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.
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!
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.
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.
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.).