Valhalla is the Joy of Eternal Battle (Bakemonogatari 06)

bakemonogatari 06 araragi mayoi railway crossing

Suruga Monkey’ begins, and like the previous episodes, Bakemonogatari starts with the familiar; in this case, Hachikuji Mayoi. This show eases me in by having the characters talk about seemingly random things, though most of the time the conversation is sexually charged nuance, or at least the politics of relationships. The technique seems to be for the purpose of accessibility. I get into the flow of the show by being entertained by the quirky conversation.

This works, because of the decidedly weird nature of the show itself, in terms of subject and the visual composition. Mayoi confirms the relationship between Araragi and Senjougahara, asking him how they’re doing “the man-woman thing,” and then astutely commenting on how the intention to study for the upcoming exams is set up to fail for Araragi. After all, he will end up doing nothing but flirting with his new lover.

bakemonogatari 06 senjougahara araragi deconstructed house

But there was very little flirting that went on, unless I choose to be generous and contextualize Senjougahara’s violence as foreplay. Why the violence? It’s because Araragi mentioned the lampshaded ‘chance meeting’ between him and the new character: Suruga Kanbaru. Suruga, the ace of the girls’ basketball team makes nice with Araragi, overtly flirting with him, and subtly (or at least tries for it) identifies Senjougahara as Araragi’s tutor. Apart from this, she declares herself as his admirer.

I don’t think Araragi believed her, and neither did I want to as well.

bakemonogatari 06 araragi suruga sparkles

The conversation during group study (a lover’s tutoring), while filled with the all-over-the-place banter about apparent trivialities that I’ve come to like about this show, centered on something pretty serious: ambition and the future. It’s one thing to have the character leads initiate their ‘formal’ relationship early on or in the middle of the narrative — this is already a very interesting thing. It’s another delightful thing altogether how something as grounded in reality as the life after high school and what it means to the young couple is taken seriously by the story.

Yes, it’s taken seriously in its clever, dark, and somehow lighthearted way. Senjougahara is a top-level student, and yet it doesn’t seem like college is a foregone conclusion with her. It seems like she still has to work for things, despite how the exams or at least studying seem effortless for her (depicted by constant illumination of Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Address’ in her notebook).

She asks Araragi wants to do after high school. He really hasn’t thought it through, and Senjougahara seems to have a clearer grasp of what his options are (work immediately, trade school; or even to becoma a freeter, or a NEET as if they were equal and actual options!). What’s even more striking is how Senjougahara wants them to live together after graduation. She sees far enough to account for the greater net time available together in such a set up compared to the present.

Araragi, when he actually took initiative in the conversation mentioned Suruga Kanbara, and made the indiscretion of mentioning her by her first name, insinuating a level of intimacy that pushed the jealousy buttons of his girlfriend. This button activates a threat of violence not seen in Senjougahara since the ‘Hitagi Crab’ arc. She wasn’t carrying staplers lately, but she made a pen such a menacing weapon — pointed directly on Araragi’s quick-healing eyeball. It would seem that Araragi is just perfect for her, someone she can be her full violent self with. He’d heal so fast that there wouldn’t be any serious or long-term damage from her outbursts.

bakemonogatari 06 senjougahara vs araragi pen vs eyeball 02

On his way to Oshino to deliver Senjougahara’s payment, Araragi makes a call to Hanekawa who’s a very convenient exposition device in the show. It’s lampshaded by Araragi remarking on how she knows everything, to which she replies “I don’t know everything, just the things I know.” She knows about Suruga Kanbaru and Senjougahara Hitagi’s past in middle school, where it is apparently common for a star like Senjougahara to be admired and gain yurilove from her female juniors. Their names form an interesting portmanteau: BaruHara, Baru from Kanbaru and Hara from Senjougahara.

bakemonogatari 06 valhalla odinbakemonogatari 06 hanekawa know it all

Hasegawa then waxes on the Norse pun the portmanteau makes: Valhalla, the hall of the fallen heroes where they can enjoy battle for eternity. A series of interesting Norse mythological images punctuate this colorful exposition. But what makes Hanekawa’s exposition interesting is her color commentary and her unsolicited advice. Araragi shouldn’t dig too deep about his new lover’s past. It’s too soon for that, she says. I suppose it’s easy to lecture Araragi, because he knows too little and is so much of a n00b about things that his only conversational match is the grade schooler Hachikuji Mayoi.

