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~”