Nisemonogatari – 10

Everything in Nisemonogatari is serious business.

…but only if you’re Araragi Koyomi.  For everyone else, life in Nisemonogatari is somewhere between light-hearted and meaningless, a string of sunny days in which to simply enjoy life and nothing more.  Though there are days that contrast this norm, they only appear as a singularity in these characters’ lives and the rest is spent in merriment and amusement.  With lives like these, you have to wonder if it’s really the girls who are cursed and vexed or if it’s just Araragi.

Through each of the stories of Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari, Araragi plays the role of the protagonist and aids each maiden in prevailing over their curses or phenomena.  The female of each individual story, too, plays her role and overcomes the funk that she just can’t shake.  Both are paired together through a series of events, mostly serious with a balanced load of comedy to keep the show from feeling too heavy, until the resolution where the story concludes and the two becomes friend/lovers/crushes/whatever.  But then after that, the theme changes drastically.  The healthy girl is free to live her life however she pleases, usually a jovial and playful one, while Araragi is off to save the next girl he meets.  Because virtually every story ends with this pattern, one can assume the lives of everyone in Nisemonogatari is a joyful, light-hearted, and hardly serious one.

Let’s take this episode for example, though any from this series would do.  The episode began with the adorable and talkative Shinobu desiring her favorite treat, freshly prepared donuts, and persuaded Araragi to take her to the store.  Following that scene is one in which Tsukihi lounges around the house, eating a miniature ice cream snack and wearing an immodest amount of clothing.  Cut to the donut show where we see Shinobu immersed in absolute bliss as she munches away on the donuts Araragi bought for her.  The villains, too, were even a part of the fun with a delighted (or as much as he can be) Kaiki making an appearance and Yozuru and Yotsugi never showing an ounce of seriousness when murdering someone.  Quite a trivial and wonderful day for everyone in Nisemonogatari you might comment.

But in contrast to these events, Araragi rarely ventured from his cave of seriousness and spent the episode worrying, thinking, and troubled about who Yozuru and Yotsugi were after.  His serious demeanor throughout most of the series is often what allows the stories to progress and resolve themselves and is perhaps a reason why the episode had as much story progression as it did.  Araragi’s seriousness throughout Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari are essential for the story to develop and advance but it is quite a stark contrast compared to everyone else.  Though it’s true Shinobu became serious at the end, and for all the right reasons (someone she knows was brutally murdered), the role is often only left to Araragi and the heroine in distress.

What’s interesting about this theme is that it can be applied to almost any episode in the series and the results are similar.  The first few episodes, the ones which reintroduced the characters of the original series and were laced with forgettable comedy and unforgettable fanservice, do seem to deviate from the theme in that Araragi partakes in the fun and shows no signs of seriousness, too.  But then it fits the theme everywhere else showing all the characters more playful and happy than ever before in Bakemonogatari.  Another counter to this claim is Araragi’s conversations with Senjougahara and Hachikuji, which are often fun and enjoyable, not only for us but for the characters, too. However, these conversations do carry a meaning to them beyond that of audio fanservice and visual beauties when they near their end and dive straight into seriousness for both parties.  Still, these feel like exceptions to the theme and that the counterexamples greatly outnumber these few outliers.

It’s true this theme isn’t absolute, only a few are and those ones are reserved for important or substantial subjects, but it’s common enough and ubiquitous enough that it is a part of the series.  Think about what all the characters are doing throughout Nisemonogatari.  Everyone (except Koyomi) is enjoying their lives and not showing as signs of serious emotions except for a few specific cases.  In the universe of Nisemonogatari, the characters live happy, light-hearted lives which only seem to get interrupted when a curse is active on their bodies or when a loved one is in danger.  It is unfortunate that Araragi isn’t able to live a life like the ones all his friends/lovers/sisters seem to have but it is what makes Araragi the protagonist and hero in Nisemonogatari.  If he were to choose not to help all these distressed and troubled ladies, then he would be the only one living a satisfied and relaxed life while everyone else would be submerged in serious emotions, struggling with disability, dismay, and despair.

I love Kaiki.  His sudden and unexpected reappearance was definitely a highlight of the episode, especially since he was reduced to a role where he could partake in the comedy while still retaining his intellectual conversational skills.  Seeing him take Araragi’s wallet, look disappointed at its contents, and then pocket it while explaining that he was giving him a discount for what happened with Senjougahara was truly amazing.  Really happy to see him again (and in a meaningful way, too!) before the conclusion of the series.  He really impressed me as a villain in this series and performed the role perfectly.  What I probably will remember first or the most or whatever is the most memorable for Nisemonogatari for me will not be the toothbrushing scene or any specific jokes or anything to that nature.  No, what I will remember when I first think about Nisemonogatari will be Kaiki because he is the type of villain I love in stories like these.  I will miss you Kaiki when Nisemonogatari concludes next week.

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  1. #1 by Zammael on March 11, 2012 - 2:37 PM

    Yes, Kaiki is a great villain who seems like a combination of two of the greatest villains from literature: The Judge from Blood Meridan by Cormac McCarthy, and Moriarty from The Final Problem by Doyle

    • #2 by avvesione on March 12, 2012 - 7:56 PM

      Kaiki is an amazing villain but I don’t know enough of Moriarty and even less of the Judge to make the comparison. But what I like about Kaiki is that he has a specific rational that he follows that makes sense to the character (important) but comes across as morally objectionable (also important). His voice and appearance, along with his lovely theme, also give off a haunting, yet charming atmosphere. And he’s intelligent, too, which obviously is a plus for him being a con man. I’m not sure who I’d compare him with but he is certainly one of my favorite villains in all anime and perhaps even my favorite anime character this season.

  2. #3 by feal87 on March 12, 2012 - 1:13 AM

    Kaiki eating Donuts? That’s unexpected! :D

    • #4 by avvesione on March 12, 2012 - 7:57 PM

      Unexpected but somehow fitting. For a man with a hole where his heart would be, it makes sense that he’d eat a food with an empty hole in the middle.

      Also, I love his expression while he was eating the donuts. Just blankly staring and showing no signs of happiness or delight. Really interesting contrast compared to Shinobu who was in bliss while chomping on donuts.

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