Nisemonogatari – 07

“Be careful that you don’t fall for me. That would be incestuous.” “I’ve already fallen for you.”

With the final showdown with Kaiki scheduled, Koyomi had run into a pickle when Karen decided to go off on her own last episode. I promised that this arc finale would be eventful, so without further ado, here we go to Karen Bee part 7!

“Best condition!”

Shinobu leads Koyomi right to his sister, who collapsed at a bus stop under a highway overpass while trying to get far away from home. She refuses to come home with him, and thus proceeds the most brutal beatdown Koyomi has received since his dealings with Kanbaru during Suruga Monkey. It gets so bad that it even disturbs Shinobu, who is just trying to get some sleep in his shadow.

Even during their unexpectedly spectacular altercation, the siblings find a way to continue of their conversation about strength and justice. Koyomi drills home home the same point to her, that she may be just, but she lacks strength. And Karen still stubbornly refuses to back down, claiming that she is strong, as evidenced by her complete domination of her brother in fisticuffs.

One of the less severe bits of Karen’s beatdown of Koyomi.

The turning point comes when Koyomi explains exactly what he means by “strength.” That is, he believes that his sisters aren’t strong and calls them “fakes” because they fight for others instead of for themselves. By claiming to fight for the sake of others, they are actually hiding behind them, when they should be finding their own reasons to fight. And Koyomi pulls out the big brother card, saying that his reason for fighting is to protect his little sisters of whom he is so proud. This gets through to Karen, and she lets him go fight Kaiki alone.

D’awwww

Fast forward to that evening, when Koyomi and Hitagi meet Kaiki on a department store roof. Kaiki is as cool as ever, not batting an eye despite being cornered. He tells them straight up that Karen will get better in a few days, and he will return all the money he swindled off of Hitagi’s father. But that’s too easy, isn’t it? Just like us, Hitagi is skeptical of Kaiki’s repentance, but she manages to hold herself back from killing him. As flatly as ever, Kaiki just tells her that he’s no one great, that life isn’t that dramatic, and he’s just following the path of least resistance – and most profit.

As for Araragi’s sister, Kaiki clarifies to him exactly what he did to her: the sting of the Fire-Wreathed Bee is actually a falsehood, a trick of hypnosis that he pulled on her and all the other middle schoolers. Thus given a few days, she and Koyomi both will go back to normal. And this sort of fakery also extends to Kaiki himself, who claims not to know the supernatural; he merely takes advantage of those who believe that they do.

Hitagi gets crabby.

Before Kaiki leaves, he lets slip that back when he was conning Hitagi, she had fallen in love with him, much to Koyomi’s surprise. When Koyomi asks her about it, Hitagi first denies it, but also comments that she would have fallen for anyone who helped her, and that that is why she is so glad that it was Koyomi who saved her in the end. As for the request of hers she alluded to previous episode? Well, she just wants to be “treated gently” tonight :).

In a reversal of the Bakemonogatari tradition of ending each arc with Koyomi being awoken by his sisters, Koyomi goes to their room the next morning to find them sleeping. He leaves them alone, but they’re up quickly, ready to go out and help all the people still suffering from Kaiki’s curses.

As Koyomi calls them, “yuri sisters,” indeed!

And thus ends Karen Bee, the first of the 2 “Fake Stories.” I had eagerly anticipated the events of this episode, mainly for the fight scene that was animated in a distinctly Shaft way. Would you believe me if I said that, excepting the completely over-the-top stuff such as Koyomi being sent flying and the bridge collapsing, the anime was pretty much a blow-for-blow recounting of the scene from the novel, all the fancy throws, spins, feints, and kicks included? Koyomi kept commenting how none of Karen’s moves seemed to come from karate; indeed, he explicitly pointed out that she was using capoeira moves toward the end. As per usual, the adaptation was very different from my expectations. I would have liked for the fight to have gone on a little longer, just to emphasize how much pain Koyomi had to go through in the fight.

His final explanation about justice that got through to Karen came down to the same lesson that’s in countless media about adolescence and growing up: to be strong means to do things for oneself. There is something endearing about children like Karen and Tsukihi who want justice to rule the world – indeed, Koyomi is proud of them for it – but that is ultimately fakery, hiding behind fancy ideals and the desires of others instead of oneself. If you want to mete out justice, you have to want to do it for your own selfish reasons, such as protecting your little sisters, or else you will fail. It’s a classic lesson about pragmatics over idealism.

The really big twist this episode was that the Fire-Wreathed Bee was merely a “fake,” a wholly fabricated psychosomatic disease (Nisio Isin writing about falsifying history?). That took care of Karen’s issue in one fell swoop, though it certainly raised more questions, some of which the show attempted to answer. The main one being, of course, how the heck did a fake curse cause real trouble? If it didn’t exist, how did it transfer over from Karen to Koyomi, and how could Kaiki tell that, even ignoring that he claimed not to believe in the supernatural? In fact, Kaiki continued to display an incredible awareness of the supernatural, being able to tell immediately that Hitagi had regained her weight and that there was someone hiding within Koyomi’s shadow.

