spell on a stray, the caster must recite all of their names before reciting the invocation[33]– otherwise, the spell fails.[34] Strays can also change vessel forms directly should their name be called, traveling from the hands of one god to another.[35] Killing a stray may also end up backfiring, as all the gods linked to a killed stray will simultaneously be notified by the great pain of losing a shinki.[36]

The following is a list of currently known strays:

Blessed Vessels

Yukine's blessed vessel form

A Blessed Vessel ( (はふり) (うつわ) , hafuri no utsuwa) is a rare type of shinki whose vessel has changed from one form to another. To become a blessed vessel, the shinki must risk their name or life to protect their god,[7] although doing so does not guarantee transformation.[6]

So far, there are three known blessed vessels in Noragami:

  • Kazuma evolved from a black nail earring into a sakura-shaped earring. He achieved this by offering to become a stray in exchange for having Yato save Bishamonten's life.[41]
  • Yukine evolved from a single blade into dual blades with ragged bandages as the hilt, one shorter than the other. He achieved this by protecting Yato from Bishamon's attack.[7]
  • Nana, known infamously as "the Burier" (はふる (もの) , Hafuru-mono), was previously a blessed vessel of Arahabaki.[27] Her vessel form at the time is currently unknown, but it is said that she revived after being struck down by Heaven.[42]

References

  1. Episode 1: A Housecat, A Stray God, and a Tail
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Chapter 4: A Few Godly Perspectives (Vol 2)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Chapter 14: Signs (Vol 4)
  4. Chapter 68: The Road Home (Vol 18)
  5. Chapter 21: Don't Go— Stay With Me (Vol 6)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Chapter 66: Smoldering Sparks (Vol 17)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Chapter 20: Prayerful Oath (Vol 6)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Chapter 3: Like Snow (Vol 1)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Chapter 52: The Near Shore and the Far Shore (Vol 14)
  10. Chapter 44: Cut + Ties (Vol 12)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Chapter 1: The Man in the Sweatsuit (Vol 1)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Chapter 7: Benighted (Vol 2)
  13. Chapter 35: Death (Vol 9)
  14. Chapter 88: Reasons (Vol 23)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Chapter 42: Causes Nothing But Disaster (Vol 11)
  16. Chapter 23: Guiding Light (Vol 6)
  17. Chapter 49: Fight Without Quarter (Vol 13)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Chapter 48: You, My Dear One (Vol 13)
  19. Chapter 94: Hope (Vol 24)
  20. Chapter 16: Hell (Vol 5)
  21. 21.0 21.1 Chapter 84: Stray (Vol 22)
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Chapter 11: A Name (Vol 3)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Chapter 6: Be Afraid (Vol 2)
  24. 24.0 24.1 Chapter 22: What Must Be Done (Vol 6)
  25. Chapter 75: And Then He... (Vol 19)
  26. 26.0 26.1 Chapter 12: To Cut, or Not To Cut (Vol 4)
  27. 27.0 27.1 Chapter 72: Not (Vol 19)
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Chapter 46: Children At Play (Vol 12)
  29. 29.0 29.1 Chapter 34: Such Were Their Desires (Vol 9)
  30. Chapter 9: Abominable Creature (Vol 3)
  31. Chapter 82: Time To Move Forward (Vol 21)
  32. 32.0 32.1 Chapter 73: If You Hear A Scream (Vol 19)
  33. 33.0 33.1 Chapter 39: Until Now and From Now On (Vol 10)
  34. Chapter 17: In Search of a Place to Go (Vol 5)
  35. Chapter 32: She Who Invites (Vol 9)
  36. Chapter 98: Natural Law (Vol 25)
  37. Chapter 30: The Sound of Thread Snapping (Vol 8)
  38. Chapter 57: Where Loyalties Lie (Vol 15)
  39. Chapter 31: Like Parent, Like Child (Vol 8)
  40. Chapter 78: Object of Desire (Vol 20)
  41. Chapter 18: Prayer (Vol 5)
  42. Chapter 59: The Disobedient Ones (Vol 15)

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