「ひたぎランデブー」 (Hitagi Randebuu)
Being the second act of this season of Owarimonogatari, one would be forgiven for thinking that Hitagi Rendezvous would be a bit soft, but it turns out that it’s actually a very important chapter in our story. Which is how it should be, I suppose, because this is Monogatari, and there’s always something to read between every line of the script, and since every scene is basically just imagery and dialogue (more on this later), every scene is packed. Want to focus, though, on the one big takeaway from this arc:
This is a settled issue now, right? We can stop cycling through hairstyles now, right? Let the girl grow it out, for heaven’s sake.
It just goes to show how long it’s been since Senjougahara (I suppose we should call her ‘Hitagi’ now?) has had an arc for herself, because I could have sworn the last time we saw her (be it at the end of Koyomimonogatari or last season of Owarimonogatari) she was still wearing her hair sinfully short. She’s right; it’s been a long time since she’s had a proper appearance, and to compensate I’ve made sure the screencaps contain copious amounts of the First Lady. It still doesn’t seem quite enough, though, does it? It’s not just that she has the best head-tilts, or the flair she brings to the dialogue, or Saito Chiwa always being brilliant performer, or the great chemistry she and Koyomi have. She’s just a fascinating character. Everyone around her, and even she herself, are quick to call her ‘the tsundere girl’, and perhaps she is, but her routine is interesting because she is self-aware. So she plays the part of the overbearing girlfriend, tying herself into rhetorical knots to justify a day out before she even gets a reply, to compensate for being very insecure. She craves intimacy, but is very bad at it, and thus her dramatics. It’s something we can all empathise with on some level, I think, which makes her the most fascinating human member of the cast. Because she’s so human, though, she’s hard to utilise in Monogatari. She’s just trying to puzzle out her relationship. She has no quarrel with the supernatural. Notice how her scenes have become the least surreal of Monogatari (questionable geography aside)—the car is just a car, the food is just food— contrasting with the dream imagery with Ougi or in last episode’s hell. And while Monogatari is almost always talking, Hitagi is allowed quiet scenes to just be adorkable with her man, with no subtext whatsoever. I would happily watch an entire season of the two just flirting with each other and building their relationship, but that’s not what Monogatari is about. Hitagi represents a thing. She is a normal sort of happiness. She’s something Koyomi cannot have right now. And so when he runs off again to help vampires and ghosts Hitagi, with undue patience, waits.
Ougi poses the question, though: why does she have to wait? Koyomi can go enjoy his human happiness fully right now. He’s been de-vamped. He’s full mortal. He can leave the supernatural world behind and go cavort around with his girlfriend, flunk out of school, and all the other usual teenager stuff. Sure, it may be out of character for him, and he might lose some respect, but nobody should really fault him for such a choice. In fact, Ougi makes the case that it’s the only right choice, and Koyomi’s converstion with Mayoi in hell comes to mind again. Ougi, it seems, is an amoral creature. She doesn’t care about morality, about doing the ‘right’ thing. She cares for rules. And breaking the rules always comes with consequences. It’s interesting to think of her version of the balance when we were just in Buddhist hell last month. I’m sure if I was actually Buddhist I could get much more philosophical about this, but I think there’s some contemplation here about the nature of karma. Is it something repaid in a spiritual afterlife? Is it about the cause and effect of the universe? Or is it something more perverse, in that no good deed goes unpunished?
The thing is, though, I don’t think Koyomi cares. Gaen has her grand agenda, yeah. Ougi has her grand agenda, yeah. Koyomi just likes to help damsels in distress. There’s another thing about being a normal teenager: it’s still a time when the world is very simple.
ED: 「SHIORI」 by ClariS