“Why is my older brother stripping me, tying up my hands, and pushing me down onto the floor?”
|Before the Tsukihi Phoenix arc started, I wrote that 4 episodes would be easily enough to fit the whole thing in. However, I had not anticipated Shaft using an entire episode just for that toothbrush scene. Now, with 2 episodes left, I’m not so sure how Shaft will fit the rest of the story in. I can tell you, this episode HAS to get to Kagenui’s next appearance, and I see this as a big challenge. Otherwise, Shaft will have to extend the show an extra episode through a web episode or OVA, and that would be shameful. Let’s see if Shaft has managed to pull it off!|
100 yen sale at Mr. Donut: an event of utmost importance.
Koyomi is back home, ready to get back to his studies, when Shinobu decides to bother him this time. Her request? There’s a 100 yen sale at Mister Donut, and she needs him to take her there. Koyomi capitulates, and off they go, with Shinobu hidden in his shadow until they get to the store.
But before he can leave, he runs into the one who tried to murder him that morning, his one and only youngest younger sister, Tsukihi, just out of the bath. She is quite frank now about how she perceives the Fire Sisters, that she’s just not into the whole “friend of justice” act as much as Karen is. She expresses some fears about how she’ll grow distant from Karen as the latter enters high school, and that the Fire Sisters just might disband very soon. Koyomi is taken aback by the lucidity his sister displays. But then he’s taken aback even more when notices that she is missing a scar on her chest that should be there, one she got when she leapt off the school building during one of her misadventures as a friend of justice. In fact, all her skin is perfect, like a baby’s, not a hint of injury or scars.
Poor Tsukihi is destined to be left behind and bullied by her older siblings!
Shinobu is literally a kid in a candy store (ok, I’m stretching the definition of candy to include donuts), and Koyomi decides this is a good time to ask her about our new characters, Kagenui and Ononoki. Shinobu comments that Ononoki is indeed not a human but rather Kagenui’s familiar, but she’s also not willing to give him all the details just for some donuts. So why not ask that guy sitting behind you eating donuts alone? Koyomi turns around to discover… the man who swore he’d never come back to town again, the one and only Kaiki Deishuu.
Didn’t think you’d see him again, did ya?
That’s right, the lying liar who promised never to come back into town has… come back into town. Whodathunkit? After getting over his initial shock, Koyomi approaches him, who states that he had some minor business to take care of (his main reason for returning was that he had coupons that could only be used at this Mr. Donut). Despite knowing that he’s probably making a mistake, he asks Kaiki for information about Kagenui and Ononoki, in exchange for 2,000 yen… or so he thought, but actually, it’s his entire wallet EXCEPT 2,000 yen. Happy enough with the exchange, Kaiki explains that Kagenui and Ononoki are like him, “Ghostbusters,” whose specialty is the immortal. And unlike him, they’re the real deal.
On his way back home – with Shinobu riding in the bicycle basket (due to this, Koyomi has some difficulty pedaling while keeping his shadow covering the front of the bike the whole time) – Koyomi wonders if Kagenui’s target is himself and Shinobu, as they’re the only immortals he knows of in this town. Shinobu says she doubts that, since there could be plenty more immortals other than them; in her lifetime, she herself has killed and eaten plenty of immortals. And, after all, there are plenty of oddities that Koyomi himself has run into in this town; there could be plenty more he doesn’t know about.
Hey, speak of the devil…
Well, when they get home, they get the opportunity to find out directly, as Kagenui and Ononoki are right there at his front gate, the former sitting perched atop the gate as expected and Ononoki ringing the doorbell constantly. Koyomi asks straight up if their target is them, and Kagenui laughs it off, saying that thanks to Oshino (Meme), issues surrounding the Iron-Blooded, Hot-Blooded, Cold-Blooded Vampire, Killer of Monsters and King of Monsters, Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade (now known as Oshino Shinobu) are over. Their target is someone different.
shining finger Ultimate Shaft Headtilt Unlimited Rulebook…
…leaves absolutely no doubt as to the results.
