Check-in Station: Monogatari S2 ep7 – 10 (to save a girl, to save a world)
Well this turned out to be an interesting arc. What seemed to be the start of something intensely focused on Mayoi, turns out to be an arc just as much about Shinobu and her connection to Koyomi. And I started out not too terribly excited about this arc, since I’m generally not a fan of time travel stories, plus the fact that at times the Monogatari franchise can be impenetrable for some people and complicating it with this concept can only make it worse. So going into this arc I wondered if this latest story would not get too busy and complicated for viewers to understand, let alone follow. And I also wanted it to do what all good story arcs in this franchise do; I wanted it to make me the love between Koyomi and all the girls in this show, because in the end we can’t deny that this crazy show is a harem at its core.
This episode was such an info dump, and I’m so tired that I’m not even going to consider a synopsis. *sigh*
The beginning of this new arc gives me a bit of a bad feeling. the reason for this is because the show is hinting at the reasons why someone like a ghost would stick around in this world. This is especially poignant because it was thought that Araragi addressed the problems of Mayoi, a ghost, long ago in the Bakemonogatari storyline. I expected the little annoying girl to be gone after that, because the myth with ghosts is that once they find peace, they move on. And as annoying as Mayoi can be, she’s damned adorable, and I kinda don’t want her to move on. It’s selfish and sad I know.
Moving away from my main concern, and back towards the beginning of the episode. The conversation between Koyomi and this new character, Ougi Oshino seemed like the usual piece of bloated fluff, but it was effective in freaking me out for a good portion of the episode. After all, with Mayoi having died initially in a crosswalk accident with a vehicle, and having Ougi talking about traffic signals and safety to such an intense degree, you couldn’t help but take notice when Koyomi and Yotsugi Ononoki do it. Yes, if you’ve watched Nisemonogatari all the way through, you have to remember her. At the very least, you’ll remember that terrible beating she took at the hands of Shinobu. Well, she still holds that grudge, though in a way it looks like she’s partially moved on.
The two of them have an interesting conversation about death and different kinds of monsters. Yotsugi, Koyomi and Mayoi all representing different ones. And from Yotsugi’s perspective, they all represent death in a different way, with her representing reincarnation from total death, Koyomi representin immortality and not actually dying seeing as he’s a vampire, and Mayoi representing death that has not been escaped, as she is a ghost.
This discussion leaves Koyomi wondering about some basic, but unaddressed topics with Mayoi. Topics like her happiness, and reasons for staying around as a ghost. And all of Koyomi’s worrying gets the ever present Shinobu to come out. One thing leads to another, and by “another” I mean Koyomi wants to go back in time!
I don’t know how I consistently forget this, but Koyomi is never alone, and Shinobu is more than aware of what’s been going on. She’s intrigued by the idea, and volunteers to help out. It seems she’s a little bored, after all this time travel stuff seems a bit complicated. But all concerns are brushed off, Koyomi is taken to some old shrine gates, and she performs the procedure. It works amazingly! But instead of going back a few days as was originally planned, they’ve gone back eleven years!
Note: I seem to have gotten the episodes mixed up since the numbering for different groups has changed since the recap episode. It seems some groups are counting the recap while others are not, so I ended up watching the “ninth” episode before the “eighth”, that is if you’re counting the recap. Ugh! Just bare with me, I made an addendum.
I’m not much for time travel and time skipping. In all honesty, I was hoping for something more along the lines of A Christmas Carol (ghost-like and unobtrusive), than DC Comis’ Flashpoint Paradox (one little change warps the world forever). Apparently, their jumping back in time has had a ripple, or more popularly called, a Butterfly Effect. Whether it was through saving Mayoi, or just the act of time travel itself, the world is an empty place, in its entirety. And Shinobu has a look on her face that I don’t remember seeing. It’s a look hat definitely has some regret in it. There isn’t a lot of time to put the pieces together though.
Shinobu insists that they go back to the shrine gate to attempt time travel again, and to fix the mistake. Things aren’t that smoothly handled though. The energy required at the gate is gone, and at the destroyed shrine, they see a different set of talismans than the ones place there in their original timeline. Shinbou points out that they have the opposite effect of what was there previously. The original timeline’s talismans were designed to disperse spiritual energy, these new ones are designed to absorb it. Just as they figure this out (with painful consequences for Koyomi), spirits appear almost out of nowhere, surrounding them instantly. And with each passing moment their numbers rise. Shinobu decides that the best course of action is to leave rather than fight, and she flies them safely into the air, where she then reveals to Koyomi that she’s figured out what happened to the world. The creatures that they saw from the previous night weren’t zombies or apparitions necessarily. They were the remains of humans that this timeline’s version of her turned into vampires. It was Shinobu who destroyed the world.
