Look, the arc’s damn title is “Shinobu Time.” I don’t care if Shinobu already stole Mayoi’s actual title arc. Shinobu’s just a way better character than Mayoi, and if Mayoi ends up stealing this one, I will not be pleased. I don’t watch Monogatari for Mayoi/Araragi’s rambling, pointless conversations or “haha Araragi’s a pedophile” jokes – shit like that almost had me dropping Bake right in the middle of Snail, and has always been the centerpiece of the “in spite of…” list that silently follows any “Monogatari is fantastic” statements by me. Yeah, I know some people like it – they have that right. Personally, I’m hoping even Isin isn’t troll enough to name the arc Shinobu Time and then screw me like this.
Super mad about cartoons! Alright, let’s watch some damn Monogatari.
0:31 – It just keeps going
1:07 – Quite the mural. This is a very frank admission here, too – in the absence of people to observe them, apparitions have no power. They need to exist as reflections – they need stories to be told about them. Is it through the stories that they become real? For whatever definition “real” has value in the Monogatari universe?
Man, I love this show. The way these elements and ideas naturally spin off each other is just endlessly compelling. Proposing that the apparitions might all be in the various characters’ heads (as they regularly turn out to be) seems to be missing the point, or at least only going halfway with it. Yes, the apparitions might be fabricated, but that doesn’t make them any less real to the people involved. Mental illness itself could be demeaned or disparaged as “all in your head,” but you’d be rightly condemned for trivializing psychological and emotional realities that way.
What does that make Shinobu, then? Her identity doesn’t seem like a reflection of Araragi (actually living in his reflection aside). Hm.
3:13 – “Those who create miracles are called “gods”… to be precise, those who create miracles are turned into a god. Again, definition dictates reality
3:34 – These designs. They do have their fun
4:09 – More work with light and shadow. I like the angles of this shot
5:04 – Shinobu’s powers: broken as fuck. Good thing all the conflicts here are resolved by talking people to death
6:32 – Yep, gonna be here all day. More definition dictates reality yada yada
7:15 – Here have some demons
7:41 – They keep playing with that same repeated lighting geometry – the diagonal cut with one half in light and one in shadow, visible in the earlier shots, but here made even more overt through that abstract window-thing. Not sure what to make of it – obviously it’s very relevant to Shinobu’s vampiric nature, but beyond that…
9:41 – This shot’s just stylish as hell. If you’re using a medium like animation, you might as well own it
11:34 – These backgrounds gah. There’s even still a slight hint of Monogatari-ness with the fade from orange to red being repeated in the foreground tree and background mountain
14:36 – The first one to make a bond with Shinobu also ended up isolated. So it’s probably something she views as an inevitability of her relationships
16:11 – Pretty shots forever
18:37 – And again. Now she’s directly equating her minion relationships with romance, which again seems to indicate she views Araragi a liiiittle bit differently than he views her
20:51 – Oh, wow. They’re bringing back the spotlight from Medusa and making it even more overt this time. A moment of actual emotional honesty/vulnerability, then
23:16 – Shinobu on trial. Who’s meant for the other chair?
Goddamn. Well, I guess I got what I wished for – a twenty minute monologue-journey into the history that helped define Shinobu’s relationship with humanity. That art style was gorgeous, and seemed like a smart choice in a bunch of ways. It created this sort of “mythology of Shinobu” mood through its classic aesthetic, which kind of worked against the offhand way she phrased everything to imply a disconnect between her vocal affectation and the way those events actually do linger in her mind. It was just compelling in its own right, and added a lot of visual interest to a summary-format story while clearly differentiating itself from Monogatari’s usual aesthetic. It made the events of her past seem even more inevitable – each piece of the tapestry fades into the next, with no active choices being made. And it was just damn pretty. This episode built directly off the “how do Araragi and Shinobu each feel about their relationship” stuff I found most compelling about last episode, and went more fully into her character than we’ve ever seen before (with the possible exception of the second arc’s finale). It even brought back the visual language of Medusa for Shinobu’s final comments, using the established spotlight motif to hammer in how formative this experience was.
Jeez. Kinda heavy stuff. I’m eager to see a more full reaction from Araragi – she kind of offhandedly spilled her heart out to him here, and that seems like it might warrant at least a minor shift in their dynamic. Guess I’m in for another long week.