Nisemonogatari – 06

Araragi managed to sap away half of Karen’s illness into his own part-vampire body, and her condition improves, but only slightly. While walking to Senjougahara’s house, he meets Hachikuji, who notes his paleness and seriousness stemming from his current problems and discourages him from straying from what makes him Araragi. Senjougahara is sharpening pencils, preparing to meet with Kaiki and punish him to settle her past. Now already involved because of his sisters, Araragi insists they go together, if only to prevent Gahara from committing a crime that will get her imprisoned. Gahara agrees, if Araragi will grant a yet-to-be-disclosed request of hers. They part ways to rest up, and Shinobu appears and offers her assistance in a roundabout way. When he gets home, Karen is gone.

And so we edge ever closer to a confrontation with Kaiki, the gloomy man who has managed to inflict harm on Karen, Senjougahara, and her family, as it turns out, as she also blames him for her parents getting divorced. She rightly doubts Araragi’s strong anti-hypocrisy style involving healthy dollops of “right” will have much effect on Kaiki’s straight-up Evil, but his declaration of love and desire to protect her is too cool and manly for her to ignore, and so she won’t protest his participation. The last-minute addition of Shinobu – who cannot disobey him – should give Team Araragi a fighting chance – surely more of one than Karen, who faced Kaiki with naught but principles and moralizing – and lost.

This episode had some more clever incidental setting quirks, like Araragi chasing Hachikuji across the globe when she tells him he’s gotten boring and lost the only part of what made him interesting (the sexual harassment). Senjougahara’s sharp pencils are appropriately scary, and all the sculptures the pencils make and unmake throughout their disscussion serve as visual aids as well as Senjougahara’s power. That the episode ended with Karen going missing from her bed raises the urgency for some kind of standoff, and we’re really looking forward to finding out how exactly Araragi, his tsundere girlfriend, and a vampire will be dealing with Kaiki and saving Karen.

Rating: 3.5

Nisemonogatari – 01

Senjougahara has Araragi handcuffed in an abandoned cram school, claiming to be protecting him and reiterating her extreme love for him. In a flashback, Araragi’s tutoring is cancelled for the day, so he decides to pay Sengoku a visit. He invites his little sister Tsukihi to join him, but she declines. Before he sets off for Sengoku’s, he bumps into Hachikuji, and debates the pros and cons of telling his family the truth – that he’s a vampire.

“Nisemonogatari” means “impostory”, perhaps suggesting this sequel to Bakemonogatari “ghostory” will not be dealing with horrific ‘oddities’ so much as deception or falsehood. Or it could just be arbitrary. Something to think about. In any case, we were very big fans of Bakemonogatari. This new series continues very much in the same vein, with lots of sprawling postmodern, stage-like settings, lots of quirky camera angles and wide shots and close-ups (including very intimate ones of Senjougahara), lots of clever language-play (the “courage” bit would make Dan Rather proud), and lots of conversation.

Therefore, if you didn’t like the first series, you probably won’t like this one. But we do. This week’s story (the reason for Araragi’s abduction) seemed to come to a screeching halt, but we chalk that up to inaccurate expectations for the narrative. In fact, we were glad Hachikuji had so much to say; Araragi finds he can confide in her like no one else, and she is wise beyond her years – warning him that telling his family about his condition may end up harming them, and that sometimes its best that we simply be content with reality as a stage, and not look beyond the curtain. Hell, both Bake- and Nisemonogatari strike me more as animated plays..with awesome dialogue, costumes and sets.

Rating: 3.5