The Inauthenticity of Senjougahara Redux (Bakemonogatari 05)

bakemonogatari 05 senjougahara sunset

My fascination is decidedly for Senjougahara. If there’s anything I feel about the Mayoi Snail arc is that I can’t feel invested in Hachikuji’s monster story. I felt that more than anything, it was a device by which the narrative of Senjougahara and Hitagi would move forward. In Mayoi Snail 1 (episode 03) half of the episode was spent on Senjougahara flirting with Araragi, this will also happen at the end of Mayoi Snail 3. Senjougahara’s courtship of Araragi form the rather powerful and impressive bookends to an arc that’s supposedly about a girl who met a snail monster.

Let me get this out of the way: I enjoyed this episode. I was moved to tears. To give some perspective: I’ve been in a Honey and Clover rewatch marathon all afternoon before I watched this. I didn’t think I was going to be emotionally invested in anything afterward. But man, I love how this episode, and by extension how the entire arc ended.

And I love how it started too! Now that I have a sense of the totality and the movement of the narrative (of the arc, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself), I can really appreciate the long drawn-out conversation in the playground by Senjougahara and Araragi in Mayoi Snail 1 that I had thought established little else but some characterization of the leads. I now see that it’s a rather interesting set-up for the romance.

As for Hachikuji, even while wearing my loli-goggles I found myself rather uncomfortable watching her [image ->] and Araragi. The violence, the groping, the sexually charged conversation, when run together with the mystery of her condition, obscured the progression. I literally had no idea where this was going until it was resolved. And the surprise was Mayoi wasn’t afflicted with a monster. She is the monster, and the afflicted is Araragi himself.

bakemonogatari 05 mayoi monster snailHNNNG? Really?

I’ve stated the inauthenticity of Senjougahara begins with the titillation that we are subjected to (the sparks between Senjougahara and Araragi). I’m given signals that Araragi is being flirted with, and I sense that he reads these signals the same way. This fanservice, or Araragi-service is done under the premise of wanting to “become friends on equal footing,”  that Senjougahara cannot be with having to owe Araragi a favor; that the balance of power must be restored. She seems to claim that there is a power deficit in Araragi’s favor, and yet she exercises all the power here. She submits herself to his will, and yet leaves no doubt who the real dominatrix is.

And then her flirtation is interrupted by Araragi pointing at a mysterious grade school girl in the distance, where he could read the name tag. Senjougahara couldn’t, and Araragi reasoned to himself that it’s because she doesn’t have his Vampire Vision. He gets drawn into the story of Hachikuji, and Mayoi Snail 2 was entirely spent in wandering the urban (re) development to resolve Hachikuji’s monster (as Araragi suspected it as such).

Through the assistance of Oshino Meme, Senjougahara explains the nature of the affliction to Araragi. Mayoi is the snail. Araragi can see dead people, Mayoi has been dead for some time. She can’t process new information, and only has access to a dead person’s static memory. She’s lost because her house is no more, the world has moved on. Senjougahara also reports that a snail like Mayoi is easy to shake. Araragi need only leave her, he just needs to walk away.

bakemonogatari 05 senjougahara points a finger

But then Araragi starts showing a bit of character. He couldn’t possibly leave her lost like that. That’s just not okay with him, and with Senjougahara he leads the little snail back home (now an empty lot).

Senjougahara comes to a realization: She’s not that special, as to why Araragi saved her. Araragi would save anyone. She no longer needed to frame the relationship in terms of owing favors to be repaid. Perhaps she could even see that despite Araragi’s self-image, that he wasn’t really that small a human being. And she owns up to her inauthenticity:

All that business about granting Araragi a blank cheque favor was her manipulation to make him confess.

bakemonogatari 05 I love youShe spells it out for all of us.

And so we have a formal beginning to a new romance. I really like it how Senjougahara is shown to demand a formalization of the relationship in words. Relationships are awkward that way, and this detail pleases me. Araragi also makes her promise to be always authentic, to tell him how it is (a reference to her withholding how she couldn’t see Hachikuji the whole time, and went along with him because she was concerned that it was herself who had the problem of not being able to see a visible Mayoi), “If our viewpoints are inconsistent, let’s talk it over.”

With the promise, the inauthenticity is over. It is important to note as well that Araragi’s own inauthenticity is overcome. He wants Senjougahara, how can he possibly go on not owning up to it?

Further Reading

The Inauthenticity of Senjougahara 1 [->]

A more comprehensive take on the episode and gratuitous fanboying on Senjougahara (Panther 2009/08/02)

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in analysis, showing a bit of character and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The Inauthenticity of Senjougahara Redux (Bakemonogatari 05)

  1. X10A_Freedom says:

    Ep05 was just really well done. Saito Chiwa continues to impress. The Ararararagi and Senjougahara relationship dynamic would be interesting. Would the producers mess it up under the new stage in the relationship or will they manage to keep it as interesting as before? Two people confessing to each other is often an endpoint in anime!

    Can’t wait for episode 6!

    • ghostlightning says:

      Yes, usually it’s an endpoint, save for shows like Itazura na Kiss. They’ll be a team now, and I look forward to the dynamic.

  2. Ryan A says:

    Great batch of 3-5 today. Totally awesome stuff. Gotta admit I was sort of bored/desensitized by Senjougahara after 3-4, and really loathed Araragi, but Mayoi’s dynamic played nicely to the end, and the realization created a more interesting field in which these two main characters could share. Good characterization.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Agreed, though I wasn’t affected by the leads the same way you have the last few eps. I admit that watching Mayoi become very uncomfortable for me, but yes the dynamic worked out splendidly.

