The Inauthenticity of Senjougahararagi: Bakemonogatari 08 (Suruga Monkey Arc Ends, Senjougahara Steals Show Again)

bakemonogatari 08 suruga x senjougahara terms yuri

Bakemonogatari is the kind of show that makes me liveblog. Instead of spamming melative and twitter, I went directly to my draft of this post. I went to this method because there’s so much going on — an illusion of subtlety ensues. What I mean is that I don’t think this show is subtle. There’s just so much information that it’s very easy to miss things.

It does give you a feeling of depth and more nuance than there really is, but this is not really a bad thing. I had a very good time with this episode. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It seems that eight episodes of the three shows I watched this season (yes, even Canaan so Crusader and digiboy can stop harassing me) are high points. This episode isn’t the highest peak in Bakemonogatari, but I think it ends up being my favorite, recency bias be damned.

What I take away from it is that the problems with these oddities, and of these characters who bear them, is rooted in inauthenticity; lies and truth. It takes characters being honest to themselves and each other, to break free from the affliction of a monster, and to break through the limitations of adolescence. In each arc, the afflicted resolves an inauthenticity within herself (yes, this show is harem that way), which leads to a breakthrough in Senjougahara and Araragi’s relationship (the issue always about authenticity, being straight with each other).

bakemonogatari 08 classroom overview

First let us look at the nature of Suruga’s oddity. We see that at the core of it is indeed an inauthenticity with regards to her own wishes and desires, as well as in acknowledging and taking responsibility for her behavior and its outcomes:

The Rainy Devil seems to be a violent devil. –More than anything, it enjoys the feelings of malice and hostility, grudges and remorse, envy and jealousy; put as a whole, negativity.

It sees, causes, draws out, completes people’s dark sides. It hears people’s wishes malevolently, and fulfills them malevolently. The contract itself is, as a contract–

In exchange for ones’ soul, it grants three wishes. When the three wishes are granted– it seems that it will take that human’s life and body. Meaning, in the end, that human becomes a devil.

That’s how it works.

bakemonogatari 08 oshino meme

I wonder if there’s a face that I can attach to the narrator of the text throughout the show. I want to put Oshino Meme’s face onto it. I think it works: he has a reasonable intimacy with all the characters, and the events are all given him by Araragi and by the girls themselves. So if these text narrations are delivered in past tense, he could be the second narrator (with Arararagi being the primary, voiced-over one).

If Kanbaru had wished to solve Senjougahara’s problem a year ago when she first learned of it that wish probably wouldn’t have been granted. Because the only wishes that a Rainy Devil can grant are wishes that are violent and negative. Devils read the hidden side of wishes. If there’s a side you show, there’s a hidden side too.

Destroy

She wanted to run fast because she hated her classmates. She wanted to be with Senjougahara because she hated Araragi Koyomi. Tes, it read the hidden side. Yes, it sees the hidden side. It sees her subconscious wish. I see it–the devil.

Even if I’m wrong and he isn’t really playing this role in the narrative, Oshino Meme is awesome. He doesn’t let Suruga play victim to be saved; holding her responsible for her own outcomes. Second, he does the same for Araragi. This is important since the narrative has established how Araragi tries to save everyone. Senjougahara pointed it out clearly, when she confessed to him.

Oshino tells Araragi.

First of all, there are two ways to handle this phenomenon. One is to let the Rainy Devil kill you, Araragi-kun. The other way is… The second is to lop off that beastly left arm.

He doesn’t mince words, this guy; telling the facts in a amused way without being particularly cruel. It’s a rather delicate, and I imagine difficult feat. I like it a lot. He casually quotes the price of survival: “Paying just an arm to settle this is a very cheap price.”

bakemonogatari 08 OP suruga senjougahara flowers stationery

Araragi: “Killing someone isn’t what Kanbaru wants. She just wants to be with Senjougahara.”

Oshino won’t have this inauthenticity. Authenticity and the lack of it is the business of the Rainy Devil. As mentioned, there is a side people show the world, and there is a hidden side. The fact that there is a hidden side makes for the inauthenticity.

The inauthenticity of people is how they say they value authenticty. There’s a value judgment attached to the tag ‘inauthentic,’ and it’s a negative one. But inauthenticity, is intrinsic to human behavior. LMAO.

