Nisemonogatari – 4

I have a love-hate relationship with fanservice in anime that, to put it simply, is challenging to define.  Every scene is situational in that, depending on a myriad of factors such as anime, characters, scene, and type, I can either love it or hate it or fall somewhere between these two extremes.  And since fanservice has been a prevalent topic regarding Nisemonogatari, it’s about time to see what fanservice I appreciate and what fanservice I can do without using this episode as a sample.

The fanservice in Nisemonogatari has generated an extensive amount of discourse on the subject of fanservice in anime.  I’ve seen anime fans engaged in a way where it’s become a common explanation when dictating their thoughts on the series as a whole.  Besides serving the immediate purpose of providing an opinion on the show, these statements provide a window into each fan’s level of tolerance and preference when dealing with this fickle issue.  Those who love ecchi material and fanservice passionately welcome the sexy cast of Bakemonogatari back with open arms (not to mention open trousers) and celebrate the degree of sex that has been present throughout Nisemonogatari.  Likewise, voices on the other side are complaining about it being oversaturated and unnecessary, only there to exploit the fanbase in a way to maximize popularity, visibility, or their profits.  Usually the two sides don’t watch the same anime due to their differences in preference or, if they do watch the same anime, the topic never arises due to the general lack of fanservice to generate and sustain a discussion on the topic alone.  Nisemonogatari is quite interesting to see anime fans from both sides come together to watch this anime and have generally positive reviews all around.

Now, what’s my take on the fanservice in Nisemonogatari?  To start, I am quite tolerant on ecchi anime and I feel like I watch more than the average fan regarding that material.  That being said, that doesn’t mean I like all types of fanservice and do find some cases to be incredibly irritating or frustrating to watch.  Similarly, there are times where I find fanservice to be appealing or enjoyable for an anime, too.  Like I mentioned before, my preference for fanservice is quite complicated and there’s no set formula or guidelines which predict whether I’ll like the fanservice or not.  I’m sure many people are this way, too.  The best way for people like me to judge fanservice is to go through each example as an individual case and assign a judgment according to each one.  Let’s begin with Hanekawa lying precariously on Araragi’s bed.

This mild scene does qualify for fanservice but fails to achieve the level of ecchi.  And this is a shot of fanservice I love in Nisemonogatari.  The scene really illustrates the complex relationship between Tsubasa and Koyomi and matches their characters accordingly.  There is an obvious sexual/relationship tension between Hanekawa and Araragi.  On the surface, you see two close friends in an argument over what’s happening with Karen and Tsukihi, and underlying it you have a romantic relationship that will never materialize.  The fanservice here goes to an acceptable level for everyone and serves a central purpose here.

Furthermore, Tsubasa is a respectable and proper young lady who doesn’t need to dress like a slut or show her body to attract Koyomi.  The scene fits her personality.  The anime doesn’t try to highlight her breasts or show her panties to get the message across but rather rely on suggestive posing which matches the character we know Tsubasa to be.  Honestly, the only complaint I can think for a scene like this would be from fans who love fanservice and are disappointed they did not get more from this shot.  But don’t worry guys, there’s still the second half of the episode with Shinobu.

The scenes with Shinobu, for me, ended with mixed results.  For one, Shinobu’s body isn’t what I want to see be used in ecchi scenes.  I realize her character is around 400-years old and is a powerful and intellectual vampire but those aren’t excuses for the visuals we’re given.  Thankfully, the scene never focuses on her body specifically, but it’s still something I dislike.  Like the Tsubasa scene, there is a purpose to the fanservice here, too, being that the bath is the only place where Araragi ever gets any alone time and the fact that Shinobu follows him in his shadow and can finally interact with our lead.  And then there’s the whole romantic undertones, too, that are heightened given both characters are naked the entire time.  One bit I really enjoyed about the fanservice throughout the scenes were that the two were on opposite ends of the bathroom with Araragi in the bathtub and Shinobu at the shower.  The physical distance between the two really put more of an emphasis on the tension rather than simply being ecchi.  Overall, I enjoyed the ecchi material up until Shinobu entered the bathtub with Araragi.

