Monogatari S2 – Episode 20

Welp, time for the grand finale of the… undoubtedly worst arc of this season. That’s a shame, but I guess it was kind of bound to happen – as long as Araragi’s the ostensible main character, there’s going to be an arc with a lot of aimless Mayoi banter and pedophile jokes. Personally, I’d be all for dumping Araragi – as the first and third arc revealed, this series is actually a lot more interesting when he’s just there on the fringes of the story. His arc is done (or is at least shifting at such a glacial pace that it appears to be standing still), he’s not particularly complex, and he’s far more prone to Isin’s wandering digressions than most of the cast. Death to the half-vampire!

But hey, at least the second episode was great, and the third episode was certainly pretty. Plus, even the worst Monogatari arcs have a tendency to finish strong – when the plot actually kicks into gear, Isin knows how to pull together a satisfying finale (or at least satisfying to me, regardless of whether you’re a fan of his death-by-monologue theatrics). And this is supposed to be about the Shinobu-Araragi relationship, which is legitimately interesting.

Okay. Sufficiently amped. Let’s do this.

Episode 20

0:18 – Adults are scary 

Monogatari Gaen

0:26 – The first time one of these things has flashed through my head at the same time 

0:35 – Shinbo can make pretty much any line sound intimidating through his damn angles. Also, it was rightfully pointed out that I didn’t mention the return of what is apparently Gaen’s signature rainbow cloud formation. ShadowZael postulated it might be indicative of her all-knowing status, which seems reasonable – last time she appeared, she laid down the blind spots of Hanekawa’s perspective, and in this arc Araragi seems similarly blind to aspects of Shinobu’s perspective. In fact, the first mention of Shinobu last episode briefly knocked the entire show into grayscale.

0:47 – That hat, so silly. I like how all four members of the old guard each harbor a very different attitude towards their various adopted ghostbusters and familiars. I’m not sure if it would kinda break the magic/mystique, but I’d still love to see some brief glimpses of the professionals getting to work.

1:17 – Even Araragi notices it. They’re all just kids to her

1:22 – Questions like this always make me think, “Oh right, there are people who care about that stuff” 

1:27 – Another beautiful mirrored composition. The natural blue of the water contrasted against the stylized blue of the pillars as they rise, the natural darker tones of the roof contrasted against the stylized black of the foregrounded platform. Our protagonists perfectly framed in the center of a jumbled maze, with that lone, surreally placed tree breaking the pattern. Goddamn this show is pretty


1:46 – Head tilts… head tilts never change 

2:04 – Adults are scary 

2:25 – Unwanted truths: the central villain of Monogatari 

2:45 – Seriously Gaen you can stop now oh god 

Monogatari Gaen

3:03 – A quest! This is also kinda interesting – everything she does conveys a lack of real respect for the kids, but now she’s demanding he take responsibility for her help. Which actually might be what Araragi needs to grow here – the fundamental problem is he’s always taken Shinobu’s help for granted, right? So she actually might be giving him both the practical and emotional answer he needs… and of course, in Monogatari the emotional answer often ends up sufficing for the practical one as well

3:35 – It suddenly occurs to me that this entire discussion is taking place in what looks like a crater filled in by a lake. Not like that’s relevant to this arc or anything

3:48 – Yeah, she’s trying to push him in the right direction in her own lilting, mocking fashion

4:19 – The spotlight appears for this one line. The only earnest thing she’s said?

Monogatari Gaen

4:58 – Oh goddamnit. So we’re still not going to see whatever nearly killed Araragi during Neko Shiro. Screw you, Isin

5:48 – You think you’re pretty cool, huh 

7:22 – Man, this season has not been nice to Mayoi! 

7:25 – Aw 

8:05 – Gaen apparently paid off Shinbo. She’s getting all the best shots

Monogatari Gaen

8:15 – Like this one! 

8:21 – Or this one holy crap 

8:25 – Love this lighting. The number of shows that squander this medium’s visual potential in order to just look like animated sitcoms is depressing. You can do anything! Why not create your own goddamn visual vocabulary, like this or Tatami Galaxy or Utena or Serial Experiments Lain? Why not try?!?

8:49 – Ah, because she changed from what she is? That’s great – in the same way that the emotional oddities appear because characters deny their own nature, this non-entity appears when the oddities have shifted their nature

And hey look, another great shot that uses color to effortlessly indicate a character’s significance relative to their physical presence. It’s almost like this is a visual medium!


8:57 – It’s like the light is saying “if you’re drifting off, sit the fuck up. This is the important part” 

9:04 – If you still don’t think false impressions have power, you haven’t been paying very much attention 

9:24 – Interesting. I wonder what Kaiki would say to this? 

