The Devil Made Me Do It: Bakemonogatari 07 (A Lesbian and a Devil Pretending to be a Monkey)

bakemonogatari 06 araragi eats monkey punch

Bakemonogatari continues to be about authenticity and inauthenticity. Characters lie, and are untrue to themselves and to Araragi. But here is an interesting thing:

Suruga Kanbaru finds out she has three wishes that will come true, but it will be delivered by a devil who would claim her soul afterward. But how did she get this devil? She asked for it didn’t she? Well, what she really asked for is a monkey… though the origin story is usually left to be discovered at the last, since it is usually the means to become free of the curse part of the monster. This is what happened with Senjougahara, and Hachikuji (and Araragi).

What do we know?

bakemonogatari 07 suruga is a lesboSuruga is or claims to be a lesbian.

Suruga says that the hand (that at the time, she just thought of as a monkey’s paw) does things against her will. Araragi mentioned the word trance. It would seem that the hand put her in a trance during nightfall. But what is the hand’s purpose, if it goes against Suruga’s (conscious) will? I daresay it fulfills her (un/sub/spoken) desire.

She was jealous of Araragi, he became her rival for Senjougahara’s affections/attention. She said so herself. The hand attacked him because of this strong feeling, that she suppressed during their conversation in ‘Suruga Monkey 1.’ Remember, she basically confessed to him, prompting Hachikuji to offer Araragi her congratulations.

In ‘Suruga Monkey 2’ this meets a refrain, with a twist. Suruga offers herself again to Araragi, in the verbally explicit, teasing style that both Senjougahara and Hachikuji performed. She offered herself to him, in the context of keeping Senjougahara ‘pure; almost in the context of if Suruga cannot have her, no one can. So Araragi shouldn’t have Senjougahara, not if Suruga can help it.

bakemonogatari 07 suruga araragi seductionSuruga claims to be a lesbian, then propositions Araragi in the form of yaoi homosexual dynamics. Does this make her straight? Or does it make her unambiguously gay?

So this is Suruga’s formerly unspoken, now explicit desire.

And now Oshiro Meme tells her that she actually has three wishes to make it really happen.

bakemonogatari 07 suruga monkey pawbakemonogatari 07 suruga monkey paw senjougahara imagebakemonogatari 07 suruga demon hand possession

I want to talk about responsibility now. Does Suruga’s desires make her responsible for her assault on Araragi in ‘Suruga Monkey 1?’ She was in a trance, the devil ‘made her do it.’ But the devil, in this case the devil hand, only acted to fulfill her wishes. The devil doesn’t have anything against Araragi. After all, Suruga explicitly asked for that power. And now she has it.

So how far is he extent of Suruga’s culpability in the violence against Araragi?

What would her three wishes be?

You tell me.

Further Reading

Bakemonogatari series on WRL; lots of inauthenticity, lots of Senjougahara [1] [2]

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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25 Responses to The Devil Made Me Do It: Bakemonogatari 07 (A Lesbian and a Devil Pretending to be a Monkey)

  1. Seinime says:

    Haven’t watched yet due to restraints but her first wish is to get that damn thing off her.

  2. DonKangolJones says:

    Watching these episodes really tires me out. There is so much dialogue and symbolism, and its all so peppered with lies, half-truths and innuendo that I have trouble keeping up. Episode 7 was no exception.

    I’d have to say that if not all, then most responsibility should lie with Suruga. The devil is doing what the devil does apparently, taking advantage of a human’s weak will and selfish desires. She may have not known all the rules, but I’m sure she expected consequences. If I remember correctly, she clearly knew of the monkey paw’s legend. She therefore can’t feign or claim ignorance.

    When someone is supposedly hypnotized, the hypnotist doesn’t make you stare at the tool of his trade. The person is generally asked and they comply. The major difference here is that instead of believing you’re a chicken, you end up zoning out while your “devil hand” goes Mike Tyson upside a classmate’s face.

    On a side note, something I’m starting to learn while watching this show is that no matter how beautiful or cute a girl is, I should fear her. Seriously, Senjougahara feels like she could turn into one of those brutal serial killers from the super gory Japanese horror flicks at ANY moment. The little ghost girl is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, but sometimes I feel like she could eat the main character in his sleep. And this newest girl…. well episode 6 was enough to make me respect her, or at least respect her left cross.

    • ghostlightning says:

      She may have not known all the rules, but I’m sure she expected consequences. If I remember correctly, she clearly knew of the monkey paw’s legend. She therefore can’t feign or claim ignorance.

