OP: 「二言目」 (Futakotome) by 斎藤千和 (Saitou Chiwa)
Watch the OP: Streaming ▼
「かれんビー 其ノ壹」 (Karen Bii Sono Ichi)
“Karen Bee Part One”
If your taste in action runs more towards wordplay rather than swordplay or gunplay, then the premier episode of the sequel to Bakemonogatari is right down your alley. I haven’t been able to read any of Nishio Isin’s light novels yet, but I have watched both animated adaptations of his works. Needless to say, I was fully prepared for an episode packed to the brim with dialogue – just didn’t expect the some of the best repartee and meta-referencing humor I’ve heard in ages.
Just like Senki Zesshou Symphogear’s first episode, this premier also starts out in media res, with Araragi Koyomi (Kamiya Hiroshi) kidnapped and handcuffed to a pile of school desks, and Senjougahara Hitagi (Saitou Chiwa) teasing him in every way except the way he wants to be teased. Kinky. While I’ve always been a fan of Araragi’s internal monologues throughout the series (due in no small part to the brilliance that is Kamiya Hiroshi), for many people, the main attraction of this series is the one and only Gahara-san. Simply put, there’s never been a character quite like her. Her unique brand of tsundere makes her insanely alluring – even though any relationship with her would be immensely draining on your mental health, not to mention the constant threat of staple wounds too. I know I’d be coming back for seconds. With that cute face, witty mind, and devious temperament framed by purple locks, I could probably write a whole editorial on what makes Senjougahara so special in a world of cookie-cutter heroines, but I won’t (for now at least).
Seems like she’s lost a bit of her wit though, messing up her Muhammad Ali quote and throwing in an Evangelion reference that Araragi immediately sees through. Seeing the person she loves locked up has probably affected her more than she lets on, but then again, with Hitagi, it’s always hard to tell her true feelings behind all her verbal barrages. Just look at her “I will protect you” face. Or when she says she will take care of every inch of your body. Araragi definitely didn’t want to hear line that associated with diapers. All this dialogue, and we’re still no closer to finding out just how exactly he fell into his current predicament. I can never take what Hitagi says at face value, so my only clue is the bee venom that has apparently poisoned him, and given the episode title, I’m sure his sister, Karen (Kitamura Eri) has a hand (or stinger?) in things.
For an episode named for Karen, she actually never makes an appearance in this episode other than in fleeting images. I was looking forward to finding out more about Araragi’s sisters after seeing their short appearances at the end of Bakemonogatari episodes, so thankfully the episode fulfilled half of my wishes by introducing his youngest sister, Tsukihi (Iguchi Yuka). Now I know where Araragi’s taste in women comes from – his sisters. Both of them love to fight, and both of them are also strong-willed, just like Senjougahara. The difference is that most of the sisters’ communication with their brother comes in the form of physical fights, rather than verbal sparring like Senjougahara does. Even though we’ve only met one of Araragi’s sisters, it’s evident that he’s has been trained in masochism from the start. Wonder what his mother is like?
Usually when we have the premier episode of a sequel, most of the continuing characters make an appearance, but here, two of the girls in Araragi’s “harem”, Hanekawa Tsubasa (Horie Yui) and Sengoku Nadeko (Hanazawa Kana) only make their appearance heard through his cell phone. We were so close to seeing Nadeko too, with Araragi on the way to her house – only to be foiled by Hachikuji Mayoi (Katou Emiri). How clever of you SHAFT, doling out two of our favorite characters like a drug dealer deals crack, leaving us hanging dry and wanting more. At least Araragi’s encounter with Hachikuki was well worth it, turning out way more entertaining than his past meetings with her.
Seeing Araragi stretching in anticipation of a fight with Hachikuji was definitely amusing and reminded me of how often he resorted to violence with her in Bakemonogatari. Can’t say I expected him to use all those streches to plant kisses all over Hachikuji though, but seeing how vicious she can become, I’m surprised he even incited her rage in the first place. Araragi is a first class masochist, through and through. Even though the “action” didn’t last very long, I’m glad it didn’t because Araragi and Hachikuji’s battle of words was far more entertaining than 90% of the battles you see in those long running shounen shows. You could even see the color draining from his face in awe at Hachikuji’s skill at wordplay. The best moment was when he turned the tables on her – it was like watching a master martial artist being defeated by their secret move that they had passed onto their pupil.
I always knew that girl was good with words, even though she always mangles Araragi’s name. Before this episode though, Hachikuji never really stood out to me other than as a character that was there to appeal to the moe/lolicon demographic. This episode definitely made a fan out of me though – her meta-referencing humor was golden! She’s also a bit of a troll though – where’s that dancing you promised me in the ED? Hachikuji isn’t just good for laughs now either, she really dispenses valuable advice. For example, the advice she gave to Araragi, an ex-vampire, on coming out of the “coffin” to his family was wise beyond her years. Without Oshino Meme to guide him anymore, I hope that Araragi will continue to come to her for advice and counsel in the upcoming episodes.
So even though this episode really did nothing to show how Araragi was kidnapped, I didn’t mind one bit. I’m a fan of SHAFT’s visual style – I loved their use of color, framing, and distortion (like fisheye and depth of field) in this episode. There was a noticeable lack of one of Shibou Akiyuki’s trademark cuts of photos or text on a solid color background, which were sprinkled so liberally throughout Bakemonogatari. I can’t say I missed them at all. The animation was quite crisp and detailed throughout – making choosing screencaps even harder. The OP hasn’t quite hooked me as much as Staple Staple or Renai Circulation did and we still haven’t heard the ED yet, but it says a lot for the quality of this episode that those were the only two “letdowns” that I can think of. I hope that SHAFT has the “courage” to take their time and make this adaptation the best it can be, because I’m probably going to be hopelessly addicted to their drug.