At the end of the conversation, he realizes that he’s left the money for Oshino back at Senjougahara’s house, which is an inexplicably a half-built|half-destroyed affair. He turns around only to be very aggressively assaulted by a hooded assailant. My immediate thought is that this is Suruga the Monkey. Araragi heals fast enough to stay concsious long enough to conclude that his assailant is one of the oddities that he’s been coming accross in greater frequency. The beating is rather savage and brutal, and is presented quite powerfully and viscerally. When he comes to, it is to see Senjougahara standing over him; giving him the money he left behind, as if to remind him of his failure.

bakemonogatari 06 araragi eats monkey punch

The back story that is Baruhara seems to be that of yurilove, an aborted relationship once Senjougahara graduated. It’s unclear to me how the valhalla image is apt – given that it was coined when they were in middle school. It’s a violent kind of paradise, which only makes sense to me in a future sense: a showdown between two monsters. I’m not sure how much power Senjougahara has given that her crab has been exorcised from her. If Araragi is any indication, she would still have some of it. The monkey seems to be very strong, and my appetite for girlfight is rather whetted by this possibility.

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.
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23 Responses to Valhalla is the Joy of Eternal Battle (Bakemonogatari 06)

  1. Pingback: What’s wrong with you, Senjougahara? (Bakemonogatari 05-06) | Minimum Tempo

  2. Seinime says:

    Yet to watch the latest episode, but wtf is with the last screencap.

  3. remm says:

    I wonder if Araragi can use his vampire powers, beside the fast healing and the enhanced vision, to fight against the monkey
    if he does I suspect he has to use the help of Shinobu somehow, after all there must be a reason as to why they kept her around (and no, “LOLI GET!”, does not count as a reason)

    • sadakups says:

      From what I can see, he’s a pansy as the other girls will just beat him up. All he can do is absorb damage like a sponge and recover like it never happened.

    • ghostlightning says:

      While bantering with Coburn in the comments section in one of my earlier posts on Bakemonogatari, I conjectured that Araragi instead of being a viewer avatar is actually a commentary on the viewer. From the presence of fetishes to the impotence in fulfilling them — it’s as if the narrative is having fun at the viewer’s expense.

      I find this very interesting. What fun it seems for the text to rip into its fans like so. Araragi is powerless against Senjougahara (real), and more himself and can fight on equal terms with Hachikuji (loli, unreal, a ghost). Otaku’s fetish for loli of the 2D variety has something to do with the latter’s powerlessness against the otaku. In the face of a ‘realistic’ woman, Araragi is powerless, has no initiative. His relationship, his life, is directed almost entirely by Senjougahara.

      On the way to ‘study group,’ Araragi has no problem dallying with Hachikuji, who teases him with sexual entendre, fights with him, speaks his fetishes out loud while posing no real threat.

      No.Real.Threat.

      She is a ghost, and he has regenerative abilities. The viewer may like a real Senjougahara to show up in their lives [->] but as an otaku will not let go of the loli fetish. This is the inauthenticity of Senjougahara Fascination.

      Furthermore, this regenerative ability… I will further conjecture that it is representative of the resilience of otaku. Hurt them, troll them, piss on them, ‘betray’ them, have your way with them. They will come back if they love you enough. If the Endless Eight DVDs of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu doesn’t sell, then I’m wrong. If “The Disappearance” doesn’t get a generate excitement leading to its release, then I’m wrong.

      So Bakemonogatari has no compunctions pissing all over Araragi, the representation of its viewers. Araragi can survive almost anything, even Senjougahara.

      Also, in Dungeons and Dragons, usually the first encounter player characters have with a monster that has regeneration abilities is with a Troll.

      Just saying.

  4. Pingback: The Deathseeker » Blog Archive » Bakemonogatari 06 - In Your Face Part 1

  5. foomafoo says:

    I’m not sure if Araragi meant by sensing Kanbaru’s presence was actually the effects of the vampire thing… or wasn’t it?

    • ghostlightning says:

      I’m not sure myself, given that the ‘rules’ for Vampirism aren’t explained yet. I think this will be clearer in the final arc.

