Bakemonogatari – 6
Just one episode after taking the leap with Senjougahara, and Araragi already has some domestic troubles. It happens, man. It happens.
Although Araragi has to deal with all this nonsense in the present, the past and the future are the focuses of this episode. Kanbaru is representative of the past — specifically, Senjougahara’s past, which seems so tantalizing for Araragi to delve into. Kanbaru stalks Araragi for a number of days, and while Araragi hangs out with Mayoi, Kanbaru confronts him and claims the meeting is a coincidence, and goes on to say she is an admirer of Araragi. He is suspicious, to say the least. He does not know Kanbaru; he knows of her, but he has never met the woman in his life. She banters with Araragi a bit before funneling out the information she sought (as the basketball of Kanbaru’s brain goes through her mind’s hoop): Araragi is jamming to Senjougahara’s home, where she will tutor him. Satisfied with this, Kanbaru runs off.
It is later revealed that Senjougahara and Kanbaru knew each other in middle school through their athletics connections — Senjougahara on the track team, and Kanbaru her junior on the basketball team. Kanbaru had a crush on Senjougahara that may have been reciprocated; Senjougahara cryptically commented to Araragi earlier that she had never broken up with a man, but that leaves a whole other gender available, doesn’t it? Senjougahara willingly reveals this information to Araragi but does not seem at all happy to have this part of her past dredged up out of nowhere. Hell, when Araragi makes the slight social faux pas of referring to her by the familiar “Kanbaru”, Senjougahara’s jealousy alarm goes code red, and she threatens to stab Araragi’s eyeball with a pen. Yikes.
Later, Araragi asks Hanekawa for clarification of Kanbaru and Senjougahara’s relationship in middle school (where Hanekawa reveals they formed the BaruHara pairing), and Hanekawa gives Araragi some sound advice: Don’t dig too deeply into Senjougahara’s past. Really, all Araragi needs to do is identify with Senjougahara on his level: Earlier in the episode, Araragi says he does not like having his love life randomly commented upon. Yet he goes full throttle after Senjougahara’s past? Let it go, man. Let it go. It’s just going to lead to weird things. And random ass kickings.
The piece of bandage Araragi sees hanging from his mystery assailant’s arm makes it clear to him that Kanbaru is the one beating the shit out of him. See, this is what happens when you go digging too deeply into people’s pasts, Araragi. You have Senjougahara threatening to pop your eyeball with a pen on one side, and Kanbaru beating the holy fuck out of you on the other. Araragi has a strong desire to reconcile Senjougahara and Kanbaru’s friendship, but if he is going to go down that route, he will have to deal with a lot of pain and crazy.
But aside from all the wondrous complexities of the past, this episode also explores Senjougahara and Araragi’s future. Now that they are together, what is the next step? Araragi has not thought this through. He is content to hang around Senjougahara and admire her. When she bluntly suggests they live together after high school, all Araragi can do is offer a half-baked witticism (“Well, it wouldn’t be that bad”), and when Senjougahara wonders what he means by that, he shoots right back into line (“I want to. Please let me”). Senjougahara also flatly lays out Araragi’s options after high school: Immediate work, trade school, or even becoming a NEET or a freeter (essentially the same thing as a NEET). She knows he is not particularly dedicated to studying — aside from the bare minimum that will allow him to graduate — and that this get together is just a facade for him to spend more time with her, so she is trying to set things up so that he will go on the best path for himself, while also being able to spend as much time with her as possible. The wily way Senjougahara goes about getting her way is always fun.
There are two types of people at that age, I think: People who constantly consider the future (such as Senjougahara), and people who rarely consider the future (such as Araragi, and I have to admit that I fell into this category as well). The future seems so far away — so disconnected from the present — that occasionally it does not seem worth thinking about. But, of course, the future is connected to and influenced by the present, while the influence of the past is there either to be recognized or not. Araragi is more concerned with plumbing into his girlfriend’s past, with whom she spent her time long ago, while she is more concerned with the future, with how their relationship will grow and flourish. We’ll see if they get on the same page.
For an arc-beginning episode, this is really good, I think. The introduction of Kanbaru is a good explosive element that will test the strength of Senjougahara and Araragi’s relationship. I also like how seriously the show takes the growth of that relationship, in its own crazy way. Plus, eye stabbing and ass kicking is awesome.