|Hello, I’m here to kick off Metanorn’s 12 Days of Anime series for 2012. Started in 2008 by Canon-chan (thanks to Scamp for the link), this is a tradition among anime blogs to make a post each day counting down from the 14th to the 25th, each about something or other relating to anime that happened that year. Since we’re a team blog, we will be taking turns with these posts instead of barraging you with 12 posts from each of us (it’s also much less work for us!). As you can probably tell, I’m getting the obvious one out of the way first. The toothbrush scene has become so iconic, I fully expect to see it in many other blogs’ 12 Days of Anime series.|
Maybe you’re not as big an anime geek as me and have no idea what I’m talking about. The toothbrush scene actually refers to all of episode 8 of Nisemonogatari, this year’s sequel by Shaft to 2009’s Bakemonogatari. The episode featured the protagonist Koyomi getting sucked into a bet with his little sister Karen, to see how long she could last him brushing her teeth.
The scene itself was beautiful, and Kyo and I wrote plenty on why it worked so well back when the episode came out, so I won’t bother going over all that again. But it’s not just that the scene was an impressive audiovisual experience, it was that it perfectly captured the weird, perverse indulgence that defines the Monogatari franchise. I’ve always been very critical of the franchise despite being a big fan, but one thing I can’t fault it for is not being bold. It has a unique visual style and follows a distinctive narrative structure, always going at its own pace that often befuddles. It is a franchise that also wears its perversion on its sleeve, rarely missing an opportunity to show off its female characters in some sexually provocative manner, usually for no reason other than eye candy. That it got the respect and admiration of so many fans still boggles my mind.
The very first shot of Bakemonogatari.
For such a series, what could be more perfect than having an episode dedicated to the main character having a near incestuous encounter, using a toothbrush of all things? The concept is ridiculous to begin with, since plenty of us know that there’s nothing pleasurable about getting our teeth brushed by someone else. But add the context: this completely unrelated 30 minute escapade filled up all of the 24 minutes of the introductory episode to Tsukihi’s 4-episode arc. It wasn’t just insane, it was positively stupid. But through its boldness, the series had done an amazing job communicating to us that it was fully aware of how stupid it was and also that it just didn’t give a shit. This scene was a celebration of the show’s own inanity, of the author’s weirdly perverse mind, and thanks to a wonderful directorial effort by the staff at Shaft, it was just confident and competent enough to work. It certainly wasn’t the date under the stars of the Bakemonogatari airing finale (episode 12), but the toothbrush scene of 2012 will be remembered for for a long time.
Eri Kitamura‘s performance here really sold the scene.
To close, one thing about this scene that I only learned this year was that I had actually run into the very same scene almost 3 years ago, before Bakemonogatari had even finished and a sequel series wasn’t on anyone’s radar. I was still pretty active on 4chan‘s /a/ board, which is where I saw this.
You can see the posted image on pixiv.
In retrospect, it’s obvious that the poster had read Nisemonogatari (published earlier that year) and decided to adapt that scene into a copypasta, but at the time, I thought that it was just a strange little story featuring a truly bizarre perversion that could only come from the deranged mind of a 4chan user. Turns out, as we learned this year, no one can beat a light novel author when it comes to deranged minds.