To shorten the story, the hitch lies in two areas. One, Mayoi of course being saved and never meeting Koyomi. Two, Koyomi was not able to find Shinobu in Bakemonogatari when she ran away because Mayoi was not there to help. Therefore, Koyomi was killed by Black Hanekawa and since Shinobu and Koyomi were/are linked. His death caused her to revert to the legendary vampire she once was. In her despair, she destroys the world by turning people into vampires one by one. Each vampire in term becoming her slave/servant and biting another person or two. The vampire population growing in exponentially until everyone on Earth was a vampire. Shinobu then hypothesizes that at that point she probably killed herself, leaving the vampires with no master, and turning them all into zombies. It reminds me both of the old I Am Legend story, and a story I read in a book about how it would be impossible for vampires to exist, because if they did, the simple math would show that in a matter of weeks, humanity would be destroyed. I wonder if the author for the novels this show is based on read that story before coming up with this story arc.
Shinobu expresses extreme regret for what her alternate self did in this timeline. But Koyomi tells her that they’re just going to have to make the best of this broken world and work together. They then gather up supplies and along the way decide to light a ton of fireworks to signal to any survivors that there’s someone left who is alive. Though it appears that they’ve stayed out to late, as once the fireworks display ends, they’re surrounded by zombie vampires again.
Wow! I knew things could get complicated and heavy, but this is just a straight gut punch to the senses. We don’t’ get to see our favorite characters with altered personalites, in altered situations in altered world. Everyone is dead! Just dead! This is the most extreme outcome by far. And to think, it all comes from attempting to save the life of one little girl. A noble, but short-sighted and selfish goal, that seems to have extreme and appropriate consequences. I don’t even want to imagine a world without Senjougahara!
Episode 8 (addendum)
Well now, don’t I feel silly? It seems that I accidentally skipped this episode, which helps explain my extreme confusion at the beginning of episode nine. Here we pick up things properly, with Shinobu and Koyomi departing from the steps of the gate to find Mayoi’s residence, and prevent her fated demise. Along the way, he explains his thought process and why he chose her to help out. It all basically boils down to his belief in what Oshino told him during Bakemonogatari. And that is that people can’t be saved, they have to save themselves. The incidents with the other girls all involved complicated family issues and oddities. But for Mayoi, she was simply killed in an accident. He saw this as something that could be simply changed without much in the way of consequences. All he has to do now, is find Mayoi and safely guide her home. That said, he doesn’t actually know where Mayoi lived, only where she was trying to go on that day. Some research will have to be done.
The problem of ignorance is seemingly solved when they run across a little Hanekawa on the street. Quite unfortunately, he just can’t seem to keep his pervy hands off of her. Though Shinobu does convince him to calm down with the observation that he won’t be able to save Mayoi from jail. He asks little Hanekawa (she is so cute) for the Tsunade residence (Mayoi’s father’s home), but is actually given directions to the police station. Clever girl.
They do eventually find the Tsunade residence, and decide to stake it out. But what they learn from Mayoi’s worried father is that she’s actually run away from home already. It’s a race against time at this point to stop the little girl from being smashed by a truck before the end of the day. It’s a good thing that Mayoi is just as bad at directions as we remember. She’s hardly made it a few blocks before they find her staring hopelessly at a map. Once again, Koyomi blows the chance to play things cool and actually flips up her skirt to see what kind of panties she’s wearing! This action leads to a chase scene that almost actually gets Mayoi killed. Koyomi saves her in a knick of time, and is actually able to use the confusion (she never got a look at his face before sprinting off) to set things right with her. Koyomi is able to successfully see her home to her mother.
With the key task at hand completed, there is nothing left for Koyomi and Shinobu to do but head back home. Just before leaving, Shinobu reminds Koyomi not to be so cavalier about their use of her powers. The more blood she gets, the closer she gets to her true form and nature. And the more likely she is to betray and kill him. After all, she says she’s only able to be friendly with him because she’s in her current neutered state. The warning is a fair one, but it’s not exactly the worst of their worries now.
While it’s awesome to see Araragi (briefly) and Hanekawa in their adorable child forms, I don’t believe it will be worth it for the consequences that were hinted at. Also, what the hell is up with Koyomi’s uncontrollable urges to harrass little girls? Maybe I’m projecting a level of maturity on him that he never had, but you would think he’d be able to control himself better after all this time.
