Monogatari Series Second Season – 18: Shinobu Time Part 2

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Thus the new religion of Shinobuism (Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Bladeism was deemed too unwieldy) was born.

There you have it. Shinobu’s first trip to Japan is out in the open for all to see. Or perhaps for all to listen to and to inspect, as it was told in oral and tapestry form. It was nice to see Shaft try bringing something new to the table for this episode, but the unanimated depiction they went for wore out its welcome a bit too early in this episode that was more about the telling than the showing.

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Classiest picture of a woman only in heels that Shaft will ever publish.

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A little too much clothing for the 1:1 match, but not bad. I’ll take it.

I can’t say the flashbacks are the most beautiful things Shaft has ever done, but I liked the gimmick enough, and I admire the temerity to see the gimmick through to the end, for better or for worse. Even if it made the rest of the episode look like everything was moving to the left as my brain took time to readjust. The visual style fit right in with the medieval Japan aesthetic, giving life to Shinobu’s words without giving outright depictions to the actual events. The main weakness in the gimmick was the lack of movement sapping the energy from the episode as it went on. There was some minor animation and zooms here and there, but overall, half the episode felt a lot like slowly scrolling through a very long tapestry. Again, neat gimmick, and some of that was pretty spectacular, such as the long connected strand of hair leading Shinobu from that void all the way back to Antarctica. But it wasn’t clever or compelling enough to carry the whole episode. Perhaps if it had been limited to a single 5 minute sequence like Tsubasa’s and Meme’s letters, it might have fared better.

After all, didn’t you want to see Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade’s first trip to Japan during the height of her power in full animated detail? I know I did. Nisio’s writing is rather sparse on physical descriptions (Shinobu’s narration was basically the full content of those chapters – Nisio set the rule that oddities like her and Mayoi can’t be narrators, but apparently they can just talk through entire chapters), so there were a lot of holes that Shaft could have filled, not unlike the trailer they produced for the the end of the prior arc. How spectacular was Heart-Under-Blade’s splashy entrance into Japan? How did she fare in her initial encounter with the locals, and what forms did their worship of her take? What really was the relationship between Heart-Under-Blade and the First Oddity Slayer before it broke down upon his revival? We’ll never learn the answers to these questions because of the way Shaft chose to put these scenes on screen.

I guess that’s what Shaft was going for, limiting our knowledge not just to what Shinobu could know, but even further to only what Koyomi could glean from hearing from Shinobu. Still, more details would have added more flavor to a somewhat dry oral account. It wouldn’t have fit the style of Monogatari to present a straight depiction, but something more animated would have been nice.

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The ye olde oddities was one of the very good uses of this visual gimmick.

Shinobu’s tale draws from the story of Hernan Cortes, of course, a Spanish conquistador who was, as legend has it, treated as the god Quetzalcoatl by Aztecs in the 16th century, though there is controversy over whether or not this actually happened. It was an interesting, if small, window into Shinobu’s long life that lead her to this point. She was very recently supposed to be one of those 90% of vampires who die by suicide (though I question how she knows this number; what organization collects this data, and what are their methods?), and though it took place 400 years ago, such a painful experience probably contributed to her desire to die. It was funny learning that her experience in Mayoi Jiangshi fruitlessly searching every last house in an area for survivors was not her first. It certainly gave context to her behavior during that scene.

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Shinobu has one of the best somber smiles I’ve seen in anime.

As an aside, I want to point out a couple of inaccuracies in Shinobu’s story. First of all, she says she almost destroyed Antarctica with her little leap to Japan. I did some crude back-of-the-envelope calculations, and the amount of energy required for Shinobu’s trip was around 5 gigajoules. Even assuming air resistance and other factors I didn’t account for made me very inaccurate, it would take 4 orders of magnitude to get to the energy output of one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan (67 terajoules for Hiroshima, 88 terajoules for Nagasaki), which is still several orders of magnitude too weak to significantly damage the entire continent of Antarctica. So a slight exaggeration there by the proud vampire.

