One last arc, with an apparent emphasis on two of the show’s most charismatic characters – Senjougahara and Kaiki. Well, if you count whatever Kaiki has as charisma. Maybe enigmatic, then? Though he’s actually fairly straightforward – in fact, it seems he makes a point of being the most straightforward in terms of goals and values. Compelling, then? I’ll go with compelling.
Anyway. If it were necessary to put up a brave face, I’d have plenty of material to work off of. Strong chosen characters. The fact that this arc is being given so many episodes. The fact that this is the last arc, considering how well Monogatari tends to finish its stories and seasons. The optimistic comments I’ve heard from people familiar with the source material. The fact that we’re now dealing with a problem that Isin has personally established as the end boss (even though that automatically means he’s going to screw with that expectation in some fundamental way).
But the thing is, there’s no need for any of that – I think Monogatari Season 2 is far and away the best set of stories and episodes this show has ever constructed. It’s always been distinctive, creative, and uncompromising, but I don’t think its various elements have ever come together to make such compelling and well-articulated stories. There have been moments, certainly – Kanbaru’s arc in the first season, a great deal of Senjougahara and Hanekawa’s material throughout, Kaiki’s show-stealing in Nise. And it’s played with very interesting concepts throughout, as… well, as I’ve talked about at length for close to a year now. But the comparison of S1 to S2 feels like the difference between a creative, passionate apprentice and a confident, practiced craftsman.
So yeah, courtesy of last week’s final push, Monogatari is now really Up There for me. Here’s to finishing strong.
0:07 – Aw man. Kaiki’s music. Kaiki’s philosophy. This gon’ be good
0:16 – Kaiki announces Monogatari likes unreliable narrators. This seems like an appropriate story to end on
0:22 – Nice shot. Kaiki himself seems to live in the grayscale world of deception. No rainbow clouds here
0:29 – Kaiki you are going to make this difficult. If every one of your lines is cute enough to be comment-worthy, I’m never gonna finish this
0:45 – Senjougahara/Araragi love story, narrated by… Kaiki. If this isn’t fanservice, I don’t know what is
1:35 – So here’s the first image which could actually be a lie. I already trust little enough in this show, why’d you have to go and say this entire narrative was gonna be fabricated?
1:39 – Kaiki a cute
2:40 – This is Kaiki being tsundere. Nice background, too. Another of the show’s very frequent mirrored shots, whose internal synchronicity kind of play to the unreality of everything in this world
4:01 – I knew this arc would be great. So much silly Kaikiservice
4:47 – Okinawa colors!
5:27 – Airport is also Okinawa colors! This conversation is also fantastic. A war of deadpans has just begun
6:43 – This is the best episode
6:58 – Sure, let’s get one of each of them. This fuckin’ show
8:39 – This arc is off to a roaring start. It’s kind of hard for a scene with either of these characters to not be compelling, and they play off each other perfectly
9:55 – Hell, he might do it just because of how proud this makes him. He seems to like his philosophy even more than he likes money
14:43 – She can’t play his game. Senjougahara is used to warping or hiding her feelings, but he’s directly provoking her, and his self-mastery is on an entirely different level
15:04 – A little salt for that wound. This is all kind of rich coming from Kaiki, too – few people would call his scamming middle schoolers for chump change and some kind of imagined philosophical victory anything resembling mature
15:22 – Yep. Real mature
16:07 – Does this fit into his standard motivation, or is there really something more to him? “I wonder how it would feel to say something you once said to someone again.” It seems to somewhat fit with his ‘legitimize the lie’ philosophy, but it’s not a clean fit
16:09 – And the color scheme changes back. Looks like we might be through the woods!
16:26 – I’m kinda surprised this wasn’t the first angle she took. Kaiki clearly has a lot more pride than he does sympathy
16:50 – We’re all very impressed, Kaiki
18:49 – This is Kaiki’s kind of advanced payment. “I’ll take that fee in pure suffering, please”
19:13 – You’re terrorizing damaged people, Kaiki. What did you expect?
Man, he’s such a great character. We’re getting some excellent “villains” this season
19:25 – What a hassle these stories are
19:57 – This is pretty fantastic. It’s like he really does want to do it, and so now must search for a reason to do it that would be allowable according to his “moral code”
21:26 – Oh god, the spotlight of honest reflection has found even Kaiki. He’s screwed now!
Goddamn Kaiki, it is good to see you again. The reality of an arc from Kaiki’s perspective certainly didn’t disappoint – his monologue is hilariously true to his personality, while also revealing how well his love of deception translates to a love of the artifice of storytelling. For me, this was likely the funniest episode this show has ever had – something about the childishness of Kaiki and Senjougahara playing their little deadpan brinkmanship game, and the way their attempted seriousness only made them look more and more ridiculous, was just endlessly funny to me. I also liked seeing Senjougahara attempt to battle Kaiki on his own terms, and loved that soliloquy at the end – it’s just like Isin to spotlight a principled villain wrestling with their own non-ideals in order to justify an honorable action. Looking forward to seeing Kaiki wear a hero’s mantle about as well as he wears that Hawaiian shirt.