He calls Araragi ‘being too kind,’ but the kind that makes him sick. And then Oshino shows the compassion, asking Araragi the workings of the monkey’s paw based on Suruga’s history — without spoonfeeding him the explanation (he only provides the distinction that the paw is really a lesser devil known as a Rainy Devil). This is good stuff.

He then pulls the monkey out of the bag: Suruga really wanted to smack her rivals up. She was having a hard time just after her parents died, and the bullying and persecution — Ohino points out, makes it very plausible for Suruga to have thoughts of revenge. And thoughts are all that’s required for the Rainy Devil to act on, really.

Oshino uses a binary of surface|what lies beneath. I’m not as fond of it to represent the binary of presented|hidden. I would prefer something like front/behind… a vertical representation of thoughs/behavior/personality as opposed to a horizontal one like surface|beneath the surface, which suggests depth, without necessarily substantiating it.

But Bakemonogatari seems intent on pursuing the pop-psychology angle; Oshino frames the events to Suruga in terms of the conscious and subconscious. He tells her that her conscious self tried to look for an explanation for her beat-up classmates different from her wanting revenge on them. It manifested physically: the Monkey’s Paw itself. It’s the paw that twists the wish, Suruga never wanted to do those things. This is shifting the blame, avoiding responsibility, a rather gross act of inauthenticity.

Suruga treats the paw as a seperate entity from herself. She didn’t do those evil things. The paw did! It’s an ‘other’ being. In turn, it started growing on its own, and within the context of the contract mechanics — it was consuming more of what’s left of Suruga’s soul as it grew (in exchange for each wish).

The mechanics of the contract, as Oshino tells us, work out that if the Rainy Devil cannot complete a wish, in this case the third and last wish that is to kill Araragi, the contract is dissolved, and it disappears to where it came from. However, if this means that Suruga’s arm needn’t be cut off, the show just led me on with some manufactured drama. It would’ve given me a false dichotomy just for effect. Talk about inauthenticity.

Araragi buffs up by having Shinobu bite him in the neck in a ridiculously erotic (and disturbing) scene.

bakemonogatari 08 shinobu araragi vampire bitebakemonogatari 08 shinobu araragi post-vampire bite

Hating is a part of life. I’ll pass on getting killed, but if looking up to Senjougahara is the reason Kanbaru hates me, it’s forgivable.

Is this the authentic Araragi? I don’t know, really, but it’s nice to believe and trust in, isn’t it? Only that I find it remarkable that he didn’t involve Senjougahara in his life or death decision. This tells me he doesn’t really love her yet. If he survives this, Senjougahara should dice him with boxcutters and staple his parts on a school of fish. That’s what I think my wife would do to me if I pulled something like this (over another girl too!).

bakemonogatari 08 OP silhouette senjougahara cuts suruga in half

And just as I think this up, Senjougahara arrives apparently informed by Oshino.

CAUGHT RED-HANDED YOU LIAR. Araragi requested only one thing from Senjougahara when they started dating: that was to be straight with each other. The hypocrisy is obvious. This is delicious stuff. The inauthenticity of Araragi is that he thinks by dying he makes everything ok. He forgets that Senjoughara already rejected Kanbaru even before she fell for him; and doesn’t realize that she will kill Kanbaru whatever it takes.

bakemonogatari 08 araragi broken writst vs suruga monkey

So up to this point, when Araragi has bee dealt a thousand, ten thousand deaths by Suruga, it’s revealed how one-sided the relationship is. Araragi is unthinking and undevoted. He does what his instincts and helpfulness tells him. He is inconsiderate of how Senjougahara feels. It really takes her to spell it out for him, how he’s behaving, how much it doesn’t work if he’s serious about her. All the while making it very clear that she loves him, that he’s the one she chose; and that she gets his being difficult, meddling too much, and performing unwelcome favors. And then Senjougahara does even something more awesome, which is to settle things with the Rainy Devil, which leads to a tearful Suruga declaring her love to Senjougahara once again, accepting Hitagi’s terms, finding whatever happiness she could find there.

bakemonogatari 08 suruga monkey senjougahara x araragi bloody intervention

It’s kind of weak, but in his battered state Araragi gets to tell us how awesome Senjougahara is, calling her understanding when he was taling about her perceptiveness (but yes, Senjougahara is understanding and more importantly, forgiving). Well Araragi, we don’t need to you to tell us that. You need to say it to tell us that you get it. That you know how good you’ve got it. Because frankly, you suck at it.

