Bakemonogatari – 9
With the arrival of Nadeko Sengoku, Bakemonogatari appears to be starting another interesting arc.
With all of the gods and monsters plaguing the people in this series have come various issues the people have had to confront. Senjougahara needed to overcome losing the weight of her harsh past and her memories. Araragi had to help Mayoi find her way so that he could help himself from becoming lost on his path, as well. Kanbaru had to fight the destructive urges welling within the deepest parts of her psyche. And the theme with Nadeko seems to be self-hatred and self-harm.
It’s not just that she directly tells Araragi and Kanbaru late in the episode that she hates her body. The short scene before that when Araragi stumbles upon Nadeko stabbing the snake gives off such heavy tones of self-hatred. I mean, she really lays into that thing! Those tears are definitely tears of pain, too. Does Nadeko have a direct connection to the snakes of the shrine? Is she literally hurting herself when she mutilates those snakes? Or is it more of a symbolic act for her? Maybe it is some sort of ritual for her, as Araragi initially surmised (although it would be a ritual of a different sort).
The whole snakeskin thing seems to be a clear metaphor for growth during puberty. So much emphasis is placed upon presenting Nadeko as a young girl. Kanbaru especially is all, “Yo, don’t be eyein’ that young thing, you dirty old man” to Araragi. Nadeko feels a deep sense of shame regarding the changes in her body (the growth of the snake skin); perhaps this arc will be about Nadeko coming to terms with those changes and completing that growth into becoming a young woman (the shedding of the skin). Then again, not much in Bakemonogatari has been that straightforward thus far, and it’s only the opener, so there are probably plenty of things I cannot account for yet. For instance, the episode seemed to imply Kanbaru and Hanekawa’s headaches were related to Nadeko’s presence. There’s probably something to that I am not seeing. I want Oshino’s opinion on this — Araragi said he should see Oshino, but he hasn’t gone yet. Snap to it, man!
Much of the rest of the episode is spent showing that Araragi still has relationship ADHD. Hanekawa is letting Araragi a bit easy by saying he is being too nice to everyone, but at least she is telling him to not be such a knucklehead and stray from Senjougahara. Araragi does like her, and by thinking about what type of birthday party Senjougahara would like, or how to get into the college Senjougahara will attend, he is trying to make her happy. But then he does dumbass things like, you know, not leaning away from Hanekawa’s lolfooledyou kiss. Araragi is so easy to fluster. Just show the slightest physical interest in him, and he goes bonkers.
Kanbaru’s play flirting is pretty funny. It’s like she is doing the same things she did when she wanted to nab Senjougahara from Araragi, but her actions do not have the same intent behind them this time around. I think she is legitimately trying to be friendly with Araragi for Senjougahara’s sake; it’s just that she is such an open, energetic person that she does not know how far is too far, and she keeps going on with it because Araragi is too big a doof to protest very hard. Get your head in the game, man. You don’t need anyone else when you have someone like Senjougahara. That kind of girl is going to have only so much patience.
Pretty good opening episode. I must be rusty on my Internet memes, because I didn’t realize the above shot was a reference to an actual meme. I also fail at noticing small visual details, apparently. Certainly did not notice the few times SHAFT forgot to animate Kanbaru’s bandage, as Omni points out in his post. lol @ me. Still, this is an entertaining episode. Kanbaru is a fun character for me, so she makes up a bit for the decided lack of Senjougahara.