What a turn of events. A coincidence among coincidences. Surrounded by all those zombie vampires, it is a grown up Hachikuji Mayoi that saves them with a shower of rice. To make matters even more amazing, she’s not the only survivor. It seems Oshino is still around with his two powerful college friends, and they’re going on a last ditch effort to stop the Shinobu of this world. Yeah, last episode it was strongly suggested that she killed herself, though she failed to succeed in expiring herself. What was once a desolate, dead world only populated with the warped undead, is turning into a much more lively place. Though this Earth still appears to be hell.
True to form, Oshino is a very astute, stout, and prepared man. Through enough clues he was given by Mayoi in this timeline, this timeline’s Oshino knew that Koyomi and Shinobu would show up, and has prepared a letter to them explaining the situation. Basically, the story is going with the multiple timelines explanation, meaning that Koyomi and Shinobu are in alternate timelines and worlds, completely unconnected to their own. On one hand, this means Koyomi failed to save the Mayoi of his world, but it also means that his own world hasn’t met the same horrible fate his has. Oshino also asks him for his help in saving the alternate world he now occupies. He says that zombie vampires are essentially failed copies of Shinobu herself, and that that means that there’s a chance they could be turned normal again. It seems he and Shinobu may be the only ones who can right this situation.
Coincidentally, Oshino mentions that Koyomi’s counterpart in this timeline also ended up dating Senjougahara. Heh! It’s fate after all I suppose.
Back at that shrine by the gate that brought them to this world, our two-man cell of human and vampire heroes waits for the god of this world. Once summoned, there’s no turning back. Shinobu can tell at a glance that her counterpart tried to commit suicide by burning herself alive. It failed, obviously. The Shinobu of this world is a full grown vampire in her prime. She looks tired. She looks worn. She looks dangerous and twisted at the same time. Both Shinobus can’t fathom how the other came to such an extreme result in contrast to the one they own. Little Shinobu can’t fathom the monstrous failure standing in front of her. Woman Shinobu can’t fathom how her counterpart was able to form such a perfect balance, and laments her decision to run away that night. But seeing the two of them in front of her, she makes them an offer. Something that will solve both of their problems. She offers them her body as an energy source to get them back to her world.
With a pat on the head and warm hearts, Shinobu sends Shinobu off to oblivion and the setting is once again the steps before the shrine gate. Shinbou heads back off into Koyomi’s shadow, reminding him to be more careful in battle since they’ve seen the consequences should he die.
Once at the bottom of the steps he’s ambushed by Mayoi. Ghost Mayoi. And once she’s done molesting him, and they stop fighting over who is real and who is fake, Koyomi asks her a very important question. He asks her if she’s happy being a ghost. In short, she has no regrets and wouldn’t change anything. She’s happy she got to meet and know Koyomi.
End of episode.
And I suppose end of another interesting Monogatari arc. With all that has occurred in this arc, it seems turned out better and cleaner than I expected near the end. The show did a good job of surprising me, and also at making me sad and worry about the fate of the characters here. And I believe this arc had a good message, which was to leave fate up to fate. And to not worry about the past so much as you treasure the present, and prepare for the future.
Going back to what I said at the very beginning of this post, this story certainly addressed the need to make the audience feel the love between Koyomi and his harem, specifically Mayoi and Shinobu. I was really interested not only to see what the hell Koyomi was doing this whole time Hanekawa and Senjougahara were dealing with their little crisis, but how this might further his relationships with the two smaller members of his group. You could definitely feel Koyomi being his usual self, as he doggedly goes about his next task to help someone. I mean the guy traversed time and space to give this little girl a second chance at life, and it really made my eyes well up (I didn’t cry) when we got to see what Mayoi would look like if she had lived. She would have been pretty damn cute should she had gotten to grow up.
We also get to see again how very deep the relationship between Shinobu and him is. While you could say that she helped out out of sheer curiosity, the results of their actions, and the realization that she is so close to doing so much harm. All of which was done in the name of love to some extent. You could tell the little blonde loli loves and treasures Koyomi very deeply. And it was pretty sad to see her counterpart from another world go through so much pain over such simple things.
Overall, I thought this was a clever arc that succeeded in making me quite sad and happy. And it handled the whole time travel thing rather well. And while I don’t think it’s the best arc this series has seen, I will say it is pretty good and should be watched. There’s not much else in anime right now that I find more satisfying and chock full of emotion as a Monogatari series at the end of an arc.
- Episode 5 (6 was a recap, so I did not cover it)