Nisemonogatari – 8

Interpersonal relationships not including Koyomi are routinely concealed or distorted to the point where it seems like the entire universe revolves around our perverted protagonist.  But this episode revealed another connection outside our hero with Karen being a longtime admirer of the talented and expert martial artist and friend to Araragi, Kanbaru.  The way Nisemonogatari is constructed prevents us from seeing the other characters really interact with each other and show they live lives outside of Araragi.  It’s up to subtle hints like these to show us that these characters do interact with each other and have other friendships besides the one they have with Araragi.

And we’ve seen a growth in this area this season with more characters revealing their friendships or relationships than before in Bakemonogatari.  Perhaps the most surprising is the relationship between Tsubasa and Senjougahara with Tsubasa being authoritarian to the usually assertive Senjougahara.  We already discerned that Karen and Tsukihi knew Sengoku well from school in Bakemonogatari at the beginning of her character arc but we’ve seen the relationship in more detail this time, seeing that Tsukihi and Sengoku are closer while also in the same grade in school.  Furthermore, there is a connection between the Araragi sisters and Tsubasa, too, somewhat likened to a magnanimous advisor and respecting pupil.  Really, the intricate network of relationships outside of Koyomi are quite enthralling, especially when the lines of the web interweave to show how detailed the universe is.  The problem, though, is that we get no more than a mere glimpse into these connections because the story is always told through Koyomi’s point-of-view rather than that of the world.

Because Nisemonogatari is told through the eyes and mind of Koyomi, we have little opporitunity to see characters interact without the presence of the male Araragi.  The only moment we saw such an occurance transpire is when Koyomi narrated the fated meeting between the naïve Karen and the suave Kaiki.  And since it was a narrative, it really isn’t an genuine meeting between two characters.  No, we never really see any more to these relationships than when the characters mention it themselves or when there are multiple characters present and they talk between each other.  Though we do know these relationships exist, we hardly know anything about them due to the extreme lack of information we receive.

Some of these relationships could be surprisingly intimate or hostile.  Their histories could stretch multiple years and be brimming with hardships and adventures akin to those we’ve seen in Bakemonogatari or Nisemonogatari.  And let’s not stop there, what about relationships that consist of multiple people or group mentalities.  What they of relationship do these characters have in the presence of others, such as a trio of Senjougahara, Kanbaru, and Tsubasa or another consisting of Karen, Tsukihi, and Sengoku?  The possibilities of these interpersonal relationships are nearly endless and all the possibilities of this universe to consider make this topic quite captivating but never satisfying.  And the reason for the latter point is because we never will know what these other friendships are like.

The storytelling of Nisemonogatari simultaneously presents both positives and negatives to me.  It’s quite clear from this post what some of the negatives are but the style does have some advantages.  For one, we see everything like what a normal human sees since the camera does not wander off to see two other characters advance the plot elsewhere or reveal something to the audience that they know before the characters do.  And it allows for the anime to display itself in a way that shows intimate relationships between the protagonist and the rest of the cast, something that is a core theme in Nisemonogatari.

For what the series wants to do with itself, the current method of storytelling does quite well, if not downright impressive.  But leaving out some of the fascinating details in the world, even for a few scenes or a bonus episode or something, is one area where I find fault with the storytelling in Nisemonogatari.  For an anime where interpersonal relationships are one of the most significant and imperative themes, you’d think there would be effort to spread it around the cast rather than just be content with it being true to only the main character.

Oh yeah, and there was some teeth brushing, pantyshots, and ecchi fanservice everywhere.  The episode really did nothing more than just take the incest factor to the line it never should’ve crossed and taken a rocket pack so far beyond that line that it was below the horizon behind them.  At times it was pretty entertaining and hilarious but most of it was just awkward fanservice that might be considered arousing (the moaning, definitely) or sexual.  It didn’t feel that ecchi to me otherwise besides all the shots of Karen wearing a dangerously short miniskirt and seeing her panties surprisingly fewer times than revealed proved how active and bouncy she was in a skirt of that size.  Not really sure what to make of the episode but I’m glad we’re fully transitioning to Tsukihi’s story now which, from the sounds of it, should be another amazing story.

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  1. #1 by Joojoobees on February 26, 2012 - 5:38 PM

    These were the most interesting thoughts I have read on this episode. You also managed to capture some of my own feelings of ambiguity towards Nisemonogatari. On the one hand, I find it easy to be critical of the show for any number of reasons, whereas, on the other, I find it difficult to dismiss.

    You point out that the strict viewpoint means that these side interactions are never actually shown to the audience, but the show also does something similar with the plot (justified or not). That is, the actual “plot” seems to happen off-camera. I know this is a conscious choice, because it has been going on ever since the first episode of Bakemonogatari. In fact I still don’t understand why Koyomi became a vampire.

