Araragi Doesn’t Deserve Your Thanks: Bakemonogatari 10

bakemonogatari 10 araragi suruga punch

Araragi says (to himself, but intended for Nadeko),

I don’t have the right to be thanked. I tried to save the person who put the curse on you.

This just bugs me. It bugs me a lot. Where does this self-loathing come from?

At the resolution of the Nadeko Snake arc, Araragi makes a number of mistakes. One, he fails to take into account that there are two snakes constricting Nadeko. Two, he fails to deal with the second snake in such a way that it’s prevented from seeking out the person who inflicted it on Nadeko.

Go ahead Araragi, feel a little bad for the outcomes. Someone else is going to get hurt after all. But to claim responsibility for practically all of it isn’t humility. It isn’t modesty. It’s much, much closer to vanity. You want to punish yourself for something someone else is responsible for. Why? It’s not enough to consider your being meddlesome. There’s something about your wanting to save everyone that is already beyond merely unhealthy.

bakemonogatari 10 nadeko sengoku ritual against cursebakemonogatari 10 nadeko sengoku scales turn into kanji peels away

Both mistakes were actually very reasonable ones, more importantly they were honest and truthful ones; they weren’t the result of irresponsibility or negligence. Araragi is not the expert on oddities, Oshino is; and Araragi can’t even claim that Oshino will have considered or predicted these things either. So why this guilt? Why this self-flagellation? There is something objectionable I find in this feeling of guilt.

This is related between the distinction between sincerity and integrity. To be sincere is to mean well, to have integrity is to get the job done: a completion, a one-to-one relationship between intention and result. I’m not making a value judgment between the two. I merely wish to use this distinction to go into what makes Araragi’s guilt inauthentic. It is an unnecessary feeling that is rooted in a sincerity that he, means well. In this case, he refuses the acknowledgment and gratitude offered by Nadeko because he makes it mean that to assist or save her assailant is to betray her.

He makes it mean that his saving her, is inauthentic!

bakemonogatari 10 nadeko sengoku ritual goes wrongbakemonogatari 10 araragi vs the snake

This stinks. He needs a proper punishment by Senjougahara. KANBARU PAAAAANCH (“Don’t be mistaken with whom you’re supposed to save!”) is nice and served its purpose, but it’s not enough for this. Rejecting the acknowledgment and gratitude of Nadeko… who gets to keep her life, thanks primarily to his efforts, and the risks he took upon himself, is disgraceful. It is completely lacking of grace.

If Araragi truly feels that he needs to save the assailant, then that’s his business. It has nothing to do with Nadeko who’s thanking him with all her heart. Araragi is a fine mess of behaviors. We learn quite a bit about him in this episode really. Oshino tells him that he can free himself of his oddity completely by staying away from Shinobu. This tells me that he doesn’t. This tells me that he likes being one tenth of a vampire. I mean, the advantages are quite impressive.

It’s not very clear to me what the costs are, but the narrative — Oshino suggests that there is a cost. Based on further conversation with Oshino, then with Suruga later on, I gather that being an oddity himself, Araragi cannot physically triumph over monsters the same way Oshino does (as exemplified in Hitagi Crab 2, Bakemonogatari episode 2). Araragi wants to be a hero. He wants to be Jesus, no, Kamina, no, Goku. He doesn’t want to die, but he has no problem risking it all for another human being, and not just Senjougahara. He’s always bitten more than he can chew. All four oddities he dealt with required the intervention of a third party to resolve effectively, and it’s not because Araragi is a team player. People who care for him step in to save him.

bakemonogatari 10 araragi snake shadow puppetbakemonogatari 10 araragi is a tenth of a vampire

There’s no surprise how Vampires are the king of oddities, and that Araragi is the preeminent of all the afflicted. He has his story to tell, and it hasn’t been told much at all. I think more will be revealed in Tsubasa Cat, and I for one am really looking forward to it. That said, I really miss Senjougahara, who really disappeared entirely in this episode.

This disappearance, is odd, because here’s something worth noting: There really are no other characters except those with names. Let me re-state that. There are no other people in the world of Bakemonogatari except the characters in the narrative. There are no people crossing the street, there are no visible people cheering for athletic meets, there are no people in the park, the bookstore; there are cars on the road, but we won’t see people. The unnamed characters are parents (so they’d have names we know in part), and perhaps that creepy cult guy who tried to rape Senjougahara.

Otherwise, there’s no one at all.

bakemonogatari 10 senjougahara naked apron

I think this is a radical, and rather clever conceit that the show does. How radical? How clever? The OP for the Mayoi Snail 2 episode has loads of people in it: students, vendors, a bus driver, passengers, etc. However, they all wear the face of Hachikuji Mayoi. What the disappearance of background sprites does is to provide a powerful focus on the stories of the monsters and the people they afflict. It allows for the telling of very intimate stories, and the delivery of dialogue that is about something (beyond the delivery of plot events, their explanations, etc.).

