Nisemonogatari – 04

Come at me, bro!

We ended last week with Koyomi about to head home to save his sister(s). But what trouble is she/are they in? Why is Tsubasa involved? All I’ll say is, I’m looking forward to seeing (and hearing for the first time) a certain blonde (not quite) vampire.

Koyomi comes home to his sisters’ room, finding Tsukihi apologetic, but Karen defiant, insisting that she did nothing wrong and refusing to talk. She gets Koyomi upset enough to slap her, when Tsubasa steps in from the shadows to stop him. This is the first physical appearance by Tsubasa Hanekawa, with the brand new look.

Turns out Tsubasa has been helping the Fire Sisters during the summer, as she reveals to Koyomi in private once they relocate to his room. She provides him with all the information she has, that Karen has fallen victim to the same curse that they had been investigating up to this point and that the culprit is a man by the name of Kaiki Deishuu – the very same man who Koyomi met outside Suruga’s house. He also learns how Tsubasa had coerced Hitagi into letting him go: with the very simple threat of confessing to him.

Is this really the same Tsubasa?

Koyomi’s image of Tsubasa helping Karen. Yup, still a pevert.

At this point, Koyomi naturally decides that, with his sister in trouble and his friend/admirer/class rep over to help, the highest priority for him at this point is to take a bath. This gets him some alone time, which makes it the perfect time for first return of yet another character.

Shinobu makes her first (blurry) appearance of the season.

Shinobu Oshino is here, and this time she talks, for the first time ever since she became what she is now. A vampire doesn’t need to bathe (Koyomi notes in the novel that due to how vampires can control their image, they don’t get dirty), but hey, she wanted to try out that fancy “shampoo” thing, and Shaft has fans to pander to, you know? Turns out she was the one responsible for breaking the handcuff chains for Koyomi’s escape, not some sheer force of will on his part upon seeing his sister in trouble. She’s also happy to cut off and eat (!) the parts still attached to his wrist.

And, living up to her adoptive namesake, Shinobu has some story-critical things to say, playing the role of the missing Meme Oshino by explaining to Koyomi the nature of Karen’s curse. It is called “Fire Wreathed Bee” (Kakkoi Hibachi), and its sting will render the victim both paralyzed and feverish, eventually killing her. Unfortunately, Shinobu has no solution, as all her knowledge comes from being forced to listen to Meme ramble when they were living together during Bakemonogatari. She could eat the bee just like she did to the cat at the end of Tsubasa Cat, but she can’t do anything about the sting.

I know it’s shaped like one, but that’s not a donut, Shinobu!

Naturally the two take far longer in the bath than is natural for Koyomi to by himself, leading Tsukihi to poke her head in. No manners, this girl. She returns calmly 10 seconds later with a kitchen knife (and a saucepan lid for defense), but fortunately that’s enough time for Shinobu to disappear and for Koyomi to convincingly play dumb enough for her to leave him (them) alone.

Tsukihi will not tolerate some foreign loli bathing with her brother.

Before the episode ends with Koyomi and Shinobu still in the bath, they mention briefly the life they have to lead together from now on, as two not-quite-vampires who are forever linked by wounds they have inflicted on each other. Shinobu is quick to remind him that he may be cursed with a vampire’s lifespan, forcing him to live on even as all his loved ones die off, a phenomenon that she as a 500 year old (former) vampire is acutely aware of. She offers to let him kill her, giving him back his humanity and mortality, but Koyomi brushes it off, refusing to think about such things, and only reaffirms what she said earlier, that he won’t forgive her and she won’t forgive him, and the two are cursed to live on together like this.

“I won’t forgive you, and you won’t forgive me.”

Loli (actually 500 years old) Vampire Fanservice!

I can’t believe that this is an actual undoctored shot from the TV broadcast of this show.

During SoreMachi, I suspected someone at Shaft had a foot fetish. I’m starting to suspect that that someone is the head man Shinbo, considering how often shots like this appear in their shows.

Shinobu, always able to sneak into the shadows, isn’t at all bothered by Tsukihi’s interruption. Koyomi doesn’t have the same freedom.