Second, she needed to stop her explanation of the suspension bridge effect (or misattribution of arousal). It has nothing to do with the idea that animals want to reproduce because their lives are in danger; as the title suggests, it is merely the conflation of the physical arousal of being in danger with that of being sexually excited (the effect was only seen in male subjects interacting with female interviewers). I can only hope that anime is not at all a reflection of the state of science education in Japan. Let’s chalk that up to Shinobu never actually having studied science.

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Certainly would have been sweet to see this little leap, considering what we got in Mayoi Jiangshi

Unfortunately, Shinobu’s tale this episode did awfully little to illuminate the mystery of what was chasing Koyomi and Mayoi. The short of it was, 400 years ago this void thing swallowed up everyone who knew of Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade. It even tried to swallow her up, but she didn’t stick around long enough to be overtaken or to find out more about it. Does that tell us much about why is it going after Koyomi and Mayoi now? Is it because Shinobu is back in Japan? Are other people who know Shinobu, which would be a majority of the cast (basically everyone except the sisters), also in danger? Not to mention, what the heck is that thing anyway, and what/who is behind it? There’s so much still up in the air, only someone who knows everything could help them at this point! My only hint would be to think of just how much Nisio likes playing with meta, and how much it’s seeped into the work recently, what with Ougi’s appearance in Nadeko Medusa, Shinobu’s narration of her story to Koyomi, and even the contents of the story which featured a vampire becoming a god only because people believed her to be a god.

I wish I could be excited for the rest of the arc, but this episode was the the piece de resistance of the arc, and Shaft kind of gave a flaccid effort. This was the second straight very oddly structured episode with no opening theme (damn it Shaft, you are giving us Maaya Sakamoto x Satoru Kosaki x meg rock, right?) an entirely too long post-credits sequence. I really have no idea what they’re going for with this. So not much to look forward to other than Nisio’s all too convenient wrap-up of the mystery. Well, that and lolis.

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Click to see VOFAN’s original illustration from the novel.


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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24 Responses to “Monogatari Series Second Season – 18: Shinobu Time Part 2”

  1. skylion says:

    Thus the new religion of Shinobuism (Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Bladeism was deemed too unwieldy) was born.

    The LOLi Defender approves (and he is chiefly non relgious).

    What is up with those heels? Did fashion exist like that? I wonder if this is a bit of a clue, because those heels are very noticable in nearly every frame they show her. I might accuse a studio of being too clever, but I think that the shoes, plus the pacing of of the tapestry scenes are clueing us into an Unreliable Narrarator. She isn’t lying, but she isn’t telling us the full deal.

    How spectacular was Heart-Under-Blade’s splashy entrance into Japan? Etc.

    Again, I think they are underscoring what she is selectively telling Araragi (and us), perhaps an indication that she knows much more about the darkness than she wants to admit.

    She was very recently supposed to be one of those 90% of vampires who die by suicide (though I question how she knows this number; what organization collects this data, and what are their methods?)

    Anecdotal? She knows of herself, she has know maybe nine others of her kind for her entire lifespan. Nine of them have killed themselves…90%

    Back of the envelope calculations. Good thing she landed in water, right?

    damn it Shaft, you are giving us Maaya Sakamoto x Satoru Kosaki x meg rock, right?

    I have heard that Maaya herself refuses? Anyone with any more information on that, chime in…

    That, and lolis

    Based Shinbu

    • Highway says:

      Back of the envelope calculations. Good thing she landed in water, right?

      Well, it really wouldn’t have mattered where she landed, since her taking off energy was more than her landing, over at most the same distance, probably significantly less. Her launch was the application of that higher energy through only whatever distance she could extend her legs. If her landing would have cracked the ground, so would her takeoff (and honestly, it would be impossible to take off from any surface with that much force).

      • lvlln says:

        If we assume her leg extension to be 0.25-0.5 meters, that’s 10-20 gigaNewtons of force, which is a couple orders of magnitude more than a rocket or ICBM launch! If we further assume that she has foot surface area of 0.01 square meters, that’s 1-2 teraPascals of pressure applied to the ice at her feet. That’s more pressure than at the core of the Earth. So the ground around her probably disintegrated.

        • Highway says:

          The reality (hah!) would be that it would disintegrate far below that level of force, therefore it would likely be impossible to actually use that force to jump. So much loss, I wonder how much more force that would require.

