|If last episode showed the downside of Shaft’s choice to use 6 episodes for Hitagi End, this one did the opposite. Like last episode, this one was made up of just a handful of very long-winded and artfully depicted conversations (including a 6 minute cold open with dialogue between Kaiki and Hanekawa), but unlike in the last episode, they were filled to the brim with interesting and possibly game changing pieces of information.|
I liked Shaft’s surreal visuals for the most part, but it was a bit too unhinged at times, particularly with the two unnecessary full-screen rotation shots on the train platform.
Where to start? There was Hanekawa, living up to her reputation with her insights on Nadeko’s condition. I think this is the first time anyone has said it so plainly, but she’s right, isn’t she? Nadeko doesn’t really love Araragi, she’s just infatuated with her crush on him. It’s an obsession driven not based on her feelings for him but rather on the beauty of such an obsession. Fits right in line with her current preference to kill Araragi in order to keep her love unrequited forever. The Ouroboros more and more appears to be a fitting symbol for her.
Of course, this information was of little use to Kaiki, who had no interest in saving Nadeko. The contents of Nadeko’s closet were also of no use, which he finally told at least the audience when asked by Hanekawa (a previous explanation to the audience had been cut in the last episode). It’s so much like Hanekawa to pick up on such a minor detail she heard from Araragi, even if Kaiki was of the opinion that it amounted to nothing. She also raised another big question that we the audience have, which is the identity of Oshino Ougi, the self-identified niece of Oshino Meme. Who doesn’t have any family at all according to Kaiki. The plot thickens. And that’s even with skipping Hanamonogatari, which will add even more intrigue to the character of Ougi and also will make that name Numachi Rouka mean something.
The more I see Ononoki, the more I like her. Maybe it’s Saori Hayami‘s voice, or maybe it’s Shaft putting her in such colorful poses. Or maybe it’s her way of mercilessly tearing into Kaiki while expressing nothing with her face or tone.
Though one must wonder how truthful Kaiki is being when he says he doesn’t care to save Nadeko. His chance encounter with Ononoki at the train station was the most elucidating yet with regards to his personality. At least, it could be. There’s a narrative that Ononoki has painted of him, an alternate character reading, if you will, that he actually has a soft spot for Hitagi and took various actions to try to help her – he just failed at every turn. We might have suspected as much ever since his overly convoluted reasoning for accepting her job in Part 1, but his prior run-in with the cult that took Hitagi’s mother gives it a lot more weight. I loved seeing Kaiki sarcastically play off of Ononoki’s claims; whether it was an embarrassed con man seeking to keep his image or a cynical sociopath finding amusement in such claims, I don’t know. It certainly felt like Shaft was trying to push it one direction with flashes to close ups of Kaiki’s angered face and that uneasy music playing over the whole scene.
Kaiki talked to the girl herself right before that, which had already added fuel to that fire with his little mental victory dance at hearing that Hitagi’s reason for liking Araragi had at least something to do with him. There were a couple of things I really liked in this conversation. One was Hitagi’s reiteration that she would forever hate Kaiki regardless of his helping her now. There’s no sense of healing or redemption from his deeds this arc, just doing another job. It speaks to the severity of Hitagi’s injuries from her first encounter with him and refuses to trivialize it with a cliche happy ending of forgiveness. The other was Kaiki’s pithy observation that unlike her permanent hatred for him, Hitagi’s love for Araragi is very likely temporary. Of course she took it as an insult, but an adult with a sense of perspective like him knows that he’s probably right. I keep saying it because it’s true: it’s refreshing having a full grown adult as the narrator instead of an adolescent.
Loved this little attention to detail, one big toe over the other. How often do you see animators take care to pose something so trivial? Then again, Shaft is known to be run by foot fetishists.
Though even an adult is no match for a god, apparently. So the moment that Kaiki had been building up to all month finally came. He was brimming with confidence, giving the deception his seal of approval and even encouraging Hitagi to count her chickens before they hatched, but this god was having none of it. Nisio occasionally likes to write chapter ends to be perfect episode ends, and this was one of them, with Shaft doing a fine job zooming into Nadeko’s reaction before the quick reveal. What a pose to finish on. Now that Gaen’s fears have been realized, what fate awaits Kaiki, Hitagi, Koyomi, Shinobu, and the town at large? Are there any cards up Kaiki’s sleeve that he can pull to salvage this or at least survive this, or is he now at Nadeko’s mercy, dependent only on some sort of deus ex machina? Did he underestimate Nadeko, or was there something or someone else in play that he didn’t account for? Nothing left to do but to wait for the thrilling conclusion to this arc and season next week!
I’m sure plan B is looking awfully attractive to Kaiki right about now.