Authenticity, How Beatiful You Are (Bakemonogatari 12)

bakemonogatari 12 senjougahara hair up

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.

bakemonogatari 12 bento i love koyomi

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).

bakemonogatari 12 bento i love hitagi

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.

bakemonogatari 12 teasing in the carbakemonogatari 12 senjougahara araragi earbite

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)))

bakemonogatari 12 senjougahara-san to araragi

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?

bakemonogatari 12 deneb altair vegabakemonogatari 12 senjougahara araragi beneath the stars

I love Bakemonogatari.

Further Reading

Authenticity, is also a happy place (lolikitsune 2009/09/29)

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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52 Responses to Authenticity, How Beatiful You Are (Bakemonogatari 12)

  1. Seinime says:

    Awesome end. + a kiss please.

  2. dm00 says:

    A beautiful gem of a post commemorating a beautiful gem of an episode.

    I could really get to like this notion of anime drawing inspiration from apparently marvelous source material.

  3. Sorrow-kun says:

    How good was this episode? You know me, I look at things with a critical eye, but I couldn’t find anything in it that didn’t have value, and that wasn’t good. The car scene was so entertaining and had a strong sense of awkwardness that was palpable, and the star-watching scene exposed us to yet another layer of Hitagi, and showed why the romance between her and Araragi is genuine.

    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’s interesting, since this is a formula commonly seen in harem anime, except here the “magic wand” is much better concealed. That’s the difference between Bakemonogatari and most harem anime… there’s more genuineness and believability to the girls falling for Araragi (in most cases, only to a mild extent) than there is in a standard harem anime.

    I kinda think that shows like Bakemonogatari and Kannagi give us a reason to rethink the definition of “harem”. It’s become such a dirty word in anime discourse, but these two in particular are genuinely great titles, and calling them “good harem” isn’t far-fetched. So it doesn’t have to be that way, IMO. A couple of years ago, I wrote that the thought-provoking harem was like a black swan. Well, between Shinbo and Yamamoto, two of anime’s best directors, they’ve sure answered that.

    • I have no ability to discourse on harem, but I do get the impression that it’s some kind of ‘dirty’ word as if anything in that genre or uses its tropes is auto-fail, or at least automatically loses points.

      While I did enjoy Kannagi, my experience of it is nowhere close to the fun and engagement I had with this show. I think someone with a better understanding of harem is best to comment on your main thought though, but thanks for sharing this here!

    • DonKangolJones says:

      I’m someone who has a genuine dislike for most harem, I have to say that I do enjoy show that have harem elements in them, but don’t necessarily fall into the stereotypical formats or most harem. Shows like Ai Yori Aoshi & Tenchi Muyo show that they have heart, but too often tend to fall into the same formulaic rut. And if there is anything I can’t stand, it’s a lack of progress in relationships in my anime. It’s not fun & it’s stagnant. What I liked about shows with harem elements like Bakemonogatari and Kannagi is that they have relationships that make progress and you can understand more clearly why someone may like someone else. There is a freshness & believability that comes with these shows.

  4. Pingback: Sorrow-kun on Redefining Harem Anime « The Ghosts of Discussions

  5. mjsnoozer says:

    This episode throw all sorts emotion off the screen and into watcher. I was like a teenage girl getting all giddy watching a lolkissingscene.

    I like how it ended not having to seal it off with a kiss, since it’s loloverused haha. And, a kiss ending like closing Bakemonogatari’s book, and seeing good books close is loldrama.

    • I dunno about ‘lol’ overused and ‘lol’ drama, but the restraint shown in the end is rather well done. I like it very much when characters in a romance are ‘allowed’ a moment of intimacy that leaves us only to our imaginations.

  6. lelangir says:

    I accidentally downloaded Spanish subs….all I saw was Senjougahara with tied up hair. MMMM

  7. Ryan A says:

    Series leveled-up this episode. I was quite moved. Just. Fit. All the details were basically perfect. Yup, loved it.

  8. BluEnigma says:

    I was a bit conflicted that it ended up being more of a rom-com/harem show than the supernatural kind I was expecting. Looking back, I should have seen this coming. Oh well.

    First half is absolutely brilliant. A date from hell, indeed. And more glorious Senjougahara emotional brutality. Which then transitions via the conversation with the father into the big final scene.

    Also, more astrology. Hmm.

    And, what’s this? The ending was relevant all along? Nice touch.