I’m not an expert on Shinobu’s personality but the first half of the scene seemed fine, matching her personality in an appropriate way and providing us with exquisite and enchanting dialogue.  Then it all went away when she got in the bathtub and the scene turned from the story and characters to standard anime clichés about a naked girl’s body and accompanied with carefree music that destroyed the well-constructed atmosphere prior.  Yeah, I can’t handle fanservice like this that exists for itself, especially when the characters themselves mention it for no reason.  There was no purpose to the story or character or a funny joke to give any meaning behind it; it was just Shinobu pointing out her naked body before Araragi and calling him a pervert.  We’ve all come to expect a much higher level of writing and scripting from Nisemonogatari, so it’s an absolute surprise to see it sink to the shabby basement of anime writing after some excellent work just moments ago.  Thankfully the scene recovered quickly but never to the degree it would’ve been had those few lines never existed.  In the end, I did not enjoy the fanservice here as much as Tsubasa’s scene, though it is much harder given the level of ecchi material used and the characters present.

I probably could breakdown every scene into greater detail or go back and provide opinions on previous episodes, but I’ll spare you since this subject is not all that important and it’s gone on long enough already.  Rather, I’ll provide you my straightforward opinions and let you figure out what about these scenes I liked and didn’t.  I was generally pleased with Tsuhiki, Karen, and Senjougahara fanservice scenes and unhappy with Hachikuji, Sengoku, and Kanbaru fanservice scenes.  Shouldn’t take you long knowing what I just said and my general personality and if you don’t know me that well or just skimmed through this post without retaining any of the information, then I doubt it matters at all and you only came here for naked Shinobu pics.

The opening scene of this episode is what I’ve been hoping for when I picked up Nisemonogatari.  The scene is already a favorite of mine for the way it showed the three Araragi siblings together and how they acted around each other.  What impressed me the most is that Tsukihi and Karen, despite always being together throughout the anime, were not on the same side this time.  Instead, Tsukihi was on Koyomi’s side but keep her emotions in check.  Seeing Tsukihi feel concern over Karen’s situation rather than be by her side and supporting her helps begin to separate the two sisters into their own individual characters and it couldn’t come a moment too soon with the supernatural elements finally beginning to develop around Karen.  Additionally, the presence of Hanekawa helped flesh out some other aspects of their relationship as well.  Acting as a mediator, she stopped Koyomi before he struck Karen and got him to apologize before any harm was done.  Pretty interesting to see Koyomi get so emotional and angry that he was about to hit his sister when he’s shown nothing but kindness and ambiguity to all the other girls of the series before.  Had Hanekawa not been there, I wonder if Tsukihi would’ve interviened on her sister’s behalf or if she’d let the two fight it out.  Guess we won’t know until later but it was nice to see Hanekawa get Koyomi back to his normal self quickly before he caused even more trouble for poor Karen.  I do want to see more of the three together rather than continuing through this parade of former damsels in distress since the personalities and relationships within the Araragi family are much newer, more complex, and simply fascinating in my eyes.  Perhaps now that we’ve finished with the six heroines from the first series that we’ll begin to see the Fire Sisters more but I have seen little reason to believe in that since we’ve seen four episodes air with only a minimal amount of time devoted to these characters.  It should change soon but I’ve been saying that for four episodes now and have no idea when we’ll see Karen and Tsukihi be main characters in the story.

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  1. #1 by Ian on January 29, 2012 - 6:49 AM

    I’ve always had problems watching or reading any anime that has ecchi scenes in it (even if I am a male). I feel that it disrupts the plot and removes any tension that the show has produced.

    • #2 by avvesione on January 29, 2012 - 4:35 PM

      I agree with you for the most part but, like I said earlier, it really depends on the situation. The way most ecchi is used in anime, it’s simply a distraction or an easy means of generating views/sales/profits. But when it’s a part of the story, characters, or comedy, then I tend to agree with it and I usually enjoy it. A good example of ecchi that I like was in Bakemonogatari 2 when Senjougahara is getting dressed with Araragi in the room.

      Ecchi is one of those topics where everyone has their own individual opinion on and it’s really hard to create a general opinion in anime fandom since it’s so variable. And even within the individual, it varies from scene to scene. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could find one or two ecchi scenes you thought were done well despite generally having problems with it (but I’m guessing those are exceptions to the rule).

  2. #3 by Zammael on January 29, 2012 - 10:08 AM

    Solid point about fan-service: there’s always a place and time for everything, according to the logic of the story. Any deviation from the intent that panders to the audience is nothing more than literary prostitution.

    That said, I’m happy with the depiction of Shinobu: purely condescending, extremely intelligent, oddly endearing, broad minded, and haughty, but always justified.

    The heavy themes of pessimism of a lengthy life gave Shinobu the necessary ballast as a 500 year old character, although she’s rendered as an adorable loli. Perhaps Nisemonogatari will continue to play up on this tension?

