Monogatari Series Second Season – 13: Nadeko Medusa Part 2

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What the introduction didn’t cover last week is that Nadeko’s true passion is actually building sand castles.

So after some teasing and introductions last week, Nadeko’s story begins in ernest now, being tasked with the considerable challenge of finding Kuchinawa’s body, without a single shred of a clue as to where it is. It’s not really a fair request, is it? And he won’t even say thank you. Kind of an uneventful and visually boring episode, but at least we got to see Shinobu join in on the Nadeko bashing train.

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Shaft having fun with shadows, as usual.

One big question is, why is Nadeko even helping Kuchinawa when he seems to hold no leverage over her? He said it himself, he’s not forcing her to do it, he’s only guilting her. Nadeko has all the reason in the world to raise this issue and just refuse him, yet when the topic was broached, she quickly moved on to how she would obey with her usual “anyway” line. Snakes have a reputation for having a silver tongue in Western media, likely owing to the tale of the Garden of Eden from the bible, but to be honest, little that Kuchinawa has said has seemed particularly clever in that way. He’s just blunt and rude, and Nadeko just obeys, as if his wishes were hers. Something to think about.

After the arc opener, I was hoping that Shaft would continue to be up to their visual tricks, but this episode was rather boring in that regard. Shaft does have the trademark on the faraway conversation shots, which they used to use judiciously back in their less affluent pre-Bakemonogatari days, and those were what made up half the episode. The architecture at Nadeko’s school was quite nice, though, with that one scene at the top of the double spiral staircases.

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Beautiful, but seems rather inefficient for a school, doesn’t it? What if you decide partway up that you need to get to the other floor?

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For the heck of it, I decided to stitch together this pan from the start of the episode. Click image to see the full thing in its cloud-filled glory.

I’m still liking the treatment Kuchinawa is getting in the anime, except for the budget saving zoom-ins to his unmoving face. I wrote last week that I loved the voice and his condescending “Hah?” and my opinion hasn’t changed. That Shaft decided to use a specific red frame for (most) instances of him saying that line is pretty amusing. At least it’s obvious what that colored frame is supposed to mean. What an abusive jerk he is, which makes him a good villain. It was amusing seeing him get it utterly wrong at the sand pit, only to come up with a hand wavy excuse about his spiritual energy being spread about. Gee, that was awfully convenient.

And just as convenient, that accident lead to her being found by Koyomi. What an irresponsible family we have in the Araragis. Tsukihi lied to Nadeko’s parents without batting an eyelash, and Koyomi took it upon himself to find Nadeko instead of, you know, doing the responsible thing of calling back the parents and telling them the truth. Still, he found her, and he notably gave her a huge out from the situation, nailing exactly what was going on and offering her his aid once again. That’s a good thing to keep in mind, how many times Nadeko is given a chance to cleanly escape from the situation and doesn’t take it.

The story of the class that was ravaged by Kaiki’s charms hasn’t been laid out all that well; Nisio didn’t do a good job in the book either. There’s this loose idea that Kaiki scamming the middle schoolers resulted in everyone in Nadeko’s class having their secrets exposed – the “who likes whom, who hates whom, who wants to do what with whom” talk from the previous episode. But that’s all it is, just a loose idea; we don’t know how this happened, since Kaiki’s charms were explicitly said to be fakes. We did see in Karen Bee the effect that a fake charm could have on someone purely as a placebo, but there’s still a big leap between that and actually finding out someone else’s secrets. It’s not a critical detail in this arc, but it is a plot point that rears its ugly head later on, so it would have been nice if a couple clarifying lines had been tossed our way.

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“I wonder if that’s really the case? Hm? Even though you say nothing, doesn’t everyone act kindly toward you? Even though you say nothing, doesn’t everyone believe that you are smart? Even though you say nothing, doesn’t everyone believe that you are kind? Don’t they smile at you? Even though you stay silent, don’t things you hate go away on their own? Even when you do the exact same thing as someone else, isn’t everyone more impressed by your work? Even when you say the exact same thing as someone else, isn’t everyone more moved by your words? Even when you fail, aren’t you not reprimanded? Even when you lie, aren’t you forgiven?”

– Shinobu Oshino from Otorimonogatari “Nadeko Medusa” chapter 14.

Before the arc started, I asked you to think about privilege. Now you saw it with Shinobu’s complete dismantling of Nadeko (with Commie opting to explicitly use the term for their subtitles). There isn’t really much to elaborate on, since Shinobu laid it out so well. Nadeko gets to enjoy advantages and benefit of doubt in many situations merely because of the way she looks and the way she acts. She has learned to take advantage of it in her life, escaping unwanted situations merely by retreating and looking down and hiding behind her bangs.

