Onimonogatari – 02

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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.

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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)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Kabukimonogatari – 04

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Thousands of zombies converge on Koyomi and Shinobu, but a shower of rice disperses them, launched by a grown-up Hachikuji Mayoi, who is still alive in that dimension. She has a letter for him from Oshino, asking him to confront Shinobu of this time, AKA Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, who is only half-dead and still a threat to the survivors. Content with his fleeting encounter with Hachikuji, Araragi goes to the shrine with Shinobu, and both double-wield “Kokoro-Watari” demon swords as Shinobu calls out for her.

The half-burned Heart-under-blade arrives, but does not attack. She is so relieved and heartened by seeing her alternate self by Koyomi’s side, she offers her own energy (i.e. blood) to enable them to return to their own timeline, killing her in the process and saving the alternate Hachikuji’s world. Koyomi returns to the present, late for the school ceremony, and the regular Hachikuji barrels into him, having left her backpack at his place.

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We thought this was the strongest episode yet of Monogatari’s second season, completing a second arc that  seemed far less dilatory than the first. The series could have introduced the older Hachikuji Mayoi in last week’s cliffhanger, but chose to defer to this episode so that we have the briefest possible time with her, like Araragi. Hanging out and catching up with her is pointless; this Hachikuji doesn’t know him and vice versa.

Their momentary encounter was enough to make him content, as well as convince him that he wouldn’t let the world where she survived be destroyed. He confronts Heart-under-blade fully expecting a vicious battle that could end with him and Shinobu getting swatted like flies. But as with him with Hachikuji, Heart only wants the briefest glimpse of her alternate self and her “minion” – just long enough to be reassured that there’s a better world out there, in which she didn’t go down the spiral that’s left her a half-dead wretch that still threatened the world.

While Koyomi is glad the alternate Hachikuji and her world will live on with Heart’s demise, he’s also glad to be back in a timeline where he met Hachikuji, even if he couldn’t save her life, they know each other here, and always will. At the same time, the young Hachikuji doesn’t regret dying, because that’s what led to her meeting Koyomi. Finally, Shinobu is glad to be back, and glad even the alternate her that “failed” so fantastically still eventually made amends. To Koyomi, the world he wants is one where Hachikuji knows him. To Shinobu, the world she wants is one where she’s with him. It’s fortunate then that those are the same world.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Had to mention: Alternate Grown-up Hachikuji is an awesome-looking character.
  • Oshino’s verbose letter was exposition medicine that went down easy thanks to the slick “time-travel-as-rock-climbing” visuals that accompanied it.
  • The Koyomi of the alternate timeline also dated Senjougahara. We guess that makes them multi-dimensional soul-mates, huh?
  • Shinobu’s – or we should say, Sakamoto Maaya’s – summoning scream was pretty frikkin’ bad-ass.
  • We thought we’d part with one of the many gorgeous vistas we were treated to throughout the episode:

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