12 Days of Anime #12 – Toothbrush

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.

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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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14 Responses to “12 Days of Anime #12 – Toothbrush”

  1. Rakkyo says:

    I ran into that same thread and the first one too 1 or 2 years back. I had just finished Bakemonogatari and I had no idea what the heck I was reading. But the toothbrush scene came along and this thread immediately resurfaced and clicked in my mind. Sadly I can’t check it again since I lost the link but it really was kinda mind-blowing and freaky at the same time.

    Props to SHAFT for their over-the-top animation style.

    • lvlln says:

      I’m so glad that I decided to screencap that post back when I first saw it. Nice to see that it came back into relevance almost 3 years later. 4chan creates such volume of content, a lot of it good, but so much of it is lost forever. But I wouldn’t want that site to be any other way.

  2. Shinmaru says:

    I wasn’t too big on Nisemonogatari overall, but the sheer audacity of the toothbrush scene won me over. Rather than being weirded out, I was laughing the whole way through. It’s so ridiculous!

    • lvlln says:

      Yes! Sometimes audacity itself becomes its own art form (e.g. goatse), but it’s a tough thing to achieve, because self indulgence and gratuitousness is very hard to do well without turning off the audience. I think this was one of the most impressive examples of it in anime in recent memory. I also consider all of Future Diary to be a great example.

      • skylion says:

        The toothbrush, goatse, and Mirai Nikki all in one go. Ivlln, don’t go to hard on my middle aged heart.

        I can only add that the score to the scene was brilliantly done. It kept reminding me of the first scene of ultra-violence from A Clockwork Orange. Which is a very odd, audacious, set of bedfellows.

  3. BlackBriar says:

    12 days, huh? I wondering what the other days are going to bring to the table. Hehehe, Nisemonogatari nostalgia. This gets top marks for biggest incest scene ever. It’s become iconic but so has the kissing scene in Campione! between Erica and Godou. Which scene is the best? I haven’t been able to see a toothbrush the same way again.

    Eri Kitamura sure did deliver a good performance with Karen in this scene. NSFW worthy. It’s her best role since playing Kirika Ueno in C³: Cube x Cursed x Curious with her little S&M display. That scene was disturbing yet mesmerizing at the same time.

    • lvlln says:

      The kissing scene was quite something, but the problem is that Campione! simply wasn’t as popular as Nisemonogatari, nor as good, with the result that that scene just stuck out like a sore thumb. Eri Kitamura, star of Kodomo no Jikan, has always been good at the trashy roles, but she really seems to have embraced it recently, what with Nisemonogatari‘s Karen, Campione!‘s Lily, OniAi‘s Arashi, and that C3 role.

      • skylion says:

        Are you saying that Rin Kokonoe is trashy? Don’t forget, she has the rather chaste voice role of the middle sister from Papakiki!

  4. Overcooled says:

    It would be pointless to have a 12 days of anime for 2012 without the toothbrush scene! I usually get a little skittish when I have to watch anything with incest, but this somehow didn’t bother me at all. My mindset when watching anything -monogatari is to just accept the flow of shameless fanservice. It’s somehow..tasteful? I’m drawing a blank for words, but SHAFT did an excellent job adapting an already crazy scene. An unforgettable 2012 moment. Thank God no one was home while I was watching this on the big screen in the living room =_=

    Everyone go hug (and brush the teeth of) your imouto now and report the results here.

    • lvlln says:

      “Tasteful” is an awfully strong word to describe the Monogatari franchise XD. But it is just so pretentious and so audacious that those characteristics become compelling in and of themselves. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy; the show spends so much time beating us over the head with the idea that it’s good that, somehow, it becomes good. It’s very tough to pull off, but its outstanding technical and artistic production values helped it achieve it.

  5. PrimeHector says:

    The toothbrush scene combined with a recent chapter from Medaka box pretty much establish Nisio as top tier in all forms of novels.

  6. Highway says:

    Personally, I was losing interest in Nisemonogatari by the time it was getting to this episode. The whole series seemed like it was coasting down from Bakemonogatari, and I didn’t really care for either Karen or Tsukihi’s characters. So I had close to the same reaction to this that I had to the Campione! scene referenced, although it was somewhat less out of place than that one.

  7. AllenAndArth says:

    ahhh good old nisemonogatari

  8. Kyokai says:

    One of my favourite scenes of Nise and damn, Eri and Kamiyan both did a wonderful job with it. No one will look at toothbrushing the same way again.

    Btw, Nekomonogatari releasing this Winter, just made things even better.

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