Unfortunately, this episode is naught but a recap of the 4-part OVA Nekomonogatari (Black), our reviews for which can be found here.
Potentially even more unfortunately, this episode referred to itself as “Summary 1”, saying “Summary 2” was to follow. Another recap? Ugh…
Black Hanekawa reads her mistress’s letter, which boils down to a plea for help, so no one is hurt because of her. Black Hanekawa accepts the plea and confronts the tiger Kako just as she is about to burn down Senjougahara’s house. Kako will hear nothing of returning with Black Hanekawa to their “older sister’s” heart, and Black Hanekawa is only able to delay her for a few minutes. However, that delay enables Araragi to arrive in time to subdue Kako with the Kokoro Watari sword. Hanekawa re-absorbs both Black Hanekawa and Kako, giving her striped hair. She confesses to Araragi, is rejected, and asks her parents for a room of her own in their new house.
As we expected, the last four episodes were all carefully building up to a confrontation between Hanekawa and her wayward “younger sisters.” They were monsters created by her eighteen years of attempting to be as pure, white, perfect, and inoffensive to others as possible. They were pieces of her heart that were shorn off and took on lives of their own. Once those pieces threatened her life and those of her friends, she had to take a stand and decide to go back on those eighteen years of purging imperfection and embrace her humanity; the black and the white. Her heartfelt letter is beautifully rendered with a clever graphic narrative of traveling the world aimlessly, and that letter moves Black Hanekawa to act on her mistress’s behalf. Her other “little sister”, Kako, fueled by envy (not stress), is far more powerful and wild and far less sympathetic.
Kako doesn’t consider Hanekawa family and believes she’s reaping what she’s sown. Whatever she wants but cannot have will be burnt. Black Hanekawa is no match for the tiger, but she doesn’t have to be. Part of the imperfection Hanekawa needed to embrace was the willingness to rely on others besides herself (and Black Hanekawa was just herself). Her attempt to stop Kako was enough to delay Kako just long enough for her love, Araragi, to arrive with a helping hand, aiding her transition to true humanity. The new, bi-color Hanekawa may dye her hair all black to avoid strange looks at school, but she’s no longer averting her eyes. From now on, she’ll confess her love and let herself be hurt and cry, and let herself demand a place in her rightful home. She will accept all the parts of herself, and love all of it.
Rating: 8 (Great)
Hanekawa wakes up in Koyomi’s room and finds a white hair, a sign she’s becoming the sawari neko again. As she leaves for the day, Koyomi’s mom tells her she’s welcome as a guest, but the Araragis can’t replace her family, and she has to stop averting her eyes. While out, Hanekawa runs into the half-vampire Mr. Episode, who has come at the behest of Oshino Meme‘s senpai, and a woman named Gaen Izuko, neither of whom can help her with her tiger problem, which Gaen says Hanekawa will call “Kako.”
After visitng the burnt-down cram school and researching “kako” in the library, Hanekawa talks with Senjougahara on the phone about it. Senjougahara points out that both of the places where Hanekawa has spent the night burned down in sequence, and if the trend continues the Senjougahara and Araragi houses will be next. She returns to the Araragis and plays cards with the Fire Sisters while they discuss fire, passion, justice, anger, and it dawns on her that envy is the reason for her predicament. She starts to write a letter to Black Hanekawa.
Up until this episode, Hanekawa has been lost and aimless; drifting from friend’s house to friend’s house, her life on hold as she contemplates exactly what’s going on. Well, half of her is, anyway. She’s also torn in two, and the second half, “Black Hanekawa” is once again acting as her stress valve. But all of her interactions this week convince her that it’s time to stop the drifting and depending on others and her other half to help her. This tiger problem needs to be nipped in the bud, lest the house fires continue.
The Araragi matriarch (her face obscured) is the first of the people in the episode who tell Hanekawa it’s time to face her problem, which by the end she believes to be jealousy. But jealousy of what? That Senjougahara has Koyomi, to be sure.That he has a stable, loving home and family. That Black Hanekawa remembers her, but not vice versa. Even that the Fire Sisters live with such certainty (and have boyfriends). We’ll soon see how she plans to deal with all this jealousy, which could involve possibly never seeing Koyomi again.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- From Hanekawa’s perspective the story skips from chapter 26 to chapter 52, doubtless a most worrisome gap in time during which any number of things could’ve gone down.
- The Araragis eat dinner together every morning, something, like the parents, we’ve oddly never seen. More proof that we only see glimpses of these characters’ lives, not the whole picture. Another example is the Fire Sisters’ BFs.
- Between the sugar cubes and the paper cranes, Senjougahara possesses some rather obsessive (and, where Koyomi is concerne, possessive) qualities, no?
- The cameos of Mr. Episode and Gaen Izuko didn’t mean anything for us, having not reach the source material. They also seem quite useless, though the story requires that they be so, in Hanekawa’s case.
Hanekawa showers with Senjougahara, who shares her futon with her for the night. In the middle of the night she transforms into the sawari neko “Black Hanekawa”, the incarnation of her mistress’s stress and fatigue. She warns the tiger not to harm her mistress, but as Hanekawa has already seen him, he’s already “started to act.” When Black Hanekawa sneaks home, Senjougahara is awake and they formally meet. The next morning the normal Hanekawa is back and prepares a breakfast that is very telling of her personality. Senjougahara asks her if she truly still loves Araragi.
Recent woes like the burning down of her house and the arrival of the tiger oddity have triggered the reawakening of Black Hanekawa, an oddity that is not so much a possession as an alter-ego. When others, including Senjougahara and Araragi, endure hardship, they maintain their fundamental selves. Hanekawa utterly changes hers, and yet her Black side is no less “her” than the side we normally see (as the first Nekomonogatari showed). Theirs would be a symbiotic relationship, if they were actually separate beings, but there’s technically just one: Hanekawa. Confused? C’mon, it’s not that complicated!
Critiquing the breakfast Hanekawa makes for her, Senjougahara remarks that Hanekawa is the “polar opposite of a picky eater”, whose preferences can’t be called “tastes” because taste is irrelevant as long as the food is edible and nutritious. Going into therapist mode, she uses the breakfast as an example of Hanekawa’s tendency to accept anything and everything that comes her way, loving everything and detesting nothing with her massive heart. But Senjougahara is far pickier in all things, loving some and detesting others, generating a complex and distinct archive of tastes.
She feels those specific tastes drew her to Araragi, but she harbors doubt about Hanekawa feeling the same way. After all, how can Hanekawa still love or have ever loved Araragi, when she loves anything and everything? For all of her hospitality, fooling around in the shower (what was that all about?) and sharing her bed and being cool with her catty alter-ego, Senjougahara remains threatened by Hanekawa’s inscrutable form of love, and bringing her in was an opportunity to size her up fully, both to try to better understand her and, in so many words, dissuade her from the notion of loving Araragi.
Rating:7 (Very Good)