Nisemonogatari – 2

One of the most acclaimed and exceptional characteristics of Nisemonogatari is the dialogue.  Not only do the sentences and their pacing sometimes resemble scripted verses from an inspired poet or arbitrary lines from a natural conversation but their words carry a specific weight to them in that they are integral to telling the story, the characters themselves, and whatever other variable you think applies.  And that last part, about the applying these conversations to anything, is the subject of this post after I came to a conclusion after this episode: Koyomi cares more for his sisters than anyone else in the series.

Stop and think about it for a moment and it begins to become more recognizable.  What has Koyomi been doing through the entire anime besides revisiting all the sexy girls he rescued during the first season?  He’s been concerned about the behavior and actions of his sisters, Karen and Tsukihi, to the point where he’s investigating the situation.  Yeah, that’s been the story to Nisemonogatari.  Koyomi is taking action now to save his sisters from whatever paranormal phenomenon is afoot.  In fact, by taking action now, this is the earliest Koyomi has been involved in these supernatural situations whereas in Bakemonogatari, he only began acting only after the girls had been affected and displayed symptoms of their curses.  True, he didn’t know the girls them like he knows his sisters now but his initiative now shows he wants to save his sisters before any warnings, before any harm.  These actions of his shows his compassion despite sometimes being harsh and restrictive to his playful and energetic siblings.  But it’s also true he cares about all the other girls, too.  So how did I come to that deduction?  This is where the dialogue from this episode comes into play its ever so versatile role.

Throughout the second episode, Koyomi spent time conversing with Nadeko, Karen, and Kanbaru.  Each dialogue helped persuade me in this direct as did a few of the scenes from the previous episode.  Let’s start off with Koyomi’s emotions throughout since those were the most obvious indicator, at least to me.  When Koyomi spent time at Nadeko’s home, he never really expressed any powerful emotions despite Nadeko displaying a broad range from calm to panicking to comically sexual.  The fact that Koyomi failed the feed off these emotions, although he did recognize them on an inconsistent basis, shows he feels nothing more to Nadeko than an everyday friendship.  Koyomi remained calm and collected throughout and, while it’s evident he does care for Nadeko, this is probably one of the shallowest relationships in Nisemonogatari.  The time with Kanbaru, Koyomi showed several more emotions and varying degrees of intensity but it never indicated he favored Kanbaru more than he did for, say, Nadeko or any other girl.  The emotions he showed were more playful or responsive to her sex appeal than feeling concern over her depression over her nudity or any lingering affections toward this Araragi.  Never was it clear though his speech or emotions did he match Kanbaru, especially when it came to her crush on Koyomi.  Really, through these two conversations, it’d be difficult to say which one Koyomi cares more for.  Of course, when you remember how quickly he ran to get his bike and pedal off to Kanbaru’s house, you can draw some conclusions but through the lines of the series alone it’s too close to call.

When evaluating Koyomi’s conversation with his taller yet younger sister Karen, you can begin to see how much more Koyomi cares about his sisters than any other girl.  Start off that his emotions throughout the scene are much more passionate than Karen’s.  Rather than staying monotone through Nadeko’s or going up and down with Kanbaru’s, Koyomi is steady and strong throughout his back-and-forth with Karen despite Karen being frisky and carefree throughout.  Koyomi also had a serious tone throughout, never drifting into the playful territory where Karen beckoned him to come and join her fun.  It almost seemed like Koyomi was in an opposite role than he has been throughout most of the franchise.  Usually, Koyomi is in a conversation where the girls show more intense or brighter emotions than Koyomi but here he was the opposite.  With Nadeko, she was the stronger; with Kanbaru, she was the stronger; with Karen, Koyomi was the one who showed the strongest emotions.  And, if you assumed that strong emotions parallel how much a character cares for another, you can see why I begin to feel that Koyomi feels more for Karen and Tsukihi than any other character in Nisemonogatari.  But that alone can’t be enough.  This is where the content of the conversations comes into play.

