Mayoi, you were too good for this wicked world.
|So the arc that began with a pair of surprise loli kisses ends with a third. Turns out, the whole thing was about Mayoi, the ghost who refused to pass on… until now. This was an even bigger ass pull than what we normally get from Nisio, and Shaft didn’t do quite enough with the adaptation to make it overcome the source material.|
If there’s one thing this arc did right, it was the background music. Satoru Kosaki has always been good as the composer of the entire series (and the openings), and he seems to be getting even better as the series goes. Last arc had what I believe will be called Kuchinawa’s Theme, a playful yet unnerving piece to go with Kuchinawa’s manipulations of Nadeko, and this arc had another new theme, a quiet but intense piece to build tension during some of Shinobu’s narrations. This episode also featured Kosaki revisiting both of Mayoi’s openings for a calm and poignant backing to the climax.
And Shaft’s set design continues to be second to none. I already wrote last week about the mountains, and almost the entirety of this episode took us to an even more impressive setting, on some docks above a translucent lake containing what look like trees. I wonder if it was based on a real place?
I feel like I’ve seen trees growing like this, but only in photographs of floods…
Unfortunately, Shaft’s old money-saving habits left the episode mostly visually uninteresting despite those gorgeous back drops. They’ve gotten creative before in dialogue heavy scenes – of which there are many in this series – but here we just got lots and lots of faraway shots from identical angles and regular close ups to faces talking. That only works if there is a reasonable amount of dialogue, or if the dialogue is particularly good, neither of which was the case here. The reliance on flashing texts got tiresome as well. They were OK in prior seasons when they were used sparingly and for little Easter Eggs here and there, but they have gotten much more frequent this season, and they’ve been used for filling in not insignificant details of the conversations. And this episode was probably the worst offender. It’s a lazy way to adapt the novel and annoying to us viewers who have to pause every minute to catch frames that appear for 1/8 second or less.
I liked this overhead shot showing the entire lake. Near perfect circle design makes it look man made.
In summary, the arc came down down to, “God did it.” When you’ve got someone with omniscience explaining that you’re fighting an unstoppable force that exists to put right what it deems wrong, you can’t get much more of a deus ex machina than that. I like to look for the central themes these stories play with, but I don’t know what Nisio was going for with this one. Meta isn’t a bad thing – it’s a standard tool for all fictional media these days – but being just meta isn’t fun. It’s boring, and it’s lazy. This arc was gratuitously meta, to the extent that the antagonist was a manifestation of the author’s will to keep the story straight.
My best guess at what happened: Nisio watched some movie with a sad goodbye between a dying person and her lover, decided he wanted that for the Monogatari series, thought for a few nights on how to fit it in, gave up, and decided to explain it away with “plot convenience” objectified. Unfortunately, you can’t just make up drama and dump an emotional scene on the audience and expect it to work. You have to set it up with a story that meaningfully leads in to that scene. It’s inherently sad to have to say goodbye to Mayoi, but the knowledge that the only reason she has to go is “God did it” dampens that emotion. The only truly memorable part of the climax was Mayoi’s line, “Sorry, I bit your tongue.” That was perfection.
I liked the way Shaft showed Mayoi on top of Ononoki lumbering their way to kiss Koyomi. I wonder how many of you picked up what was happening?
Disappointing arc for the Shinobu fans out there, I’m sure, as her storyline turned out to be a red herring, and her arc turned out somewhat of a mirror of Mayoi’s arc which featured more of Shinobu than Mayoi (not to mention the lack of an opening theme!). And disappointing for those who were hoping for some more answers as this season winds down to a close. As usual, Nisio has to accompany every answer with several new questions, not the least of which is the mystery of how Koyomi became reunited with Shinobu, and what came of Gaen Izuko meeting her niece Kanbaru Suruga (if you recall, during Tsubasa Tiger, the story skipped no fewer than twenty-five chapters between Black Hanekawa arriving at the burned-down cram school with Shinobu and Tsubasa waking up). This isn’t the first time Nisio’s teased like this; events from both Kizumonogatari “Koyomi Vamp” and Nekomonogatari Black “Tsubasa Family” – chronologically the 1st 2 stories of the series – were referenced plenty before the stories proper were published, so we can expect this story involving Gaen Izuko and Kanbaru Suruga and Ononoki Yotsugi and probably Black Hanekawa and Shinobu to be told in some later volume.
We’ve got 6 episodes and one arc left, Koimonogatari “Hitagi End” (Koimonogatari meaning Lovestory). Next episode will likely be another recap, so that’s 5 episodes for the arc, which is frankly more than enough. This is a fun arc, one that came as a breath of fresh air to me after trudging through Nadeko Medusa and Shinobu Time. I still rank the first two stories, Tsubasa Tiger and Mayoi Jianshi as my favorites, but Hitagi End comes in safely as the third. No spoilers as always, but let’s just say that we’re in for the closing of some major plot threads.
I liked Shaft taking us back to where Koyomi first met Hitagi, right before the start of the final arc.
A pan of Mayoi one last time before we say goodbye ;_;