Have you ever wondered what an anime would be like if it were shown through the eyes of another character? How might things be perceived or depicted if we heard it through someone else’s voice? Would their priorities and preference impact the story differently? How would their observations or presence affect the story, too? Say, for example, if we saw Neon Genesis Evangelion through the eyes of Asuka or Code Geass from Suzaku’s point-of-view… how would these shows be affected?
If you’ve ever wondered about this or if you’ve ever wanted to see this in an anime, then you and I share similar thoughts. I always wonder about these irrelevant details and how an anime would be different if it were told through another character’s perspective. Besides comedy episodes or OVAs or specials, anime rarely ever break their perspectives (and no, I’m not counting scenes where another character is doing something that is relevant to the story, those don’t count), and I’m left with only my thoughts on how things would go if the perspectives were switched. Fortunately for me, Monogatari Series Second Season has blessed me with three arcs – that’s right, three! – narrated from the perspective of characters other than Araragi: Tsubasa Hanekawa in Tsubasa Tiger (Nekomonogatari: Shiro), Nadeko Sengoku in Nadeko Medusa (Otorimonogatari) and Deishuu Kaiki in Hitagi End (Koimonogatari). This sudden and welcomed change in the series offered an outstanding experience for the viewers, providing us with opportunities to see and understand the world of Monogatari differently than if we were riding alongside Araragi again.
Each of these arcs were told in a way that felt wildly different than the norm, or rather, different than what we’d come to expect from Monogatari told from Araragi’s perspective. This isn’t simply because the stories themselves were different but because each character brought their own personalities, energy (or lack thereof), and experiences to Monogatari when it was their turn to do the storytelling. How Tsubasa would react to something is different than Nadeko which is different than Kaiki which is different than Araragi. What’s important to Tsubasa is different than Nadeko which is… and so on and so forth. It’s these differences in these characters themselves that were able to influence and change these stories into their own. And because of these differences, there was a newfound diversity within this anime series. With these different perspectives, we were offered a chance at seeing Monogatari in a whole new way.
Perhaps no difference is more stark than how the fanservice was handled between these characters. With Araragi, the fanservice quickly becomes an opportunity for ecchi humor or perverted comedy. With Tsubasa, the fanservice is nothing special and rather ordinary, whether it’s fooling around with Senjougahara in the showers or relaxing with Karen and Tsukihi in the bathtub. And for Kaiki, he’d rather ignore the notion of fanservice altogether. And that’s just one example of the differences between these characters. Imagine now, for a moment, if you extrapolate this information to other factors in the series, from dialogue to personal commentary to reactions to objectives and everything in between.
What Monogatari Series Second Season was able to provide this year was a chance at watching an anime through the eyes of another character. Although this isn’t the first series to pull off such a feat, the fact that it did this three times is nothing short of brilliant. I’ve always enjoyed seeing a story through the eyes of another character and I greatly appreciate Monogatari for doing this. And since I do enjoy this method of storytelling so much, I suppose it’d be appropriate to mention a couple other anime who have done that this year, notably Space Brothers with Hibiki on the moon, Zetsuen no Tempst through Hakaze’s mini-adventure, and To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S (or really, that whole series) with the Sisters arc. Each offered us a chance to see the eyes through a different character and each of these stories turned out to be some of the highlights in these franchises (with some even becoming my favorite part). That being said, I wanted to give recognition to Monogatari with this 12 Days of Anime post since it was able to pull off this feat three times which is nothing short of impressive. I am always delighted when an anime is able to do this for a significant duration of time and acknowledging this, especially after what Monogatari has done, is certainly deserving of its own day in the 12 Days of Anime.