4 episodes into this show, each episode has featured either a new OP sequence or a new ED sequence. This new ED animation is my favorite so far.

Maybe it’s because Kizumonogatari is relatively fresh in my mind or because I’m a big fan of Maaya Sakamoto, but this was my favorite episode of the series so far. Not having heard Sakamoto in a loli role before, I was curious how she would play it, especially with that boyish voice of hers. Frankly, the series has another voice actor who would have fit the role quite well, having previously played a loli vampire for another show by Shaft. Regardless, Sakamoto knocked it out of the park, giving us a much more girlish voice than her usual, brimming with sarcasm and dry wit. I was again reminded of why I consider her to be the top voice actor in the industry. That said, Aya Hirano is one of her peers, and it would have been fun to hear her depiction of Shinobu if that had panned out.

Sakamoto’s performance aside, I couldn’t shake my grin during the entire second half of the episode, just from seeing Shinobu in action, finally attaching a personality to the face. A pompous, slightly mischievous woman who seems content to sit back and watch as the mentor figure, but also holding a very deep grudge against Koyomi. She seems to have picked a lot of things from Meme, including calling Hitagi “Tsundere” or Tsubasa “Class Representative” (to the point that she believes that “class representative” is reflective of her appearance, not her position). I imagine some of the specifics might have been lost to most fans, but I also think that a knowledge of Kizumonogatari wasn’t necessary to understand the gist of their situation. Shinobu’s comment about eternal life was a direct reference, but it’s also something that stands fine on its own, a theme found in pretty much any story involving immortals mixing with mortals. Now, why are Shinobu and Koyomi cursed to be together, why are neither of them neither full-on vampires nor regular humans, and what can’t they forgive each other for? If you don’t feel like waiting for the movie, you can read an unofficial English translation at Baka-Tsuki.

It’s been interesting to see how Shaft injects its own identity into the work through the way it adapts the novel, as the bath scene was almost nothing like I imagined. I certainly didn’t picture the dark, spacious, stained glass windowed design, clearly inspired by the settings in some of Shaft’s older works such as Le Portrait de Petit Cossette or Dance in the Vampire Bund. As soon as Shinobu came out, Baroque or Renaissance-esque music came on – fitting as the theme for a 500 year old vampire – strengthening the church-like atmosphere. And I don’t know if it was an artistic choice or a necessity due to censoring for TV or (as is so often the case with Shaft’s visuals) a happy synergy of form following function, but the subtle light blooms and hazy fog used to cover Shinobu’s body made her and the scene look all the more dream-like and mystical. They gave a heavy, ominous feel to the whole scene, as if something sinister was afoot, a feeling that might not have been as prominent had it taken place in a typical small, white, clean Japanese bathroom as I had pictured it. The same sort of thing was happening with the Fire Sisters’ dark and lonely bedroom.

Due to the sheer amount of dialogue in the novels, Shaft has had no choice but to cut out a lot of lines, and they’ve done a good job at it for the most part. If anything, I think they could’ve cut out more. They got creative this episode, showing on the TV in Koyomi’s room the 1st part of his conversation with Tsubasa subtitled and fast-forwarded (even properly attributing it to the correct chapter of the book). Bakemonogatari was never as heavy on the freeze-frame background gags as Shaft’s comedies like Pani Poni Dash! or Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, but perhaps that’s a tool they’re turning to to help to condense Nisio’s writing into a reasonably paced show. With this show having 11 episodes, a 6/5 episode split for Karen Bee/Tsukihi Phoenix probably makes the most sense, and Shaft is going to have to hurry things up if they want to get Karen Bee done with in the next 2 episodes.

This episode also saw the return of Tsubasa. How about that new look with the short hair and no glasses? The show didn’t have the time to explain it, but there was apparently an uproar at the school when she came in with the makeover. Koyomi’s best guess for the reason she changed her look was that she was acting out a rather old-fashioned reaction to trauma – hearbreak in this case – by cutting her hair. Her personality seems unchanged, though we see a bit of her calculating manipulative side here.

