Noragami’s Bishamon, The Great Goddess of War

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Kathleen Townsendhttp://www.lookingglassreads.com/
Kathleen writes about anime and edits light novels. When she’s not bingeing the latest shounen or isekai, she can be found shouting about books, podcasts, and other awesome nerd stuff on her blog.

For Women’s History Month, we’re featuring the incredible women of anime, from studios to characters and timeless creators.

I love nothing more than awesome characters and watching cool anime fight scenes. What’s even better, though, is finding an anime with an amazing lady kicking bad guys into the stratosphere and taking names!

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Whether it’s the latest shounen, a traditional fantasy adventure or an action-packed genre-straddler, there are tons of awesome women in anime. Let’s get to know one of my favorites, Bishamon from Noragami. Because, honestly, you can’t get any more awesome than a goddess of war!


Who is Bishamon?

In the real world, Bishamon is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune and is usually depicted as male. But we’re talking Noragami‘s gods and goddesses today, including its female take on the goddess of war.

These gods are ancient, and Bishamon is no exception. She’s steeped in centuries of battle, and is no stranger to facing everything from massive vents pouring out evil creatures to spending time with fellow divinity.

Bishamon Noragami

And calling her heavily armed would be an understatement. She’s greatly loved by those that serve her and is one hell of a strong woman (and we’re talking humans, spirits or gods!).

Bishamon paints quite the intimidating picture—she’s basically a walking armory. Swords, guns, whips, a giant lion—you name it! If it could be used as a weapon, she’s probably got it. Even her earring isn’t really an earring, but a Regalia (a spirit loyal to her) that can transform into additional weapons on command to assist her.

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Bishamon fights for many things. She clears the world of evils encroaching on humanity and searches for justice for those who were killed while under her care. Absolutely nothing can stop her when she’s out to exact revenge on wrongdoers—not even wounds. No matter what’s thrown at her, Bishamon faces it head on.


More than just a goddess

Bishamon isn’t just a war goddess. Family is also incredibly important to her.

There may be no blood relation in the family Bishamon has built, but her found family is everything to her. She has and will always go to hell and back for anyone in her care. She’ll fight to the bitter end for her friends and family with little regard to her own well-being.

When Bishamon stumbles upon a lost spirit wandering the mortal world, she reaches out to them, providing them with a home and new place within the world no matter their circumstances or who they are.

If the spirit is infected with blight, she heals them first, taking them in even if they’ll never quite be able to transform into something overtly useful ever again. This doesn’t matter, though. Everyone has a place within her mansion, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

Bishamon Noragami

Wait, she’s a war goddess with a huge, loving family? Yep! Bishamon isn’t just blindly battle-driven (though Yato might disagree), staying rooted in her fight for justice and for those that cannot fend for themselves. She even rids the world of evil that’s invisible to mortal humans, too.

Most gods only help a handful of spirits that they turn into Regalia. After all, having any more is simply too dangerous. Each time one of these spirits commits a wrongdoing, the god feels that pain. In the worst case, this can kill the god. For Bishamon? It’s nothing.


It gets complicated

But things can also get complicated. While Bishamon is in a revenge-driven search for justice, she trends to get a bit, well, one-track-minded.

In some cases, this means some moral collateral damage, which she considers acceptable in some cases, like making an unintended clearing in a forest. It might not be preferred, but it’s OK.

For her, there’s a line between justice and irrational vengeance. From an outside perspective, Bishamon walks that line, yet she always follows the path she sees as correct, never sacrificing her ultimate goal.

Bishamon Noragami

At one point in Noragami, Yato mentions how a god’s actions are always the right actions, because they’re final. And, sure, that’s the nature of the gods for you. But Bishamon learns and changes, growing despite being an all-powerful being worshipped by many.

I get it, change is hard. Anyone who’s tried to pick up a new hobby or learn a sport knows this all too well. It can take time to learn new things, unlearn others and change your habits for your own betterment.

Bishamon goes through…a time…in Noragami. But she comes out a changed woman. She’s grown, despite being an ancient goddess with near-infinite power. She’s willing to start over again…and again.

This is what I love most about her. She’s a strong woman who is kind and cares for others, fights against evil and stay true to what she believes. And even when she’s wrong, she can see the other side.

Change might not be immediate for her, but she takes the steps. And all of this? Well, it simply makes her more real.

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