      Well said!

      If you consider that Araragi as a character is some kind of commentary on otaku, or even just viewers of the show, then your insight takes on a new level of context.

      The idea behind moe, or even just ‘pure’ girls, is that they are not only virginal, but harmless. Suruga herself criticizes Araragi for seemingly holding this view. “Girls have sexual thoughts too.” The treasuring or fantasizing for moe, innocence, purity, is a retreat from the idea (or perhaps even the reality) that women can harm men. They are dangerous in that they wield the hammer of rejection, while displaying the mantle of attraction.

      So Bakemonogatari shows this, or at least hints at this dynamic not by portraying something realistic, but rather by displaying the extreme and the ridiculous; from the conversation, to the cursed afflictions. It’s having a hoot at the world and world view of the otaku.

    • 0rion says:

      “…while your “devil hand” goes Mike Tyson upside a classmate’s face.”

      The devil hand has teeth too?!

  3. gaguri says:

    -NSFW comment, not appropriate for younger readers-

    “Suruga claims to be a lesbian, then propositions Araragi in the form of yaoi homosexual dynamics. Does this make her straight? Or does it make her unambiguously gay?”

    That’s an interesting question. I wonder if you’ve read Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. There’s a character, who is biologically woman, but claims to be man, a homosexual man, and never uses his vagina for sex with other men (because that would make him a straight woman, not a gay man). In order for the girl in that screenshot to perform a homosexual relationship with the boy, I wonder how they would go on about the sexual intercourse. If the boy were to penetrate the girl like a gay man would penetrate another man, it still seems bit straight considering that man can enter through a woman anally as well. If the girl were to penetrate the boy using an apparatus, it imples a lesbian relationship and not a yaoi one.

    …sorry, haven’t watched Bakemonogatari yet (I really should…), just that caption reminded me of Norwegian wood…

    • ghostlightning says:

      I should read this, and my friend may just have a copy!

      This kind of kinky confusion is something that Bakemonogatari seem to delight in. I daresay you’ll get a lot out of this show, even if only for the visual playfulness.

    • coburn says:

      Sugara did suggest that she’d be the uke (passive iirc) in their BL pairing, right? That at least would suggest, along with her appraisal of her charms, hints at more of a straight relationship by a girl who thinks of herself as male(if not that manly) vibe. Then, when considering the loli later on, she switched from wanting to embrace to wanting to be embraced – so maybe uke is just a powerplay preference (hence her sempai crush).

      It seems like this is one of those ambiguities that’ll be resolved next ep along with the true detailing of Sugara’s desires. Oddly though, I found this bout of suggestive dialogue more disconcerting than the Hachikuji brand I recall concerning mr. lightning in posts past. That sounds pretty bad, but I’d defend myself by saying that Hachikuji always sounded absurd (and not in the end the dramatic focus), whilst Sugara in this arc was somewhere puzzlingly between being a real person and a foray into jokey gender confusion fetishery.

      • ghostlightning says:

        Strange that I didn’t find this disconcerting at all! Perhaps it’s because I knew RL bisexuals back at university (they are rather interesting people, especially if they’re female and gorgeous). Then again, those people whom I met are of legal age.

        I’ve been party to discussions where the subject gets rather raunchy — quite uncomfortable for me then, since it was a wildly mixed sexual preference group. But I suppose it would even be more uncomfortable, if it were a discussion 1-on-1.

        It’s the kind of thing, that by merely entertaining the thought, you get to worry about what it says about you…

  4. Ryan A says:

    I thought her first wish/want was to be the one beside Senjougahara??? The ball is already in motion imo O.o

    • ghostlightning says:

      Contextually, yes, but operationally given that the 3 wishes dynamic was revealed to her only when Meme spoke to her, it may not be expressed in specific language.

      We don’t really know what terms (fine print) for the wishes for soul deal are, so chances are that the first wish is not really expressed yet.

      In case that it is, the Devil didn’t deliver — since the ball being in motion rather stopped when Araragi survived the assault, to say nothing about how the destruction of Araragi does not mean that Senjougahara will have Suruga by her side (she was rejected prior to Araragi coming into play).

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  7. vendredi says:

    This one was fairly mind-blowing; perhaps it’s the absence of the other characters to balance out Suruga’s lightning delivery… but surprisingly enough I recall the “Monkey Paw” story that Araragi initially attributes to Suruga’s strange condition.

