|Nekomonogatari White continues in the typical Monogatari Series style, following our narrator Hanekawa Tsubasa as she tries to make sense of her homelessness and oddity problems. This one was marred by some mediocre production values, but conversations with Hitagi and Shinobu were as entertaining as ever, and it managed to end with quite the intriguing plot development.|
This shot had no business looking this bad.
Those more in the know than I have commented on Shaft being constrained in resources and talent for this series, working on the 3rd Madoka movie concurrently, as well as having some key animator devoted to the illusive Kizumonogatari… I thought the show looked just fine through the first 2 episodes, but yikes, this 3rd one really made it clear that they’re phoning it in. Tsubasa’s encounter with Kanbaru Suruga was what stuck out like a sore thumb, a scene that was the perfect opportunity for Shaft to showcase their animation skills in this talk-heavy anime.
Kanbaru’s running and climbing had me thinking of Araragi Karen’s first appearance in Nisemonogatari, a beautifully animated scene that featured Karen standing on her hands and Koyomi doing a flip over her. Here, we got some overly zoomed-in and unnecessarily off-angle shots of over-blurred animation for Suruga, a character who really deserved better. The rest of the episode didn’t look bad per se, but most of the conversations were visually uninventive and lazy with heavy reliance on faraway shots, something Shaft uses almost by default. I’m sure they’ll make up for it in the BDs like they always do, of course, but really, the TV release should be better than this. That the ending animation, which I theorized a rough draft, has remained unchanged for 3 episodes is troubling.
A shame that our first look at twin-tailed Kanbaru had such derpy faces.
“You are a failure as an animal.” Tsubasa’s look here was priceless.
The episode had to be carried by its writing, which fortunately was at some of the sharpest it’s ever been. It’s a shame that we won’t be seeing much more Hitagi for a while, but at least she gave a performance to remember her by. Continuing from the conversation last episode about her undiscriminating tastes, she went to town on Tsubasa, breaking down exactly how she fails at life. The theme of fake and genuine has returned from Nisemonogatari, but to Hitagi, Tsubasa being the “real thing” is a bad thing, an expression of naivete that exposes her to abuse from others. It’s funny how Karen and Tsukihi said something very similar to her in the bath later in the episode, except they meant it very positively. Of course, the Fire Sisters are warriors of justice, while Hitagi is more fluid with respect to ethics. Anyone else would have reacted very differently to such brutally honest words, but to Tsubasa they largely fell on deaf ears, due to the very characteristics Hitagi was berating her for. But they seem to have planted a seed in her mind, a clue to solving her current problems with oddities.
Hitagi’s other highlight came in her blatant conning of Karen into taking in Tsubasa, obviously aided by the younger girl’s childlike sense of justice (and intelligence). If Tsukihi weren’t with her most of the time to hold her back, one wonders how much more trouble this girl would get into. The younger (though technically the oldest character in the whole series) sister sure looked annoyed at the older one having decided this unilaterally. Though it worked out well, since Koyomi is off doing his own thing, and the Araragi parents have a strong sense of justice as one would expect. I kind of hoped we’d get to see them this time, but I guess like Hitagi’s father, their faces are not worth showing.
What a great look she has while egging on the younger, stupider girl.
Hitagi needs to keep up with those face exercises lest she revert back to her old self.
Another priceless face from Hanekawa, upon learning whose clothes she was wearing.
I’m enjoying the little glimpses we’re getting into Koyomi’s concurrent adventure, especially the 2nd time around. Why did he invite Suruga out to the cram school? You’ll recall that Shinobu mentioned that girl’s lineage, something that will become more clear later in the season. And how did he get cut off from Shinobu anyway? That’s kind of a big deal. What a surprise it must have been for the hindering cat to see the one responsible for putting her away the first two times right there on the ceiling, away from her master. I’m very glad to see her back, and Maaya Sakamoto just keeps being a delight to hear (excited to hear plenty more of her in upcoming episodes). I still wonder what might have been if Aya Hirano had played this mascot character (she’s doing that for another show right now), but as I said before, Sakamoto is one of the very best, and it shows.
Having come out of her period of silence, Shinobu proves to be one of the funnest and funniest of the show’s cast as the haughty 500+ year old know-it-all with the unfitting references. Like in Nisemonogatari, she’s helping to fill the hole left behind by the original Oshino with the knowledge she picked up when she was stuck with him. Unfortunate that she couldn’t provide any insights about this tiger, but if what she says is true, that this tiger can only be seen by Hanekawa, then clearly its source and purpose must be intricately related to her personal problems. And what about the hindering cat? This episode stated outright that its return wasn’t due to the stress caused by losing her home, so what is it instead? Is it related to the tiger, and how? Maybe the clues in this episode were a bit too obscure, but maybe you’ve picked up on them? The next episode should provide some big ones.
Hanekawa may be my favorite heroine, but no one makes me smile as much to see on screen as Shinobu.
There was some unease as I felt I was being praised, though it was true what Tsukihi-chan had said about ‘first-rate’ people having surprising degrees of normality, and she was correct in that regard, but in my case, that was not how it was.
I was not normal.
And — I was not smart.
I doubt anyone could be more pretentious, more embellished than me — I realized this during Golden Week, and before the Cultural Festival.
So much so that I wanted to refuse it.
Hanekawa makes some nice faces while pondering the things the Fire Sisters have to say about her.
We were treated to another gratuitous bathroom scene in this episode, featuring the Fire Sisters this time. Compared to last week’s scene or the first time we saw the Araragi bathroom in Nisemonogatari, it was rather tame. Some of that low budget reared its ugly head, as the whole scene was composed of just a handful of shots, and they didn’t even bother using steam effects to censor, instead just not drawing certain parts. Given how spacious their bathroom is, one wonders why their tub is so small, requiring the three of them to be packed in so close.
For reference, it has been only a week since Tsukihi Phoenix.
So at the end of this episode was a major reveal, that the Eiko cram school, a pivotal location for this series, has burned to the ground and is no more. Much like Tsubasa’s home (I think I sense a pattern here!). I liked that cliffhanger, ending an episode that didn’t make a lot of progress on the mystery with something that thickens the plot further. What the tiger has to do with all this and whether Koyomi and Suruga are okay, we’ll have to wait until next episode to find out. I just hope Shaft puts a bit more effort into that one.
You know you’re in trouble when even the King of Oddities is left agape.
More Fun With Hitagi!