Time To Walk Straight Into One Of The Most Popular Shows Of The Season (A Real Look At Bakemonogatari With Episode 02)

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So How Many Sony Press Conference Jokes Have Been Made About This Show Anyway?

Well it’s time to kick off the second part of my look at Bakemonogatari.  The first bit was of course supposed to be the kind of reaction to the opening episode you might see if you decided to take everything that happened literally and without trying to go into what the themes and ideas behind the show might actually be.  That was fun, but now I think it’s time that I got a little more into the serious business of really telling people what I think about the show without the role playing, gags and just general nonsense gut reactions.   Just what are they getting at with this story about a weightless girl and the guy that says he’s going to help her? While I might be a little bit late to this part I still want to see if there’s anything I can’t add to the conversation at hand. 

First just my general impressions off of this episode when it came to production values.   Well right off of the get go I’ve found a lot to like about Hitagi’s character design, and it seems like Shaft likes her design a lot too since they have no qualms about showing her off in some very alluring poses in the pre-opening shower scene and pretty much the episode in general.  Though I will say that I don’t see why about a quarter of the episode needed to be taken up with her and Araragi having the obligatory awkard girl stepping out of the shower scene.  I thought the pre-opening credits was plenty fanservice, but you still won’t hear me complain to much since I also loved how it was played differently from the norm with her actually tricking Araragi into looking at her in lingerie.  Sexy and clever at the same time….so different.  Anyway Speaking of the opening, I found it to be much to my liking.  It’s not the greatest thing in the world nor something I would put on my best of the year list, but it’s nice and relaxing with a visual motif that fits quite well with the character we are seeing in this arc.  Certainly a better and more thematically fitting use of staplers than with My Love Is A Stapler I would say.  However speaking of music I still cannot say I like the BGM any better this episode.  If I do anymore posts on this series this will probably be the last time I mention that though.  Anyway now with the analysis and musings:

– Right off the bat when  Oshino said “I can’t save you but I can help you” to Hitagi I got the impression that she must have done something to invoke bad karma that caused her to become weightless and that only she could really save herself by coming to terms with whatever caused this to happen to her in the first place.

– If I didn’t know any better I’d say Hitagi was definitely flirting with Araragi as well as messing with him, and vice versa.  It’s kind of weird how the two seem to flip-flop between who is in control and doing what for who, but it’s also kind of neat at the same time and strikes a nice balance between the characters.  Neither is dominant, but neither is submissive either.   Also she kind of has a point, he should appreciate it even if it is a little bit strange that the thank you was what amounted at the chance to see her in a cheesecake pose.

– Incidentally now I understand what added use the rapidly shifting camera angles can use.  Showing off Hitagi from all angles.  Still I am kind of hoping that they can be put to better use yet.  When I saw Citizen Kane for the first time I was wowed by how effective the usage of camera angles could be in conveying a certain feeling about a scene, whether it was a low angle shot of Charles Foster Kane himself making him look larger than life, or an angle shot into the mirror that created multiple reflections symbolizing the multiple personas that he was perceived as having by each person interviewed.  So far they don’t really seem to be going to any significant artistic use, but maybe there’s something I’m missing here.

– The crab concept makes it reappearance and this time it’s linked to the old Japanese folktale of the rabbit in moon pounding mochi.  Of course Araragi mentions that most cultures perceive it as a crab.  This gets me wondering at whether it was the moon that Hitagi saw when she lost her weight, which would at least make a little more sense than a giant enemy crab.  I guess we’ll see, but I’ll mention that the waxing and waning of the moon can also symbolize rebirth.  Perhaps the loss of weight could be attributed to the lifting of some burden or sin from Hitagi and now once she regains her wait she will have been born anew.  Of course this is just wild and random guess theory for the time being.

– On the other hand Hitagi mentioning that she doesn’t like wearing clothes because of the wait seems to indicate that she gave up her weight willingly.