While the story in Nisemonogatari has been about Koyomi’s concern about his sisters, the content of this episode was Koyomi visiting Nadeko’s home and then visiting Kanbaru’s home.  Serving primarily as a reintroduction to these characters and their sexual tension rather than advancing or even being tangential to the plot, the dialogue in these scenes are supplemental evidence that Koyomi cares more about his sisters than the rest.  Ignoring the sexual tension that Nadeko created, escalated, and maintained throughout her scene, the actual content of their dialogue revolved around Nadeko’s observations of Karen and Tsukihi and the general abnormalities girls are dealing with.  That’s right, Koyomi’s purpose for visiting Nadeko was not to spend some time teasing her romantic interests unintentionally but to see if she knew anything that could help him on his investigation regarding his sisters.  Hell, he even wanted to invite Tsukihi over with him in the previous episode.  Yup, that’s substantial evidence that points toward my conclusion.  About Kanbaru, there was more going on there than simply visiting her for simply cleaning her room.  Rather, the content of these dialogues reflected on their relationship and how they constantly use sex to tease each other.  The subject here did critique their complex relationships.  It does show that Koyomi cares about Kanbaru as a good friend, but little shows that it goes beyond that.  Additionally, both these scenes were started by the girls rather than by Koyomi.  I do wonder what he’d do in his freetime if he weren’t spending it maintaining his sexually frustrated harem.

With Karen, Koyomi acted like a parent or a responsible sibling in looking out for Karen’s reputation and safety by attempting to prevent her from performing these public handstands.  Karen, on the flip side (literally) acted like the rebellious child who refused to heed to such warrantless demands.  While more a perspective on their familial structure and their personalities each, that was the content of their discourse.  It performed well to introduce Karen to the anime, its primary goal, but it also accomplished another purpose by providing evidence toward the point I’m making.  Koyomi likes to have fun and be playful with his friends so seeing him take such a defensive and authoritative approach toward Karen’s behavior indicates that he values her safety and status are more important than their combined happiness if they played together.  Keep in mind, Koyomi had no trouble with himself doing handstands but it’s not alright for a childish teen to do the same.  You’re being overly defensive here Koyomi.  In another sense, the purpose of talking to her was not to further his investigation (Nadeko) or to spend time with a friend (Kanbaru) but to show concern over a person who may be unknowing doing harm to their self or their reputation (Karen).  Again, Koyomi was being overly defensive here when Karen probably would suffer no significant harm.  Furthermore, it was a conversation Koyomi started meaning he had to take say something then rather than let it slide or join in Karen’s games.  When comparing this content and purpose between Koyomi and the three girls, it is unmistakable that Koyomi cares more about Karen than Nadeko or Kanbaru.

To what degree does Koyomi care more for his sisters than the others cannot be determined, especially after only two episodes and a conversation each between each girl.  Additionally, they are different types of care being displayed here.  Between Koyomi and his sisters, its familial love whereas Senjougahara is romance and the rest are stuck with friendship.  It’d be wrong to take this argument in a way that Koyomi doesn’t feel compassion or feelings for the rest of the cast since he does and still continues to interact and empathize with them to this day.  Mainly, the level of care was the point being made.  Moreover, you try to argue and say Koyomi cares more through his friendship with Kanbaru than familial toward Karen but there really isn’t enough evidence or even anime to begin to determine that.  Plus, it’s generally true that people care for others within the family more than friends outside it but that is a point that helps prove what I’m saying.

Koyomi, Karen, and Tsukihi all share a complex relationship with each other and their level of care, although each would deny it to others, is deep, reinforced, and virtually indestructible.  I am looking forward to seeing the three together on screen at the same time to see how they all interact with each other.  Additionally, I can’t wait to see how the sisters interact with everyone else once they get their turn directing the anime through themselves.  I always liked the scenes in Bakemonogatari when you’d see the sisters try to wake Koyomi after the completion of each arc but these two scenes skyrocketed their characters in my eyes and now they’re approaching Senjougahara for my favorite in the series.  Would be fun to spend some time to see how much I care for them compared to the rest of the girls, right?  Nah, I wouldn’t waste your time.

One thing new to Nisemonogatari that wasn’t apparent in Bakemonogatari is getting used to the size of the characters.  In Bakemonogatari, it was pretty much Araragi being the tallest and all the other girls falling into a straight line of decreasing age and height in a mathematic fashion.  Now with Karen and Tsukihi taking up more dominant roles, I’ll need to dismiss these perimeters.  Karen, although younger than the average age in Nisemonogatari, is the tallest of the cast as it is often pointed out she is taller than her older brother Koyomi.  That means everyone in the anime will be looking up at her whenever she’s on screen (unless she continues to do handstands or the likes).  Tsukihi fits the age-height function a bit better than Karen but she still does not fit nicely.  She’s roughly Nadeko’s age (depending on the months) but she’s about the size of the rest of the highschoolers only being shorter than Araragi as he is shorter than Karen.  Perhaps the entire Araragi household is tall compared to the average of this Japanese society?  It seems so.  Well, it’s not really a complaint or compliment; just I’ll need to get used to with this sequel.