The ED has been growing on me little by little, and the new animation sequence this week helped a lot. Many of the same images were used, but there was a lot of new art as well, as well as new fancy 3D effects. Hajime Ueda’s drawings remain as surreal as ever, but this animation showed them in a more coherent way than in the 1st ED animation. The parts showing the Rayman-esque limb-less Karen and Tsukihi drawings dancing like marionettes were my favorite.

If you thought this episode and the 2nd one had more than enough fanservice for the whole series, brace yourself, because there will be lots more next week!

“My body is sweaty, and I can’t move, Nii-chan~”


A math/science geek and a self-dubbed cynical optimist. I don't care if it's deep, if it can make me feel something or laugh, it's fine in my book. @lvlln
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24 Responses to “Nisemonogatari – 04”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    This is the best episode yet!!! And the reason for that is: Seeing Koyomi’s vampire sire Shinobu. That was the best part. GO SHINOBU!! I was wondering what kind of person she’d be since she never spoke a word last season due to being “bored”. She has an attractive voice. After seeing her speak, she’s as spoiled, sadistic, arrogant and haughty as Vampire Bund’s Mina Tepes. Which is a good thing since vampires should act like that, with an aloof personality. Shinobu keeps calling Koyomi “my master” but looks at him like a slave (or food). And their self-destructive, masochistic relationship: So they both hate each other but yet at the same time, they like each other. Weird.

    I asked a couple episodes back but I’m gonna ask again: How loaded can Koyomi’s family possibly be? First, a huge art studio, a living room with a huge bed under a spiral staircase and now a giant bathroom with a shower, a bathtub complete with stained glass windows.

    Tsukihi is a yandere with a brother complex. One glimpse of him with a girl in the bathtub and she rushes for a knife. Besides “Fire Sisters”, they should call them the “Ying-Yang Sisters” since Karen is the tsundere and Tsukihi is the yandere.

    Last but not least, what have they done to Hanekawa?! If not for a direct look at her face, I wouldn’t have recognized her without the long hair and glasses. And it seems she gotten a bit nosey, getting involved in things that doesn’t concern her. They’ve made a switch: Hanekawa cut her hair while Kanbaru grew hers out.

    • lvlln says:

      If you look at the size of the rooms in the Araragi home, I don’t think they could actually all fit into what we see as its exterior. There is so much empty space in those rooms, and even Koyomi’s very roomy bedroom looks tiny when compared to the Fire Sisters’ room or the bathroom. Could Shinobu even have carried out her threat of screaming loudly enough for everyone in the house to hear?

      Shinobu is a very fun character, and I think a good “new” character to the series (in the same way Karen and Tsukihi are “new”) for Koyomi to bounce off of. It’s pretty much impossible for them not to bring up their past and thus their connected future, which makes for a new and interesting dynamic. As she said in this episode, she’s well past her prime, so she’s disattached and cynical, just having some fun looking at the youthful living out their lives while she waits for hers to end. With a trump-card character like Meme Oshino gone, Shinobu has done a good job of making up for some of his absence as that sarcastic older mentor.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Maybe the reason Koyomi’s room is so small compared to his sisters is because his parents were tightly wound with him being the first child. The later siblings are usually spoiled with more stuff from the older one’s point of view.

        You were right about Shaft using elements from Dance in the Vampire Bund like the animation and the stained glass windows in the bathroom since the studio worked both these animes. And you can see from my title, I just adore vampires so I was overjoyed to see Shinobu appear. The theme was definitely fitting for her. And like I said, she’s like Mina Tepes. Once vampires are around, I’m there. Maaya Sakamoto did an awesome performance voicing her.

        With Oshino Meme gone, I wonder how Koyomi plans to save Karen from her disease. I’m still stuck on Tsukihi rushing into the bathroom with a knife just she saw a girl with Koyomi. Talk about a brother complex.

  2. skylion says:

    Good gravy. I mean GOOD FECKIN’ GRAVY. And by that, I mean something far more puerile than I care to type/share. There is fanservice. There is Fanservice. There is FANSERVICE. And then there is this episode. Quite the bravura, eh?

