OP: 「decent black」 by 水橋かおり (Mizuhashi Kaori)
「おうぎフォーミュラ」 (Ōgi Fōmyura)
It’s the job of any pilot episode to immediately hook the viewer. The main draw of your anime needs to be established immediately or you’ll risk losing an attention-deficit TV audience. With that in mind, this double-length first episode of Owarimonogatari starts with a disseration on complex mathematics that segues into a monologue on the tyranny of the majority.
…Yeah, it’s that kind of show.
Veterans of the Monogatari Series no doubt are used to its style, but for those of you who are popping in just to have a look then, first, welcome, and secondly you should be warned that Owarimonogatari is the kind of anime where people talk a lot and, indeed, the talking is main thrust of the show. And you should also really start at Bakemonogatari, because there is no indication that Owarimonogatari is going to make any allowances for new viewers. Araragi Koyomi (Kamiya Hiroshi) mentions his vampire-hood once, there is some talk of apparitions, and that’s all the exposition we’re going to get. Sure, you’ll probably still be able to follow the self-contained mystery (I don’t know any more about the green holodeck than you do) you’ll likely be at a loss about the bigger picture (and the abstract visual style is not going to help).
In the general scheme of Owarimonogatari, though, Ougi Formula is certainly an introductory episode. Not only does it dig up a bit of Araragi’s old trauma to give us a better idea of his character (and apparently Senjougahara (Saito Chiwa) was involved too (she’s the girlfriend, new viewers)), but it also, unsurprisingly, puts focus on the titular Oshino Ougi (Mizuhashi Kaori). Even in this flashback, there is something definitely off about her. We already know that she’s she is not whom she says she is since we’ve been further ahead in the chronology, but even without that knowledge Ougi Formula makes it obvious that we shouldn’t simply trust Ougi. It’s not just that she has no pupils (though that one’s an easy tell), but the angles and lighting conspire together to make even otherwise cute or intimate gestures look positively sinister. It’s fairly clear to us that she’s manipulating Araragi, but he doesn’t get the luxury of our perspective (though he does seem to have subconscious reactions), so we get a source of dramatic irony. What neither of us can be clear about at this point, though, is to what end. It sure is good timing, forcing Araragi to introspection right before the personification of his issues, Oikura Sodachi (Inoue Marina), returns to school.
Perhaps we can glean some ideas from the greater theme of Ougi Formula which is about truth and its relation to justice. It’s not an altogether uncommon story; Araragi’s class got together and lynched one of their classmates, and the resident authority figure was involved. Araragi wanted to be Atticus Finch, but failed. It’s a cautionary tale about mob rule, basically, and why we don’t use it. For Araragi, his disillusionment seems to stem from the realisation that, for society, truth is malleable and justice is subjective. Since Araragi has always been a bit of a moral objectivist, that’s bound to sit poorly with him. Perhaps the reason he is so adept at mathematics (which really should be maths, unless the Americans also study ‘physic’) is because it is the system of fundamental truth that all other disciplines rely on. Oikura Sodachi called maths the most beautiful of studies, linking us back to Euler’s Identity, often held up as the prime (no Euler puns here) example of mathematical beauty. There’s something elegant about the expression of mathematical constants.
Euler’s Identity is, in reality, not useful for all that much. But it is simple. It is proven. And it is true. There is very little outside the realm of mathematics for which we can say something so absolute.
A full cour (more?) of Monogatari is going to be tough to blog.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite fond of the series. That’s why I’m doing it. But it also has a lot of imagery flashing past that I need to catch, and a lot of heavy dialogue that I need to pay extra attention to. Processing an episode of Monogatari for RandomC takes twice as long as the average anime, I swear (I know this pilot was double length that’s not what I mean you clowns). And when I write for it I need to get all serious. Ew. I creep myself out.
Well, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
I’m glad to see that this first episode of Owarimonogatari seems to have retained the energy of shorter iterations of the Monogatari series like Hanamonogatari. SHAFT has never been the best studio at management (how about that Kizumonogatari, guys?) and one can never be too sure about their consistency. I hope they manage to maintain a certain level of quality for the entirety of Owarimonogatari; it shouldn’t be that hard, considering how they can use so much blatant CGI in the name of style. I didn’t think I’d care much about this Oikura Sodachi arc, since I figured we had quite a large cast already, but this pilot’s mystery angle has perked my interest substantially and made me look forward to the next episode. If they manage to maintain that kind of forward momentum then I think we’re in for a good ride.
ED: 「さよならのゆくえ」 (Sayonara no Yukue) by 瀧川ありさ (Takigawa Arisa)