–  Two curious things during the ceremony with Oshino.  One is that when Oshino mentions that the crab is all around them and all-encompassing I could almost swear he was referring to a force like Karma.  Also curious was that Hitagi answered all of Oshino’s questions honestly and without reservation except for three.  “Can you tell me any stories about how you screwed up as a kid?”.  “I don’t want to” she replied.  “What kind of guy did you have you first crush on?”.  “I don’t want to say”.  And then of course she refused to even give any reply at all on the last question at first which was “What was the most painful memory in your life up till now”.  If that isn’t telling that she screwed up somehow and potentially all of this is karma related then I must be getting played the fool.  I think we’ll find the answer when we find her memories and that that memory will herald the return of her wait once she accepts it as a part of her being.

–  Oh well….the episode just went and confirmed that immediately after I typed this out.  This is what I get for writing this as I watch.

–  So there is an actual crab that is revealed to us the viewer which would seem to throw a monkey wrench into my theory about the moon having anything to do with this, but I don’t know if it rules it out altogether or if it really does just mean that the crab can be perceived as being everywhere in the existence of this world and that it truly is like a god.  I mean it does appear to physically attack Hitagi.  Is this really happening or is just meant to symbolize Hitagi being unwilling to accept her weight/burden back.  I’m leaning most towards the latter because of Oshino’s bit of dialogue about it being her current mental state.  We also got to see him helping her from being overwhelmed by this apparent karmic force by judo throwing the crab, but he still hasn’t saved her.  Man is true to his word.

– Another arrow in the direction of the crab as a karmic force is when she apologizes to it as if it represents her burden’s negative karma attempting to crush her.  I get the sense that she just tried to pretend the incident with the cult and her mother getting hurt and the whole familiy being torn apart never happened and thus while the weight was removed from her it never really left her and has been weighing her down in other ways such as symbolized when we see her attacked by it.  That is my best guess anyway and it seems to make sense given the dialogue point from earlier where she asks Oshino if the crab is beside her and he implies that it’s all around her.  If we don’t take this as literally all around her then we could also perceive as meaning that wherever she goes it’s never far behind, even as she tries to run from it.  And of course this brings us back to earlier where she said she didn’t like the weight of clothing, which indeed does imply that she was trying to avoid the feeling of weight.  Man….I kind of feeling like listening to Under Pressure by Queen right now.

– Well I’ll be…at the end of the episode it pretty much lays it all out for me anyway.  Well writing this article and following the clues was pretty damn fun even in itself.  Everything isn’t all good yet now though, as it seems somehow Araragi picked up some extra weight himself.  It seems like it should be something directly related to Hitagi, but then she seems to have already got her memories, feelings and burdens back by the end of the episode judging by her totally different demeanor in her last scene.  Where does this lead us next.

–  As a last point I still get the impression that Hitagi willing rid herself of those memories and that the idea of a crab or seperate entity taking them was just a red herring and it was all her.  Another theory though is that the crab is basically the world and that what Oshino said is true and it is all around us.  If we consider that Araragi did a lot of the work in guiding Hitagi to a position where she could get herself weight back and that being like taking her burden onto himself then it is entirely possible that his added weight at the end of the episode is what he still has to get back to her.  Perhaps that pertains to somehow fixing her troubled family life and helping her really reunite with her mother since Oshino seemed to imply that that was still as yet undone.

Well that was pretty fun, and hopefully people liked this better than the screwball first impression bit from last time.  I’m really getting into this show right now and I’ll say it’s definitely up my alley.  Between this, Umineko and Professor Layton and The Diabolical Box it looks like I’m going to have no shortage of things to puzzle over for the next season or so.

