Owarimonogatari, Part One – Review

The Monogatari review train continues today, as I return to the Ougi/Sodachi-focused stretch of Owarimonogatari. Looked at in total, these arcs feel a little awkwardly placed in the narrative, largely because adding a character like Sodachi is both disruptive and a return to a long-abandoned Monogatari format. But Sodachi’s a reasonably compelling character in her own right, and only getting Ougi’s introduction now is actually some pretty great storytelling – though this is her first chronological appearance in the story, it feels like the natural progression from the times we’ve seen her before. I kinda doubt Monogatari will give us a clean conclusion to Ougi’s narrative, but I guess we’ll have to see what the end of the final season brings.

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my notes below!

Owarimonogatari

Episode 1

Euler’s identity, “the most beautiful theorem in mathematics”

Ougi: “the most beautiful part about it is that the answer ends up being zero”

“To her, everything is zero”

“It’s a story about majority rules”

At this point, the show has firmly established its chapter notation formula

The episode opens with them trapped in the classroom

Ougi is acting out in even more pronounced ways now. Locking Araragi in this classroom to make him engage with his own forgotten past

She is truly his “shadow,” the dark elements of his own persona that he doesn’t want to see

This episode’s got some great Ougi shots

“All people can do is save themselves on their own.” Mocking Meme’s words

Time isn’t even moving in this space

Oh hey, it’s Kanbaru

Kanbaru initially introduces Ougi to Araragi, six months after Kizu

Ougi already knows basically everything

Basically her first act is locking him in that room and shaking him until his past comes out

“It hurts me that you’d doubt me.” Ougi’s deadpan, here from the start

“I fancy the fool who’s easily deceived”

She mocks both Araragi and the concept of the series in general, making light of all the supernatural phenomenon and their investigative process

Ougi’s emotional manipulation of Araragi is one of the main appeals here

“I don’t recall saying that… but she’s asserting it clearly, so I must have.”

She basically fast-forwards through the investigation, pushing Araragi forward all along the way

“I don’t need friends. Because if I make friends, my strength as a human decreases.” This trial was the start of that phase in his life

“We can get out of here by solving the incident that went unsolved two years ago”

They use this CG classroom to make some pretty impressive moving shots

Peer pressure, resentment, grudges

Episode 2

I love this sequence of the blackboard listing all the study group names as the cicada noises get louder and louder. The sound of cicadas representing the buzzing hostility of the classmates is great

Araragi thinks Oikura just despises him for being better at mouth. We all have flattering selective memories

Araragi lost faith in friends and people in general when Oikura was crucified

He decided to protect his own righteousness by retreating from others

“You’ve kept pursuing the righteousness that was lost that day.” A line that cuts to the core of Araragi

Ougi solves the mystery cleanly, offering a clear opportunity and motive for the teacher. And then the door is open

“You can leave now, Araragi.”

And Sodachi returns to school

Episode 3

Araragi finds himself dragged to locations with Ougi, not sure when or what he agreed to. She causes him to doubt his very reality

Of course, that could also just be reflective of his own guilty conscience

This season’s visual style is a bit more bland than the others, though the sterility of design is a constant

Oh my god, Araragi trying to play cool. He’s so bad

Sodachi’s voice acting is so good

Sodachi’s despises Araragi’s carefree nature

“I despise people who don’t know the reason for their happiness”

“People can’t be happy unless someone else saves them”

Her philosophy is based in her personal experience, as all our philosophies tend to be. But it obviously throttles Meme’s philosophy

The contents of his shoe locker back in seventh grade

“I’m the only one who can stab Araragi with stationary”

Hanekawa getting dragged across the floor is so good

“You were always kind to people who were inferior to you.”

Sodachi can only stew on “he’s ungrateful”

Oh man, this physical comedy is so good

Ougi again filling his head with memories

I’d forgotten how funny this episode is

The Monty Hall problem

Great alternate art styles here

And beautiful shots of Sodachi’s old house

Both of Araragi’s parents are police officers. Something he revealed without meaning to, that he’d never revealed in many seasons of the series, that clearly undergirds his and his sisters’ belief in right and wrong

This arc still framed in terms of mystery narratives

“Because you’ve forgotten your roots, Oikura has serious problems with the way you live”

“In order to fight, it’s said you need to understand your opponent’s idea of justice”

Episode 4

Five years ago

Araragi was a boy with a strong sense of justice

It’s clear how that sense of justice still guides him in some ways

“I’ll make sure to keep loving math!”