Kaiki proved to be a fascinating villain to the very end. Dry and self-deprecating, he was a sociopathic liar, letting no ideals, morals, or pride get in the way of his chase of money. I’m not familiar with his voice actor Shinichiro Miki, his deadpan voice fit perfectly, calm and creepy, without any snark or sarcasm. Of course, the black and red lighting that dominated his scenes and his unchanging facial expression helped as well. Gotta give props to Shaft for adding so much to Kaiki in the process of adapting him from novel to anime.

Perhaps Kaiki was too neutral, which made the resolution of this arc too easy. But this being Nisio’s writing, Kaiki was quick to point this out explicitly and also make the point that real life is rarely dramatic. He just wanted to move on and continue what he was doing, and he saw no reason why Hitagi couldn’t do the same. He and Koyomi had the same sort of cynicism of philosophy that was the core of the latter’s “justice” vs. “strength” argument, which is perhaps why Kaiki kept comparing the two of them. There’s beauty and joy in such a philosophy, but normal humans are always weighed down by their past baggage, and getting rid of them is a constant struggle. We got to see the the continuation of the Hitagi Crab arc, with Hitagi making more progress in freeing herself the bounds of her past.

Hitagi also connects Koyomi and Kaiki in love, which I guess wasn’t too unexpected given the nature of con-men (not that I’m an expert on the subject, but a middle school girl falling for a slick and manipulative older man who can solve all her problems doesn’t seem much of a stretch). It made me remember way back to the Suruga Monkey arc of Bakemonogatari, when Koyomi was asking Tsubasa on the phone about the “Valhalla Combo,” and Tsubasa told him that he shouldn’t dig too deep into his lover’s past.

In the end, the concept of hopeful cynicism seems to be what Nisio keeps hammering with his Monogatari stories. You have to be selfish in order to achieve justice. People who have harmed you have moved on and you will never get vengeance. That may be cynical, but that’s reality, and only once we accept it can we start finding “real” hope in our lives instead of settling for mere “fakes.”

Preview

Next episode will be part 1 of Tsukihi Phoenix! Remember, the Fire Sisters come as a pair, so you’ll be seeing plenty – more than you might have ever imagined – of Karen as well!

About

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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22 Responses to “Nisemonogatari – 07”

  1. q says:

    I disagree about the bee being fake. I got the impression that Kaiki called it fake because he doesn’t believe it exists just as he doesn’t believe in the existence of any other kaii, and Karen got better because Koyomi took on half of the bee’s disease and reduced the symptoms into something her body can handle and recover from.

    • skylion says:

      You don’t have to believe in the quote-unquote supernatural to be able to use the trappings. I’m a skeptic, a storyteller, and have a keen eye for people. I read tarot cards; yet I regard the mechanics as nearly complete non-sense. In the end, the client, well, you give them what they want to hear, or at least, what you intuit that they want to hear. You can guess false a few times, but you get closer. If you guess right, just once, then you got them.

      This is Kaiki. Belief? Non-belief? Tools. He uses what he has at hand to guide his craft. Tailoring it to the client.

      His neutral state is his best weapon. In cases like this, it makes his client give more emotion than they normally would. When conversing with someone it’s more than just a verbal give and take. Empathy and sympathy are also a given. Kaiki doen’t comply with that state. You have to fill in his emotional state, meaning you could be off your bearings. He has no enthusiastic sales pitch. He isn’t the “this product worked for me, it will work wonders for you” kinda guy. He let’s you sell the product to yourself.

      Then, he calls Hitagi, to a point, uninteresting. Meaning, she has nothing to “sell to herself” that he has to offer. Which is why he generally throws in the towel.

    • lvlln says:

      Hm, that’s one way to interpret it. Kaiki is a lying liar, after all. But one thing that’s for sure is that whatever the Fire-Wreathed Bee is, it’s much less dangerous than Shinobu made it out to be. Or else middle schoolers would be dying left and right, and this would be a much darker series.

  2. akagami says:

    Araragi you manly beast you.

    • BlackBriar says:

      He’s a badass who can take a massive beating and walk away with a smile.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    “Be careful that you don’t fall for me. That would be incestuous.” “I’ve already fallen for you.” LOL. I think it already became incestuous the way Karen’s sponge bath went a few episodes back. So it wouldn’t be a surprise it if became more so.

    I know Koyomi usually gets his ass handed to him by nearly everyone, especially by all the girls he interacts with (mainly Kanbaru), but is Karen normally that monstrously strong? She smashed the concrete and destroyed the highway overpass structures with his body. What a brutal, one-sided fight. She sure knows how to kick ass.

    For an anime that’s like 75% dialogue and 25% action, the dialogues between characters are pretty intense and entertaining. And I’d normally see a scene like the confrontation between Kaiki, Araragi and Senjougahara as anticlimactic because there wasn’t any action. Well, mindless violence doesn’t always make a great scene. Kaiki is as cool as ever, not batting an eye despite being cornered and being a sociopathic liar, letting no ideals, morals, or pride get in the way of his chase of money. Though him being a perpetual liar, I’m sure his disbelief in the supernatural is just another con.