This connects to the theme from the prior episode, when Ougi and Kuchinawa both hammered home the point that she was victimizing others obliviously, merely by living. And we can see the personality living such a life has wrought. I posted the lines from Kabukimonogatari when Koyomi noted what a bad student she was. And now she has been forcibly elected the class president and then has done absolutely nothing. Even one of her first lines after receiving the task from Kuchinawa is that she doesn’t feel like trying her hardest. Seems like she’d get along well with another Shaft heroine.

Of course, the audience is an affected party as well. As anime fans, we’ve grown accustomed to making quick judgments about characters based on their physical traits and I’m sure back during Nadeko Snake most of us bought her as the stereotypical good girl. The Renai Circulation opening song and animation certainly helped push us in that direction.

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Frankly, this bit of imagery was 2deep4me.

And even now, it’s probably a little hard to shake that pure, good image of Nadeko. Her looks and behavior are just too ingrained in our heads as informing, if not defining, her character. But if we step back and make a concerted effort to judge her purely by her actions and attitude, it’s clear that she’s not the person we might have been lead to believe she is. The writing at least communicates that well enough (it’s a little too obvious about it, perhaps) despite being rather clumsy and blunt. And Shaft’s adaptation was fairly lazy this episode, unable to carry the momentum from the opener. Well, some shit will start hitting the fan next week, so hopefully Shaft will bring out the big guns for those scenes.

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This shot of her exiting her home was actually genuinely cute.

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Though not as cute as Shinobu.


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What pretty bangs you have! Would be an awful shame if something were to happen to them, wouldn’t it?


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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7 Responses to “Monogatari Series Second Season – 13: Nadeko Medusa Part 2”

  1. skylion says:

    There is nothing cuter than Shinobu. Nothing.

    Frankly, this bit of imagery was 2deep4me.

    Well, I think it might underscore said privilege. She lays and waits for the fruits of other’s labour to be given to her, in a pool in water…that means she’s….yeah, I got notin’.

    Agreed on the lazy approach, but I guess they gotta save the cash for the big payoffs.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, and people are happy to give her the fruit as long as they get to watch her eat it like that. Hey, I think we’re onto something here!

  2. q says:

    I love Kuchinawa with his general attitude and his aaaahh?? 😀

    What I like about that ~deep picture of Nadeko is that it implies Nadeko’s usual self is red eyed white snake.

    • lvlln says:

      Good point; the story certainly builds up the idea that Nadeko has more in common with Kuchinawa than might meet the eye. Shaft plays on that too by giving Nadeko’s shadows the snake shape, not just her hand or scrunchy. It’s a good line of thinking to follow, if you want to speculate about where the story will go.

      • skylion says:

        If Kuchinawa is related to the snakes that Koyomi freed her from in Bake, then does what Kanbaru said in relation to real snakes hold true? That they are really cowardly, strike from ambush…

  3. BlackBriar says:

    That’s a lot of snake symbolism in those frames of the spiral staircases for the school. It almost feels coincidential considering who and what this arc is focusing on.

    Shinobu has a rather elegant but ruthless way of chewing someone out for their outward appearance among people. And the she was looking at Nadeko made it seem like she was about to eat her. What I gather from what Shinobu is saying is that Nadeko is to the point of being devilish for being cute in the same way Tsubasa would be for being perfect. That too much of it brings disgust. If I remember correctly, Shinobu tried to kill her for that in Bakemonogatari. What’s your opinion on the subject?

    • lvlln says:

      I don’t think “coincidental” would be the right term, but rather the opposite, “purposeful.” Shaft likes to have the backgrounds thematically connected to the story, like those snake shadows, after all.

      As for Shinobu in Bakemonogatari, I don’t recall her wanting to eat anyone in that. She used her energy drain on Black Hanekawa to save Koyomi, but it didn’t go any further than that; she literally had no lines or even a voice actor in that season. As for Nadeko, I think Shinobu laid it out very plainly. Nadeko could retort that she doesn’t like it, that she is treated this way without her conscious effort, but that’s also what makes her so devilish, isn’t it? There is some reasonable expectation of self awareness, hence the incessant calls by social justice warriors on the internet to “check your privilege.” Then again, Nadeko is a kid, so she could be forgiven for not having such self awareness.

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