  3. Panther says:

    Araragi cannot see dead people. He just can see Mayoi because he has a desire to not go home, just the same as Hanekawa, which is why both of them can see Mayoi and Hitagi cannot. Also you misspelled “cheque”.

  4. vendredi says:

    Think I may be starting to fall behind your pace of Bakemonogatari viewing – hope you don’t mind if I post on these perhaps four or five days later.

    • ghostlightning says:

      No problem at all. What I like about the blog format is that the posts remain dynamic through the discussion section, even well after the post itself is perhaps obsolete.

  5. Omisyth says:

    That was probably the most surprising confession I’ve ever seen in a show that still makes perfect sense.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Word. Last week while writing about this show I accidentally spoiled myself on Wikipedia and I wished the world should just break. But the way this episode played out made me forget all I’ve read and when it finally happened it felt inevitable yet still surprising. I was un-spoiled, which is a credit to the writing and direction as far as I’m concerned.

  6. coburn says:

    Finding the symmetry in this arc was enjoyable., as was the confession. It’s interesting when you call it a formal beginning too, what with Araragi’s roundabout method and Senjougahara’s point + red-on-white intertitle.

    Having had the Engrish “I love you” somewhat spoiled by Koizumi’s endless eight repetitions, I actually found the most touching bit in 05 to be Hachikuji’s line in the ED about being a wanderer not a haunting. Aside from being cheerful, I liked the parallel with Senjougahrara’s transformation of character.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Curse my jadedness (yes, it afflicts even me). When I saw Hachikuji ‘graduate’ into a wandering spirit my first though was “no way they’re not going to make fans look forward to this provocative loli’s appearance in future episodes.” It’s certainly deprived me of the cheerfulness that you enjoyed and that I really value. Perhaps this is related but dissimilar to hearing Koizumi say “I love you” the same way episode after episode.

      I truly enjoyed the formalization of the relationship as initiated by Senjougahara. I have had moments in my distant past where ambiguity in the nature of the relationship all but broke me. The person that keeps it vague has less at stake, because s/he doesn’t want to put up stakes. That’s what I learned anyway.

  7. baka~ says:

    I guess aside from serious set-up provided by mayoi snail arc, it also helped araragi in his formulation of the promise that he asked to senjogahara which could serve as a solid foundation for their relationship

    “If our viewpoints are inconsistent, let’s talk it over.”

    i guess this was formulated thanks to mayoi sharing a bit about her family stating that they were a loving couple but they argued a lot. looking at senjogahara and araragi, they do look like a loving couple but their way of thinking is different: araragi likes to help people, senjogahara likes minding her business. if araragi hadn’t brought up the condition they might end up like mayoi’s parents should they really develop into something more than dating. i also think that, at a certain extent, saying “i love you” has a deeper impact than saying “aishteru” or “daisuki” or whatever japanese translation of love you can slap [here]. not that i’m being biased against the language but personally, i think that the effort to say something you’re not natively familiar with yet understand shows how much serious you are (unless koizomi says it then it loses all meaning)

    • ghostlightning says:

      Nice.

      I really like it should the Mayoi story influence the Koyomi x Hitagi relationship this way. It fits and I really like it when things fit hand-in-glove.

      Regarding the use of english to say I love you…

      I’m not sure if our example fits but that’s how we say it, my wife and I. But even if we’re Filipinos, English is our (her and me in particular, not everyone else’s) primary language. She is not as fluent or at least as expressive in our vernacular. And since I live with her, I’m not as fluent and expressive as I used to be. So we actually have never said it in any other language.

      • sadakups says:

        For some reason, saying “I love you” in Filipino (regardless of which translation) sounds more cheesy, yet it connotes seriousness. Yeah, I guess that’s what baka~ was talking about.

        As for the episode, I was rather surprised by the second half. I was about to dismiss the first half until the big reveal by Senjougahara, as Mayoi’s antics started to annoy me. I’m now looking forward to the next arc.

        • ghostlightning says:

          Have you tried it on someone?

          “Mahal kita”

          “Iniibig kita”

          I think Visayan works better (among Visayans; applies to both Cebuano and Hiligaynon). But I dunno really.

          But yeah the arc is solid, after this ep, and I’m looking forward to the next ones as well.

  8. vendredi says:

    HNNNNNNNNG.

    Now that that’s out of the way; I have to agree that the awkwardness of the whole thing is precisely the sort of nuances that make Arara(ra)gi and Senjougahara’s relationship feel real.
    What’s interesting to see about Senjougahara is that it is precisely Arara(rara)gi’s heroic and noble impulses that are the draw for her – finding out he’s willing to save anyone does very little to dampen her attraction.

    This stuttering is getting addicting.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Hmmm it is interesting to consider.

      I’m not sure that his heroic impulses ‘failing to damper her attraction’ is the same as being ‘the primary draw.’

      I think it’s too early to say, but I’ll be looking at their story from this perspective too from now on.

  9. Pingback: HitagiWorld: Thoughts on the Senjougahara Fascination Movement « 2-D Teleidoscope

  10. b4k4 de arimasu says:

    I really thought that Senjougahara’s behavior while guiding Araragi around was really spot on, especially after the explanation that she couldn’t see Mayoi. She seemed really awkward and irritated, which makes sense when an invisible grade schooler is causing her to question her sanity all over again.

    Meanwhile, if Senjougahara and Araragi were in a competition to not be the first to confess, doesn’t this mean Araragi wins his first battle with Senjougahara?

    • Yes.

      And yes, Araragi won IF he had the kind of backbone to compete with Senjougahara on anything.

      Senjougahara simply took all the risks here, taking responsibility for her own happiness and not leaving it in the hands of someone who just told her he was a small human being. She wouldn’t let him be that way too.

      …not because that would make him not good enough for her, only that she made a stand that they would be great for each other.

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