    • #4 by avvesione on January 29, 2012 - 4:39 PM

      If they do continue this tension/pessimism, then I’ll be delighted. Shinobu has made the biggest jump in character from Bakemonogatari to Nisemonogatari and I do hope they continue to use her character in this way. The next time, I hope they’re able to use her in a less ecchi situation (wearing clothes would be a start) but keep the sexual/relationship tension present when dealing with Araragi. Besides Senjougahara and maybe the sisters (need to see more of them together), she might have my favorite relationship with Araragi in the anime.

  3. #5 by Snippett on January 29, 2012 - 5:01 PM

    Nice point about the fanservice.

    Personally, I think fanservice on this series is just there to create tension and just to keep the viewers awake. This show has really nice visuals and good long dialogues. But I guess regardless of their quality, if they are repeatedly and extensively used without anything to excite viewers, they will lose their significance. So I guess fanservice on this show isn’t really meant to be ecchi but more on to play tricks and tickle the viewers imaginations.

    • #6 by avvesione on January 30, 2012 - 3:51 PM

      That’s true, the fanservice here does have an underlying meaning to it and it’s not gratuitous like other ecchi anime out there. Anytime there’s fanservice to the extent we see, there usually is something important going on (maybe not always story-wise but character-wise at the minimum), so it does help in those areas. Kinda hoping now that we’ve seen all the characters again that the anime takes a less ecchi approach and goes heavily into the story.

  4. #7 by Joojoobees on January 29, 2012 - 10:01 PM

    Nisemonogatari, to me is like Un Chien Andalou; I don’t really understand or truly appreciate either. In fact I feel a little grossed out, but the work is so distinctive that I am glad to have watched it, because it truly puts all other things in perspective.

    • #8 by avvesione on January 30, 2012 - 3:56 PM

      I haven’t watched Un Chien Andalou but I read a bit about it and see it’s a surrealist film. I’ve seen a few, so I have some grasp of the genre but not that movie in particular. I don’t think I would consider Nisemonogatari to be surreal despite the environment being as wacky or zany as ever but I think I have a general idea of what you’re saying. Or am I going down the wrong path here?…

  5. #9 by anonymous on January 30, 2012 - 5:52 AM

    You have shit tastes

    • #10 by Zammael on January 31, 2012 - 10:03 AM

      @Anonymous
      Opinions are like assholes — everyone’s got one. :)

  6. #11 by aoi chan on May 14, 2012 - 11:11 PM

    araragi is cute when she is smiling

  7. #12 by aoi chan on May 14, 2012 - 11:11 PM

    karen is cute

    • #13 by avvesione on May 14, 2012 - 11:32 PM

      Interesting you post that here when some of my other posts have more or better pictures of Karen. But yeah, she’s one of my favorites, too.

  8. #14 by A French Reader on August 4, 2013 - 6:34 PM

    I’m currently watching Nisemonogatari, and I totally agree with your analysis of the fanservice with Hanekawa. I also agree with all the depictions of Shinobu. Nervertheless, unlike you, I love the second part of Shinobu’s scene. Indeed, I think there is a great, even important, underlying meaning when she joins Araragi in the bath.

    First of all, both are naked in front of the other, it’s already very significant. I won’t say it’s not fanservice, but it does express the very special bond they share together. They have no secrets for the other, they can appear as they really are. Shinobu is the only one to know everything about Araragi since she turned him into a vampire, and “lives” in his shadow, she sees him naked. And of course, Araragi, with maybe Oshino, is the only one to know everything about Shinobu, and seems to have a “power” of life and death on her, if he choses to leave her to become human once again. She’s naked in front of him. So, the fanservice here is very interesting.

    Moreover, they share the same destiny, they are in the same boat. Almost literraly, they are in the same bathtub ! So when she’s joining him, it’s very metaphorical, and just after, they are actually talking about the fate that they share. And like Shinobu says, maybe he will live until 400 or 500, and then, she will be the only one left in his life, when all his friends and family will be dead. Once again, the fact that she joins him in the bathtub shows her will to accompany him when the time will come. Of course, the flirt between them only increases that feeling of intimacy, so do the “threats” of Shinobu and Araragi’s words about not forgiving her, everybody knowing and seeing that he will never kill her and she will never kill him. They’re almost lovers, and to me, Shinobu and even Hanekawa are maybe most important in Araragi’s life than Hitagi.

    That was my opinion ! To finish, I think the fanservice in Monogatari is Art, and not (pure) voyeurism. There is always a purpose, for exemple build a tension, srengthen the impact of a scene or a dialogue, or an underlying meaning, especially when the director is Shinbou Akiyuki.

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