  6. Pingback: The Inauthenticity of Senjougahara Fascination « The Ghosts of Discussions

  7. The last screencap is lovely. The only exciting scene out of the rest in the episode, I must say. Though, I quite liked the bit where Senjougahara threatens to pop Araragi’s eye.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Well, you must have a high resistance to excitement then! I thought the episode is agitating, uncomfortable, exciting and unnerving all at once. That eye popping bit is a part of the reasons ^_^

  8. X10A_Freedom says:

    The last sequence of events is confusing.

    Was it Senjougahara that beat him up, or was it a posessed Suruga with Senjougahara just passiing by, unable to see the “ghost”? Next week should be interesting.

    Love your analysis as always.

    • ghostlightning says:

      Thanks! I’m almost always confused by this show, but I feel it’s the kind that doesn’t subtract from the experience. If you look at the last scene, the assailant has red hands. Senjougahara will only assault with stationery as weapons, That should be a reasonable indicator.

      As for motive, Suruga is presented as a romantic rival, even if a one-sided past tense one.

  9. omisyth says:

    The joy of eternal battle makes me think of Araragi’s and Senjougahara’s relationship. Though the only one who seems to derive joy from this is Senjougahara. Oh Araragi, you are so whipped.

    • ghostlightning says:

      It is an inaccurate comparison my friend. Araragi may view it as a battle for survival, Senjougahara can only see it as a massacre/sport/extermination/bughunt.

      Like you said: “Oh Arararagi, you are so whipped.”

      Oops, I stuttad!

  10. vendredi says:

    Perhaps it’s simply a contextual thing, seeing as CLANNAD ended rather recently but in a lot of ways this series makes me think of it as an “anti-CLANNAD” (well, at least the first high school season). At heart it’s still a sort of love story about two lonely people who find companionship in each other, with some competition (yet there seems very little doubt about the final pairing); yet Senjougahara is everything that Nagisa is not. Hachikuji is like a mirrorverse Fuko,a ghost who haunts us with comedic interlude brought out by razor-wit and spunk, and provides a foil for Aryagi to bounce his internal monologue off of. It’s a vibe I’m finding hard to shake. Rararagi-san is not quite Okazaki but certainly shares a similar grueling physical endurance.
    This might be simply chalked up to the fact that Bakemonogatari does seem a little tongue-in-cheek: as you note, it’s quite possible it’s a commentary on the target audience and a play on common stereotypes.

    Took me a bit to catch it also, but you’re right, it’s the Gettysburg Address. Also, been trying to figure out the random cuts to “Black” are for the longest time; realized I’ve been overthinking it – the text “Black” is shown to denote that literally, you are seeing a “fade to black” segment.
    Finally, if you recall, the reason Senjougahara’s house is such a piecemeal affair is apparently due to financial difficulty resulting from the fallout with her family situation: this cropped up back in Hitagi Crab.

    You know after this episode I am fully convinced that a show with all the roles played by Hachikuji would be a truly transcendent experience. Well, you’d probably need to have Ararararagi-san, where would our stutter gags be otherwise?

    • ghostlightning says:

      the text “Black” is shown to denote that literally, you are seeing a “fade to black” segment.

      Wow, I missed that one.

      Thanks for the reminder re the Senjougahara apartment.

      I cannot read this in the context of Clannad because I’ve never seen it, nor am I really interested to do so.

      Say more about:

      a show with all the roles played by Hachikuji would be a truly transcendent experience.

      I don’t think I understand, but I’m intrigued.

      • vendredi says:

        Well, that’s mostly in reference to the opening animation for Mayoi Snail, wherein we see an opening animation wherein Hachikuji plays all the parts – busdriver, teacher, passers-by, etc. After watching two episodes of her antics, the prospect of an show starring only Hachikuji certainly seems mind blowing. Perhaps I just find her far more amusing than I ought to.

        • ghostlightning says:

          HAHAHAHA

          I got it. I think I’ve made similar statements (informally) about how Araragi’s ahoge can star in it’s own show. Yes, I think a one-shot episode of an all-Hachikuji cast has tremendous potential.

  11. Pingback: Bakemonogatari 11: You Are (Not) a Man « We Remember Love

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