About Kaioshin Sama

I'm a Mecha Anime fan who can go from being rigidly straightforward to using vague references that make me impossible to understand in about 5 minutes.
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13 Responses to Time To Walk Straight Into One Of The Most Popular Shows Of The Season (A Real Look At Bakemonogatari With Episode 02)

  1. otou-san says:

    Incidentally now I understand what added use the rapidly shifting camera angles can use. Showing off Hitagi from all angles

    Ha, nice. Fanservice is a valid reason if you ask me. Especially when it’s light years beyond the usual.

    A lot of these things will become a bit more clear when the “pattern” of the story emerges — but I’m already having a hard time remembering what happened in episode 2 versus episode 3, so forgive me for being vague I don’t wanna spoil you. You’re off base in a lot of your speculation, but your final conclusion is semi-right.

    You say the crab may not have been a separate entity and it’s all her. Close, in my opinion. The crab is in fact a separate entity, a catalyst if you will, but it doesn’t matter. The events of the past, and her own internalization, are what’s important. So while you didn’t hit the nail on the head exactly, you caught the gist.

    • Excellent, another person who doesn’t object to fanservice. I tend to think that attraction to the others is hardwired into our brains, so why not embrace instead of try to oppose it.

      I regret being so many episodes behind all of you guys, not just because I feel that I’m missing out, but because I want to sit in on the discussions and add my views. It’s tough being the ignorant one in the pack, but I’ll learn to accept it. Tough for me since I’ll openly admit I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to information, but I’m learning to accept placing my trust in others to see me through the day. :p

  2. I’ve always saw Senjogahara as the dominant figure in those conversations, mostly because Araragi doesn’t really try any reversals against her in a way that would interrupt her flow of words. The only point where Araragi can claim victory is in not letting himself take Senjogahara’s insults too personally. Maybe he’s too passive in that regard.

    You’re right about the BGM though. I think the composer (who worked on Haruhi IIRC) works best in making the music blend in with the background. It’s a bit more of a miss when the music is heard on its own, devoid of the context of the show.

    • Well I think that would probably be more of a case of mismatch of audio and visual than anyone’s fault in particular. Bakemonogatari has long pauses of silence where the imagery tends to take over whereas Haruhi is pretty much always vying for the viewers absolute attention at every point.

      I will stick up a bit for Araragi in this female character dominant era a bit in that he is at least better than most. He will at least make an attempt to be useful, but Hitagi is a bit more dominant by the simple fact that she is seemingly more willing to be just out of her nature. She’s like me on a bad day whereas Araragi is more like me a on a good day. I guess you could say that they I feel they compliment each other pretty well.

      Speaking of Haruhi, I think Hitagi manages to capture the strong-willed female character personality a bit better, while Haruhi tends to come off more as the ever popular femdom fetish type. Hitagi has her limits, but Haruhi seems to be a little out of this world for lack of a better classification. I continue to like how Hitagi can be an attracting personality without having to be something a one note character. At least that’s my impression at the moment.

      By the way I’ll just say that it’s been a pleasure joining in on the Anime Music Piece of the Week on MAL. I’ll see what I can do as far as adding my commentary to earlier voting threads goes. 🙂

      • After watching Haruhi run rampant in the second season, I don’t see her garnering up a whole lot of sympathy since I found her behavior to be obnoxious. Hitagi on the other hand feels more like a person I can actually enjoy talking to if nothing more than to practice the art of the witty repartee. She sure has her way with words.

        Glad to see you around the MAL Club too and I hope you’ll derive as much enjoyment as I have from being exposed to new stuff, introducing new stuff to others, or rediscovering old tracks and talking about the music with others. That’s where the fun lies for me anyhow 🙂

  3. hashi says:

    One thing I like about both Haruhi and Hitagi is the vulnerability lurking beneath their dominance. As well as their inability to restrain their instinct for dominance. I’ve enjoyed seeing new episodes of Haruhi this summer, and admired Hirano’s work, but Senjougahara and Saitou Chiwa have made a bigger impression, perhaps partly because the character is new.

