Senjougahara Fascination: it might go into remission now and then, but it’s always ready to strike back in full force.
|Last week, I wondered aloud when the Karen Bee arc would end. Will it rush through the rest of it in the 6th episode, or will the 6th merely serve as a stepping stone to the 7th when the climax finally comes around? Let’s find out!|
What, you thought we’d get to see the kiss between brother and sister? Get your mind out of the gutter. What kind of smut do you think this show is? (In the novels, Karen is absolutely furious that her older brother stole her first kiss. Koyomi mentions that both his sisters (claim to) have boyfriends a nice younger boy for Karen, and a good looking older boy for Tsukihi, and Karen wanted her first kiss to be with hers.) But it works. About half – or maybe 1/3 – of the disease is transferred to Koyomi, which makes him ill as well. At this point, with his sisters both sleeping and the sun starting to come up, he decides that the best course of action is to consult Hitagi, the only one with past experience with Kaiki. He heads out to her house unannounced, and without the bike he lent Hanekawa last episode.
The Fire Sisters, still middle schoolers, get their much needed sleep.
But our favorite loli ghost appears! Twice in 2 days? Unheard of! Koyomi actually makes good on his previous resolution not to start meetings with Mayoi by sexual harassment. Man of his word. Though this makes Mayoi comically more concerned, joking that Araragi without the sexual harassment isn’t truly Araragi. She also starts to channel Hitagi at times with her verbal abuse of Koyomi – that sort of mixing has been happening a lot in Nisemonogatari so far, with Hitagi and Tsubasa both copying Mayoi’s stuttering gag, and Suruga copying what Koyomi had said when sexually harassing Mayoi. (In the novel, Mayoi also speaks of shutting Koyomi’s mouth with a stapler, which brings back some past trauma for him)
Koyomi and Mayoi take a leisurely walk around… wait, this isn’t there town, is it? Where the heck are they!?
But really, Mayoi cares about him and notes that he looks sick. Koyomi explains the situation and also vents about his sisters, how childish they are. Of course, as middle schoolers, they are still children… conversation turns then to what it means to grow up anyway. (There was a bit cut from when they were talking jobs, in which Koyomi wonders if he could get a job holding up Hanekawa’s breasts for her.) The conversation doesn’t last long before Koyomi reaches his girlfriend’s home. When they part, Koyomi wonders to himself what Mayoi does when he’s not with her.
Hitagi is absolutely in her element in her own room.
Ah, Senjougahara, what a hopeless case. She is sharpening her weapons: an entire mountain of pencils. Though she doesn’t stop preparing her tools of pain for Koyomi, they do manage to have a proper conversation. She contacted Kaiki via the business card he gave her when she had been conned, and they’re set to meet at 5 that evening. She intends to meet Kaiki and… get her revenge. Koyomi insists that he accompany her, and it’s only when he tells her of his sister’s situation that she allows it. Plus, Koyomi, notes, he doesn’t want to have to visit prison for dates.
A return of the grungy sketchy art for flashbacks. Hm, this art actually looks somewhat Hajime Ueda-ish, though I admit I don’t have the best eye for these things.
Koyomi’s image of Hitagi in prison. I’ve noticed all the girls in his mind’s eye are naked.
Tsubasa comes up a couple times during their conversation, with Hitagi suspiciously insistent that she’s not getting bullied by her each time, even though she instinctively calls her “Hanekawa-sama” at one point and also mentions that she kneels before her and washes her shoes.
Hitagi is somewhat flustered. It’s rare, but it’s been happening more often lately. And we love her for it.
Both exhausted from pulling all nighters, they decide to split to get some sleep before the showdown that evening. But when Koyomi comes home, he discovers that Tsukihi is awake and hysterical – Karen has disappeared. Maybe giving her some of her strength back wasn’t such a great idea. Koyomi takes it upon himself to find her, refusing to let Tsukihi come, for fear that the 2 might just team up if they met. But where could she be? He thinks and thinks when… our new mentor/deus ex machina, Shinobu appears, annoyed at Koyomi’s panicking. She tells him that only if she orders her, she can help him find her. When Koyomi, not believing it to be his place, refuses, she comes right out and says that that was just a way for her to help him without appearing to want to. Koyomi plays along and comments that “[Shinobu] is a tsundere too.” The episode ends with Shinobu using the smell of the Araragi blood to point Koyomi in the right direction.