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32 Responses to Araragi Doesn’t Deserve Your Thanks: Bakemonogatari 10

  1. Adrian says:

    The impression I got from Araragi and Shinobu is not that he just has to leave them alone. Also, if you take into account Vampire Lore, I believe that what Oshino meant by “abandoning” Shinobu was killing her as she was simply a vegetable anyway. And as Araragi wouldn’t be able to kill anyone I believe this is were Oshino is coming from. Loved that fact that he said Koyomi and Himself were like brothers.

  2. escaru says:

    Based on the novels, I’m not sure if Araragi keeps his vampirism solely because the benefits are usefull. If you don’t mind spoilers for things that won’t be animated (this season, at least), I’ll elaborate.

    SPOILERS START HERE
    From what I understand, if Shinobu isn’t allowed to drink Araragi’s blood anymore, she’ll die. From that, it would seem to be understandable that Araragi doesn’t want that to happen. However, when you take into account that the reason Shinobu came to Japan in the first place was to find a place to die, it just makes Araragi seem even more like a jerk for not even letting her do that.
    SPOILERS END HERE

    In any case, I recall that Araragi mentioned during the Mayoi Snail arc that as his grades dropped, his parents doted on him less and less. Perhaps he feels that if he becomes Mr. Big-shot hero by saving everyone, he’ll somehow become worthy of his parent’s love again. This itself seems more like a flimsy excuse than anything for an almost masturbatory sense of accomplishment. Huh, the more I think about it, the less I like Araragi as a character.

    • The pleasing the parents angle, in terms of establishing motivation, is very interesting to me. Thank you for mentioning this!

      I find Araragi fascinating. Senjougahara is interesting in a direct way, she makes you love her. Araragi in contrast is intriguing, if you can get past the fetishization and fanservice supposedly displayed for his benefit.

  3. BluEnigma says:

    This week’s episode was noticeably unfinished, but the imagery it did contain was pretty nice. The subtle focus of the crossing lines of scales on Nadeko’s leg, the twin path/river snakes… just enough foreshadowing, I think, to hit on the second watch.

    The fight scene was missing most of the shots, but it actually did give the feeling of fighting an invisible opponent. Wonder if that’ll change in the DVD release.

    We’re also being taught to not trust anyone’s backstory, eh? That and everyone getting affected seems to have a secret connection to Araragi…

    /thoughts

    • I like your observations, particularly regarding the twin path/river snakes. I’ve stopped feeling bad when I miss things on this show.

      1. There’s really so much going on; and
      2. Blogging it allows commenters to fill me in on what I missed. This is priceless.

      The connection to Araragi can be explained away by looking at the structure of the narrative and how it employs a harem dynamic. There will be no other males. Araragi will never have to save a male who is afflicted by a monster/oddity. The victims are necessarily female.

  4. DonKangolJones says:

    That’s a very good observation, pointing out that Araragi has always required a third party to an oddity related goal accomplished. Not to mention the fact that he so far always has had to be saved from the people he’s trying to save. It does show a level of selfishness, arrogance & irresponsibility that I don’t really notice until I step back from the situation.

    A good case in point is the dialogue between Araragi & Kanbaru. He apologizes repeatedly for putting her in the position of saving him. He clearly knew there was a danger, that’s why he brought her along. He acknowledges this fact.

    It shows that his character has a type of tunnel vision, coupled with a Jesus complex. He spares no effort in attempting to save the people he’s focused on, yet endangers, betrays & forsakes the people who stand by him. The more I think about it, the more become angry over it. Well I guess I can’t get too angry. Araragi kinda reminds me of myself sometimes. Someone who can do the right thing because it is right. However, they are really selfish, irresponsible people outside of those circumstances.

    Part 2: I tend to be worn down by the director’s style, but I do admit that the story is telling is effective and focused. That goes well with your point of the script only focusing on the named characters in the narrative. It is unique & it works. In no way do I want this style to become a trend. But if it is used properly, I can see being a very effective tool for other narratives.

    • Oh man, you nailed it. Part of why I’m so fascinated by Araragi is how much I relate to him. It’s not healthy, it costs me to be as available and willing to be of assistance to others. But there is a vanity to it. I want to be the guy who’s there for people. I want to be the person people rely on. There isn’t any person or problem that’s going to stop me.

      If this isn’t vanity, then what is?

      It’s not just a focus… other shows use focusing techniques. The extremeness and radicalness in the execution is the annihilation of any other face rather than those whith names. Remember even Senjougahara’s mother has a photograph for a face that is covered with animated/drawn objects? In some cases, she is even portrayed decapitated, like a department store mannequin.