    But, before that, there is this. I was pleased with Koyomi’s surprise: His sister’s were acting all innocent in front of Tsubasa. Yes, son. This is a series about duality and duplicity. Nice underscore there, Shaft.

    From Aquarion EVOL to Mirai Nikki. I am constantly amazed by anime’s ability to travel the three roads of sexuality, mortality, and morality. And like EVOL, this episode takes the subtext and makes it TEXT.

    OMG, DAT BATH SCENE. That was either every damn lolicons greatest dream or worst nightmare. Thanks for pointing out the cathedral like setting of that scene. If anything it only provided a contrast to how derelict it was when the conversation turned to Shinobou and Koyomi being all that was left.

    The nudity is probably going to be discussed from now til, hell, whenever. But I’m reminded of something I watched this past summer. Hanasaku Iroha. The importance of bathing, and bathing together is an deep ritual. Cleansing, and trust. Being vulnerable.

    In this episode we can focus on the nudity. But we miss out on so much by doing so. Here are two characters that changed each other. One by kindness, the other by need.

    In 500 years the list of victims that feed Shinobou’s need is long, horrifying, and really tragic. Until, one act of kindness changes who and what she is.

    Recall in Bake. How Tsubasa/Cat told Koyomi how the Oddities and Humans were not meant to understand one another. Oddities feed off off humans, not matter what they are. From that I took away that Koyomi’s kindness was just as horrifying to the Oddities as the Oddities deprivations were to humans. Kindness as a weapon. No wonder Shinobou talks about death; Koyomi’s giving it to her, or her to him. It’s anathema to her.

    But they shared something. If anything, the connection they share is closer to love than anything shown so far. And they are just lying to one another. Of course she will forgive him. Why go thru the labour of pointing that out unless you so very desperately want the opposite. Of course he will forgive her. He is who he is because of her.

    Kindness. It is such a potent weapon.

  3. skylion says:

    OH HAI. I forgot to point out. I am finally on board with the ED. It has bounce.

    I hope that Maaya gets a chance to sing at some point in Nise. I would be a shame to waste those pipes. Buddy from Fam and Hello, Memories for Tamayura.

    • lvlln says:

      Last time she worked with Shaft, she did the OP to SoreMachi during the same season she was playing the lead in Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge, and I was hugely disappointed that they didn’t have her sing the OP to the latter show instead. Actually, there was another unfortunate near miss there, because Round Table (usually featuring Nino) did the BGM for SoreMachi instead of Arakawa, which actually had a character named Nino.

      But yeah, would love it if she sang one of the OPs like the heroines, but since Shinobu isn’t a heroine proper in this one, I don’t think we’ll see one yet. Hitagi gets to cheat because she is always the heroine. Movies normally don’t have OPs, but maybe they could make an exception for Kizumonogatari, or maybe she could do the ED (assuming supercell doesn’t do it again)? The much darker, heavier nature of Kizumonogatari probably doesn’t make it good for an OP, though.

  4. Reaper says:

    Hanekawa lost her pigtails? WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!
    And OH MY GOD, SHINOBU SPOKE!!! I haven’t read the novels so when I saw that bath scene, I literally froze from the awesomeness, more so with her ‘haughty speech’ and how the two will ‘never forgive’ each other 😀 Now that’s a heroine.

    And yes, the nudity in this wasn’t expected, from Araragi-kun anyway. Made sense in the whole having conversation in the bathroom with an 8-yr old looking pale blonde girl since it would be the only place to have at least some privacy (until Tsukihi walks in unannounced anyway 😛 ), but still, unexpected…Kanbaru has to be watching from somewhere, not that she haven’t seen the goods yet…XD

  5. tatsuya says:

    shinobu voice remind’s me of some one but who ??

    • lvlln says:

      I was personally reminded of Aoi Yuuki’s performance as Mina Tepes in Dance in the Vampire Bund. Naturally, because those are very similar characters, in stature, in physical appearance, and in personality. I couldn’t think of a Maaya Sakamoto role that Shinobu really sounded like, because she usually sounds much more reserved and boyish.