And just then, Tsukihi comes out yelling – with awl in one hand – upset that someone is constantly ringing the doorbell. This is when Onongi proves to us just how supernatural she is, by extending her finger – some magic called “Unlimited Rulebook” – right through the front gate and to Tsukihi, cleanly cutting off the entire top half of her body. Koyomi understandibly goes in a fit of rage, attempting to strangle Ononoki, but he’s knocked out before he can reach her. When he awakens, he’s folded in half on the ground with Kagenui sitting on top of him. And when Kagenui instructs him to look up, he sees that Tsukihi is asleep on the ground, the top of her yukata gone, but otherwise unharmed. Ononoki calmly explains to Koyomi that Tsukihi has been possessed by an immortal creature, a phoenix. They’re here to kill it by killing her.
But Shinobu steps in, saying that she won’t let them fight like this out in public anymore. Kagenui is doubtful that the ex-vampire has the capacity to follow through on that, but she decides to let it go for now, admitting that she doesn’t want to kill a girl right in front of her older brother. But she will return tomorrow, and if Koyomi and Shinobu get in their way again, she will consider them enemies and kill them as well.
“Make sure all your affairs are in order, for I’ll be back tomorrow.”
Oh Shinbo, you foot fetishist you…
“Why do I have a more physical relationship with my brother than with my own boyfriend!?”
What do you mean, I can’t hold all these donuts!?
Click for full-size image.
Well, an incredibly eventful episode of Nisemonogatari. I wrote that Shaft would have a hard time getting to the return of Kagenui and Ononoki this episode, but they managed to pull it off, with time enough to spare to show the OP and the ED. This truly was efficient adaptation in action. To do this, they cut liberally from the scenes within (as usual, they did not cut out any scenes, merely the content within them), and they left in only the parts that were 100% relevant to the story at hand.
Some bits that were cut include:
- Shinobu admitted that she reached out to trip Koyomi last episode so that he would come home faster so that they could get to Mr. Donut faster.
- Shinobu’s “secret source” that told her that Mr. Donut was having a sale was an ad in a paper that Koyomi himself had also read.
- Koyomi was initially unwilling to take Shinobu to Mr. Donut, and Shinobu had to negotiate with him, offering Mayoi to him at one point.
- Shinobu mentioned that she spends much of her waking time in Koyomi’s shadow playing a Nintendo DS, which she recreated after seeing one in Nadeko’s house.
- Shinobu distracted Koyomi from studying much in the same way as Karen in episode 8, by clinging onto him from the back, except much stronger.
- Kaiki took quite a bit of interest at the beautiful blonde loli eating with Koyomi and offered to make her a model, selling photos of her and sharing the profits. He also threatened to let Hitagi know that Koyomi was out on a date with this little girl, but Koyomi called his bluff, pointing out that he didn’t even know how to contact her.
- Kaiki mentioned that the actions of the Fire Sisters to heal all the curses after the events of Karen Bee had eaten away at his profits.
- Before Koyomi left Kaiki at Mr. Donut, he asked to get one item from his wallet back – this was a photo of Hitagi that had been taken since the events of Karen Bee.
- In fact, all mentions of Hitagi have been cut out from Tsukihi Phoenix so far. Remember that haircut she was supposed to have based on the pre-release art?
- Koyomi used the 2,000 yen he had left to buy some donuts to bring home to Karen and Tsukihi.
- In front of the Araragi home, Shinobu actually got out of the basket very early on in the conversation. But since the basket was a tight fit, the only way she could get out was by tipping the bike over and crawling out.
So, how about that OH SHI- moment at the end there when Tsukihi was killed? During my reading, I had a feeling that this scene had to correspond with the end of this episode; starting the final episode with that, and then having the resolution in the same episode would’ve made for a poor finale. The twist is out now, and the arc title Tsukihi Phoenix means just that: Tsukihi is possessed by a Phoenix. It may seem a bit odd that if she’s been possessed by a phoenix, that Kagenui has to kill Tsukihi instead of only the phoenix itself. And why would that make Tsukihi not Koyomi’s real little sister, as Kagenui mentioned? What to make of her final lines about the phoenix infilitrating and fooling a human family as a fake? This will be explained in more detail next episode, but without spoiling anything, it’s something that reminds me a bit of the concept of Immaculate Conception.