  9. kadian1364 says:

    Not to disparage the series so much, I really do like it overall, but I couldn’t care less about Tsubasa Cat. Actually, the last two-and-a-half arcs could only summon an unenthusiastic “meh” from me, so I was thrilled they put that story on hold to gave us a proper season finale, and by all accounts, it was an amazing episode.

    It’s a wondrous thing when a finale comes together. How the disparate narrative thoughts, underlying themes, and character motivations suddenly sync up. It’s like that “Eureka!” moment in murder mystery novels, when every piece fits into the puzzle and everything becomes crystal clear. And it’s the way they did it. The pacing, choice visual cues (bento), the pulling dialogue and moody atmosphere. in what by all rights should only have been a simple car ride but had us hanging on every word, lines that were repeated but with completely different effect, Altair, Deneb, Vega, and the ending theme playing at the right moment, how perfectly everything worked. I and others levee a lot of flak at Shinbo x SHAFT for a style that’s often random, disorienting, and distracting, but when they’re on their game, its an experience to behold.

  10. JELEINEN says:

    I was amazed that the episode essentially consisted of nothing more than four conversations, but managed to do so much with them. I also found the conversation with the father to be really amusing considering it’s the same voice as Gendou Ikari.

  11. ZeroOBK says:

    I just want to point out one thing: Araragi’s feelings for Hitagi are cemented now. Before, we weren’t quite sure just how deep his feelings ran for Hitagi-specifically, but now we know. Sure, Araragi might still let himself be teased too much by the other girls, but with his feelings cemented, he knows he has limits.

  12. animewriter says:

    Nice review of episode 12, after finishing all 12 episodes of Bakemonogatari I’ve changed my opinion of both Araragi and Hitagi. I had criticized Araragi for not having a man card when it came to Hitagi and the other girls, and I was right about that, but I had the reasons wrong.

    My opinion is now that Araragi had such a low opinion of his own self-worth as a man that he really couldn’t function as a man. Your right when you said that Araragi feels that saving girls is no big deal because he feels that anyone could do that, but what he never notices is that others don’t try to save them.

    Hitagi’s father tries to tell Araragi this when they’re together inside the car, he basically tells Araragi that he saved/changed his daughter when he couldn’t.

    While Araragi has his problems and issues, I think they pale in comparison to Hitagi’s issues. I can totally understand why she’s head over heals in love with Araragi, her faith and trust has been totally betrayed by the one’s who were supposed to protect her, her mother offered her up as a sex toy, and he father was too busy with work, or whatever, to notice. Araragi was the one who was able to save her, even in the face of her own threats to him, so I can see why she feels that he’ll always protect her.

    Now, I also feel that Hitagi’s “tsundere” behavior was a red herring, she isn’t tsundere, she was just being mean as a self-protection defense tactic, after being betrayed by the ones who were supposed to protect her, I can’t blame her. I also feel that Hitagi’s feelings of self-worth are even lower than Araragi’s. It was pretty telling when she offers Araragi everything, her heart, her mind, her soul, and even if she’s scared, her body, and she feels that it’s not a lot. What more could a man want than having a woman offer everything she is to him, I would take it as a sign of absolute trust and love.

    So, in the end, Araragi and Hitagi are two gentle and lonely souls that have made a connection and are struggling with issues of self-worth and loneliness.

    • Excellent. Now that they’re together, it’ll be less of a struggle won’t it?

    • DonKangolJones says:

      “So, in the end, Araragi and Hitagi are two gentle and lonely souls that have made a connection and are struggling with issues of self-worth and loneliness.”

      If somebody had used that sentence to sum up this series in the beginning, I would have never believed it. But thanks to this episode I perfectly understand it now.

  13. Pingback: Animewriter on the Issues of Senjougahara and Araragi « The Ghosts of Discussions

  14. Rakuen says:

    So they left out Senjougahara for like 5+ episodes to build up something this beautiful…

  15. DK Eternity says:

    My respect for Koyomi just increased after seeing this episode.

    I definitely liked that scene in the car Hitagi’s father acknowledged the difference Koyomi made, and this indeed made me think about what he did in the previous arcs. I agree with you that maybe he doesn’t make the best decisions, but I can’t really fault him given the circumstances. In the end, he did make a difference in the lives of the other characters.

    And finally, in the end, when Hitagi lowers her defenses and offers her everything to Koyomi, that was just plain awesome. This scene shows just how strong their bond is.