    Depending on the version of the story, it involves a group of people finding/buying a dessicated monkey paw talisman that is said to grant three wishes. The first wish is for money, but one of the group’s number is killed as a result (for example, collecting a life insurance payout). One member of the distraught group then tries to wish the other person to life – which has no immediate effect… until several days after the funeral, where an ominous banging is heard on the door. The more sensible minded members of the group then burn the third wish to ensure that the deceased person stays properly dead – as it has been several days since the burial and who knows what horror is now shambling about.

    The exact gory details vary on the version – sometimes it’s a family that discovers the paw in the belongings of a long lost relative, or a group of teenagers that steal it from a curio shop; sometimes the paw has three outstretched fingers which curl down as wishes are granted; but the general pattern of the story remains the same. The ultimate theme in the end is that the supernatural power of the three wishes, rather than allowing the group to change fate, causes them to be locked in – their second and third wishes are used up in various states of agonized regret over the results of the first choice.

    Meme does point out that Araragi’s story is incorrect: not a monkey but a devil, but still the fact that the story is brought up still raises some interesting ideas. Much as in the original story, Suruga’s wishes are unable to change her ultimate fate; her wishes are made of regrets. She originally wished to help Senjougahara and solve her weight problem, but in the end that only resulted in alienating their relationship. Suruga’s subsequent “omoi” (as noted before, implying feelings, wishes, and weight), is to undo the damage she caused with her first wish, to try and restore what was lost.

    • vendredi says:

      To uh, re-iterate in TL:DR fashion,

      -The pattern of Suruga’s wishes follows the original “Monkey Paw” story.

      -Her first wish is to solve Senjougahara’s weight problem, after discovering it. She approaches Senjougahara, but this results in their relationship becoming alienated. However Senjougahara is indeed cured – just not by Suruga, rather, by Araragi.

      -Her second wish is then to restore her previous relationship with Senjougahara – much like the original story, the second wish is made to reverse the consequences of the first. This however results in the manifestation of the “monkey paw” we see in this episode.

      -Her third wish now is what Seinime articulates: She wants the monkey paw off her. Her third wish, as in the original Monkey Paw story, is based on the regret felt for the consequences of her second wish.

      -This sequence exactly mirrors the pattern of the original Monkey Paw tale: a wish is made, but results in consequences. Rather than live on with the consequences, the protagonists try to reverse them – essentially trying to go back to “how things were before”.

      -I predict for the next episode that Meme will point to the root of Suruga’s problems as an inability to move beyond the past, and emphasize the fact that she must live with the consequences of her actions.

      • WOW. YOU SIR, ARE A BADASS.

        This makes blogging Bakemonogatari soooo fucking worth it.

        Based on the pattern of the original Monkey Paw story (if you have sources, I’m sure other readers would be interested) your prediction makes a lot of sense.

        I mean, it’s a borrowed story, but the show has created this world of sexualized and at the same time sexually repressed high-schoolers that the whole thing works very interestingly. I hesitate to use the word ‘fit,’ but Bakemonogatari made such a macabre tale a fun, wordy romp.

        • Panther says:

          A nice read and very good analysis indeed. Kanbaru did mention herself that the Monkey’s Paw granted the wishes in twisted ways; this may have implications for her knowing how things might have turned out and she still undertook the route, only to find out that her regrets are now being turned into further regrets and that it all should have stayed the way it was first at before the Monkey’s Paw appeared.

          But I wonder if Meme will indeed point out that her regrets were the root cause…or that the solution is to move past them. After all, the devil itself is not the Monkey’s Paw. The way they did adapt the original Monkey’s Paw story, if you are indeed right, is very interesting though.

          • vendredi says:

            The first time I saw the story I believe was on the old Tales from the Cryptkeeper (I think it was the animated version?). Surprisingly, I’ve found you can also find mention of it on Wikipedia.
            It’s a fairly old story that’s turned into something of an urban legend in North America, I think – which was why I was so surprised at the reference. The previous two arcs, in contrast, were mind-bendingly difficult to understand unless you had a high degree of fluency and proficiency in Japanese (omoi = feelings = weight, etc.)

            Hopefully the trend will continue… maybe when the series is all over I’ll be able to pull together some of the commentary into a proper post.

          • Yeah, I’ll be looking forward to that post. I think between what you intend to do, some of my contributions, and definitely Panther’s heroic attempt to interpret the episodes in the most comprehensive way possible, it’s worth ani-tating for reference purposes to those who would want a companion to their viewing/re-watching of Bakemonogatari.

      • I think Panther meant to reply to you, V.

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