  6. amado says:

    ah finally some time to check out metanorn again. I think ive seen you before in another anime blog, it was either bokutachi or hikikomori.

    anyway, lots of fantastic things with this episode. now we have a rival for eva’s position, both are also depowered to boot.
    and love how tsubasa managed to threaten senjougahara by making araragi her boyfriend. makes me love her more as my fave girl for araragi(even if he’s with hitagi already).

    • lvlln says:

      Yes, I used to write on Borderline Hikikomori. What do you mean by “rival for eva’s position” and “depowered?” I don’t understand the reference.

      • amado says:

        you dont know eva? as in, Evangeline A.K. Mcdowell from mahou sensei negima!?
        she’s the most badass loli vampire out there. she’s literally one of the strongest out there, just below the mage of beginning and above jack rakan.

        like eva, shinobu is not in her prime and has lost majority of her powers. both are also pretty similar in personality.

  7. Snowley says:

    two words: I CAME

    • Kyokai says:


    • skylion says:

      I have to admit to a bit of an orgasm myself. But not that kind. I know I said above that nudity is not the focus…but, yeah, really? Seriously?

      It was one of those rare moments where I was in metatexual delirium. I was on the edge of my seat; not because of the lolicon implications, but because I was thinking, “how far can they really push this”, and “am I watching something that is going to become a watermark, an example, an ur-legend for years to come”.

      But, every single moment of loli exposure was character driven. Because something about how she spoke, the diction, the pacing….was she enjoying this? Is this her new lease on life? Was she testing Koyomi? I think she was. Does my subordinate have the mettle to challenge me.

      It was a very very exiting, odd, unusual, thrilling battlefield, that scene. I think it will be an ur-legend for years to come.

  8. ToastCrust says:

    The scene with Tsukihi was great, haha.

    If you weren’t sure before, you KNOW now what Araragi meant by her being the worst of the two in being reckless.

    • lvlln says:

      Reckless is a good choice of term. There were actually a couple anecdotes in the novel that didn’t make the cut which really demonstrated just how reckless she could be at times, even putting her own body in harm’s way.

  9. Overcooled says:

    I never thought I would say this…but I actually enjoyed the scene where Araragi had a bath with Shinobu. I wasn’t expecting her to talk at all, let alone have an extensive discussion with him and provide him with hints about what was ailing his sister. What a pleasant surprise! I really feel the urge to watch Kizumonogatari now when it comes out.

    I love what SHAFT is doing with the adaptation as well. Okay, I haven’t read any of the official source, but I admit that throwing in interesting visuals just makes long conversations so much more interesting to watch (the novels must be REALLY wordy if this is a condensed version, hmm?) His bathroom literally made NO SENSE, but it was awesome, so it’s okay. SHAFT should make a sub-company that designs houses. I’d make them design my future home in a heartbeat!

    • lvlln says:

      I don’t know that “wordy” is the right term, but yes, in Bakemonogatari – especially the Tsubasa Cat chapters – and Nisemonogatari, the conversations just go on and on. Kizumonogatari didn’t quite suffer from that, as it was a little more action-oriented, though it certainly had its moments.

  10. Kyokai says:

    I remember having the Sakamoto Maaya fangirl fit on twitter and we had the same conversation about her fitting a loli or not because we are so used to hear her as Ryougi Shiki or one Nino but damn, she surprised and delighted me with Shinobu. I’m literally stopping myself from reading Kizu translation just because. At least Mahoyo is there to stop me for a while.

    Really loved this episode and not just because of Shinobu (well, 70% because of her) but to see Tsubasa’s changed visage. Your explanation did help in understanding her transformation; I’d definitely like to see more of her catty side next, like how she almost threatened Senjougahara. :3

    • lvlln says:

      Almost? She DID threaten her! Given the amount of content that the show has to cover in the next 2 episodes, I wonder if it’ll get cut, but I hope it does give a further glimpse at the relationship between Tsubasa and Hitagi, as it’s somewhat unexpected.

  11. […] Loved this little attention to detail, one big toe over the other. How often do you see animators take care to pose something so trivial? Then again, Shaft is known to be run by foot fetishists. […]

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