You gonna get kissed!
|Last week, just as answers seemed around the corner, Koyomi decided to take a little break which actually turned out to provide lots of answers in themselves, as well as some development of an old-new character. This week, all will be revealed to Koyomi, and a near-paralyzed Karen should give us ample fanservice.|
Bathtime is over, which means Koyomi has to get down to business out in the living room, extracting information from the younger younger sister. Tsukihi is resistant at first, but caves in after an intense staring contest. She has some demands, but Koyomi flat out refuses, so she insults him instead about his lack of friends. At least, it starts as an insult, but Koyomi manages to transition to actually discussing his philosophy on friendship when… he’s cut off again by her. I notice Tsukihi does that a lot (if you’re curious as to what Koyomi was going to say, you can find out in the first couple chapters of Kizumonogatari. It proves to be very elucidating to his character and his actions in both that work and Bakemonogatari).
Sparks fly as brother and sister stare each other down.
Oh, but Tsubasa’s getting antsy being all alone in Koyomi’s room, and she comes down, just in time for Koyomi’s bath towel to unravel, proving that the Araragi parents are heavy sleepers who could easily sleep through a girl’s scream (noted by Koyomi in the novel). I’m grateful Shaft decided not to have Yui Horie actually scream and instead had “ah” fill up the screen, as it took away a very painful part of an already painful trope, while fitting in seamlessly with their style.
And now we enter a flashback of Karen’s encounter with Kaiki at a karaoke room (it’s not obvious from Shaft’s depiction of the room that that’s where it is). Kaiki readily admits to being the one responsible for the curse going about the middle schoolers, and he is unapologetic, claiming that he is only after money, which is the only thing that matters in this world (hey, didn’t one of the faux-lolis mention that before?). And though Karen, with her much stronger body, intends to beat him up, he displays his skills at the occult, stopping her dead in her tracks. A touch on the forehead, and Karen is stung by the Fire Wreathed Bee and unable to move. Kaiki steals her money and makes his escape before she can gain at least enough control to move.
Our heroine and villain prepare to face off in one psychedelic but colorless karaoke box.
“It’s quite effective. You must have an active imagination.” What is Kaiki getting at here? :3
Back to the present, Koyomi, finally fully in the loop, walks Tsubasa home as her work is done. Tsubasa makes a joke about giving Koyomi a ticket to feel her breasts in exchange for keeping him in the dark so long, but unfortunately for our hero, it also comes with the caveat that she’d hate him forever for it.
As an aside, that was a direct call back to Kizumonogatari, and there was a LOT in that conversation that Shaft cut out for time reasons. They involved other tickets from Hanekawa that would entitle Koyomi to her panties or her skirt, carrying the same caveats as the one ticket that appeared. They also do some wordplay on Shinobu’s former name, Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, and follow up with Tsubasa convincing Koyomi to do imitations of each of his harem members – Hitagi, Mayoi, Suruga, and finally Tsubasa herself (for her, Koyomi uses the line, “My breasts belong to you, Araragi-kun. Please feel free to touch them whenever you want.”). There’s also talk about Tsubasa touching her breasts in the bath, which leads to her making a genuine promise to let him touch them if Koyomi makes it into college on his first try, which leads to talk about other smooth parts of her body, which leads to talk about him wanting to lick her eyes instead of touching her breasts. I promise, I’m not making any of this up!
You do realize you hold in your hand the most valuable piece of paper on Earth, right Koyomi?
So yeah, about 80% of the conversation was cut out, for good reason, but I hope I was able to provide you with a glimpse into the fluffy humor that was there. Koyomi lends his bike to Tsubasa for the final stretch. And then it’s back home for him, where another girl awaits a bath.
Well, not “awaits,” I guess,though that’s what happens. Tsukihi is asleep, but Karen, having slept during the day, is wide awake. Koyomi carries her princess style to his room to have a real talk, which naturally turns back to the importance of strength and justice in becoming “real.” Karen has some physical needs too, having gotten sweaty from the curse that was inflicted on her, so she gets a nice sponge bath from her brother.
Besides making up a haiku, Karen tries to pull a Mayoi on her older brother.
Still not aware of what curse with which she’s been inflicted, Karen comments that Koyomi might catch this disease from her. This suddenly gives Koyomi the idea that, hey, that might be possible. He goes to the bathroom to consult Shinobu who is oddly reluctant to tell him. Turns out, the solution isn’t something that would be happy for anyone involved…
Karen in various states of
Karen experiences the sting of the Fire Wreathed Bee for the first time.
