Monogatari Series Second Season – 07

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A story of a little ghost and vampires and zombies and going back to the past.

As I’ve written before, Kabukimonogatari “Mayoi Jiangshi” was my 2nd favorite of the books in the series, in a large part because of how unlike every other volume it was. As you’ve seen, the story dives right into things, without dawdling around like in Nekomonogatari White, and though this episode started off with a couple of priming conversations with Ougi and then Ononoki, by the end we already had Koyomi and Shinobu having botched going through a time warp and ending up 11 years in the past.

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That black undershirt works with her black hair and black pupil-less eyes to createa really unsettling look.

Right off the bat, we were unceremoniously introduced to the newest member of the cast, Oshino Ougi. I didn’t quite picture her like that, but then again, I didn’t picture her like anything, since the book had nothing to say about how she looked other than that Kanbaru said she was cute. Shaft’s version sure makes her look smug, looking down her nose at Koyomi the whole time with those pupil-less eyes as she dispensed little bites of condescension. She certain shares the arrogance of her namesake(s). There isn’t much to make sense out of her character at this point – heck, I still don’t have a good grasp on Ougi after having read all the way through the novels of this season (one shame about Hanamonogatari being delayed is that we’ll have to wait longer for some major revelations about Ougi) – but her role here at the start of Kabukimonogatari was to prime us for Mayoi’s coming arc. Of course, Mayoi has history with the traffic light, and I think the salient point in that conversation was Ougi’s comment about the irony that the intersection is most safe when all the lights are red and most dangerous when they are all green. A good thing to keep in mind as the events of this arc play out.

I wonder how many fans expected to see Ononoki again so soon, not even a week after her introduction in Tsukihi Phoenix, in which she attempted to murder Koyomi’s sister and got spanked by Shinobu. It was hard to see her as anything more than a demon familiar before, but her conversation with Koyomi this episode did a good job giving us a more complete picture of this oddity who used to be human. And what a great explanation of her “posed look” verbal tic: she just thought it sounded cool, and now that she’s outgrown it, she’s embarrassed, not unlike how Yuta reacts to his Dark Flame Master days (in contrast, her nemesis Shinobu happily dives into superfluous retro-style magical chanting to summon a spell). Ononoki played a similar role as Ougi here, providing comments relevant to Mayoi with her observation about what herself, Koyomi, and Mayoi had in common. They’ve all died and come back in some way, but Mayoi is still the only one who wasn’t truly reborn. She has remained a ghost all this time, which raises the obvious question, why is she still here after having found her mother’s house? Ononoki can’t stop wondering for what purpose she was (re)born. For what purpose did Mayoi become and remain a ghost?

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Yeah, I don’t know what Shaft is going for here, but I sure as heck would love to live in a town with a view like this.

The backdrop in that scene with Ononoki really struck me with its sparse field filled with very tall trees that would feel more fitting in an African prairie than a Japanese town. I’ve enjoyed seeing Shaft take the town into unexpected locales to complement its bizarre and surreal architecture. We saw Koyomi walk with Mayoi through a European town in Nisemonogatari, and we saw a Mr. Donut in the middle of a desert in Bakemonogatari. There’s a feeling that the only things that matter in this universe are the characters and the things they say, leaving everything else as mere eye candy that is there to be beautiful, but also nonsensical. I suppose one could make a connection between the yearly growth cycle of trees with Ononoki’s words about being dead humans that were reborn, but really, the only reason the background looks like that is because it’s unique and pretty. In this series, that’s the only reason required to show anything.

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Only thing funnier than Shinobu’s wholly unnecessary magical chanting was Koyomi’s absolute reverence for it.

What a delight it is to have Shinobu in the spotlight, her first major talking appearance since her bath time conversation in Nisemonogatari. She bounces off Koyomi so well with her haughty attitude and surprisingly deep knowledge of classic anime. Other characters are constrained by things like logic and reality, but Shinobu isn’t. She’s a retiree who’s lived far longer than she wanted to (she reveals her true age, 598 years and 11 months, when they are talking about Koyomi’s summer homework), so she acts as a wise but snarky observer with nothing to lose.

Yet she also displays immaturity befitting her current appearance, refusing to believe her reign to be over. She is accustomed to taking for granted that she can change reality as she pleases using her considerable power, and from the way she handwaves away something like time travel, you would never guess that she’s just a shadow of her former self. Heck, she doesn’t even plan a way back before taking the leap. Despite that, it’s also clear that she wants to help Koyomi and seeks out his approval by volunteering to help him with the time warp (this was emphasized more in the novel, in which Shinobu got upset at Koyomi’s constant questioning of her ability to actually pull off a time warp). She’s immature, proud, knowledgeable of both old anime and oddities, and cares deeply about how Koyomi sees her, which is what makes her so great for him to play the straight man against. The two really have a special – unique, really – relationship, and it will be fun seeing their chemistry develop throughout this arc.

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“As I tilted my head, Shinobu said ‘What are you doing?,’ extended that hand a little further, and took my hand. It was a lovers’ grip with entwined fingers.
– from chapter 5 of Kabukimonogatari “Mayoi Jiangshi”, translated and posted on Baka-Tsuki. Emphasis mine.

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These two simply belong together.

