Bakemonogatari – 10
Huh. Is that really the end of the arc? Sure does not feel like it.
This whole episode has a strange feeling to it. Almost as if everything comes too easily. Araragi can sense it at the end, as well. Nadeko wants to thank Araragi for saving her. But Araragi cannot accept her thanks. Why? Because the curse is not dead — it is simply going back to the one who cast the curse in the first place. Does it disappear, or is the caster in danger? Is there a possible rebound effect in play here? (A long, LONG rebound, haha.) There is such a crushing quality to the victory. Yes, Nadeko is safe, but at what cost?
The whole style of the episode serves to undermine the effort to secure Nadeko’s safety. Barely any of the action is shown — instead, Shinbo opts for extended shots of Araragi’s eye, Araragi clutching his arm in pain and frequent cutaways to the surrounding area and the various color signs while dialogue is going on. Granted, it’s probably a bit tough to animate an action scene featuring an invisible monster (to say the least), but regardless, I believe the choice is as much thematic as it is practical. Instead of enabling the viewer to revel in exciting action, Bakemonogatari instead withholds the excitement and frustrates the viewer with brief glimpses of action that leads to an ultimately unsatisfying conclusion. Nadeko is safe, yes, but Araragi can only stand around lamely with a bleeding arm and a profound sense of failure.
It’s not just that Araragi fails to keep Nadeko safe. There are threats all around him now. If he got in trouble, he could depend on Oshino to help devise some way out of it. But Oshino tells Araragi that he will not be there forever. There will be a time when Oshino is not around to bail Araragi out. And, as Araragi notes, because he is an “oddity” he does not do so well in dispelling “oddities”. He struggles in doing a job that should have been quite simple. Sure there is the sudden wrinkle of there being two snakes instead of just the one, but otherwise . . . what trouble is there for him? There is no severe emotional trouble for Araragi to deal with. The problem apparently is with other people cursing Nadeko rather than her bringing the problem upon herself, as has been seen with the previous victims in the series. Yet Araragi can do nothing to defuse the situation.
This whole arc has been a huge shot to Araragi’s confidence. He already had Hanekawa admonish him for being such a softy with flirtatious women. Now he has this half-victory/half-failure to save Nadeko. Araragi has always had help in getting rid of the monsters and ghosts, but he at least brought something to the table, even when he got his ass kicked. Here, he makes a critical error, gets his ass kicked and potentially unleashes a curse upon someone (albeit a freakin’ douchebag who probably deserves it). To top it all off, there is no Senjougahara at all in this arc. Again, I believe this is a deliberate story choice. It locks Araragi away from Senjougahara’s comforting influence and further highlights the isolation of Araragi’s failure. Kanbaru helps Araragi defeat the snake, but all he can think about is how he put her in danger. Araragi cannot accept Nadeko’s thanks because of the danger he has released in helping her.
I’m still hesitant to say this arc is complete, but apparently there are two TV episodes remaining (which will be about Hanekawa), and then a three-episode, online-exclusive arc will play out. Hopefully the end result of this arc will play out in arcs down the line. Because, as interesting as the results could become, it is not exactly exciting right now. Interesting to think about, but not quite as interesting to watch.