    There’s no better way to end an episode than with a yuri, incest scene from Karen and Tsukihi. “Yuri sisters,” indeed! I don’t know whether to call it sweet or just plain perverted. Right now, I’ll just call it awesome.

    • lvlln says:

      In a way, the fight with Karen felt like the climax proper of the arc, and the meeting with Kaiki just the denouement, at least in terms of energy levels. But, of course, both were part of the climax. I admit that I felt a bit gypped when I read the chapter corresponding to the rooftop meeting, because it was all a bit too easy. It was literally a fake disease, a none-issue. But the way it ties together the story’s themes and develops the characters such as Hitagi and Karen was very satisfying, and Shaft added a ton with their adaptation.

  4. Reaper says:

    Incestory. That one word just cracked me up, especially after all the dialogue between Koyomi and Karen, though they didn’t seem to mind the fact they just took out a freeway during the course of their fight, probably an important part of the road infrastructure that costed millions to build… :D Can’t believe the arc has ended for one of the sisters, (and what an end; fell off my seat when I saw the Fire Sisters all…well, you know :P ) I don’t know what will be coming, but I know I’m going to love it :D

  5. Snowley says:

    Senjogaharaaaa-saamaaa <3 <3

    Hm, that was quite strange arc, I thought the ending is gonna be more dramatic, I won't say I'm dissapointed, but I expected different conclusion.

    Also, the fight was so bizzare! I thought "wow, Shinbo REALLY lost his mind now ( animators prolly gone mad from all this work too)".

  6. skylion says:

    I’m trying to find the metaphor. Because Karen-chan didn’t really destroy most of a clover-shaped freeway system; using her brother as the wrecking ball. Is it that some roads are not the roads you need to take to get to the goal? You have to tear them down to find a new path? That’s a shaky assumption.

    But, after all the mayhem, he praises his sister. Why was he taken aback when Hitagi asks him the same?

    • lvlln says:

      I try not to think too hard about it. Shaft likely chose the highway as the setting for the same reason they do most things; because it looks pretty.

      Thing with Hitagi is that, unlike with Karen, Koyomi doesn’t have a super long and comfortable relationship with her. He knows how to be a proper older brother because he’s been one for 15 years. He doesn’t know as much how to be a proper gentleman/boyfriend because he’s been one for only a couple months.

  7. akagami says:

    Shinobu’s teasing, poor Araragi.

    I don’t believe the bee was hypnotism, as Kaiki suggests, because illusions don’t normally work well on vampires. Shinobu would have easily been able to see through it, especially considering Kaiki doesn’t have any “true” powers.

    While Kaiki can sense the supernatural, despite his denial of it existing (he could somehow detect Shinobu’s presence and realized Araragi took on some of the curse), my guess is that since he isn’t a “true” user but a con-man the flame wreathed bee curse was likely a weak version or replica.

    I have to admit, Senjougahara was showing incredible restraint. I half expected an entire store’s stock (and then some) of school supplies to decorate Kaiki’s body.

  8. tatsuya says:

    WOW WOW WOW !!
    we see a lot over there …poor hitagi
    I wanna see the most brutal beatdown by Araragi cause I think suruga monkey is the best fighting ever ~~
    By the way , it is akward right sleeping with his own sis

  9. Zyl says:

    wrt Senjougahara’s “be gentle with me tonight” – was this in the LN or a Shaft tease addition?

  10. Toori-chan says:

    Gosh that was one big fight they had. I pity how much pain Koyomi had to take. They even torn down the highways. But somehow I like how SHAFT exaggerate things like back in Suruga Monkey. ‘Dawww’ for bro&sis hug~

    One thing I really hate about Kaiki is the way he keep his cool face while lying or bad mouthing Hitagi. I really wish Hitagi at least stab a penknife into Kaiki’s mouth like how she did with Koyomi back in episode 1 of Bakemonogatari.

    And full points for Yuri sisters.

  11. Son Gohan says:

    I found Koyomi’s speech a bit hypocritical considering that he repeatedly put his life on the line to save some random girls he barely knew (especially Suruga and Nadeko).
    The confrontation with Kaiki was totally anticlimatic. I wasn’t expecting a bloodbath but at least a bit more of resistance on his part, instead he folded immediately to a couple of high school students. There are also inconsistencies in his words, as you also noticed: does he see the supernatural or not?
    All in all, I must say that this arc was disappointing.

  12. [...] leaving out the most obvious ones, justice and strength, but I discussed those in the episode 7 post. All these themes keep connecting with the central one of cynicism, the main one Nisio seems to [...]

  13. […] devices, and themes through many different franchises. It wasn’t quite as impressive as Shaft’s rendition, but the animation was very good with minimal use of shortcuts like looped frames. It conveyed that […]

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