Bakemonogatari – 11
Something that really stands out to me in this episode is the theme of burial — mainly of feelings and problems.
This is presumably how the Meddlesome Cat becomes attracted to Hanekawa as a host. Hanekawa has tons of problems: Her parents have remarried so much, and she has been passed off so many times, that she has no blood relation to her current parents. These parents are not overly fond of Hanekawa. (Makes me wonder why they took her on in the first place, but I suppose the need to “keep up appearances” led them to adopt her in order to look more like a normal family.) Hanekawa’s father abuses her — she has a fresh bandage on her face from the most recently smack — but she waves this off by reasoning that people would feel angry if some kid they didn’t know tried to get close to them.
So, Hanekawa is actively trying to be a “good girl” to cope with this mess. As Oshino states later, this burial of feeling leads to stress in Hanekawa, which manifests itself in a new personality — Black Hanekawa. (Another good Oshino quote that ties into everything when Araragi comments that Hanekawa is “so white”: “It’s not about how she looks, it’s about what’s inside.”) Relief of this stress comes when Black Hanekawa attacks people. First she sends her parents to the hospital. Eventually she comes after Araragi, which leads to Shinobu swooping in to save the day.
The decision to specifically show Hanekawa attacking just her parents and Araragi interests me. We know Hanekawa’s parents are the most significant source of stress for her — but could Araragi be a source of stress as well? Hanekawa often helps Araragi out, but half the time she also has to steer Araragi back onto the right path regarding his relationship with Senjougahara. Even in this episode, Hanekawa tells Araragi to Kanbaru’s bloomers and school swimsuit in his bag and not grasp them like “they’re [his] treasure.” The moment that keeps popping out at me is Hanekawa’s near kiss with Araragi a couple of episodes back. It’s just a tease to show Araragi that he needs to have his head screwed on straight and keep Senjougahara in mind . . . or is it? I don’t know if Hanekawa has romantic feelings for Araragi and is just playing the “good girl” in this relationship, too, but it certainly would not surprise me.
Even the way in which Hanekawa’s initial possession is dealt with ties into the burial theme. Shinobu’s power is similar to Hanekawa’s — she sucks energy from people, although Shinobu apparently differs in that she can suck the energy from the oddity within Hanekawa and leave Hanekawa herself relatively unharmed. So, the Meddlesome Cat is gone, and the source of Hanekawa’s stress is defeated, right?
Well, not exactly. The physical source of Hanekawa’s stress is gone, sure. Staving off the Meddlesome Cat disposes of that which fed off Hanekawa’s buried pressure. (It would not be surprising to learn that the Meddlesome Cat adds to the stress Hanekawa feels.) However, the psychological source of Hanekawa’s stress still exists. Her parents have not gone away. If Araragi causes Hanekawa stress of any significance, she still has not stopped speaking with him and commenting on his troubles. As the return of Hanekawa’s headaches shows, it was only a matter of time before the stress bubbled back to the surface. It is something Hanekawa herself needs to confront rather than a problem to be swept away with convenient solutions like Shinobu’s power. Araragi’s comment that the oddities are not really at fault for what they do seems to support this. Our problems are our problems — we need to solve them ourselves instead of using outside forces as scapegoats.
By the way, I like how Hanekawa’s problem sheds some more light on some her past interactions with Araragi. In particular, I am thinking of her desire to see the world and gain life experience rather than going to college right away. With the knowledge of Hanekawa’s situation that we have now, it sounds to me like a yearning for freedom instead of just a desire to journey abroad.
It is sort of interesting that Senjougahara is once again conspicuous by her absence in this episode. In a way, even that contributes to the burial theme since Hanekawa uses her conversation with Araragi about his relationship with Senjougahara to avoid commenting on her well-being. I still miss Senjougahara, however. We are going through serious Senjougahara withdrawal here. Hopefully she comes back soon.
Anyway, I enjoyed this episode. It has a different feel to it than the other arc-beginning episodes — more sinister, somehow. The way the setting fogs up during Araragi and Hanekawa’s initial conversation, and the fearful glances at Hanekawa while she describes her familial relationship help contribute to that. Good to see SHAFT delivering on the visuals once again after the weirdness of ep10.