Monogatari Second Season – 01
OP: 「chocolate insomnia」 by 堀江由衣 (Horie Yui)
「猫物語(白) つばさタイガー 其ノ壹」 (Nekomonogatari (Shiro) / Tsubasa Taiga)
“Nekomonogatari (White) / Tsubasa Tiger”
It’s back. Chock full of character development, engaging dialog, thought provoking themes, and deep symbolism—SHAFT returns with the continued adaptation of Nisio Isin’s Monogatari series. Starting things off is the Nekomonogatari: Shiro arc, and we get a whole lot of Hanekawa (and Hitagi) this week as a result.
Moving right on in, one of the big things that gets highlighted right off the bat is the continued focus on Hanekawa and her family situation. Needless to say, it’s something that strikes a nerve with me every time we revisit this, because there are just few things more disturbing than seeing a family—that is, if you can even call it one—like that. Granted, we saw a lot of this in the recent Nekomonogatari: Kuro OVA from last December, but it still doesn’t change the fact that seeing Hanekawa being forced to sleep in the hallways and the fact that each member of the family uses a different set of utensils make me cringe. With that said though, it’s no wonder Hanekawa’s still dealing with her own share of issues as a result—as her monologue about her surname constantly changing (and thus her identity being “unstable”) demonstrates—and it’s no wonder the tiger apparition comes calling shortly after. Because although her “dark side” in “black Hanekawa” has been dealt with for the most part, the fact remains that she’s still dealing with a similar situation, and what she essentially does now is create a series of white lies to keep herself going in tense situations. Combine that with her inability to ask for help, and well, that’s a recipe for more oddities appearing if I’ve ever seen one.
On that note, it’s quite interesting to note how Araragi’s no-show here this first episode sets up a meeting between her and SENJOUGAHARA-SAMA—the latter of which seems to be just what the doctor ordered this time around. And while their dialogue remains as witty (and awesome) as ever before, one thing has notably changed, and it’s something that I can’t help but feel is as a result of Araragi’s influence. And by that, I mean the fact that Hitagi is helping Hanekawa despite her not explicitly asking for it—like Araragi would—and the fact that both Hitagi and Hanekawa have notably matured since Bakemonogatari as well.
Indeed, part of this already shows via their different hairstyles since then, but this in particular rings true when you note that with Araragi being out of the picture for a little bit, they’re going to have to deal with this oddity themselves. As such, I can’t help but feel that this is one of those things that will demonstrate their growth, but also highlight the fact that you can’t always rely on the same person to help you forever (even if they don’t mind doing it). The bit at the end where Hanekawa readily admits to loving Araragi still, and the fact that Hitagi was able to ask this in the first place just adds more credence to this conclusion as well, as both are things neither of them would’ve done back in the Bakemonogatari days.
Shifting off to the less serious/analytical side of things though, I just have to say that this first episode really highlights what this series has always been about. There’s just a lot to like here—ranging from fluid dynamics between great characters and dialogue that’s full of wit, to things like superb animation and epic poses (how about those head tilts?) that only a studio like SHAFT can provide. With that said, let’s not forget the gratuitous amount of fan-service we get this week (Hitagi fans likely loved what this episode gave in that context) either, which like their usual, is just ridiculous in all sorts of ways. Undoubtedly, we’re in for a great ride, and mark my words when I say this is going to be a great way to spend the summer and the fall. It’s going to be a two cour after all, and that’s just how I want it.
ED: 「アイヲウタエ」 (Ai wo Utae) by Haruna Luna