I never thought the day would come that we would get more Monogatari goodness.
To think, back when Bakemonogatari aired in 2009, I wasn’t as into the series as I am now. Poor old shounen-obsessed me was probably wondering why everyone wasn’t fighting the supernatural beings and instead just standing around making sharp quips at each other. It wouldn’t be until last year that I would appreciate the excellent writing and SHAFT’s unusual style.
Strangely enough, Ararararagi-san is completely absent in the season premiere. His ahoge is nowhere to be found, and in his place is Tsubasa Hanekawa. With Hanekawa narrating from her point of view, we get to see just how everyone else interacts with her when Araragi isn’t around. It’s almost jarring to have Monogatari without Araragi, but Hanekawa does just fine filling in for him. She doesn’t have his exaggerated facial expressions and doesn’t have the same level of interaction with the other girls as he does, but it’s a great chance to see just how she and everyone else act when Araragi isn’t around.
I’m glad that they decided to release Nekomonogatari: Black before starting the second season because it really fleshed out Hanekawa and helped set up her character arc in this new season. While we all know her as the kind and intelligent girl from the first season, we now that it’s all a facade to cope with the pain of having two stepparents who don’t love her. It’s really heartbreaking to see Hanekawa in her house, since she doesn’t even have her own room. Now that we’re inside her head, we get to see a glimpse behind her kind facade that she shows to others.
Senjougahara makes her spectacular return, only this time Araragi isn’t around for her to verbally abuse. Instead, we get to see her and Hanekawa interact with only each other, which we’ve never seen before. Both are in love with Araragi, so I was expecting sparks to fly as soon as they started talking, but it was surprisingly tame. Senjougahara even shows a vulnerable side to Hanekawa when the latter doesn’t tell her where she’s staying after her house burns down. I guess when she cut her hair short, it also meant a change from her usual cold demeanor.
The appearance of the tiger in the first episode was a bit surprising for me. They usually don’t show the oddities themselves, especially this early in the arc. It leaves a really good impression at least, since at first glance it looks extremely out of place within its surroundings. While we don’t know exactly what it has in store for Hanekawa, it’s probably safe to assume it had something to do with her house going up in smoke. Without Araragi or Meme to turn to however, the girls are on their own to solve this problem themselves, so it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with this.
There was a lot of fanservice in this episode, but to me it felt almost mocking. Senjougahara’s conversation with Hanekawa in her house has her stripped to her underwear for most of it, and ends with her suggesting that they take a shower together. With Araragi as narrator, the fanservice would be justified by the male gaze focusing on Senjougahara’s half-naked body. Since we’re looking at this from Hanekawa’s perspective, it just makes it all the more ridiculous that Senjougahara is flaunting her body so much in front of her. It provides a whole new context when you think about it, and makes me wonder if this is Senjougahara’s way of trying to be superior by flaunting her body to the much plainer Hanekawa.
I’ve got high hopes riding on this season right now. I was a bit disappointed with the excessive fanservice in Nisemonogatari, since it was just a big tonal shift from Bakemonogatari. The first series had its fair share of fanservice as well, but the focus always came back to the characters and their interactions with the various oddities. I think this series is off to a great start because it’s managing a good balance between Nisio Isin’s excellent dialogue, the beautiful and abstract animation, and the generous fanservice that SHAFT hands out. With Araragi out of the picture as well, it changes up the character dynamics between the main cast, leaving lots of room for some great development in this arc between our two leads. With such a solid start, I hope that SHAFT can really bring back the magic from the first season.
- I wonder what Araragi is up to, and whether or not it’s of any importance…
- Seriously, does anyone live in this city?
- The naming scheme for this season is way too confusing…it’s a hassle to type out…
- “Stop the blatant foreshadowing.”