    • ZeroOBK says:

      “… yet endangers, betrays & forsakes the people who stand by him”

      I find this train of thought rather interesting. You (and a few other people) have essentially been villainizing Araragi for traits that are traditionally associated with hero figures. Well, maybe saying “villainizing” is a bit much, but I think you know where I’m coming from. Aside from trying to save people, the only other choice is to just let them die.

      It’s either:
      “I have to save everyone, even if it endangers me and others!”
      or
      “You aren’t worth risking my life over.”

      Needless to say, it’s quite a lose-lose situation for Araragi.

      • DonKangolJones says:

        I guess I am pretty harsh towards Araragi’s actions. I have a feeling that once I get his backstory I may be more sympathetic towards him. I don’t doubt that they’ll be able to elicit some pathos out of me.

  5. DK Eternity says:

    He just has to be the “Hero who saves everyone in need…” He just goes in and risks his life, and in the process putting others at risk as well. With this hero of justice mentality of his, I’d say it wouldn’t take long before he would get himself killed, if it weren’t for his regenerative ability, and the timely assistance of the other characters. Plus, he “doesn’t deserve to be thanked?” He just saved Nadeko’s life. I think that’s enough reason to thank him. Yeah, I agree that there’s just something wrong with that.

    Aside from being SHAFTed in this episode, I just don’t like how Koyomi acted there. Well, next up is Tsubasa Cat, which I think will be interesting, and I’m still hoping for Koyomi Vamp as well, so I can get to know more about what happened between Koyomi and Shinobu.

  6. Shinmaru says:

    Hm, your post made me think about a couple of things I had not considered before. You have written in the past about Araragi being a commentary on the otaku audience — he seems to be functioning in that manner here, as well, as a commentary on the type of hero you get in these stories (many of whom recklessly throw themselves into danger to save others). Looking at it that way, Araragi’s reaction can be seen like, “. . . Wait, I didn’t completely succeed? What the hell?!” He seems pretty shocked that he is not able to follow through on the expectations of his trope (i.e. saving everyone possible).

    It sort of reminds me of an old film noir I watched recently, The Big Heat. The main is a police detective who is obsessed with taking down the “scumbags” of the streets, and he pays a dear price for it. But in his obsessive drive to be the hero and win one for the side of justice, he almost unknowingly — unconsciously — puts many people into severe danger (particularly women). Araragi is a good deal more remorseful (not to mention self-aware) than The Big Heat’s main, but there is still that sense of inviting the greatest amount of danger to everyone around you to save people in the grandest possible fashion.

    • Good, meaty stuff here… especially re the ‘surprise’ when things don’t work after committing to do the ‘grand’ gesture.

      This ties in to the distinction I made between sincerity and integrity. We often find that our sincerity isn’t enough to complete an endeavor, and yet we find ourselves wanting to be thanked for, sympathized with, and even congratulated for our good intentions, or, for “doing our best.”

      The Big Heat is certainly interesting, especially in how you put the inauthenticity of inviting the greatest amount of danger to everyone around you to save people in the grandest possible fashion.

  7. Martin says:

    I like Shinmaru’s suggestion above (I enjoy film noir and will probably have to track down the movie in question now I’m alerted to it) – it’s a very irresponsible and self-serving type of heroism that Araragi has going on here. I really do want to learn more about his background for that reason – hell, even Senjougahara questioned him directly about whether his helping of her was because he felt a particular attraction to her, or whether meddling was merely in his nature.

    It’s interesting to have a heroic character figure who is, now I think about it, trying to compensate for his shortcomings (perceived or otherwise) by being the guy who steps in and saves other people all the time. Makes me wonder how deep his bond with Oshino goes. It looks as though he’s trying to aspire to be Oshino at times – maybe he was so overwhelmed by the way his ‘big brother’ saved him from the fate of being a vampire while maintaining the cool aspects that he wants to be an all-knowing problem-solver like Oshino is.

    Recent episodes really do need moar Senjougahara, but I’ll leave that for another time…

  8. akuyume says:

    Flying blind on assumptions here, but perhaps Araragi uses his quests to save as many people as possible, whether they deserve it or not, as a way of justifying the fact that he still retains a level of vampirism, although as Kanbaru (or was it Senjougahara?) suggested, he’d probably still be trying to help without his powers.

    Or while it could be vanity that causes him to want to continue on these quests, could it not also be that he is seeking a way to validate his existence? He doesn’t value himself, but the acts that he accomplishes.

    • The remaining level of vampirism needs to be weighed against an ultimate inability to deal with oddities the way Oshino can. The ‘physics’ of this fictional world aren’t fully explained yet so I can’t go into this much. But yes, Senjougahara mentioned that Araragi would try to help with or without his Vampiric healing factor.

