During a “station opening”, when the denizens of the Mirrored City throw all their unwanted items into the sky, a demon thief steals Yase Douji’s treasured teacup and throws it into the stream of detritus. Koto, A and Un join her retinue, but when they can’t find it, Koto convinces Kurama to provide a replacement. Yase loses her temper and grows into an enormous monster, but Koto subdues her with her hammer, from the handle of which hangs a stuffed rabbit Yase’s mother made her, which Kurama threw out years ago.
When we lose someone important to us, it’s natural to want to treasure an item or two as a symbol of that person. Yase, as is her wont as a demon, takes this practice to the extreme, having a massive custom storage facility built under her gaudy mansion to preserve virtually every object, big or small, that reminds her of her beloved mother. She lives in constant fear of tossing or losing anything, her teacup in particular, believing she’d also lose the memories those items evoke.
Kurama has a different take, and has no qualms about tossing out things that aren’t practically necessary. He believes throwing away the very items that mean the most to her can play a role in their mother’s return. Yase didn’t agree when he forcefully threw out the stuffed rabbit her mom made from the tatters of her yukata, and she still doesn’t agree in the present, at least until Koto arrives and quells her tantrum with a hammer sporting that very rabbit, another clue connecting Koto and Lady Koto.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Shinobu tells Koyomi the tale of her first visit to Japan more than 400 years ago. She literally “jumped” from Antarctica – where she had been residing previously – into a lake in Japan, which destroyed the lake but brought rain to an arid region, whose inhabitants revered her as a god. It was then that she met the “original apparition killer”, who wielded the demon-killing “Kokoro-watari” and the shorter “Yume-watari”, which restored them.
Trouble arose when as a result of her presence, which drew apparitions and negative energy to the region, which humans eventually deserted. Shortly thereafter, the “darkness” arrived, consuming three quarters of Shinobu’s body and nearly all of the apparition killer. She escaped to Antarctica with his hand and wrist, and drank its blood to restore him as her minion. Furious she had made him a vampire, he disavowed her and committed suicide by burning up in the sunlight. She swore never to make another minion.
In the last episode we remarked that Oshino Shinobu is unlike any other entity inhabiting the Monogatari Series, due to her sheer longevity, scale of experience, and moral complexity. Thus, we knew that when we delved deeper into her past, it would be something to behold; and so it was. A bold, indulgent, tantalizingly unique approach is utilized in visualizing Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade’s epic tale. It unfolds as one continuous right-to-left scroll of stunningly gorgeous illustrations, interrupted only by the occasional cut to Shinobu and Koyomi in the present, and accompanied by a stirring, austere ambient score.
The feats she performs therein – from jumping from Antarctica and becoming a god in Japan to creating her minion out of a desire not to be alone only to be rejected – transcend anything anyone else has done in the series. Not bad for a character who didn’t say a single word in all of Bakemonogatari. Just as Shinobu is an unprecedented entity in the series, this episode was unprecedented in its audacity and elegance. Essentially, this episode was one of the most engrossing, transcendent infodumps we’ve ever seen. We found it to be a work of profound creativity, skill, and workmanship, and an instant classic – hence earning our highest rating. Call us crazy if you must.
Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)