10:17 – Goddamnit, is this season seriously going to redeem their relationship too? I figured making Nadeko a compelling lead would be enough, but nooo


11:04 – Never change, Isin. Having the edges of your story be frayed and self-aware is fine by me (hell, I kinda consider that a bonus) as long as the pillars of emotional and thematic logic are sound

11:27 – Gaen is not impressed by many people 

12:56 – You can save some of the people some of the time… 

Looks like I was also wrong about Araragi’s arc. This isn’t just dealing with his relationship with Shinobu – it’s getting at his core failing, the savior complex

13:01 – Ononoki does not want 


14:49 – This one’s gonna hurt. But that’s the job, Araragi

15:41 – Jesus. This one’s a killer. No wonder this ended up being a Mayoi arc

16:53 – Aaagh stop it this sceeeene 

17:03 – You can’t get away with a line like that, Araragi 

19:12 – What about her perspective? Damn blubbery hypocritic, Araragi

Monogatari Mayoi


23:23 – Don’t even care that they’re not showing it anymore 

24:17 – Uhhhhhhhhhhhh 

25:06 – And it worked. He was sad, but he’s more of a professional now, and he’ll use the tools he’s been given


26:07 – So it ends 

And Done

Well, that was certainly a Mayoi arc. And yeah, that ending redeemed it. Goddamn this show. Goddamn it to hell.

Well, I don’t even know what to say. Up to this point, I felt this arc was dragging this stellar second season down, but that was one of the best things the show’s ever done – one of the moments that will stick out in a greatest hits collection very few shows could hope to match. That ending was beautiful – just understated enough to work, with Araragi and Mayoi both acting completely in character while also moving forward on their journeys. Araragi actually shined, which he hasn’t done in a while, and the post-credits sequence answered a few questions while raising some compelling new ones, as well as implying an exciting new chapter in Araragi’s assumption of his duties.

That was great. Sad character tears and happy art tears. I’m glad we have this show.

8 thoughts on “Monogatari S2 – Episode 20

  1. For two days, FOR TWO DAYS I was waiting for you to watch this episode, so that I could see what you thought of it.

    Seriously, this is the kind of episode that I watch Monogatari for.

    • Hell, this is the kind of episode I watch ANY show for. Pretty much the highest compliment I can pay a show is that it made me cry.

    • I can understand the complaints about the arc leading up to this point – as I said at the beginning, I’m not really a fan of the full-on banter/Mayoi episodes either. But this episode seemed fantastic to me, with some of the strongest/most naturalistic dialogue of the series to date. Plus it perfectly raised the stakes of Araragi coming to terms with not being able to save everyone… this seemed like exactly the kind of episode this season needed to pull its threads together.

  2. ” it’s getting at his core failing, the savior complex”

    That part is quite interresting.
    Mayoi’s first act in Bakemonogatari was also about Araragi’s Savior complex and its limit, in a way, though in amore comedic tone.
    This ws a guy who needed to help others girls so much he was ready to torture them to get help !
    That is a wonderfully twisted logic !

    So, it really is a good end to mayoi’s character act. He insited to help her, and now he have to let her go.

    Also, as always, reading your post made me enjoy this episode even mor. Thanks !

  3. Pingback: Check-in Station: Monogatari S2 eps 17 – 20 (more mature, more lonely; less naive and less divine) | the Check-in Station

  4. Great post, and not gonna disagree that this was a great episode, but I do have to call the show out on one thing. All three arcs thus far have revolved around the girls in question being in love with Araragi. That’s not just creepy, it’s downright immersion-breaking. Hachikuji, the one girl besides Kanbaru who I thought might have escaped the harem trap was dragged into it, and that’s really frustrating, and it undermines her autonomy as a person that her world, too, revolves around Araragi.

    I’m sure most people don’t care, and I admit this season’s strengths are far outshining issues like these, but damn is it annoying. If Kanbaru’s arc ends up revealing she’s actually bi for Araragi too, I’m gonna be downright livid.

    • It’s true, the show is certainly not abandoning its overt harem structure. I think for me this situation is somewhat redeemed by the fact that the show is completely aware this is screwed up, and that pretty much none of the relationships here are healthy ones. Nadeko’s the most obvious one, but Hanekawa also uses Araragi as an emotional crutch, and even the actual central relationship has Senjougahara continuously describing herself as worthless and willing to die to save Araragi. Not to mention how much Hanekawa terrifies her, since she has so little faith in herself and her relationship that she feels Araragi might choose Hanekawa at any time. These are people who ACTUALLY COULD END UP in a harem situation – people whose senses of self are so damaged that they can only value themselves in the context of another person, however awful that person may be (and Araragi is pretty awful – one of the best things about Kaiki’s arc is seeing him be continuously disgusted by the reality Araragi has created).

      I agree that it would suck if they did that for Kanbaru, though. She’s always had a very “one of the guys” kind of rapport with Araragi (they’re pretty similar people), and generally uses her body just to mess with him. Her actually having feelings for him would be a very jarring character turn.

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