If there’s anything as phantasmagoric as the mythical Nymphs, it would lie within Shaft’s recent installment of the Monogatari franchise.
Perhaps if investigated closely, the resemblance is paper-thin, but the oddities presented in this series sure seem familiar.. and quite promising.
After a long-awaited break from the Golden Week arc, SHAFT returns to pay us with an all-out, authentic sequel to the phony (no pun intended) fan-service session that was Nisemonogatari. Since the incestuous fetish was already fulfilled in the most fecund sense with prolific blushes and tooth-brushing, Monogatari appears to flaunt a desire for real substance as the spotlight shines onto formerly prominent members of the cast, evoking combinations of head-tilts and panties-shots like never before.
Don Don Kun: Ugh, don’t even get me started on the disappointment that was Nise. The thing about Nisio Isin (and to some extent, Shinbo as well) is that while the man is a very capable writer, he tends to fall victim to his own selfish desires (usually in the form of sexual fantasies). Nise was basically the guy’s wet dream, so I was relieved when Nekomonogatari came out at the end of 2012 and proved that his writing was back on track. And thankfully, it looks as if this installment in the franchise should continue that trend, at least based on this first episode.
Throughout the first episode, Hanekawa tries to recover a fragment of her self-confidence, and in return, she finds every part of her past, immaculate self to be flawed, and verily fake. At her supposed age, it is a sensible stage of life (as I have hands-on experiences of this) and this is understandably normal and common among insecure teenagers, but SHAFT disagrees. The circumstances of Hanekawa’s age are only roundabout issues for her many family problems, sadist complexes, and relationship matters. Although not entirely prosaic, many modern family issues of all scales have occurred at an exponential ladder. Of course, SHAFT feels the need for something more.. chaotic, and tragic, so they apparently decided to burn Hanekawa’s house down.
Anyway, one of the elements in Nekomonogatari Black that I was a bit iffy with was what appeared to be its limited scope. We were given next to no insight into Hanekawa’s family situation, and only heard about it firsthand. Now with this season, Nisio’s game plan comes to light and I’ve realized the limited perspective was intentional. Neko Black was to be told primarily from Koyomi’s perspective, whereas White seems like it will be mostly from Hanekawa’s. We may get to experience the full-gravity of the situation as pieces to the overall puzzle are finally assembled.
I kid you not, now left homeless and feeling uncomfortably out-of-place, Hanekawa decides to stay at a school that Araragi used to run errands to all the time, where Oshino used to live.
Speaking of the masochist, our molestation-pervert Araragi-kun is nowhere to be found at this point. Mayoi, the eccentric loli who sports ponytails, talked with Araragi the night prior, but his precise location is not to be deciphered. That, and many other aspects of the series, seem to be clouded with purposeful mysteries so far. And much unlike Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari, there will be enough space to spread out the light novel materials, so I’m expecting more verbal abuses, and apathetic spews of invective verses on Hitagi’s part this time around.
There are only posts of Hitagi fan-service so far, but that’s
because I only care for her a frank disservice to how much fan-service SHAFT usually services us with, and especially in this episode (including subtle yuri incitements).
In all honesty, despite the excessively provocative goods SHAFT provide us with, they’re all significant and appropriate within the context, usually.
Like in the case of the Golden Week arc, Arargi undergoing a sexual frustration stage being integrated with the theme of nude exposures fit with its premise. But perhaps overarching the entire franchise, the fan-service is there to make the dialogue more riveting and interesting. In contrast to most ecchi and/or harem shows, the exposure of sexual behaviors and differing camera pans serves a purpose in making a situation more expressive or flavorful.
Don Don Kun: The whole fanservice issue is something very controversial about the Monogatari series – some will argue it soils it, while others feel it actually enhances the dialogue and character dynamics. Personally, I’m a bit on the fence with the whole debate, as it ultimately comes down to the execution of these scenes. For example, I felt a lot of the fanservice in Nise was just there to sexualize the girls and nothing more (heck, Nisio even threw Karen’s prior development out the window to turn her into a fetish object for the siscons).
With this episode, I felt the fanservice spiced up Hanekawa and Senjougahara’s conversation. Tension has always existed between the two, mostly due to them both having feelings for Koyomi. In many respects, Senjougahara stripping down to her underwear while offering her hospitality to Hanekawa was an indirect challenge to the latter. The Monogatari series have always established conversational hierarchies between two characters through the use of body language, tone and action. Even the most mundane or absurd topics clearly convey who is the dominant and submissive character in that scenario (let’s not forget about those delicious role reversals though).
Despite all that, I do think Hanekawa and Senjougahara share a lot of respect for one another, and this scene perhaps best conveyed that. The two girls haven’t had a lot of instances when they spoke one to one, so it was interesting to hear some of their “girl talk”.
Anyway, I think the Monogatari franchise is certainly back on its tracks and heading towards a somewhat foreseeable goal. One thing’s for sure, I’m back to being a Hitagi fan.
Oh trust me, there’s plenty of that to come.