Just like Hachikuji Mayoi, Suruga Kanbaru attaches herself to Araragi after resolving her matter with her oddity. And I expect Araragi to keep floundering, letting his messianic tendencies teach him about life and love while literally wrestling with monsters. I’ll be watching!

Further Reading

Vendredi caught The Monkey’s Paw reference first [->]

Wikipedia entry on The Monkey’s Paw [->]

The Dark Party Review asks if it’s the scariest short story in the world (DP 2008/10/27)

The other episode eight of awesome (I wrote 2 posts on it!): [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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28 Responses to The Inauthenticity of Senjougahararagi: Bakemonogatari 08 (Suruga Monkey Arc Ends, Senjougahara Steals Show Again)

  1. Ryan A says:

    Bakemonogatari is the kind of show that makes me liveblog. Instead of spamming melative and twitter, I went directly to my draft of this post.

    THIS. Content-creation, true blogging.

    Man, you totally laid out the inauthenticity. I still wonder about Araragi; I suppose it’s his disposition, he’s just so damn helpful! haha. Still, Senjougahara is CAKE-worthy, She takes it!

    Yea, I should probably rewatch this episode, because it was such a rush. My only quip, as I mentioned on melative was the story’s resolution of the Rainy Devil arm. So all they had to do was make one wish not come true? Seems rather cheap from Kanbaru’s perspective… and she basically had previous wishes granted in ways; not much retribution on her end. Quite alright, the presentation layer was plain awesome.

    Senjougahararagi Continues!

    • I agree that it was a rather cheap way to break the curse all things considered. However, it’s a contrivance to allow [img 01] and [img 09] above to happen. This is the resolution the narrative wants to show, something both thoroughly awesome, and something completely titillating.

  2. BobaFetish says:

    Oshino uses a binary of surface|what lies beneath. I’m not as fond of it to represent the binary of presented|hidden. I would prefer something like front/behind…

    random note:

    front/back is actually an alternate translation for Meme’s wordchoice of surface(omote)/hidden(ura).

    So you’re actually in agreement with his representation. While gg subs are quite accurate, this is not the first time I’d change their word choice if I could.

    • BobaFetish says:

      I should probably note that I haven’t watched the gg subs for this particular episode yet, so I may be thinking of a totally different scene.

      I’ve always thought Araragi is the text narrator – I figured it was first-person narrative plucked straight from the novel. I believe the text slides in Mayoi’s arc imply this as well.

      • Yes, this is the first time I thought of Oshino as a possible text narrator. It’s highly unlikely though.

        I have no way to validate correctness of translation, so I just go with what’s there, in this case [gg]. Let me know when you’ve seen the ep. Thanks.

  3. Panther says:

    Well I picked up more on the conscious/subconscious thingies than the inauthenticity of it all, but yeah, Araragi is being dishonest and stuff.

    Also WTF at Shinobu scene. Closet lolicon FTL. I will probably blog on this later in the day…I doubt it will be a long post though.

    • I’m no psychologist, and I hesitate going too much into shrinkfields more than necessary, despite my temptation to go all over the place and talk about Hanekawa’s theory of personal force fields called ‘privacy’ — basically Hitagi’s and Koyomi’s are dueling A/T Fields cancelling each other out. But no LOL, I won’t go there now. Feel free to have a go.

  4. DonKangolJones says:

    I have to say I was very impressed with this episode. The main reason (besides my love of violence) is Oshino. Thank god for Oshino! Pardon the cruel analogy, but it is as if Araragi brings in these girls covered in bullsh*t and he too somehow gets covered in their bullsh*t. And Oshino comes along with a firehose and blasts away their bullsh*t to reveal their true selves and their problems.

    I applaud Araragi for his helpfullness and seemingly selfless attitude, but he doesn’t think these things through all the way. I have to say that I was starting to forget what I said myself in the previous post about this series. It is NOT a monkey’s paw! Stop lying to yourself or the problem will never get solved!

    Another thing I love about this show is how I find the way the characters think to be very believable. When someone gets distracted or lies to theirself, you can understand them making that mistake. As opposed to a lot of other anime where you see a dense or ditsy character lose themselves because they saw a cat or a love interest. These characters lose themselves in thought & dialogue. Somehow along the way they are thrown off course by a lie or by not paying close attention to the situation. It makes the people with their monsters and oddities human. Suruga nearly killed as a child and again nearly killed Araragi TWICE. How do you think you would look at reality and yourself in that situation?

    This show makes me want to write, very much.

    • DO IT. WRITE.