The previous arc was about denial, and the big thing this time is time travel. Perhaps you’re not too surprised if you’re familiar with Nisio’s works. I suppose it’s as Shinobu said, if there are oddities and vampires in this world, time travel isn’t far fetched. And with Nisio, anything is possible as long as it’s convenient for the narrative, which had Koyomi turning 1 day back into 11 years back due to his thinking about Mayoi during their leap. There isn’t much mystery here like in the last arc: put Mayoi, the ghost of the girl who died 11 years ago at a crosswalk, together with time travel to 11 years ago, and I’m sure you can see what story naturally develops. But time travel is a powerful tool that allows for many wild possibilities, and this arc will certainly explore some of them.

Besides the obvious plot point about Mayoi, what will Koyomi and Shinobu do now that they’re in the past? What would happen if they ran into a grade schooler Koyomi or, god forbid, any one of his harem members? If I were Koyomi, I’d be worried about getting back to the present; Shinobu didn’t exactly inspire confidence in her ability to go forward 1 day (what with that 5 full minutes of silence), much less 11 years! It’s funny how this all started from the desire of an extra day to finish summer homework (deconstruction of the Endless Eight genre?). But actions have consequences, many of them unintended, and this has kicked off a chain of events that will send this pair in a number of strange directions. This arc isn’t so much about thinking or reflecting, it’s about enjoying a sequence of escalating events as they come one by one in some sort of logical progression. It seems Shaft has found its groove with the visuals in the last few episodes, so I think I’m going to enjoy this ride.

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I don’t think I can properly convey just how hyped seeing these shots made me. Just don’t think too hard about them or the new ending animation.


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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12 Responses to “Monogatari Series Second Season – 07”

  1. Foshizzel says:

    Time traveling vampires who knew? Shinobu you sneaky little girl and yes Lvlln they do make a great pair <3

  2. skylion says:

    Oh, frabjous day. Kabukimonogatari is here! Before I go on, I have read all of the available chapters on BakaT. I don’t mind spoiling myself, as SHAFT still gives us some rather juicy surprises.

    It has been well worth the wait. And this Shinobu fan is primed and pumped for the new arc.

    You know, at first, I was giving Ougi the benefit of the doubt. It is a rather serious subject, the idea of safety and all. But, after she just goes on and on, she just came of as supercilious. The idea is there, but is it something we need to pay close attention to?

    Oh, I love how the backgrounds change with the characters conversation. Yeah, a European setting is great for a cordial stroll with Mayoi, just as a veldt, where matter of life and death are subject to the might of predator and prey. Of life and death. I have to admit, I found Ononoki rather a throw away character in Nise, but she has grown on me in just those few scenes. I said without any sort of posed look.

    Yes. These two are so joined at the hip, anticipating each other, filling each other’s sentences in, getting the references. It’s a sweet little pair. Funny, how he doesn’t seem to think of it that way until she takes him by the hand. I guess part of him was waiting a bit for her to acknowledge him in that way, “ I need you”.

    Good stuff, Lvlnn. I am waiting for more. And as a bit of pre-empt. This may turn into quite the battlefield in near future. There are gryphons and vampires afoot….And they’ve been circling….

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, I’d say that’s an accurate assessment of the conversation with Ougi. It’s kind of a throwaway bit, and I had to find meaning in it relevant to the arc only after the fact. It’s odd to start the story with a conversation with someone else much later than the events of the story, so clearly Nisio was trying to put something in that was thematically relevant to the arc.

      • skylion says:

        Well, recall when Koyomi suggested they time travel, it had a cut to a traffic light, and that light went from…yellow light to green light. So in context, Caution to You are not as safe as you think. Not in the LN at all, if my memory serves me.

        But very much a Nobumon moment…..

  3. BlackBriar says:

    Another power I find out vampires are capable of. I find myself more and more surprised with these developments. Go Shinobu! To be honest, seeing the demon around and that she has a will of her own and was previously human all caught me off guard.

    • skylion says:

      To be more correct it is power only she does possesses and it’s a great big trick. She could have used those gathered souls for other stuff.

  4. PrimeHector says:

    Ononoki was pretty awesome this episode. Time-traveling vampires. Shinobu is entering touhou power level.

  5. JPNIgor says:

    I’m just glad that Shaft started to take Monogatari seriously (actually, since the last episode of Nekomonogatari arc), but anyways, one of the things I’m most amused is the visuals. Funny thing is that even though the animation is very important, I rarely notice the weird scenarios that appear because I’m too focused on conversations (reading subtitles makes it worse) and only when you mentioned I stopped to think… What kind of city is that? .-. Is it a how comes it have classic-style houses, european houses, savanna, beach .-.

    Oh, btw, was it only me that remembered the baobabs from “The Little Prince” seeing those huge fat trees? Oh, they are baobabs ‘-‘

    • lvlln says:

      Ah, I’ve never read the Little Prince. An unfortunate hole in my literary resume. I wouldn’t get half the enjoyment out of this series without paying attention to its truly bizarre visuals! I don’t know if it’s accurate or just my perception, but it feels like the series has gotten more unhinged as it has gone on. I mean, Bakemonogatari for the most part did look like it took place in a rural but well populated city in Japan, I thought. It took Nisemonogatari and now this season to bring us to Europe and Africa.

  6. Orangespike says:

    The trees in the background are Grandidier’s baobab and come from Madagascar. When they are cut down to the stump they will sometimes mysteriously regrow, often in a twisted shape. Many are believed to house spirits and are given food and money offerings.

    • lvlln says:

      Interesting, thanks! Madagascar, of all places, I didn’t really expect that. This town is connected to Europe, Africa, and North America, it seems. What other continents will we see next, Antarctica perhaps? :3

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