Senjougahara Pencil Fascination!
I think being an artist – performance artist – would work for her. I would pay good money to see her put these together in real-time.
OK, enough pencils. This is what we really want to see!
Haha, if you thought last episode’s end promised some siscon action for this one, I’m afraid you were misled. But not all was lost, for we got something even better, the Senjougahara experience. One of the main points here was that Hitagi is a much more fragile and unstable person than she tries to let on. She wants desperately to move forward, but her past continues to haunt her, and it is something she can never truly forget (that was the point of her arc in Bakemonogatari, after all). It’s a paradoxical condition with which perhaps most of us can empathize. Because of her vulnerability, she often takes preemptive strikes so as not to be hurt. But this also makes her vulnerable, as evidenced by her being bullied by Tsubasa (in the novel, she mentions that she moped for 5 hours after she was reprimanded by Tsubasa over the phone earlier when Koyomi was escaping from her shackles).
Boy, is her relationship with Tsubasa intriguing. Just what is going on between the two? Tsubasa has already displayed her power over Hitagi in this arc, but is it as dominating and systematic as Hitagi makes it seem? Hitagi is, as admitted by herself, a liar at times. But certainly Tsubasa has demonstrated her penchant for being – much – more malicious and dangerous than she appears in the Tsubasa Cat arc. This is an unexpected vulnerability that Hitagi has and hopefully something to be explored farther.
But she’s got Koyomi to support her, and we saw one of the sweetest scenes between them since the famous episode 12 of Bakemonogatari. They’re both fiercely protective, but they both have their individual motivations for putting themselves in harm’s way to deal with with Kaiki, and they respect each other for that. So they decide to do it together. Plus, we got to see Hitagi in some amazing poses and expressions this episode, and a soft version of the theme from Staple Stable played in the background. Hitagi is a lot of tsuntsun, but her small bits of deredere make her so lovable.
Hitagi’s request – or condition, as she put it – ties her even closer to Tsubasa, as she wants to emulate her in moving forward. Now, will this be a direct copy, i.e. a haircut (explaining her character redesign art) or will it take some other form?
And it looks like Shinobu has truly taken on her role as an Oshino, offering Koyomi guidance when needed once again, to find his sister. Though she showed her brattiness again, she also showed her loyalty to Koyomi. As a (former) legendary vampire, she has her pride to think about, but deep down, there’s some appreciation and love for her new “master” and a desire to see him succeed.
Of course, no post about Nisemonogatari would be complete without comments on the art. The scene with Mayoi, much like the 1st one in the 1st episode, was a beautiful showcase of scenery. And some all new locales, too, with much of it taking place in what looked like a small European town! I can’t speak to the significance of this, but it reminded me of the setting of the Ef – a fairy tale of the two anime adaptations that Shaft produced.
The scene in Hitagi’s room was also a visual treat, thanks to those magical self stacking, self assembling pencils. It was one of those things I did not picture at all when reading the novel, added by Shaft for the aesthetics. Now, could I make a comparison between the pencil structures’ precarious but threatening nature – ability to come tumbling down with just one part being removed, but also very sharp and painful for those who touch – with Hitagi’s own fragility and harsh outer shell? Probably, but I’m not sure that it goes beyond a convenient coincidence. That said, Shaft is entitled to any interpretation that we might make. A little less subtle were the flashbacks, particularly the new sketch-like art which was much more detailed than the same sort of art used during the Hitagi Crab arc of Bakemonogatari and Kyouko Sakura’s flashback in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The scenes showing Hitagi trying to find herself in blank space with signs were excellently composed and directed.
So looks like Karen Bee will go on for one more episode. I am very much looking forward to seeing what happens when Koyomi finds Karen. If Shaft keeps up with how they’ve been adapting, this will be truly a sight to see. And the “thrilling” conclusion of the arc is ahead, too, of course. How will Karen – and now Koyomi – be healed? Will the meeting with Kaiki go as planned, and how will he react if cornered by our hero and his girlfriend? Will Hitagi find some closure to the abuse and trauma she had to suffer? We’ll have to tune in again next week!