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  1. #1 by feal87 on January 15, 2012 - 1:11 AM

    One thing I’m noticing here is that Shaft has gone really far with their artistic style! I remember the houses to be normal in the previous Bakemonogatari! :O

    • #2 by avvesione on January 15, 2012 - 1:38 AM

      Yeah, I think the budget this time around is significantly higher than Bakemonogatari (and from what I’ve heard and am not surprised by, more than any other anime this season). If you remember when the original aired there were missing scenes and lot more of those blank frames with dialogue over them (especially during Nadeko’s arc). I think after Bakemonogatari shattered DVD/BD sales back in 2009 that they gave the anime more of a budget and the increase in quality and detail is obvious and appreciated. Glad you noticed it, too.

      • #3 by ThatOneGuy on January 29, 2012 - 3:37 PM

        Actually, I was rather fond of the blanked out screens, as it relayed a fourth-wall of stating “The animation of the characters walking upstairs, or getting a glass of water is pointless to our story and gives nothing to the characters, so we wont waste your time”. It gave Bakemonogatari a kind of inner-outer view that I enjoyed.

        • #4 by avvesione on January 29, 2012 - 4:42 PM

          That’s true, it did give us a perspective on scenes that no other anime really has ever done. But still, I’d love to see the characters surrounded by bizarrely-colored, eccentric architecture doing mundane activities or something simple like when Araragi and Hachikuji were talking and they used street signs to show everything they were talking about rather than the characters themselves. But if the anime were more mainstream or typical, then yeah, I’d welcome back those blank screens in a heartbeat.

  2. #5 by Zammael on January 15, 2012 - 8:15 PM

    Great blog!

    It looks like you are about to say that Nisemonogatari is exploring the facets of love, according to the ancient Greek versions (eros, philia, agape).

    If eros in Nisemonogatari is meant to refer to the passionate, intense desire, then several characters express this emotion, but for most it remains unrequited (Nadeko yearning), or barely repressed (made manifest in Hanekawa’s albino-cat-demon). Eros blooms in a sadistic way in Senjougahara (in episode 1).

    As for Karen and Tsukihi, love remains at the level of philia, where Araragi only express a fondness or appreciation for his sisters, although mostly in the form of a brotherly fashion that’s protective and serious. In fact, Araragi also extends the same treatment, albeit in a more neutral fashion, to Nadeko and Tanbaru.

    I’m not sure if the show will also explore the aspects of Agape, unless Araragi becomes a super-hero and saves all humankind. Agape, from what I understand, is the best combination of both eros and philia, without the requirement of reciprocity. A sublation of both aspects into a higher level of emotion.

    • #6 by avvesione on January 15, 2012 - 8:55 PM

      Thanks! That’s quite the analogy you have there putting these relationships into the three Greek versions of love. I never considered it like this but what you’re saying is true for the relationships you described.

      If I may comment on it, I’d say there is already agape present in that it’s the love between mother and child or “unconditional love”. What I see is Koyomi has agape love toward his sisters (what I called familial), eros love toward Senjougahara (I called romance), and the rest are philia (I called friendship). I think that’s appropriate but I’m not as adept on the subject as you might be (been years since I went over this in philosophy). Does that sound about right?

  3. #7 by Zammael on January 15, 2012 - 9:19 PM

    Actually, agape is the spiritual version of familial or romantic love, where you love God wholly, without regard of how he loves you, or humanity itself, whether people are even aware of your existence.

    I think brotherly love squarely belongs to the Philia camp, because the emotions involved are affection and fondness, as well as loyalty. Since Aristotle defines philia as love motivated by the other’s sake, I’m more inclined to include brotherly or sisterly love here.

    Agape transcends both philia and eros, a perfect but remote and elitist love that demands an absolute devotion that is nigh impossible. A universal love is impractical in terms – so it remains mostly an ideal in fictional and religious literature. Perhaps Shinobu could fulfill this category? :)

    • #8 by avvesione on January 15, 2012 - 11:18 PM

      Ah, didn’t realize agape was a term for love that was impossible in the real world. Well, considering Nisemonogatari is fiction, then perhaps we might see it manifest and, should it eventually manifest, it would probably Shinobu since Koyomi has a relationship with her that no one else can replicate in anyway. Otherwise, we might not ever see it although, judging from its nature, it doesn’t sound like its as essential as eros or philia.

      Still, i do want to separate the love Koyomi has for his sisters from the love he has for all his female friends. Perhaps this isn’t the best of categorization to differentiate the two but I feel they are different enough, enough intensity and style, that they are two different types of love (which is why I went with familial and friendship). Then again, I suppose there can be different types of love within philia…

  4. #9 by Victor on February 7, 2012 - 1:52 PM

    Wahh, great blog, great analysis :D

  1. Nisemonogatari – 02 | Frozen Anime Blog

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