So I’m about halfway though Monogatari Second Season now. I wrote a bit about it for a /r/anime thread and figured I might as well post it here too. WIth gifs and stuff too, because that’s how you get people to read things on tumblr. You just stick pictures between the paragraphs.
Monogatari series spoilers up to the end of Nadeko Medusa, and Re:zero spoilers.
The start of the Monogatari SS is a continuation of Hanekawa’s story. Once again we see into Hanekawa’s really messed up family life. The contrast between her pure and white personality vs what she’s actually feeling is pretty incredible, and she just kinda creates aberrations so she can deal with her emotions. This um, not a healthy way to deal with stress. I didn’t originally think that the tiger was something that she created, so that was a nice twist. It was also interesting to see that her feelings of envy were so much more powerful than her repressed sexuality. Really gives you a look into just how fucked up her home life is when she feels like that. The confession scene at the end of the arc was absolutely beautiful too. She confessed knowing that she was going to be rejected, but just being able to express how she felt to Araragi was a huge leap in her character. Really a gorgeous moment in the series. Also that bathing scene with Senjougahara and Hanekawa.
Hanekawa once again ended up with a new hairdo. Honestly this show is about girls changing their hair style and you can’t convince me otherwise.
Rem’s confession in episode 18 really reminded me of Hanekawa’s confession. Sure Rem’s confession was for Subaru’s sake and Hanekawa’s was for her own, but the way in which they were delivered and the circumstances were pretty similar.
Honestly this arc felt a lot more like it was about Shinbou than it was Mayoi, but it did center around saving Mayoi and the ramifications of saving Mayoi. The conversation with Ononoki at the beginning of the arc was really interesting. It was a little philosophical in nature because they were discussing the nature of their death and what not, but it also did a good job of focusing the arc on finding Hachikuji’s answer to those questions. I was not expecting time travel in this series at all, but what do you know, they went back in time to do his homework but royally fucked everything up. Loli Hanekawa was super fucking adorable, and also just like you’d expect her to be. Sending Araragi to the police station was a nice touch. It looked like it was his mother that was there too. Why Araragi gotta grope the children, Araragi pls. When the scene left off with the narration saying the world had been annihilated I figured it was Araragi being like oh a world without Hachikuji is not a world worth living in, but no they went and destroyed the world. Looking at the different routes and how Shinobu acted in them was fascinating and showed just ridiculously fucking op Kiss-Shot is at full power. In the end, the resolution of alternate world Kiss-Shot was very tragic, but showed a really complexity to Shinobu’s character. She can get back her powers if Araragi dies, but even in the timeline where that happened she ended up trying to kill herself. The exorcists (I always forget the Japanese name for them) continue to be badass and manage to correctly assess how Araragi and friends have messed up the world. Oshino’s explanation of the time travel was great too. It was concise, but thoroughly explained what had gone on. A lot of shows don’t manage to do that right.
Adult Hachikuji is bae. I wish she had gotten some more screen time, but she was just kind of there. Araragi and Shinobu just ditched her with the rice though, way to go guys. And then finally at the end we have Hachikuji answering the questions that Ononoki had asked. Her response to Araragi didn’t come off as a confession of love to me, but more a heartfelt expression of her friendship with him. She really feels that her life is better because she met him. I still don’t fully understand their relationship, but I imagine I’ll understand more of it as time goes on.
This arc was hyped up a lot by a lot of people, so I was looking forward to what it had to offer; and boy did the arc deliver. It starts off with the end of the arc in a truly monogatari fashion. Though, knowing how the arc is going to end makes the tension of how it gets there all the more exciting. This is definitely one of the cases where knowing a spoiler doesn’t make something worse. It also really juxtaposes the expectations we have of Nadeko; her being super cute and really not capable of doing much of anything, with what is shown in the opening sequence; her brutalizing Koyomi and Araragi. When that scene ends and the OP rolls in you’re just like wtf. Really well done with that imo.
