Welp, we’re two episodes in and so far the show has basically established “Senjougahara feels weird, conflicted, and somewhat defensive about her relationship with Hanekawa,” “Hanekawa has a justifiably warped perspective on self-worth” and “the tiger has somehow imprinted on Hanekawa, which seems to be a bad thing and might be related to her house burning down.” For a Monogatari series, that’s a pretty solid list! I really liked how the end of last week’s episode brought Black Hanekawa and Senjougahara into direct contact, and I’m hoping we see more intermingling of the spirit conflict and personal conflict going forward. And we’re off!
0:35 – “You both help people, but it feels like you’re almost opposites. It feels like Araragi is a fake, and you’re the real thing.” Oh god, are they going to bring up every theme of this series in the first minute? I don’t have all day, Monogatari
1:24 – “I’m sure the difference is the ‘grumbling the whole time’ part.” So… Araragi does what he’s supposed to because he feels obligated to, whereas that kind of distance doesn’t exist for Hanekawa, and she just accepts all responsibilities and burdens as the only way her life could be?
1:48 – “If you’re a good person, people will exploit you. That’s why Araragi pretends to be a bad person.” Shades of Karen Bee here as well. Every single theme indeed
2:19 – “You don’t feel anything about the ill will people have. You accept them as they are. You’re too pure white.” I always got the feeling that Hanekawa just expects people to continuously disappoint her, and that her light and dark sides were much more closely linked than Senjougahara is proposing here
3:00 – “You will fail in the wild.” Or pour all your negative feelings into some unhealthy release valve. Senjougahara is right here – she needs to embrace both sides of herself simultaneously
3:12 – That feeling when it’s super hard to rewind and pause to catch all the single-frame text in this stupid simulcast but the text ends up being irrelevant anyway
3:57 – Their skirt lengths are indicative of their personalities. I’ve noticed other shows do this too. I don’t know if this is actually something you get to choose, or just used as easy visual shorthand in anime
4:21 – And Araragi once again relies on Kanbaru when he actually needs an assistant for one of his adventures. Is this because she has the most in common with him? Because he knows she’ll look after herself? Because their relationship is the least fraught with weird tension? Actually, yeah, that’s probably it – aside from maybe Hachikuji, she’s probably the person he shares the most normal friendship with in the series.
5:00 – They’re very strongly casting this conversation from Kanbaru’s perspective. Look at this shot progression. It makes me feel like she’s “sizing Hanekawa up,” and basically pushing on her conversational comfort level in the same way Senjougahara was in the last couple episodes
5:56 – “It’s unreasonable for me to be mulling over him asking Kanbaru for help” (instead of me). And once again she pushes down her justifiable negative emotions
6:27 – “To think Araragi would seek that wench’s help over mine.” And of course Senjougahara has zero issues admitting this pisses her off
7:21 – “You won’t go? Then I won’t either.” Damned if she’s gonna let Hanekawa be more mature about this than she is. Not that competing with Hanekawa for maturity points is particularly mature
9:11 – “What a coincidence, running into you at your house like this. Did you know Hanekawa’s house burned down? Of course you did.” Senjougahara sure is a subtle one. I’m actually liking her character a lot more in this series – her strengths and weaknesses are more accurately portrayed when Araragi isn’t around
9:30 – “She has no place to sleep tonight.” Oh god, there’s gonna be another bad one, isn’t there? Keep it in your goddamn pants, Isin
10:09 – “NOT LIKE YOU CAN HELP OR ANYTHING.” This is the best face
10:55 – “So I’m now at the Araragi residence.” I am extraordinarily apprehensive at the moment. I mean, this is a fine plot development in the abstract, but… just…
12:09 – “Oh, don’t worry about talking to our parents. They too have a passion for justice.” Goddamnit the fire sisters are ridiculous.
12:44 – That’s a lot of clothes in that hamper. Oh god
14:33 – Whew. That actually worked. It wasn’t hammered as a sex joke like the shower scene was – it was a generally neutral and honest conversation (in fact, more honest than most of the conversations in this series), played much in the same way as the Shinobu/Araragi bath scene from Nisemonogatari. Thank you, Shinbou
16:08 – And now these two get a real conversation? Man, for all that “Araragi best MC” nonsense, this show sure does get interesting when he isn’t around. I love the composition of that shot, by the way
17:55 – “I guess the difference between the you before and the current you is like the difference between Terminator and Terminator 2.” That’s… surprisingly accurate
17:59 – The cat absentmindedly bats at the piece of string as it talks. These guys must think they’re pretty clever
19:50 – “We’re the same? That puts me at ease, but also puts a heavy burden on my heart.” So is she just relearning the forgotten lessons of Neko Kuro? I figured that movie pretty definitely stated “Black Hanekawa” was just a convenient way for Hanekawa to set aside the elements of herself she found painful or inconvenient
22:44 – Now that’s an iconic image
And Monogatari meanders forward in its own way. A few things I liked in this episode – seeing the relationship between Hanekawa and Kanbaru, the way this arc continues to very frankly humanize Senjougahara, and particularly the meeting between Vampire and Cat. There were a bunch of beautiful shots in that last act, and we learned that Hanekawa’s tiger is basically an unknown apparition, meaning it might be something self-generated or fake (for whatever that’s worth in this series). I have to admit I’d gotten pretty attached to that old run-down building, and I’m guessing things will be coming to a head shortly. I’m eager to see how the potential revelation of whatever Araragi’s been up to will reflect off Hanekawa’s tiger – there’s obviously the possibility that Hanekawa’s link with the tiger is responsible for the destruction of both her own home and the old building, which would make the next target Senjougahara’s house. Tense stuff!