    I do think Shinbou likes to play with angles, etc., for their own sake, as well as sometimes to reinforce the feelings on screen. I have thought that Oonuma Shin did a better job of using wild angles to a purpose in the ef shows, out-Shinbou-ing Shinbou. But perhaps Shinbou just likes to get us off-balance and keep us there. I loved the visual aspect of the show, anyway. I even got used to the placeholder frames, like “black,” and the insistent noh-like rhythm of the frames full of words that went by too fast to read (unless I paused them).

    The more I think about it, and the more I re-watch, the more I like this show.

    • Good cinematography is king in my eyes. I really think Shinbo must have been inspired at least in part by Orson Welles as well as the psychedelic movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Citzen Kane in my opinion still holds up today and even overshadows much of what is out there in the theatre’s right now. It’s one of those popular works that in my eyes lives up to it’s reputation as one of the best movies of all time.

      While I don’t hold Shinbo up to quite the level of Yasuhiro Imagawa (mostly out of more experience with the latter, but also because he’s such a perfectionist whereas Shinbo seems willing to accept the cutting of corners at certain intervals) I think he’s definitely got more ideas in his head then the average director of this era.

      I’ll be sending you a couple clips sometime later this night for you to consider and would like to hear back from you what you think about them as far as cinematography goes if you have the time.

  4. Martin says:

    Haha, I love being right! 😉 Seriously though, I’m glad you gave this one a second chance. I think thefanrvice, or at the very least the way it’s used, made it easy to accept; the writers seem to enjoy playing mind games on the viewer (as if the wordplays weren’t enough!).

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts on this show. It’s certainly one I’ll enjoy rewatching when it’s over.

    • I’d always intended on giving it three episodes. Again I can’t stress enough how I was just goofing off with my first post more than anything. 😉

      If all goes well and once I get over this flu (I almost literally had to drag myself over to my computer and am in fact just passing by to catch up on the commentary) I’ll try to have something for the end of this arc.

  5. kadian1364 says:

    This show does some nice things in the opening episodes, namely doing things and presenting information you don’t expect/don’t know what to make of. The sense of the unknown makes the show exciting to watch that way. And at the top of the mysteries is Senjougahara herself: initially the supernatural mystery of her weightlessness keeps us tuned in, but once that’s done with, I think we’re compelled to keep on going because of the character herself. Although in a later episode the series itself tries to pin her as “tsundere”, she’s absolutely not. She actually doesn’t fit neatly into any standard archetypes I can think of, and that makes her infinitely interesting to me.

    As new characters are introduced which fall along more expected lines of characterizations (I’m tempted to label some of them nearly fetish pandering) and Senjougahara makes only token appearances, the weaknesses of the series are much more exposed.

    Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. You just go enjoy the rest of the series.

    • Well since we’ve been doing the comparison a little I’ll just go ahead and say that that kind of sounds like how Season 1 Haruhi came across as a slightly more multi-faceted and complex character whereas Season 2 portrays her as far more one dimensional with the loud and obnoxious aspect of her personality (the one that seems most popular with straight up “Haruhiists”) taking up the vast majority of her screen time. The taming of the shrew as it were seems much easier and more convenient the second time around.

      I hope that’s not really the case with Senjougahara where they would later try to force her into a specific fetish category and I also hope it’s not the case where the other characters potential problems have really easy and quick solutions unless the build up t it is sufficiently interesting. Granted Senjougahara’s initial problem seems to have been solved rather expediently simply with a mere confession so that sets the bar a little low to start.

      As for newer more stock characters I figure that every series shows it’s faults eventually. The best ones are good at covering those up though so hopefully they can succeed in doing that. I’ll cross that bridge once I come to it of course.

  6. 2DT says:

    I like the “world” interpretation better than “karma.” Hitagi lived like a human ghost because she couldn’t stand her own memories– that is, her self. This is about the here and now.

    Good stuff. I came here for ghostlightning, but you ought to post more often.

  7. Inst says:

    unbearable lightness of being by milan kundera

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