Check-in Station: Monogatari S2 ep5 (accepted feelings, rejected feelings)
The conclusion of the White Tiger/White Hanekawa arc. I’ve enjoyed this payoff. And the amount of patience and restrained this season has shown so far has been impressive. But let me not get ahead of myself. There’s much to discuss. Does this arc end in happiness or tears?
We start with Black Hanekawa entering the fray. She seems to have immediately picked up on what Hanekawa has been doing, though that’s only natural since she’s literally just a portion of the overall person. And for a big, dumb cat, she grasps the situation pretty well. Her worry is that Kako who is very much an apparition just like her, one born from Hanekawa’s heart, will be fueled by her interference. An apparition that is born purely of emotions like him, should disappear in time. But the wait and see approach is not an option here. Kako is a pyromaniac, one that methodically and mindlessly continues his “duty” without much thought or consequence.
We get a glimpse into this thought process and his method when the scene changes to him reconstructing his origins and purpose before skulking to his next target. He remembers his creation somewhat, being born from a pitiful state. One that involved lots of tears and darkness, but it seems he’s not focused on such a thing. He merely follows his basic, pure desire to see things he envies burn. And tonight, that thing is Senjougahara’s home.
Right before that could happen though, Black Hanekawa shows up and tries to talk him down. A fruitless endeavour, as Kako doesn’t subscibe, nor care for human logic. The same may apply to Hanekawa, but she’s at least gratefully beholden to her master. You think a bit of hope would pop up though, as amazingly Hanekawa wakes up for a moment to request that Kako stop the rampage and come back to her. She’s tired of the trouble her severance of emotions has caused those close to her. Well, that’s just too damn bad, because Kako still doesn’t care and attacks.
A battle ensues, one that everyone involved knows can’t be won by Black Hanekawa. She does her best to not be immediately annihilated by her sibling apparition, and actually manages to go on the attack. This is still a rather unfortunate move. The two problems I have with it are – you know what? Forget analyzing it – KAKO IS A BEING A FIRE! In order for Black Hanekawa to meaningfully attack her opponent, she has to use her special ability. Her special ability is to suck the energy/life force out of anyone she touches directly. When she grasps on to Kako, she’s grasping onto a furnace. A powerful furnace that will cook her long before she can suck and extremely powerful beast like Kako dry. It’s a failed attempt, and looks like a waste of effort.
As Kako slowly skulks towards the defeated Hanekawas, the original has time to lament the loss of her life and opportunities. She’s full of regret for never having the ability to tell Araragi that she loved him, and wanted to be with him. And she won’t have that chance now once she’s lost her head, or been turned into charred husk.
Kako’s dead! Pierced by a long hilt-less, handle-less sword. A sword Hanekawa recognized as Kokoro Watari (it remotely reminds me of one of Ichigo’s zanpakutou).
I can’t remember the last time I thought Koyomi was this cool. All this time waiting for him to show up, and he shows up here, at the end. It looks like he got Hanekawa’s note just in time. Though it wasn’t meant for him, it gave him the info he needed just in time to save her, and Senjougahara and her father’s lives. He tells her that Kako isn’t dead yet, and that if she wants the energy in him, she had better take it now. But before that, Hanekawa has something to say. She finally speaks her heart to Araragi, telling him she loves him and wants to be with him. Unfortunately, her efforts are as futile as Black Hanekawa’s against Kako. Everyone knows that he’s still deeply in love with Senjougahara, and he says so. But his rejection is the nicest one I’ve heard. He lovingly pats her on the head. In that moment, as she sucks up the energy in the white tiger apparition, Black Hanekawa and Kako disappear, probably forever. And we get a stripe-haired little damsel.
Hanekawa is back, whole again, and crying her eyes out. It seems that no matter how smooth the let down, crushed dreams are crushed dreams.
Things heal after that. Hanekawa is permanently stuck with the black and white tiger striped hair, though I think it looks great on her, she opts to dye it to stay in school. Meanwhile, her family has found a new rental and (to my amazement) she gets a room of her own for the first time ever.
Good god, the mess that can be caused by a young woman’s heart…
End of episode.
As slow as this arc started, I thought the pay off was well worth it. It always annoyed me a little bit how Hanekawa’s problem was never completely solved before. It was all a matter of just dealing or alleviating her stress. Here, it seems that we’ve finally gotten to the root of, and therefor solved the problem. These monsters are just coming from Hanekawa’s efforts to please everyone, through the denial of her trueself. Whenever something pushed her too far, whenever something caused her negative emotions to stir too much, she would reject that part of her self totally, and an apparition would be born. This is wholly an unhealthy thing, and these arcs dealing with that sort of thing have shown that to us.
All the harsh words, and blunt introspection that may have seemed to be piling on and picking on Hanekawa were all just astute observations designed to force her eyes open. The talk of little white lies and denial, it all pointed to this very strange, dangerous problem that Hanekawa’s forced ignorance caused. It was through sheer luck, and some sharp minds that no one was actually killed. And I’m glad to see that the beautiful Hanekawa didn’t end up as a severe burn victim through all this.
The only hanging threads remaining are Araragi’s actions during all of this (soon to be addressed, I’m sure), and Hanekawas family. If more problems do come up for her, I don’t doubt it will have to do with her parents. Though this episode shows that even they seem to be doing better now.
Overall, this has been a fun and very informative arc. I enjoyed the slight change of pace, having Araragi completely out of the picture for a vast majority of this arc, and forcing a character to solve her own problems in a meaningful way. I can’t wait to see what’s next!