Bakemonogatari – 13
Feels like forever since Bakemonogatari‘s excellent summer season finale! But now the final three episodes to close out the “Tsubasa Cat” arc are slowly coming out . . .
I like that Araragi starts off on a high from his awesome date with Senjougahara and then immediately leaps into “Loli Raep” mode. Guy just cannot help himself. Always a couple of steps forward and a step backward for Araragi — or maybe a couple of steps backward, because even after pledging to be completely truthful with Senjougahara, he deviously neglects to mention who he is meeting with at the park. Senjougahara will find out eventually, my man. Know this.
But, man, does SHAFT ever tease the viewers with Senjougahara! She appears in just the one scene this week, completely owns it (as usual) and then goes on her merry way. Araragi is getting better around Senjougahara, but it still seems to me that he is not completely comfortable around her, even though they made such strides during their date. That is probably where the little lies come from. It is not that Araragi is a terrible person and deliberately wants to deceive Senjougahara; it is more that he still has to come to terms with a person who isn’t afraid to challenge him and play around with him. But you know he likes it. No ahoge turns that red because a guy isn’t enjoying what is being thrown at him. Once Araragi is able to toughen up and dish back what Senjougahara gives him, then I’m willing to bet the lies will stop.
How could Araragi lie to that face? Come on!
An interesting thing comes from Araragi’s conversation with Mayoi: She expresses confusion about why Araragi chose Senjougahara rather than Hanekawa, because Hanekawa seems more his type of girl. Later, there is a funny bit of reasoning for the harem aspect of the series — Hanekawa posits that Araragi’s vampiric powers have added an element of natural charm that makes him more attractive to the opposite sex. Hanekawa even seems to give off some nonverbal hints that she is at least slightly susceptible to this, though as someone who actively encourages Araragi to be with Senjougahara, she is certainly doing her best to fight this. Also, is it just me, or is Shinobu’s eye shown when Hanekawa explains a vampire’s power to charm? Just how will she figure into the story? Whom has she charmed?
But getting back to Hanekawa . . . I mentioned before how I thought Araragi was a source of stress for Hanekawa, and how that helped spur her transformation into the cat. That line of thought has not changed at all — what I see in this episode actually strengthens that theory for me. Hanekawa is playful and even diverts attention away from herself for a short time with an amusing conversation about radio stories. (That is a charming detail in and of itself. Isn’t it easy to imagine someone like her listening to a radio show while sitting at her desk doing homework or just resting on her bed? . . . Maybe I should just stop here.) But she is clearly flustered by an Araragi who, while he cannot completely stand up to Senjougahara, is at least strong enough now to trade barbs with Hanekawa. The skillful way he convinces her to take off her cap and show him her cat ears is proof of that.
Hanekawa here is at her most unguarded with Araragi — her clothing is unguarded (pajamas, something a person wears in the privacy of his or her home), she is actually stern with Araragi (she had chastised him in the past, but almost always in a playful, helpful way instead of in a way that betrayed anger) and even her catchphrase is unguarded (“I don’t know anything . . . I don’t know anything . . .”). Hanekawa is trying her best to suppress the stress and not let it affect her, but it is not really working too well.
One more note: It may be just because it has been a while since I watched Bakemonogatari, but does Oshino and Araragi’s relationship seem a bit more strained than usual to anyone else? Seems as if Oshino is a bit more aggressive than normal in his interactions with Araragi. Maybe he senses that Araragi is trying to be on his own more and is expediting that process. Oshino works in mysterious ways.