And if what Kagenui says is true, that Tsukihi isn’t truly Koyomi’s little sister, what irony that the sister with whom he has a pseudo-incestuous relationship with is Karen, who is his full-blood sister!
I guess the anime couldn’t avoid putting the precursor to the reveal about Tsukihi in the same episode as the actual reveal due to their proximity in the actual story. I’m talking, of course, of the brief conversation she and Koyomi had before he left for Mr. Donut. This was probably the most of Tsukihi we’ve seen so far, at least the most honest of herself. We got to learn that she’s a sharper person than Koyomi gives her credit for, and she has no delusions about the direction that the Fire Sisters are headed with both Karen and herself growing up. She openly admitted that, as her older brother calls her, she is a fake. Somewhat unexpected from someone who’s been described as and shown to be a “hysteric” person who often acts rashly and violently without thinking. And, of course, the scar that was missing from her chest was a direct foreshadowing of the reveal concerning the phoenix (and the source of that specific scar, as mentioned in the synopsis above, was from one of her rash unthinking decisions while chasing someone).
There’s a parallel here between the Fire Sisters and the Kagenui + Ononoki team, both considering themselves to be “friends of justice,” out to protect others by defeating frauds. That they end up being opponents reflects the cynicism and contradiction that Nisio likes to play with so much. Kagenui is clearly made out to be the villain – especially with the evil looks and wonderfully pompous acting by Ryouko Shiraishi this episode – and through that, we see that the Fire Sisters could be considered just as villainous. Kaiki was Koyomi’s philsophical counterpart in the Karen Bee arc, and Kagenui and Ononoki are that to the Fire Sisters in the Tsukihi Phoenix arc.
One thing that has stood out to me more and more as this show has gone on is the background music. Once again, scenes with Shinobu were accompanied by a Renaissance-esque tune, despite the setting being much less church-like than the Araragi bathroom from before. Kaiki’s theme was also played while they were inside the Mr. Donut, and both were excellent pieces that set the mood nicely. The music when shit hit the fan at the end of the episode was good, too.
A fine job with the visuals once again by Shaft. Whereas last episode was a bit more standard in that respect, this one was much more similar to episode 8, playing fast and loose with super deformed characters and metaphorical images. I loved the image of Karen bullying Tsukihi in the wrestling ring, as well as Shinobu’s reaction faces. I admit that the Mr. Donut interior looked a lot more standard than I was expecting. Come one, is it too much to ask to make it look like a cathedral interior or some other equally unfitting aesthetic for a donut chain shop?
Always nice to see more of Hajime Ueda’s art within the show itself.
Great episode overall, better than what I predicted, successfully covering everything that it needed to, while also displaying the good parts of Shinbo’s unique direction. Like with the Karen Bee arc, the pacing has been hugely inconsistent in Tsukihi Phoenix, what with the very slow 1st 2 episodes followed by this rush of a 3rd episode. Yes, they should have planned it out better, but at this point, Shaft did the best that it could do to make the arc fit in the episodes that are left (of course, I have a hard time blaming them for dedicating an entire episode to the toothbrush scene; that one was glorious, the Nisemonogatari equivalent to Tsubasa Cat Part 2 – i.e. episode 12 – of Bakemonogatari).
Next episode, how will Tsukihi herself react to the revelation that she’s not entirely who she thinks she is, that she’s more of a fake than she even thought herself? Let’s think about the line from the OP lyrics, “Now that I know what eternity is, I dedicate it to you,” as well as Shinobu’s own comments from episode 4 about the pain of being immortal, of seeing all your loved ones die before you. How will the Araragi household deal with the destruction of their front gate? Heck, what will the neighbors think!? And, of course, how in the world will Koyomi defeat Kagenui and Ononoki who have proven themselves to be far more competent and unforgiving than our heroes (could Kagenui’s weakness be… the ground? She’s yet to set foot on it!)? Well, we’ll have to wait one more week for the series finale!