      Validation of existence is within a spectrum of self-esteem/worth, where Vanity is an extreme, and your particular suggestion is on the survival end.

  9. Gargron says:

    I’ve just read a post complaining about SHAFT’s budget, so, inspired, the first thought would be that they might have not enough resources to put, design, and animate background characters there.

    Araragi’s self-accusation was really surprising to me, I mean, he’ve just saved a girl’s life, one could expect him to be happy, proud or at least content, or at the very least, neutral — but not even accepting Nodoka’s thanks? As you say, unhealthy it is. Also I get the feeling Kanbaru could fall for him too. (What girl wouldn’t? Such a knight…)

    As I understand Araragi’s relationship with Shinobu, he feeds her with his blood and in exchange gets a part of these vampire powers. (Like, biten by a vampire you become a vampire). Is he the only one who feeds her and is he the only person whom she interacts with? And how did they come together? I’d say this part of Bakemonogatari interests me not less that the rest.

    • TheBigN says:

      “I’ve just read a post complaining about SHAFT’s budget, so, inspired, the first thought would be that they might have not enough resources to put, design, and animate background characters there.”

      Who knows? They are self-deprecating though.

      At the start of the series, we get the sense that Koyomi apparently wanted to be “completely” human again after his vampire situation. And maybe he feels that “saving” people with his abilities might help with that. But given how things often turn out, maybe there’s a point being driven home that he’s the one that needs to be saved again. Blah blah blah typical reasoning?

      • akuyume says:

        So then following typical reasoning I’d think one would assume Senjougahara is the one that is to save him; but it seems we see less and less of her as the series progresses. Maybe due to limitations of the plot?

  10. Gargron says:

    And, what I don’t understand (or rather don’t want to accept), is that ‘being an oddity himself he can’t deal with them’. Vampires are the kings of oddities, that was said. And aren’t kings judging their folk? Haven’t they might over their subordinates? It would be more natural if the oddities questions would be handled internal. Like, giving an example from literature, the Assasin Guild or the Thief Guild of Ankh-Morpork from Terry Prattchet’s discoworld stories. (I hope you did read them so my comparsion is not wasted)

  11. Yes, I imagine Shinobu occupies the minds of the viewers more after this episode. Those are good questions you raise. If indeed he’s the only one who ‘feeds’ her, it ties in with his savior behavior:

    1. It prevents Shinobu from making other victims.
    2. It keeps her ‘alive’ (undead lols); Araragi would never wish her (nor anyone) dead.

    Araragi and sincerity: a further commentary on viewers/otaku… pervs with hearts of gold.

  12. Pingback: Verbal Rubbish » Blog Archive » Unsuccessful Heros and Their Powers: Shirou and Araragi

  13. Vendredi says:

    No real significant comments for this episode except for nigh-unmatched levels of rage at the distinct lack of animation in this episode. SHAFT can either be very intelligent with the slideshows, or use them as a bad cover-up for lack of animation; this episode smacks a lot more of the latter.

    Also, funny to see that they finally did get a picture of Senjougahara in an apron.

  14. gwern says:

    > I think this is a radical, and rather clever conceit that the show does. How radical? How clever? The OP for the Mayoi Snail 2 episode has loads of people in it: students, vendors, a bus driver, passengers, etc. However, they all wear the face of Hachikuji Mayoi. What the disappearance of background sprites does is to provide a powerful focus on the stories of the monsters and the people they afflict. It allows for the telling of very intimate stories, and the delivery of dialogue that is about something (beyond the delivery of plot events, their explanations, etc.).

    I liked it a lot too. But my take on it was a little different – I took it as a device communicating extreme loneliness. You know, the old ‘here I am in a city with millions of people, and I am isolated from them all’. With Mayoi and Senjougahara, Araragi walks thought how many blocks, how many miles? And interacts with no one. He hardly sees anyone. He is walled off by social conventions like thick glass walls.

    And this is true in general. Are we focused on the stories because the narration and cinematography focus on the stories? Or is the focus there because *there is nothing else to focus on*? Does Araragi have real friends and hobbies? Does he live a life outside of oddities and aimless solitary wandering?

    (Because I’m thinking of it, _End of Evangelion_ has some live action shots of crowds on city streets – everyone looking straight ahead, doing their best to not touch in the least.)

    • Wow you really caught something here. I didn’t think of it that way, and it makes so much sense!

      Looking at the cast, who isn’t lonely? Senjougahara is popular, but is damaged and wants to be alone. Kanbaru is popular, but has eyes for Senjougahara and is spurned.

      Thanks for sharing this, and the note on End of Evangelion too!

  15. Pingback: gwern on Loneliness in Bakemonogatari « The Ghosts of Discussions

  16. 4565131584 says:

    NERRRRRRRRRDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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