    Now then I’m hoping that the last 3 episodes will be as good, or even better than this episode.

    • I think the other episodes will be more of the supernatural aspect of the show: Tsubasa’s Meddlesome Cat making a recursion, and Koyomi’s vampirism being a factor (and perhaps Shinobu coming into play in a major way), and Oshino leaving maybe.

      After all, if you look at the montage in the first episode, there’s a bunch of scary dudes there as well, and Oshino fights. Maybe he dies, leaving Araragi and his harem to take care of the oddities and the afflicted in their town.

      • ZeroOBK says:

        Remember, the montage is mostly Koyomi Vamp with some foreshadowing of the arcs that the anime was going to cover. It’s pretty safe to say that those “scary dudes” are demon hunters who were after the “former” Shinobu and just encountered vampire-Araragi. So while Oshino could die, which seems unlikely considering he could’ve crushed the crab-god, he’s not going to die from those “scary dudes”.

  16. DonKangolJones says:

    I hate to say that throughout the whole episode I was hoping and praying that he(Araragi) didn’t screw this episode up. But I should have known better with all the hype it was getting on Twitter before I ever got to see it. I came in with high expectations & wasn’t disappointed.

    This was the most human episode for me, and not because oddities weren’t running around “adjusting” people’s lives. It felt very real and touching. It was nice to see Senjou— I mean Hitagi, as a normal girl who was strong, but vulnerable. She willingly showed that side and that says something about her personality & their relationship. She’s not a freak, she’s just a girl dealing with freakish circumstances and a brutal past. This episode helped cement what she was underneath the emotional scars & her hobby of sexually & mentally torturing Araragi.

    It was also very entertaining & emotional to be a voyeur to the private conversation between Araragi and Mr. Senjougahara. You could learn a lot about a person, directly or indirectly, through their parents. I don’t blame you for dreading those sorts of convos. I’m not even comfortable with little boys hugging my daughter. >:-(

  17. 2DT says:

    “I love Bakemonogatari.”

    Certainly seems so… Maybe this is kind of sick, but I get a keener pleasure out of seeing you enjoy yourself than from watching the show myself. Vicarious anime watching is a strange thing.

  18. sadakups says:

    The only thing that’s wrong with this episode is the title. It should have been renamed to something else other than Tsubasa Cat.

    Other than that, I like the part when Hitagi starts pointing to the Summer Triangle like she was reading the lyrics of the ED. The father was creepy at first. Thank God he talked.

  19. Vendredi says:

    Absolutely a superb episode. Almost makes up for the lack of animation in episode 10. Almost.

    I’m tempted to label this as THE POSTMODERN ROMANCE ANIME, or at very least the POSTHAREM ROMANCE ANIME; when I first heard the premise for Bakemonogatari, “love story” was not exactly what I was expecting.

    Yet love story it is, and an authentic one at that. There aren’t any overwrought scenes involving bucketfuls of tears – as Araragi points out “So in the end, you’re that calm.” It’s exactly that calm matter-of-factness that really enhances the experience; 21st century life rarely has occurrences of “girl breaks down in the guy’s arms, who then majestically sweeps her off her feet”.

    A further illustration of this is Mr. Senjougahara , who wryly begins with “Take good care of my daughter. Just kidding.” The dedicated subversion of classic tropes by characters who are very aware of what they’re doing could come out as really cheesy or cliche is what gives the characters weight (or feeling, ha-ha! Get it? Omoi? From episode 2? heh….). Despite the fact he speaks for only 2 minutes (or perhaps because he speaks for only 2 minutes), I think Hitagi’s father is perhaps the best written character in the entire show.

    Overall though a good end to the TV run, and a good end period. You could probably stop here and the story would still feel quite strong without the web episodes, which is quite the statement. In the meantime, time to get cutting and pasting that viewer’s guide together…

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  24. yahia says:

    What can we make of Senjougahara calling Araragi “trash” at some point in the conversation on the car?

    • I don’t think there’s much that can be made from that. I can hardly remember the instance. But let’s say she did call him that — it wouldn’t be a condemnation. If anything, it would be provocation. To do what? Any reaction that would make Senjougahara amused is what.

      If she thought Ararararagi was trash, then she would still end up thinking of herself as trash… which was the starting point of her relationship with her crab. Arararagi helped her out of this, so her calling him that can’t be a condemnation.

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