So this is probably a good time to start panicking.
|After teasing us at the end of the previous episode with talk of the world’s demise, the show gave us the full details in this one. So saving Mayoi’s life may not have created a paradox, but it sure threw a wrench into Koyomi and Shinobu’s lives, with the result that Shinobu turned everyone into vampire zombies. And it also turns out that in this timeline, the seal that Koyomi delivered to the shrine in Nadeko Snake prevented it from gathering energy, so they’re stuck as the lone survivors in this zombie apocalypse. Not an enviable situation.|
I’m not so sure that 2 months is enough time for all this to have happened. Also, how are they so sure that everything is also like this outside their town?
This series won’t ever be criticized for being too subtle. When it plays with the dangerous consequences of manipulating fate, it jumps right over everything else to demise of the human race. None of this “Oh no, I can’t save my love no matter how many times I try” crap, it’s, “Everyone anyone ever knew or loved is dead.” Shaft could have adapted Koyomi and Shinobu’s conversation as they gradually discovered the situation, but I liked the wordless cold open they put together. Such haunting and beautiful post apocalyptic imagery, accompanied by a shocked silence in a series that’s all about talking, leading right into the opening.
This follows reassurances in prior episodes by Shinobu that time travel doesn’t allow inconvenient things like paradoxes or the changing of fate. Oops. She just keeps messing up in this arc, doesn’t she? To be fair, she was right about paradoxes; the time paradox aspect of Koyomi saving Mayoi’s life causing him not to meet her was not at all a factor in the course of events. Rather, it was a small but vital role that Mayoi played during the events of Tsubasa Cat that lead to humanity’s downfall. One could have predicted such an occurrence by looking at all of Mayoi’s appearances in the series – one might wonder if and when Hitagi confessed to Koyomi if not during Mayoi Snail, for instance. But a zombie apocalypse, there was no way to see that one coming, since we weren’t privy to Shinobu’s secret plan that day.
This bit was the continuation of a running joke that got cut out regarding Koyomi’s obsession with Shinobu’s collar bones and rib cage. (click image for a gif)
So it turns out that Shinobu was responsible for the apocalypse, and she’s also probably dead by suicide. If you’ve read Kizumonogatari and recall what Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade was like, her actions probably didn’t shock you too much. She has never had the most stable of personalities. One of Shinobu’s character traits has been casually dropping mentions of extremely drastic things – time travel in this arc, her comment to Black Hanekawa that she was intending to suck her energy if not for the advice she accidentally gave to her in Tsubasa Tiger, and even this bit about Mr. Donut in Nisemonogatari. But what makes her special is that she isn’t exaggerating in these cases. She really brought Koyomi to the past, and she really destroyed humanity.
I found interesting the revelation in this episode about the connection between Shinobu and Koyomi. While Koyomi has been operating under the assumption that the death of one would mean the death of the other, it actually turns out that the death of one frees the other to return to his or her original state. It makes their already precarious position even more so, since they both have something to gain by killing the other. Makes one think of what Shinobu said in the previous episode about possibly betraying Koyomi. That said, fact remains that Shinobu was aware of this fact the whole time and yet did not once attempt to harm Koyomi. Despite her occasional complaints, it’s evident that she genuinely enjoys her life with him.
Some creepy zombie-like shuffling in the crowds would have been nice.
The zombie vampires that Shinobu created aren’t quite the same as jiangshi, but they’re close enough, and I guess Nisio didn’t want to telegraph this twist by calling it Mayoi Zombie. I was mixed on Shaft’s depiction of them. On the one hand, they were appropriately surreal and disturbing with their Anti-Spiral look. On the other hand, they were barely animated, with crowds of them doing little more than swaying from side to side most of the time. That’s not very menacing. Other than that little misstep, the production work in this episode was some of the best yet. I already mentioned the beautiful cold open, and the rest of the episode was filled with similarly haunting imagery. Shinobu’s leap to escape the zombies was also treat, a fine display of the series’s over-the-top style. It wasn’t shot the same way, but it had the same sort of controlled chaos feeling of Saki’s explosive flight in the 20th episode of Shinsekai Yori.
The swooping camera – as if being shot by skydivers – and the constant visual of the sun on the horizon gave this scene a visceral rush. This isn’t even a tenth as big as the biggest leap that Shinobu performs this season, though. (click image for gif)
The biggest visual treat came at the end with the fireworks display. First of all, Shinobu with twin buns in a yukata is ridiculous. Second, that light show was really something else, clearly not something an amateur could put together with over-the-counter products. There was something really poignant about these two, possibly last two people alive on Earth, creating and watching such a wonderful spectacle, using a celebration both to accept their horrible fate and as a way of holding out hope that there may be others. The compression on the official legal stream at Daisuki had no shot at keeping up with the dynamic fine details. Even the TV rips on the torrents had trouble keeping up at times – I can’t wait to see this again on Bluray.
An amazing shot that the compression couldn’t quite do justice.
As we will quickly discover the next episode, this fireworks scene is special. I had kind of hoped to see the conclusion of the scene to close out the episode, but it will probably make up the cold open of the next episode. As you can safely guess based on the events of Tsubasa Tiger, Koyomi and Shinobu won’t spend eternity surviving in a vampire zombie apocalypse, which means we’re still at least one major twist away from the ending. But already this arc has covered so much in just 3 episodes. I love this un-Monogatari-like lightning quick pacing of this arc, as well as its hectic style of throwing unforeseeable and ridiculous twists in our path. Unlike with Tsubasa Tiger, the production values have consistently been excellent, especially important in this story that focuses more on characters’ actions rather than their words. And with Shaft’s flash forward hints from part 1 still not realized, there’s ample reason to be excited for the next installment of this arc.
You can probably guess how soon we’ll be getting to this flash forward.