Monogatari S2 – Episode 13

This weekend is gonna kill me you guys. I have written so many words. I have so many words left to write. C3-bu. TWGOK. Gatchaman. Uchouten. Titan. Why am I doing this to myself?!?

Alright, that’s not Monogatari’s fault. In fact, Monogatari’s the nice show, the one that isn’t piling on the mountain of reviews I’ve foolishly assigned myself. So let’s take it easy, Monogatari. Maybe just have an episode of pretty backgrounds I can cap and say “hey look at this pretty background” to. Please don’t get thematically dense on me here.

That seems pretty unlikely, though – between the snake and Ougi, this arc has already firmly declared it will be about the Fallacy of Victimhood, and how Nadeko uses her alleged helplessness as a defense mechanism even as she pursues selfish and potentially damaging ends. Given her desire to direct dissatisfaction outwards and minimal ability to express herself, Nadeko is possibly our most unreliable narrator yet, which in the context of Monogatari is really saying something. Let’s get to it.

Episode 13

0:16 – Yes that’s exactly the kind of shot I was talking about. Playing with light and color, the not-yet-blooming flower all in light and the bed all in shadow, with Nadeko on the borderline. I can tell you the first metaphor that comes to mind…

0:33 – Another great one. I like the angled lines of her body against the angled lines of the shadow

0:57 – These are all great shots. They’re making great use of the shadow, though I’m not sure exactly how purposeful it is

…incidentally, I feel I should say this for every show and every post, but it goes double for Monogatari: when watching a show, don’t let your first assumption be that you are smarter than the writer and director. Don’t think “that’s a dumb choice,” think “hm, that’s not the choice I would have made. What purpose might they have for making that choice?” This won’t always be rewarded, but the other option will result in missing plentiful richness in so many shows, in addition to just not making you a smarter viewer. Directors and writers don’t just stumble into their jobs – most of them are there because they’re smart, passionate people who really do know what they’re doing

1:07 – Very true words. Apparitions aren’t defeated, they are embraced and accepted. His power is her self-denial

2:48 – There’s something very funny about her apparition being a snake-scrunchy baffled by the conventions of school life.

Also, that “could you make yourself completely invisible?” line stabs at the denial of her own issues quite neatly

3:03 – Just a great shot, but also more light/shadow

3:07 – On the nose 

3:41 – He’s making it a lot harder to keep telling herself that 

4:30 – Brutal dressing down. There’s something about this season and social anxiety disorder. Also a nice shot, with Nadeko at the head of the snake.

4:48 – A clean separation into the daylight half and the darkness half. What could “searching for his corpse”really signify?

5:51 – Lighting again. When the snake clarifies that it’s Shinobu’s “fault” he exists as he currently does (and therefore possibly Shinobu’s “fault” Nadeko is in this situation), shadow covers Nadeko completely. Giving her a chance to dissociate blame from herself creates the shadow

6:21 – He was right to draw attention to that “in any case”. Never challenging, always following the path of least resistance

7:51 – It’s an interesting distinction.

I’m so glad they’ve been framing these stories from perspectives other than Araragi’s. This show has such a unique and compelling visual vocabulary, and it’s great to see the various versions of it other characters inhabit

8:20 – The lighting intensifies sharply as he forces her to explain herself. Is the distinction between “suspicion” and “worry” the clue that she knows she’s not blameless? Or is this just a reflection of her lying to the snake, avoiding accusing him of victimizing her

9:05 – These moments are very intense. Absolutely love how they’re visually portraying her anxiety – Monogatari is wordy, but it also makes great use of the visual medium to portray raw, emotional moments where no words are necessary

9:16 – Whoaaa, what’s all this? 

10:10 – Least resistance again. Interesting push-and-pull between her desire to get Araragi’s attention for her own ends and her desire to avoid making a fuss if at all possible

11:42 – Creepy shot. I wonder how much we can trust of what she’s saying, or even the scenes as being portrayed altogether

12:12 – Nice palette 

12:50 – Goddamn. Just lovely 

13:09 – Really loving these colors 

14:52 – Araragi’s endlessly surreal living situation 

15:24 – She isn’t. She’s just waiting for the conversation to be over 

15:53 – I have a hard time believing Araragi is this perceptive, so I’m gonna have to assume he’s this oblivious 

16:51 – Dear lord Nadeko’s Araragi is charming. Is there a Senjougahara-perspective book? I’d love to see her Araragi, though I can’t imagine what a book from her perspective would be like (unsurprisingly, considering Araragi never has a clue what she’s thinking)

17:58 – Down, girl 

18:03 – He makes dat savior complex look good 

18:12 – Oh my god that smile is too perfect. Araragi knows what the ladies like (the ladies like the floor)

18:29 – That Nadeko’s a sly one 

18:49 – Thank goodness for loli vampires keeping the pedophiles in order. Wait

20:08 – Nadeko can’t catch a break 

21:39 – Interesting.  This conversation is covering similar ground to the earlier ones, but here’s a cut back to those… flowers? Strawberries? from earlier

21:50 – Great shot, making the connection overt 

22:17 – And now that sex/purity/innocence angle is directly implied, even as she’s called a devil (also note that her color scheme is currently that of the snake – pure white with red eyes). This might be more complex than I was giving it credit for

22:40 – She’s so gentle with him 

And Done

“Good for you, that you just so happened to be cute.” Hrm.

Well, as expected, this is miles better than Nadeko’s first arc. As with Hanekawa’s arc, they’re doing great work in making the visual language reflect the narrative beats and themes. I’m really liking what they’re doing with Nadeko’s character, though I think we still need more puzzle pieces. And this arc in general kinda feels like a step up visually from the last one, with the visual tricks being more pointed and more consistent, along with the usual lovely array of designs and color palettes.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Monogatari. You’re at the top of your game.

2 thoughts on “Monogatari S2 – Episode 13

  1. What a great episode! I’m amazed to see that I would have completely missed the light/shadow theme without you pointing it out (but in my defense I tend to prefer being being flabbergasted by the style rather than analyse anything).

    By the way, is there a reason why all episodes for this season seem to be off by two for me? It seems to be episode 11 to me in this case.

    • Being flabbergasted by this show is a good choice! It’s definitely one of the most visually compelling things out there.

      As for your question, your copy of the show probably isn’t counting the recap episodes that have been following each arc. Daisuki (the site I’m streaming from) counts these as episodes in its numbering, but I don’t think Commie (the main fansub group subbing this show) does.

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