Nadeko is a really fascinating character. She basically glides through life by not doing much of anything and just deflecting the bad things or playing victim so that people want to help her out. She is constantly running away from her problems and letting other people solve them or just ignoring them and hoping that they go away. She’s also pretty much insane too. The envy and inability to deal with the fact that Koyomi has a girlfriend and that her love will go unrequited literally drives her to resurrect a dead god and actually become its vessel. Though I think that Ouji a lot to do with that. I’m not sure what her story is, but she seemed to be up to no good.
It’s really easy to hate Nadeko in this arc because she does a lot of deplorable things. However I can also relate to a lot of the things she did. I’ve ran away from problems, I’ve played dumb to try and get people to side with me, I’ve had an unrequited love. Being able to relate to her actions makes them all the more revolting though. Watching this sickeningly cute, seemingly pure and innocent character lose her mind is pretty difficult. I didn’t actually realize that she had made up the snake god until he commented that he wasn’t actually real until she had eaten the talisman. There was a lot of foreshadowing with her talking to her scrunchie, but I hadn’t guessed that it was all in her head.
The girls in Monogatari really should just become rappers because they all seem to have this ability to throw mad shade: Senjougahar is the physical embodiment of shade, Shinobu has had centuries to hone her already sharp wit, Tsuhiki puts the fire in fire sisters, um ok that’s all I have for now. But really, Nadeko got absolutely roasted in her arc. Shinobu was ruthless, Tsuhiki gave her a rude awakening, and Senjougahara told her off too. Shinobu absolutely roasted her.
Nadeko’s moment where she just snaps at school was really well done too. The stress of all the things she was avoiding or didn’t know how to deal with finally piled up and she just completely lost it. She was finally able to voice her thoughts to her teacher and her peers, but perhaps the price she paid for that was a little bit too high. It’s an interesting bit of character development though. In the end she really did lose her marbles when she became Godeko. She goes full yandere and concludes that it would be far more romantic if the man she loved was dead. Her conclusion here is pretty sad. Even with the powers of a god she wasn’t able to overcome her jealousy or stop running away from the problem. She was only able to lash out and try and destroy what she saw as the problem rather than try and solve it. Nadeko is a pretty tragic character.
Senjougahara once again shows that she’s a badass when she just phones up Godeko and tells her not to kill her man. I was a little surprised that she asked Nadeko to spare Shinobu as well. I’m not sure what Senjougahara’s feelings for Shinobu are, but I imagine I’ll find out more about that as the show goes on. What a cliffhanger to end the arc on. Really enjoyed it overall and I can see why people like this arc so much.
What makes the series so exciting for me is how relatable the characters are. The aberrations that they deal with are the results of very real emotions and problems. Hanekawa struggles with her sexual frustration and her envy, Senjougaraha shut herself away from people because of trauma in her childhood, Nadeko imagined up a god and ended up making it corporeal because she ran away from a problem rather than being honest with herself, etc. etc. Sure it’s a bit harder to relate to Shinobu because she’s a centuries old almost omnipotent vampire that has fallen from power and well I just haven’t had that sort of experience. Even so there are a lot of complex emotions going on with Shinobu that are very slowly explained and touched upon. I think that most people will be able to relate to one or more of the characters, and that’s what makes the show so satisfying to watch. Maybe the enjoyment comes from a sense of satisfaction of having dealt with a similar sort of issue that comes up in the show, maybe it comes from a sense of belonging because you had a very similar experience to a character, or really any other number of things.
This is why the show is special to me, and why I think that it will continue to be special as I catch up with what has been made. While there certainly are some flaws here and there, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. Though I don’t think it will overtake Spice and Wolf in the end.
I’m so conditioned to shows having underwhelming writing that I just get so excited when a show has some good writing, and for me the Monogatari series continues to blow me away. I also can’t get over how good the visuals are. I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love the style of the show. I’m looking forward to the rest of SS.