Loved the fiery passion and anger Karen displayed.
Is this really the best you can do, Shaft? I am disappoint.
Besides the ahoges, another shared trait of the Araragis is the ability to change into old supermarket ad character art styles.
Well, the plot trudges along, and so does the fanservice… hey, wait a minute, that’s how they animated the Koyomi sponge bath scene? Really? Is this the same Shaft I had grown to know and love? I sincerely apologize for promising more fanservice this episode, because Shaft clearly didn’t deliver. Kidding aside, it was certainly less revealing than the bath scene Shinobu got. Of course, one of the takeaways of both scenes was that Koyomi did not find either Shinobu or Karen the least bit arousing (for obvious reasons) so they got that part through just fine. It’s certainly peculiar that a brother giving his sister a sponge bath – an idea overflowing with sexuality in today’s anime landscape – was shown straight-up, as a sibling giving much needed help to a younger sibling, with exactly the amount of closeness you’d expect from them. Again, is this really Shaft? Then again, they’ve never been ones to play up little sister moe. In Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Nozomu and Rin had, if anything, an antagonistic relationship, and not the tsundere kind.
A bit of adaptation modification that they did as I expected was that first scene with Tsukihi. Specifically, they didn’t go through with what was, in the novel, a literal 3-minute staring contest between her and Koyomi before she gave in (Koyomi noted that this was the first time he had won something like this against her). You could’ve counted on Gainax to show a scene like that in its entirety, but Shaft opted to speed over that by showing the two staring at each other intensely with laser lines. Yeah, a 3 minute static scene would’ve wasted far too much time, time that this show doesn’t have, but damn it, that would’ve been a gutsy move and hilarious to watch.
Continuing with what Shaft adds with its adaptations, how about that karaoke box where Karen and Kaiki faced off? Just like the bathroom last episode, that looked nothing like I had imagined. As this was a flashback, in my mind’s eye I had pictured it as being in black and white. Instead of going with something as simple as that, Shaft made almost everything in the background stark black and white, giving the feeling without actually turning the scene into greyscale. The spirally stripey design felt suffocating, fitting for the type of character Kaiki is and the type of bind that Karen fell into. The use of the wall panes as screens to show the flow of the conversation reminded me a bit too much of the scene with the Architect in Matrix Reloaded, which was unfortunate.
With all of the actual events revealed, the story themes are certainly starting to come together now. Mayoi’s previous throwaway comment about money in the 1st episode makes a return, both with Kaiki’s view following hers and with Karen’s rejection of it following her brother’s (as noted by Koyomi himself). There are the secrets we keep from our families, some of which was made clear this week, when all was revealed to Koyomi. But he’s still keeping everything from his sisters, even hiding away in the bathroom to consult Shinobu instead of telling his sick little sister exactly what’s up. She’s the victim here, she’ll have to find out eventually, but Koyomi still believes he can keep the knowledge of the occult from his sisters. He is deeply protective, because he knows first hand that once you learn of this world, there is no going back.
But most significant given the show’s title, what is “fake” and what’s “real?” Koyomi calls his sisters “fakes,” because of their idealistic naive views on justice, but then we’ve also got another “fake,” the con-man Kaiki, who is sociopathically pragmatic, abusing his position to con middle schoolers out of their money – because they’re easy. But certainly, he’s the “real” deal when it comes to the occult and using it for his gain, isn’t he? And out of the Fire Sisters, at least Karen knows more than Koyomi gives her credit for and is acutely aware of her position as a “fake.” She accepts it as her limitation and does her best regardless. Is that just naivete, or does that also make her the “real” deal? And who’s right anyway; which is more important, justice or power? Can you be “real” without both? The Fire Sisters have the former (or at least believe they do), while Kaiki has the latter. Are both of them “fakes?”
Real, fake, strength, justice, all these will be explored more next episode. I daresay, most people will be surprised by the direct continuation of Koyomi’s words that ended this episode. And those afflicted with Senjougahara Fascination should brace for more tsundere/yandere/tundra service ahead!
I stated before that I thought they’d give the Karen Bee arc 6 episodes. I can see how they could end it next episode, but there would be multiple major, near climactic events, and everything would be very rushed. I’m betting it’ll go on to episode 7, but I’m counting on one of those major even happening, which I’m dying to see animated. Service for Karen fans!