      It’s rather cool to find such believable characters in such fantastic/unreal situations. Part of the believable stuff is Araragi himself who as you said, doesn’t think things through. He was never a calculating or even a particularly intelligent character in the show to begin with, so his behavior today is very, very consistent.

      The whole thing is a delight, how the terms of relationships are always spelled out by Senjougahara — who remains the most dangerous character while remaining completely deadpan and calm. If I was merely amused by the “Senjougahara Fascination” movement, now I have no problem counting myself among its members.

  5. Son Gohan says:

    Wasn’t this the second wish of Suruga? Since the devil couldn’t accomplish the task the first time, it remained attached to Suruga’s arm. I think her retribution at the end is that she must leave the basketball team because of her arm.

    • I fail at math. This was the second wish, and since the Devil failed to kill Araragi, and at the same time Senjougahara both made it clear that the Devil can’t make her love Suruga, and at the same time allow her to ‘stay by her side’ in a settlement; the Rainy Devil can no longer deliver and disappears due to dissolution of the contract as mentioned by Oshino Meme.

  6. omisyth says:

    I loved the music for the action scne. Tribal seemed to fit the theme of the true, primal feelings of Suruga, as well as the fact it was a Moneky’s Paw (well, not really, but you get the idea). I lol’d at how Umineko is getting so censored these days and Shaft is just throwing blood, broken wrists and intestines all over the place with no hesitation.

  7. baka~ says:

    i think we can see araragi’s reason for lying to senjogahara 2 episodes ago where he wished during his internal monologue, before he got his ass kicked, for senjogahara and suruga to be at peace and if possible to let senjogahara regain most of the things that she lost. it really was a selfish desire that might not what senjogahara would wish for but it was a selfish desire that araragi wished to himself. it can be like:

    i’m happy if i see my girlfriend happy so if i can give her this happiness then it’s all good for me

    in a way, didn’t araragi reveal something similar with senjogahara:

    even i know how greedy senjogahara is. if it’s something precious to her, there’s no way she’ll give it up

    (i just shortened it for typing’s sake) both of them are willing to go far for the sake of their love no matter how selfish they may be. senjogahara showed her selfishness the entire episode 6 where the love-hate tension constantly swung from one side to the other as she dominates araragi by lecturing him of his future, being jealous of people he would talk to, etc. while araragi showed his selfishness in this episode. trying to carry a heavy burden full of scattered organs and spilled blood just so he could save suruga so that she and senjogahara can reconcile.

    • Nah, the whole business about Araragi telling us stuff about Senjougahara is pretty weak in terms of tipping back the scales of contribution to the relationship. It really does nothing for Senjougahara. He’s not telling her these things, he’s narrating a story. Worse, he’s already telling us something we already know (i.e. Hitagi is fascinating).

      The inauthenticity of Senjougahararagi is that it pretends to be a working relationship when right now, it barely is. The dynamic is pretty much Araragi does whatever he wants, inconsiderate of what Senjougahara has at stake in his choices. Worse he lies about it, hypocritically goes back on their mutual promise; then Senjougahara forgives him, accepts him, and rescues his ass.

      • baka~ says:

        as to why she forgave him, maybe it’s because she did saw through his intentions. oshino did call her after all and might’ve explained the details. from there, she could’ve put stuff together. suruga and her past relationship, suruga’s arm and koyomi’s accident. if you connect the dots logically, they all fit into place and as to why koyomi would go that far, it would probably be due to his nature of being meddlesome and granting unwanted help. she helped her regain her “weight” with no apparent reason back then so what’s stopping him for helping her now regain the friendship she once had? based on certain conditions, she can easily predict araragi and identify the reasons behind his actions.

        for some reason, stockholm syndrome popped in my mind and i imagine senjogahara, who forced herself to be araragi’s girlfriend would one day gain his loyalty through her “methods”. i guess she knew that things are still far off between her and araragi but she does want it to work and she seems to be stressing this by subjugating his will. i think she said in episode 6 that she never wanted to break up with him. as to why she wanted to go that far for him i can’t understand considering her personality.

        then again, all of these are merely baseless assumptions. i guess i’m giving too much credit to senjogahara’s intellect and understanding.

        • Well, she loves him. That’s the simplest explanation. All I’m saying is that Araragi isn’t matching her contribution to the relationship. Not yet, anyway. Each arc resolution episode is a learning experience for him, and a demonstration of Senjougahara’s feelings:

          Episode 02 (Hitagi Crab): Senjougahara apologizes for her behavior and tells Araragi that she’d like them to get along better. Araragi’s messianic tendencies pay off.