The geometry of this ruined room echoes the narrative

The summer math meetings actually fixed Araragi’s life from there on, but did nothing for the girl. She just disappeared

Her disappearance reflects how people all represent different single things to others. That summer “made” Araragi

This shoujo manga reunion bit is great

“A superficial apology might irritate the victim.” How can we apologize if we don’t understand one another, if we aren’t actually empathizing with the anger they feel

Young, happy Araragi couldn’t parse the idea that Oikura was actually living in the run-down house

The story of Araragi failing to save someone from even before he began trying to save people

“As happy as I am, I’ve come to despise myself a little bit.”

Hanekawa is immediately suspicious of Ougi

She asks how Oikura would have known his parents were police officers

“Is there no end to my foolishness?”

The first half of this season being constructed as a mystery does interact somewhat awkwardly with the show’s natural mode – it’s already very slow-paced, and this amplifies that

Episode 5

Araragi can’t describe Ougi at all. He basically can’t parse her base qualities

Time for Sodachi Lost

Some really nice, unusual backgrounds here – an actual park

Hanekawa wondering if Ougi is tailing them. Extreme distrust

“Isn’t tailing someone a job for a detective?”

“It’s as if you’re diverting the purpose of this conversation on purpose.” Hanekawa isn’t just more wary than Araragi, she can actually tell his mind is slipping away from the desired conclusion: “be wary of Ougi.” And she distrusts that slipping

More interesting backgrounds. These ones are just filtered photos with heavy light saturation

“To be honest, I’m not sure I can protect you through it all.” Oh Hanekawa

“We were supposed to meet here, remember?” This gaslighting is so subtly unnerving

The body language between them is so good. Araragi is so out of his element

Love the shot of her shadow whispering in Araragi’s ear

And Hanekawa arrives just in time

Trying to peel Ougi off while remaining polite

Araragi literally melting in the background, lol

Hanekawa immediately doubting Ougi’s origin story

“I’ll be following in his footsteps. Like his guardian angel.” Ougi knows just what to say

“Doing things too well can lack balance in its own way”

Ougi makes it Araragi’s choice, wisely relying on his emotional weakness

God, the deadpan resolution of this boob joke is actually really great

Araragi wants to be a dependable senpai

“I couldn’t convey my real feelings to her.” You’ve dug that hole yourself, Araragi

Episode 6

Oikura and Araragi had met back in grade school, in sixth grade

Oikura never really seems fully integrated into this world in the way the other characters are. She’s too removed from most of them

Oikura’s strangled voice acting. Jeez

Oikura externalizes Araragi’s current self-doubt and self-hatred

Her mother’s death, turned into a locked room mystery

“If I can’t blame you, I can’t keep on going, Araragi. I can’t get by just blaming my parents”

Certain unhappiness is easier to bear than uncertain happiness

“It was already too late to save my childhood friend.”

“Happiness isn’t bright or heavy. Don’t overestimate what happiness is.” Love that line. And it’s also the resolution he needs to get to for his own sake, to stop blaming himself for being happy

After they show their support, she tasks them with finding her mother

Episode 7

Ougi really, really laying into Hanekawa. No beating around the bush this time. She thinks she’s in a position of absolute power, where she can drive a wedge in their relationship

Hanekawa powers up. The tiger shows its stripes

“You need to make him think for himself for a little while. Otherwise he’ll always remain the fool.” There is some question of what realizations Ougi wants to push Araragi towards

“Just like how she can’t look straight at her mother’s death, I can’t look straight at her”

Araragi decides to tell Oikura the whole truth

Araragi at last being not just self-sacrificing, but meaningfully kind

“Happiness isn’t a race. We learn from each other, and push each other to a higher place in turn”

“Even though our foolishness is bottomless, let’s become wiser together”

“When I see her alone, Oikura is like this. Just like the summer break back in seventh grade.” Our many selves

“I felt that something might be there. That something might change.” Aw, Oikura. She really was trying in her own way

Ougi admits she lost, and that she underestimated Araragi

And then we get the giveaway that she’s currently chasing Mayoi, and will soon run into Nadeko

Senjougahara’s texts are too much

I love this piano song here

“Hey, what do you think was written?” One last mystery

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