This post is less about episode 02 than the first part of the episode, where I was rather arrested by the whole sequence between Senjougahara and Araragi in the playground. A lot of other things happen (or get talked about), but I don’t feel I can discuss all of them here.
Instead, I will focus on a particular consequence of Senjougahara gaining weight. She gained her weight back, which I postulated in my previous post on this show, is tantamount to ‘meaning.’ And indeed, she put a lot of meaning in Araragi being instrumental in her gaining it all back.
So much stuff was going on in this episode! Araragi’s ahoge could have had its own show.
So I bring your attention to this particular exchange near the beginning of the episode. Araragi was moping around in this rather awesome playground and Senjougahara found him, and ‘allowed’ him to see her.
S: I wanted you to see these clothes first if possible, Araragi-kun.
A: Hey, if you wanted to show them to me first…
Well, uh, that makes it sound like a stroke of luck or an honor.
S: I didn’t want to show you them, Araragi-kun.
I wanted you to see them.
The nuance is completely different.
Is it really? Perhaps we can say that Senjougahara ‘allowed’ Araragi to see her new clothes, as opposed to ‘show’ them.
The proposed probable nuance lies in the power relations. For Senjougahara to show (off) her new outfit, it speaks of an intention to please, to seek approval. Araragi would then have a power to deny Senjougahara some satisfaction.
To ‘allow’ him to see the outfit suggests an indifference to his approval (whether or not this indifference is true). The power is entirely with Senjougahara. She’s the one calling the shots, she decides what Araragi is fit to see.
The question is why this power play? Why the lengths to demonstrate nuance and show Araragi that he’s doing it wrong?
The inauthenticity that I suspect ties in with the titillation of the thing. I am being flirted with, through the idea that Senjougahara actually likes Araragi and wants his approval, and that this very exchange is flirtatious (look at all the fanservice, not only for our benefit but think of what Araragi is seeing up close).
This is happening in a playground, a supremely entertaining sequence that to me confirms the power relationship. Senjougahara feels that she owes Araragi a favor. After all, in getting her weight back, he’s not the one who had to be paid for services. Araragi’s apparent lack of self-interest in making things right for Senjougahara is treated as a significant act of generosity. The park suggests play, innocence. The actual dialogue is very raunchy, in that Senjougahara is offering her favors to Araragi, appealing to fetishes that to me clearly break through the fourth wall.
There’s this moment where they talk about virginity. I could go on about the politics of sexual dominance here but for now I’ll let this underscore the jarring juxtaposition of innocence and all this dirty talk.
The whole objective of Senjougahara here is to “become friends on equal footing.” She cannot do so without returning Araragi a favor. She guesses that he with his rather weak personality would not ask for something sexual, and she intended to do something personal that would make a difference.
But, but, but, she does all sorts of violence on him with all this flirtation and titillation. He’s quite powerless, as he’s obviously attracted to her and he’s already at the threshold of gratification. But alas, he sees himself wanting something more of Senjougahara. I won’t be able to tell if there’s something really there as far as she’s concerned — especially as the new character is introduced (which creates ambiguity and even a harem tangent of a rather disturbing turn), but she cares enough to restore the balance of power to begin an authentic friendship.
While such authenticity won’t be available until after repayment. She dominates him mercilessly. That is the inauthenticity of Senjougahara.
A parting shot from our fetching heroine,
No matter how small a human being you are, I’m never gonna desert you.
A final note: Identifying the inauthenticity of Senjougahara is not a value-judgment on my part (read: I’m not hating on her); also, I chose not to discuss the glaring inauthenticity of our Araragi-kun, he who says he really doesn’t want a girlfriend. Who’s the more inauthentic character at this point?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (a Monster in Bakemonogatari) [->]
A whole lot of Senjougahara from Panther — I mean there are other posts on BakemonogatariSenjougahara but this one has the most images and content (Panther 2009/07/20)
I’m new to ‘The Shinbo Experience,’ but I discovered this shameful otaku secret as a good introduction (otou-san 2009/07/20)