    Instead the series indulges in fan-service and witty banter.

    Another thing I can’t quite resolve is whether I am seeing anything happen or not. For example Koyomi and Karen’s fight, in this episode or the last. I see these things as a viewer, but I don’t understand if I should just ignore them as hyperbole. I see Koyomi’s ribs literally crushing, I see pillars supporting a highway collapsing. Did any of this happen?

    So, yeah, all sorts of interesting stuff happens off camera, and the stuff I can see doesn’t seem like it really happened. The effect (on me) is that I don’t have any commitment to the show — I don’t believe in the characters, and have no idea what is going on. Instead the show has turned into a sequence of interesting visual ideas, with witty dialogue spoken over it.

    • #2 by avvesione on February 28, 2012 - 10:39 AM

      Thanks for the comment. You’re correct about the plot happening off screen since everytime we’re introduced to the plot, the events have already happened and the girls are in some form of distress. As for why Koyomi is a vampire, however, will be explained in the prequel to Bakemonogatari, the movie, Kizumonogatari (which is coming out soon I think).

      You point on whether or not the actual events happen or not is an interesting question to consider especially considering how bizarre and spectacular the world already is. Whether that is really happening or not won’t be clear given what we really see so I tend to believe that it’s a little bit embellished and a little bit truth. The ribs breaking, I believe is embellished, whereas I feel that the actual highway was destroyed. I kinda have to pick and choose depending on what’s going on, so it’s still up to personal judgement.

      As for investing in the characters and the story, Bake/Nise aren’t the best out there but what makes it extremely popular and well received are all the visual candies, witty dialogue, and cast of sexy and horny girls. What I liked about the first season is it tried to develop a relationship between Koyomi and Senjougahara but that’s been thrown to the side in favor of meaningless ecchi scenes and a pretty disappointing story arc. Strange because I thought Nise would’ve been better than Bake but whatever…

  2. #3 by ThatOneGuy on February 27, 2012 - 4:39 PM

    that picture at the end is so perfect for the way you ended the post too.

    • #4 by avvesione on February 28, 2012 - 10:40 AM

      That was my expression throughout the toothbrush scene. I don’t think I’m the only one either.

  3. #5 by SnippetTee on February 27, 2012 - 7:37 PM

    For some reason, it didn’t really feel ecchi that much to me too. I actually find it really hilarious. There are also some things that I find interesting on this episode, it was revealed that Hanekawa is Araragi’s ideal girl and for some reason I’m intrigued with how Karen sees Kanbaru as sensei–although we know that both have a lot of similarities which highly makes them click together. I’m thinking, there must be some sort of a history linking these two. As you said, the possibilities of interactions is quite endless. But for the “not satisfying part”, I guess it’s meant to be like that because once it hits its viewers, all of a sudden the negativities are being cleanse and turn the series truly loveable–just like in Bakemogatari’s ep12.

    Btw, I’ve been wanting to suggest you this for quite a while now, but I always forget, why won’t you sign-up for a feedburner so that your whole post can be seen through readers (like Google reader).

    • #6 by avvesione on February 28, 2012 - 10:51 AM

      I think what made the toothbrushing scene ecchi was all the moaning that was going on with the nude shots spliced in to give it a clearly sexual tone. But that wasn’t the part I hated most about the episode… might have to do another post to voice my thoughts on why I’m negative about it.

      But yeah, Hanekawa as Araragi’s ideal girl is a bit of a surprise but at the same time isn’t. She has a wonderful personality (she treats him better than Senjougahara does), she’s beautiful, and they have a history together (they’ve known each other since the prequel when she first became Tsubasa Cat and when he met Shinobu). As for Karen and Kanbaru, they’re both material art experts in the same town and Karen is in the Kanbaru fanclub. I think that’s all there was to their relationship. And although you’re right about why it’s being presented that way makes sense for the series, I’m still not satisfied =X

      Going to check out the feedburner or toy around with some of my settings to help out those on Google Reader. I might be asking you some questions on Twitter soon to see what I can do to improve that aspect of things. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. #7 by Yi on March 2, 2012 - 7:56 PM

    “most of it was just awkward fanservice that might be considered arousing (the moaning, definitely) or sexual.”

    This sort of awkwardness is what I really love about anime though. It’s that it can be so unabashed with things, and give us something so exciting (or cringe-worthy or unsure). But that’s just silly me. ^ ^

    • #8 by avvesione on March 3, 2012 - 12:21 AM

      Nisemonogatari does a fantastic job with the material and did it in quite a way to make it evoke a wide range of emotions. I’ll say it was entertaining but particularly not my favorite thing the anime did. But it seems most people enjoyed that scene which is fine by me.

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