And here we are at the last episode. We’ve had a fantastic arc to send off a fantastic season, and I’m very ready for Kaiki’s Last Stand. If this is his last story, he couldn’t have fabricated a better one – and even if he’s lying, he’s selling it well enough that I’m sure he’d consider it more valuable than the truth. Which, even outside the context of Kaiki’s philosophy, has always been one of the points here – as Kaiki said last episode, sentiments are only meaningful in the context of a personal reality. Is an unvarnished, “objective” world really more truthful than seeing the world through a given character’s personal reality? Nobody actually lives in that objective world – it is a commonality that is true to no-one. Much better to tell the truth through the lie of a personal, self-influenced reality – at least that is true to someone.
Anyway. Be it either Nadeko or Kaiki, it’s looking like someone’s personal reality is about to draw to a close. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk through the personal reality of my experience of Monogatari.
0:15 – Well shit. Hanekawa might as well have warned him about this case. She’s entirely self-interested, which means she both doesn’t care about and is unable to trust others
0:33 – The key of Monogatari. The characters with apparitions don’t want to acknowledge their own failings, and so they see reality as a reflection of those failings, projecting their unsavory elements outwards. Nadeko, who only projects a false self, can only see everyone around her as a liar as well
0:41 – She is very scary. HanaKana’s killing this role
1:00 – Nice shot. I love Snake God Nadeko’s pure white-blood red color scheme. Her projection and her true self
1:39 – And of course she’s not wrong. Wonderful, wonderful trick here – this is her projecting her own personal lie onto reality, which is the main conceit of Monogatari. But the particular lie that comforts her is itself the message of the show
1:57 – I love how well Kaiki’s handling this. “Talking about calling the kettle black, miss snake god who could kill me at the slightest inclination!”
2:10 – You think Kaiki’s impressed?
2:42 – Doesn’t matter. You have to take responsibility for it. Like Hanekawa, or even Mayoi
3:10 – What a convenient way to twist it. It sounds like a real argument for a moment, but it’s just more selfishness. Acknowledging your faults isn’t the hard part in itself – it’s acknowledging them and growing because of that acceptance that is difficult. It’s changing yourself, and accepting the consequences of your choices. You can’t just accept your flaws and see them as beautiful – that’s a hollow kind of honesty
Man, it’s great to see Nadeko actually trying to pervert the central message of Monogatari. Even here, it’s not an external battle – it’s a war of personal growth, and Nadeko’s weapon is her ability to rationalize her stagnation
3:49 – And here’s Kaiki offering the central truth of Monogatari, the lesson Araragi refuses to learn. No-one can defeat your personal demons for you – you have to do it yourself
6:12 – The most crazy
6:37 – Ahahaha that is the best. What an amazing secret weapon
7:07 – And so she turns off her giant snake whirlpool of death so she can stumble down the hill and smack him. Really not the best at this “intimidating snake god” thing
7:48 – Actually laughed out loud at this. Kaiki is the best
8:01 – Stop it I’m dying
8:02 – Oh my god this episode. Monogatari always surprises, never disappoints
8:40 – The stakes are high, Nadeko!
8:52 – Pfff, yeah, who’d do that?
10:10 – I love how he’s using “happy” here. People who acknowledge themselves don’t become happy, or even happier – life is hard, we’re all flawed people, we all hurt each other. But the happiness of a personal reality is a boring, empty delusion, and even when you’re not hurting others through your aberrations, you’re not living either. Just look at Hanekawa – aimless beyond maintaining her shell prior to this season, she’s now looking forward to a long, soul-crushing life as an aberration therapist
10:48 – Getting a little meta here, Isin? But it’s both true and a good metaphor. The shells can be comforting because they’re what you think other people want. Admitting what you yourself want requires real honesty
11:11 – They’re getting very direct with the fundamental moral of Monogatari here. The world is tough, and may laugh at you for who you are – but don’t ever let that make you disengage. Embrace the cruel, judgmental reality. Embrace failure, embrace pain, embrace your honest self. It’s the only way forward
11:55 – This is a fantastic speech. Perfect for his character, perfect for this story, perfect for Monogatari’s overall twisted-but-optimistic message
14:10 – He wants to believe. This is a world where it’s right to be earnest. To try and to fail and to try again. To trust
17:22 – Don’t bother, Kaiki. He’ll never learn
In fact, all of this seems far too happy. Is Kaiki actually just narrating from near-death, impaled on a Nadeko snake?
20:37 – Lovely
20:59 – Kaiki spoils her
21:26 – Again, one of the most powerful things you can accomplish in Monogatari – knowing someone outside of yourself. Also love how very Kaiki it is for him to feign disinterest in her one-upmanship, and then say “haha I knew it was you” right before hanging up
22:24 – Pot kettle black again. Also love this sickly-sweet piano arrangement of the sickly-sweet OP
22:26 – Wonderful shot
22:37 – KAIKI NO. …and yet I still have to admire how lovely this shot composition is too
23:07 – Another great one. And once again Ougi is to blame
Oh god. What an ending. Oh… fuck. Jesus. Kaiki. Gah.
Wow. Kind of destroyed by that. Both the arc and the epilogue were telegraphing a bad end for Kaiki, but that… it was so sudden and so unattached to the consequences of the narrative that it still came as a shock. And then just cutting to black…
Well, that was an arc. A fantastic arc, in fact. Very possibly the best arc of the best season of one of the best anime out there. All the ideas of deception and perception and identity came together beautifully, Nadeko’s godhood was resolved in a way both poignant and funny, and Kaiki checks out with a fantastic speech and the talking-to Araragi sorely needed.
In a very Nadeko way, I’m almost happy Kaiki’s dead. He’s preserved, now – he nailed an incredible arc that pulled all the series’ ideas together while also being more funny and full of great character moments than virtually any of the others.
Not that we know how much of this story was actually true. But it’d be an insult to Kaiki to pretend that even matters – the story we saw is the story as it exists for us, and that story was fantastic. Whether it was a real or a fake, respect is due.
Thanks again for reading my writeups, everybody. Hope you enjoyed this show at least half as much as I did, and hope to see you all again soon. Until the next story!