          Episode 05 (Mayoi Snail): Senjougahara confesses to Araragi, they become a couple; Senjougahara Fascination is official. Araragi’s messianic tendencies are noted by Senjougahara, acknowledged as a characteristic that makes him special.

          Episode 08 (Suruga Monkey): Senjougahara forgives Araragi for his irresponsibility and inauthenticity. Araragi’s messianic tendencies cause the problem, but is also the reason he’s forgiven.

          • baka~ says:

            i see. if you put it that way, it makes more sense. all the previous arcs established the foundation of their relationship. true it isn’t on a working level yet and it clearly sees that senjogahara is the only one trying hard to make it work but i wonder. there might be a change in the next arc that would motivate araragi to put into consideration her feelings rather than going into his messianic complex to help each and every individual.

            i think when compared to other anime where they establish boy x girl relationships, it’s portrayed most of the time that the boy is going after the girl and it is the boy who has to understand the situation every time. but in bakemonogatari, the situation is reverse. even if senjogahara acts like a selfish tsundere, she cannot match araragi’s selfishness. she’s the one that reaches out to him. indeed it may be one sided but let’s see if araragi learned his lesson in the next arc

          • i think when compared to other anime where they establish boy x girl relationships, it’s portrayed most of the time that the boy is going after the girl and it is the boy who has to understand the situation every time. but in bakemonogatari, the situation is reverse. even if senjogahara acts like a selfish tsundere, she cannot match araragi’s selfishness. she’s the one that reaches out to him. indeed it may be one sided but let’s see if araragi learned his lesson in the next arc

            Yes. Senjougahara herself said at the end of Mayoi Snail 3 that she and Araragi haven’t really talked much with each other, but she would like to talk with her some more.

            This reflects my attitude toward the show as a whole, if not Senjougahararagi in particular. It’s quite fascinating, really.

  8. Zyl says:

    WRT Araragi’s messianic tendencies, suffering hero complex, taking kindness to its extreme (i.e. kind to others to the extent of being cruel to self and, by extension, cruel to those who care for and love you; being more in thrall of the idea of ‘being kind’ than to truly ‘be kind’ – with all the burdens and inconveniences that entails). He’s not the first anime chara with that tendency but, by golly, he’s so much less annoying than, say, Emiya Shirou from F/SN or the early proto-pacifist Kira Yamato.

    And that’s partly because he keeps such excellent company – Oshino and Senjougahara – who won’t indulge his inauthenticity for even the span of a full episode, stepping up to say clearly, cutting to the chase, ‘That’s BS, Araragi-kun.’ But also because he sheepgracefully accepts it, growing and maturing, even if a little bit by bit; the quest is not so much to root out the messiah in him but to sublimate so that he can save others while not hurting those who love him who hurt seeing him hurt himself with cuts of a thousand kindnesses.

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  12. vendredi says:

    I really feel for Araragi here. Having an assailant use your own entrails as a rope to slam you into a wall has really got to hurt. Also, nice to see SHAFT is continuing with the thematic (perhaps almost fetishtic) opening animations; much as Hachikuji’s theme panders to a particular anime stereotype, Suruga’s animation also references the whole shoujo-ai genre – what with the lilies and all (Lilies in Japanese being yuri, slang for lesbian relationships).

    It appears the Monkey’s Paw/Rainy Devil dichotomy was more than just a passing mention – good to see it fully expounded in this episode; at first we are dragged back into the confusion, but Oshino thankfully cuts in through it as a “half-baked, comedic sort of authority”. My predictions were not quite a hundred percent – because, like Araragi, I was operating under the mistaken assumption that we were still dealing with a Monkey’s Paw – the overall message was more personal responsibility moreso than “living with the consequences”, although I suppose both are related. It’s a satisfying wrap up overall.

    I am still unsure if I am missing some closer subtext with the choice of “Rainy Devil”. “Monkey’s Paw” is quite clearly said by the characters in Japanese, but “Rainey Devil” is what we see in the text screen in episode 7, and the Japanese characters are quite clearly using English words.

    • I agree, and all things considered you did a wonderful job on this show. I think a lot of the strength, or at least the confidence in my writing here relies on your commentary. So thanks.

      Alas, I have no way to contribute re word choice, but I’m just as curious now.

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