Monogatari S2 – Episode 2

Please keep it classy, Monogatari. I know you gotta do your thing, and I know that in the long run one classless, objectifying episode wouldn’t exactly ruin the purposeful direction you exhibit elsewhere. Sure, it would introduce the strong presence of camera as voyeur and audience proxy, clashing horrifically with the generally character-centered direction and overtly objectifying the characters, devaluing them as people meant to be empathized with. But we could get past that – it’s not like Neko’s panties served much continuous purpose beyond the initial “Hanekawa exposed” metaphor. But seriously. Just… just don’t, Monogatari. Okay?

…let’s get it over with.

Episode 2

1:23 – “Araragi is Araragi.” He is a weird one. It’s nice to get a bit more reflection on his personality from an outsider perspective, considering he himself is honestly a bit more of a cypher than I’d like. Of course, that’s a complaint I’d level against many of the characters in this show, who’re often stylized to a degree that makes them utterly unrelatable or used as mouthpieces for Isin’s own self-indulgent banter. But Araragi… hm. He’s got that strong savior streak, which the show always punishes him for (which is I think a necessary quality in any semi-harem that wants to make actual points). He’s a huge, unabashed lech. He’s a pretty unreliable narrator, since the way he and thus often the camera itself views other characters is dependent on his current mood and relationship with them (one great example of this comes from Neko Black, where early on, when Araragi has just decided his feelings for Hanekawa are sexual-frustration-based lust, the camera is all over Karen, but when he comes back later after realizing Hanekawa’s in trouble and the situation is actually serious, Karen is utterly ignored). But then he’ll also whip out Isin’s crazy plot-resolving monologues, which honestly always come across as unbelievably aware of the subtext and themes in a way he very rarely demonstrates. Honestly, I’d really like for this series to humanize him a bit more – he’s too good at what he does

1:45 – “I’ll talk about that story a little later.” I still very much like how Hanekawa is so much more careful and precise in her narration than Araragi. I haven’t read the books, but I get the feeling this trick works even better here, where the camera is also so actively contributing to the storytelling

5:06 – Alright, that was fine. They just made a derpy joke of it, contrasting Hanekawa’s deadpan monologue with the fanservice. Not much else to it

6:19 – “We’ll have to sleep together. Rest assured. I won’t do anything.” Senjougahara’s having a whole lot of fun with their power balance being upended like this

6:25 – Is that her Araragi impression?  Either way, I like that we’re getting all these weird, ungainly Senjougahara faces now that the camera’s eye isn’t so tied to Araragi, who always sees her as terrifying and beautiful

8:33 – “Ever since I learned that, they’ve been irresistibly tasty.” It’s also funny seeing Senjougahara play against a straight man who isn’t at all intimidated by her – she comes off as much less imposing and mysterious, and more just kind of a weirdo

9:44 – “In that case, why don’t we tell each other the parts of Araragi that we like?” She’s calling your bluff, Senjou…

12:10 – Man, we even get Neko’s perspective, complete with sweet theme music? This season’s spoiling me

15:00 – “An apparition that sides with humans. That’s not that uncommon.” And becoming even less so! I kind of like that overall progression of the series – in Bake, basically all the apparitions are antagonists, aside from Shinobu’s hero turn at the end. In Nise, a human is the antagonist for each of the arcs, and the most prominent apparition is Araragi’s own sister. In Neko, the apparition only acts out Hanekawa’s own desires, and is actually forced by Hanekawa to continue causing mayhem and playing scapegoat. The ambiguity of the apparitions plays nicely with the other ambiguities scattered through the series (truth, family)

15:10 – This sequence is beautiful, by the way. And Shinbou is once again using quick, purposeful jump cuts to relate moments of panic or high tension

15:58 – “That girl saw me. That alone is important.” Hm. Obviously he’s stating his argument, but they emphasized that line a bit more than most, and this whole conversation has fixated on her seeing him being the catalyst, with his own presence being a given. Might be thematically relevant

Oh, forgot you guys were here. This is the first time I’ve done as-airing writeups for a Monogatari instead of just compiling things into an essay afterwards, so as with all Isin crap, I won’t always be offering immediate guesses on everything – normally this stuff builds over time towards a point that isn’t necessarily obvious at first

17:21 – “You won’t drain it all in an instant, right?” Speaking of that truth/appearances thing, Senjougahara’s kind of a nice representative for the series overall that way – her constant need to put up the appearance of strength is a kind of actual strength, since the result is the same. Kind of like the opposite of Hanekawa, who’s filled with improprietous anger but keeps up a completely civil front

It’s also just great seeing these two meet. I wonder if they’d get along better than Senjou and normal Hanekawa?

19:20 – “Were you aware butter and jam are things that exist?” Man, all this just so she can build up to actually advising Hanekawa on where to stay? You are the tsun-est of tsuns, Senjou

21:25 – Is Hanekawa’s lack of flavor preference supposed to reflect her general tendency to just go through the motions of what human beings do, or is Senjou actually just being tsun as all hell?

21:56 – “You accept everything that comes your way.” Hm. Seems to link with the Tiger’s “she saw me, and that’s all that matters” bit. Not enough there yet, though…

And Done

Ah, that’s interesting – reflecting her lack of preference for most elements of life against her alleged love of Araragi. That would make Senjou’s over-aggressiveness here make sense.

Anyway, great episode overall. The dreaded shower scene was basically just a throwaway gag, and most of this was dedicated to Senjougahara’s incredibly mixed feelings towards Hanekawa. Then, to mix up the thrilling back and forth of each of them making breakfast for the other, there was that beautiful and fast-paced exchange with the tiger. I like the way Hanekawa and Neko kind of contrast against Araragi and Shinobu, and I also like Neko actually becoming a full character in her own right (even if a lot of her instincts are reflective of Hanekawa’s true intentions). As always, the fact that very little is actually happening does nothing to prevent the plot from barrelling forward

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