This episode crammed half a season’s worth of content in it. It felt long, it felt meaty. At 20 or so minutes it’s neither longer or shorter than any episode before it, but it’s time to wrap things up for the Karen Bee arc and the show threw the kitchen sink at us and my goodness it was awesome.
Yeah I still think all the naked sisters, the incest gags, and the Shinobu cooter shots are perverted and you butthurt kimoifags can keep calling me Hitler. But my feelings about Nisemonogatari as smut is already clear so I won’t dwell on it here. I’ll just say this: Ikki Tousen creamed its pantsu during the lewd “martial arts” battle between Karen and Koyomi. It could only wish it could come up with exquisitely crafted lewd fightan action.
Now to the goddamn goodness:
The Authenticity of Action & Intention
On one hand we have Koyomi who has a cocktail of natural inclinations: a preference for truth-telling, a preference for elementary aged girls to molest, and a preference to assist others within the realm of his experience in the supernatural. These things are natural to Koyomi, and are supposedly part of his authentic self. On the other hand you have his sisters who create personas that help others. It is their persona as the Fire Sisters that are the allies of justice. They are impostors – they are after the personality of Justice as much as, if not more than the upholding of Justice themselves.
The conflict at the onset is that one cannot fight the iniquities of the world if one is not strong. Koyomi fights the supernatural iniquities of his world because of his vampire powers, while the Fire Sisters do not have such. At most, Karen can fight human opponents, but the human form of Koyomi proves unbeatable. We also know that other human forms like Tsubasa’s Cat and Suruga’s Monkey (and even the minute form of Shinobu) may prove to be lethal opponents if Karen pushes it. At the very least, she cannot recover from mistakes without Koyomi’s vampire healing ability.
The most authentic voice, comes with no surprise: Senjougahara Hitagi herself, now so ordinary without the aid of her supernatural lightness. But what does she bring? Two things, the wisdom to bring the nigh-unkillable Koyomi along – and perhaps more importantly, the utter lack of pretense towards acting for justice:
I’m not a friend of justice. I’m an enemy of evil.
This is great, because it actually sinks itself into a lower level of inauthenticity (the irony!). Justice, is arguably the highest of goods. If one supposedly makes enemies of evil using unjust methods one risks causing suffering. Suffering, is the broadest, most encompassing concept of evil. Senjougahara must take responsibility for causing injustice, causing suffering, and evil too – despite making herself an enemy of such. In the simplest terms, Hitagi is out for herself, and it does so happen that Koyomi is a big part of that now.
The Authenticity of Love, and The Needs of The Self
The whole encounter with Kaiki was uncomfortable to watch. Keeping up with his doublespeak and watching Araragi and Senjougahara duel with him in conversation was very uncomfortable. The source of the entertainment value isn’t necessarily the dry back and forth – it feels overlong and devoid of action. The source of the entertainment value is the incredible tension, and if, and only if you have something at stake with Araragi and Senjougahara as lovers. THIS, OH GOD THIS. This is the feeling of rooting for characters; you just want this scene to end, to have them victorious, without losing what makes them lovable. Which lie were they going to swallow? What do I actually believe as a viewer? The whole conversation questions the very premise of the show itself. Is there anything authentically Bakemono in this gatari?
I believe the victory of the scene, and of the show is how it restores faith – LOL yes, it restores faith that the fabric of the story is intact – monsters exist, and are not just psychological constructs within the individual and collective consciousness of the characters. They aren’t only metaphors. When Araragi molests an elementary schoolgirl, it’s a real dead one – in the form of a spiritual lost snail.
But I’m not out to talk about this, per se, but rather the reinforcement of the love story – which is the very best part of this show. The show is so ridiculous on so many levels, but its triumph is selling us this believable romance between Koyomi and Hitagi. It knows how good it has it, and has us with it, and the show doesn’t fuck with it. The goodness is oh so good. Throughout this arc, it’s been Koyomi that has been saying the right things, manly things that kind of sweep Hitagi off her feet. These are things that sells us the idea that he’s actually a great match for her, being a pervert and all. It shows us he’s more than just the default savior character type he’s given. BUT, one of the most entertaining parts of their love story is how Hitagi teaches him, and the male viewers (!) what it is to be a man in a relationship with a woman.
She tells him that he is forgetting one of his duties – to praise her, to tell her good things about herself. To phrase this as a duty seems inauthentic, if it’s mandated, then is it real? Are the compliments true? Good, good stuff. She provides an excellent context: she swallowed a lot of insults from Kaiki in that confrontation. She needs him to make her feel better about herself. She bore the brunt of Kaiki’s assaults. It was Koyomi’s sister who was at risk, but it was Hitagi’s very character that was on the court. Araragi was coddled, praised, and buttered-up by Kaiki. Senjougahara got called ordinary, a pale ghost of who she was, a stick in the mud unable to become free of a theatrical past that wasn’t even that special; a girl who has grown heavy and flabby.
And then the fucking fireworks.
How dare Kaiki insult the her that Araragi loved? She loved herself because this is the self that Koyomi saved, the self that Koyomi put up with, and treasures in his own way. She would not have any of his lies and manipulations. Not anymore, and not when it comes to this. And when he left, she needed Araragi to show her, some of that love. She was leading him, showing him how he should be in this situation. She knows this doesn’t come naturally to him, virgin n00b as he was. But she would have her love and the man to do it for her. She puts him in a position to succeed.
And bros, that’s not justice at all. That’s too good to be justice. It’s love. It’s beautiful, and I am in awe of this show.