I find that the most striking epiphanies involve people coming clean. Senjougahara presented herself as one deep riddle, every time one feels that he reaches the bottom of the well of her character, there’s still more to her. She reveals herself to us, through Araragi, on her own terms. And it’s now clear exactly why. And it’s touching, it’s charming, it’s damn winsome.
If Araragi indeed is the commentary on otaku, or at least on the viewers or fans of this show, then this little gem of an episode plays as if designed to make us feel better about ourselves. Araragi is given credit for a whole bunch of ‘saving people.’ But he is uncomfortable in accepting such credit.
Araragi is interesting that he’s very much into self-preservation, or at least he appears to dislike or avoid uncomfortable situations; but at the same time, he doesn’t think very much of himself either. Even his mentality of saving people (girls), is something he thinks anyone should do and not at all exceptional. Despite my apparent disparagement of this character, I wouldn’t accuse him of false modesty. He is self-deprecating to a fault.
On the other hand, we can take his lack of self worth relative to others to an extreme. With or without his immortal body, Senjougahara is right to remark how Araragi will throw himself in harm’s way. His death is a preferable outcome compared to a continuing conflict between people he cares about, no matter how recent his acquaintance of them.
And then what do we have here?
Senjougahara does her big reveal.
What does it tell us?
Awesomeness, if not excellence, is at times beyond the realm of our intention. It was beyond the ‘small’ intention of Araragi which is only to help, to save, to not stand there and do nothing. It is only sincerity after all, given that the actual salvation lie in either the actions of victims themselves (as with Senjougahara), or in the intervention of others (Oshino, Senjougahara twice, Kanbaru).
And the narrative does reward Araragi, and how!
It’s because there is value in initiative. And by initiative I don’t mean the kind I used in my previous post which relates to an ability to lead in relations with women. I mean the impetus to act, despite a lack of complete information and limited resources. It’s not the smartest way to go about things, but it is powerful. How powerful?
It triggers a chain of behaviors from different characters: Senjougahara saving herself, Senjougahara solving the riddle of the Mayoi Snail, Senjougahara creating a workable solution for the love triangle: Suruga x Senjougahara x Araragi, Suruga intervening at the critical moment of Nadeko Snake, Hanekawa giving him all the best advice about doing his best for Senjougahara.
He takes action, then other people take action. This is influence, and is important too.
People are better off after knowing him. This is clear. Maybe this is some kind of magic wand waved by the narrative, but no, not really. It takes a lot of reading into the text to point that out. And even if it were easy to point out, I don’t see it as a zero sum game between Araragi vs the rest of the cast. They do what they can to get through life and through their ordeals. Araragi being there really made a difference. This much is clear.
So in the end, despite his protests against the credit being paid him by Hitagi’s father no less, her father acknowledges the difference he made, and it is an awesome conversation, an awesome scene. I’m going to have a daughter soon, and I dread the day I’m going to have a similar conversation with a pervert like Araragi about my daughter and her love for him. (((( ；ﾟДﾟ)))
But I need to acknowledge that the best of outcomes need not be made possible by the best of men. Or, that such outcomes can have greater significance than attributes and qualities that may mean less in the determining of such outcomes. After all, I’m no paragon of virtue myself, and am the beneficiary of the greatest of luck a man can have. I can bear with my wife being tsun-tsun a lot of the time, she chose me and gives me what she does. I didn’t even save her or anything like what Araragi does for Senjougahara and for others.
And at last, a date actually happens. A date of such contrivance worthy of this most delightfully contrived of shows.
So we see Senjougahara revealed: all her defense mechanisms put aside for now, only her wishes and offering remains. This is something Araragi can understand. He doesn’t ask for much, and what he has in front of him is far beyond he wished for. Underneath the summer triangle is a time for them to share love we can all remember.
And finally, Araragi shows us initiative. Who held whose hand, when it was clearly time to hold hands?
I love Bakemonogatari.
Authenticity, is also a happy place (lolikitsune 2009/09/29)