OP3: 「Platinum Disco」 by 井口裕香 (Iguchi Yuka)
Watch the 3rd OP!: Streaming ▼
「つきひフェニックス 其ノ壹」 (Tsukihi Fenikkusu Sono Ichi)
“Tsukihi Phoenix Part One”
I will never look at a toothbrush the same way again.
Let’s get some things out of the way first. Tsukihi’s arc does begin in this episode, but with only three more remaining after this one, we don’t know much so far – just that she’s supposedly immortal, she’s the sister who is to be feared the most, and she’s also an imposter. Which is perfectly fine because this was more of an epilogue to Karen’s arc; we see how the relationship between brother and sister has changed after Kaiki was dealt with. Almost every heroine that Araragi has saved basically falls for him in one way or another, and it wasn’t surprising that Karen wasn’t any different either. After all, she already told him she was in love with him, so the events in the first half of this episode didn’t take a huge stretch of imagination to be able to predict. Karen’s new look (in the colors of the high school girls’ uniform), her desire for her brother’s compliments, Araragi as a jealous and overprotective brother / “boyfriend”, and a sister who practically grinds all over him and offers her virginity in exchange for an introduction to his kouhai – all these things weren’t all that unexpected given the off-the-wall scenes we’ve seen in this series already. However, what I didn’t see coming in a thousand years was the little game Araragi had her play in order to for him to introduce her to Kanbaru.
Yes, some viewers might find the rest of this episode extremely uncomfortable or objectionable. I can easily understand why they might feel this way – heavy incestuous overtones and/or underage sexual tension isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and nor should it be. However, I’m not here to cast any moral judgment on Araragi, Karen, or the toothbrush scene in this particular context. I feel it is out of the scope and style of Random Curiosity’s writing, and I’m fairly confident most of you wouldn’t want to read that kind of stuff here anyway. So for the sake of the rest of my post, please imagine that this scene occurred between two unrelated and consenting adults – the toothbrush scene’s ingeniousness would not be diminished in any way.
On the surface, you would think that the simple act of brushing your teeth – something you’ve probably done thousands of times in your life – would remain a perfectly innocent act even when done by someone else on you. Hopefully, it would remain even more so when done by a family member, like a mother does for her young child. If you really think about it though, a toothbrush itself can take on a lot of significance in adult romantic relationships, especially in regards to the degree of intimacy, and also its limits. One sign that a relationship has become more serious is when one person leaves their toothbrush at their romantic partner’s place. Even the closest of couples have boundaries though; locking lips is natural, but most draw the line at sharing a toothbrush. As Araragi says (channeling his inner Izaya), the act brushing your teeth is 99% of the time a strictly private experience – so when someone else does it for you, someone who isn’t a dentist, this act transforms from a daily hygienic exercise into a new, strange, and intimate encounter, akin to many fetishes. From Karen’s reaction and expressions, it probably felt like her first intimate, if not actually sexual, experience. NisiOisiN and Shibou Akiyuki’s transformation of a harmless everyday habit into a mind-blowing scene speaks volumes about how ingenious this whole scene is. The bar has been raised – typical fanservice, as found in countless other anime, just doesn’t quite cut it anymore.
It’s clear that Karen didn’t know what she was getting herself into, but where did Araragi even come up with the idea of brushing his sister’s teeth as a game? He’s always been a pervert, but he’s been a pretty clueless one at that – often being led on by others instead of taking the initiative like he does here. Maybe Kanbaru mentioned it to him as one of her fetishes, and so Araragi decided to demonstrate to Karen what she would have to expect from meeting up with Kanbaru? Or perhaps Shinobu had a say in this matter? At the very least, it would be quite interesting to hear what she has to say after witnessing the siblings’ little dalliance. The best part of the episode for me was when it finally dawned on Araragi what the true effects of his actions were on Karen, and also his subsequent internal struggle with right, wrong, and most importantly, the question of whether she is actually more beautiful than his ideal girl, Hanekawa. Luckily for our entertainment, the heat of the moment and Karen’s breathlessly spoken permission snuffed out any and all lingering doubt in Araragi’s mind. Not even Tsukihi’s impending threat of capital punishment could prevent the two of them from rounding the bases once more. Extra innings never sounded sweeter.
Even if this episode made you uncomfortable, the sheer ingenuity of NisiOisiN in penning the now-infamous scene, Shibou Akiyuki for translating words on a page into animation, and Shaft in bringing this scene to life, cannot be denied. Together, they have succeeded in crafting an episode that would not have nearly the same effect if it wasn’t an anime – and one that is also completely unique even within anime itself (as far as I know). For better or worse, Nisemonogatari’s eighth episode sets a new standard in anime, one that will be discussed for a long time to come.