          But hey, we’re talking about anime. 😉

    • lvlln says:

      Sakamoto is a fairly high profile singer, so I could see special considerations for her. Would be a shame if she refused to record an OP. She’s done music for Shaft before with the SoreMachi OP, so I wouldn’t think that she’d have any problems now.

  2. Highway says:

    While I was able to pay better attention to Shinobu’s yammering this time, having the entire episode be that really was a test. I’m with lvlln, it got kinda old after about 5 minutes. Not only was this an infodump, it was, for all intents and purposes, a static image infodump.

    Not a horrible episode, but certainly not the most engaging or entertaining.

    • lvlln says:

      Nisio loves the infodumps, though usually they’ve come at the ends of arcs. Part of Shaft’s success with this series has been through doing fun things in animation during those infodumps, so I appreciate they kept with that, at least. Sometimes, though, Shaft’s insistence on using unusual visual methods make it look like they have their heads too far up their asses for their own good. I like that the industry supports guys like these, even if they stumble.

  3. tatsuya says:

    C -cup goddess ..FTW

  4. BlackBriar says:

    Shinobu would’ve had quite the luxurious lifestyle as Kiss-short if not for so many irritating drawbacks keeping her from fully enjoying her status as a “god”. For her to cause so much damage just by jumping from place to place is really absurd to imagine.

    One thing I’ve come to realize about vampires is that they’re not afraid of death but they completely dread being left alone more than anything else. That’s why they become so possessive when they meet someone they begin to like, wanting them to be theirs and theirs alone.

    If human belief is needed to sustain an apparition’s existence in the world, then it just shows more and more that humans are their own worst enemies. More so than any other being they come across.

    • lvlln says:

      Yeah, one of the main running themes in this series is that humans are ultimately responsible for their own problems. Hence the twists in Tsubasa Family and Nadeko Medusa that the oddities that controlled the girls were all in their heads.

      • AOG says:

        The oddities don’t seem to be always just in the girl’s heads, see the unique way Nisio did Black Hanekawa. The first one was 90% Hanekawa, the second was a mixture, and the third was almost a total fusion. Also, Nisio broke that rule of oddities not narrating in Nekomonogatari: Shiro, with Black Hanekawa doing some narrations. You could say he partly told the truth, as the Cat and Hanekawa were almost one, you could say it still had a “human” narrating and not an “oddity”. But imo, he broke that rule there.

        And as for Sakamoto, I heard she doesn’t do character songs now, and had contractual obligations to not do songs not under her label, so I would give up on a Shinobu song.

        As for the ep, you might be a tad too critical of Shaft here, they did take a chance and were creative in the stylized storytelling using pictures in an almost mural type fashion. I’ll agree the jump from Antarctica would have been better animated though.

        • lvlln says:

          With Neko White, since both Black Hanekawa and the Inflaming Tiger were actually just parts of Hanekawa, I think Nisio gets away with it there. It’s disappointing to hear about Sakamoto. What if they brought in Aya Hirano instead? Then again, that’d probably be just as tough.

  5. Mikazuki says:

    so shinobu didn’t really love the 1st minion? It was a “misattribution of rousal” or is she lying..?

    • Kyokai says:

      I deem it to be in need of a companion because she was already so alone and could not think of another minute without companionship while jumping ships to the other part of the world. It’s sad how the one she saved, despised her till the end.

  6. Kyokai says:

    Aaww man, I was expecting an actiony episode but got screenshots and dialogue, which weren’t too bad but yeah, it got old after a while. Still, knowing more about Shinobu is always good. Makes me wonder when the hell we will get Kizumonogatari.

    • lvlln says:

      Kizumonogatari, ironically, will probably end up being the last piece of the series to get an anime adaptation! Perhaps Shaft will be able to devote more time to it now that the 3rd Madoka movie is complete.

  7. dexter says:

    does anyone knows the background music of ep 18?its amazing bt i cant find it any where…..

  8. […] off his songwriting skills for this arc, as I’ve read (nothing confirmed, just rumors) that Maaya Sakamoto contractually can’t sing character songs. Maybe that’s why back when Arakawa Under the Bridge was airing, she did the opening to […]

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