As the Sengoku battles begin, Izumiko and Miyuki stay on the periphery; Miyuki gives her her cell phone, warns her to stay out of the fighting between Souda and Takayanagi, and to call him if she needs anything. Takayanagi bumps into her and strikes up a conversation; she gradually lets her guard down and goes with Takayanagi and Angelica, forgetting about Sagara. When she hears his name, she remembers again. Her braids come undone and she scolds Takayanagi, destroying his homonculi, but then wavers when she realizes they’re about to find out what she is…
No matter how hard they try, Izumiko and Miyuki can’t stay out of the fued between Mayura and Takayanagi. This week they’re both “spirited away” (after a fashion). Takayanagi targets Izumiko and tries to win her over, while Mayura, having spotted a suitor, asks Miyuki to pretend to be her fiancee. She proposes this under the assumption that, like her and Manatsu, Miyuki and Izumiko can never be a couple, even though both of them care for the other more than anything else. Her proposal is meant as an act of pragmatism, to buy her time. Every day she’s not engaged to be married is a day she can celebrate.
Through their actions, both Mayura and Takayanagi also accomplish something interesting with Miyuki and Izumiko, respectively: they bring something out into the open that both of them had always believed to be just between them. Miyuki seems surprised Mayura knows of the feelings he has for her (even if he shouldn’t be, losing his poker face so often these days!), while Takayanagi puts Izumiko in a position to summon the formidable spiritual power within her in order to right supposed wrongs. He makes her do a lot of things she wasn’t aware she was doing, and she ends up making a big scene when Miyuki pleaded with her to remain invisible. She’s not that anymore.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- The “war games” turn out to be Capture the Flag, Backgammon, and Balloon Popping. We were hoping for swords, spears, and homonculi but what’re you gonna do?
- Izumiko really doesn’t like it when Miyuki talks about Himegami.
- Wamiya was of no help to Miyuki this week, but Masumi won a game of backgammon for Mayura.
- Mayura gets so close to Miyuki under that platform thing, it looks for a moment like she’s leaning in to kiss him. We like Mayura, but Miyuki isn’t hers, and he needs to be on his guard!
- Takayanagi seems to like hanging with foreigners – which matches his global ambition – and they with him, as they’re all captivated by his Japanese-ness. Angelica in particular seems like a true believer.
- Izumiko is pretty badass there at the end, until she starts to lose her composure, and then…something happens; we’re not sure what, but it probably isn’t good.
Izumiko patrols the Warring States Festival. Middle schoolers try to snatch her up for their parade, but she’s ‘rescued’ by Miyuki. She tells him she doesn’t like him talking about the Himegami, and he suspects that they might be one and the same. While investigating a haunted house making girls sick, Izumiko has another hallucination about the slaughter of Hachiouji. They’re surprised to find Yukimasa in the nurse’s office, who rattles Miyuki’s cage. When the parade ends, Mayura and Izumiko attend the festival director’s radio broadcast, and Mayura is nominate and accepts the position of ‘princess general’, leading the defense agains Takayanagi’s armies in tomorrow’s mock battle. Masumi pays Izumiko a visit.
Where there’s a school in an anime, more likely than not there’s going to be a school festival, and RDG is no different. Yet despite the rather unusual characteristics of the student body, this festival proceeds pretty much like your standard festival, with few surprises. Cotton candy, polls, haunted houses, etc. Those of you expecting the battle between Souda and Takayanagi, and everything that entails, will have to wait until next week.
We were a bit disappointed by how little happened this week, though what did happen was good. Many of the scenes with Izumiko and Miyuki merely reinforce that they’re slowly becoming more than just a priestess’ vessel and her trusty page. Yukimasa threatens to limit Miyuki’s exposure to Izumiko, but Miyuki promises he won’t avoid her. Whatever his dad says, when the battle comes, be it mock or not, he won’t shrink from his duty to protect her.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- We liked how Miyuki noticed that both Izumiko and Himegami get jealous when he discusses the other, suggesting the two aren’t wholly separate beings.
- Izumiko has another “flashback” from the POV of the lady of the fallen castle, but the significance of this remains a mystery. (One shot in the dark: that lady may have once been Himegami’s vessel.)
- We’re not going to say we rated this episode a 7 rather than a 6 just because of Izumiko’s Epic Braid Buns…but they sure were friggin’ adorable.
- The brief final scene where Masumi returns and he and Izumiko talk about love also helped raise the rating. For some reason, a ghost flirting with her doesn’t really phase her that much as a living boy would, plus it’s cool that she uses him to bounce off thoughts she can’t necessarily discuss with Miyuki, because they’re partly about him.
Houjou Academy commences preparations for the school festival, the main theme for which will be the Sengoku (Warring States) period, including a combat game commemorating the bloody 1590 siege of the nearby Hachiouji Castle. Takayanagi asks Izumiko to side with him rather than Mayura. Izumiko has a strange hallucination and wakes up in the nurse’s office, where Yukimasa warns her of impending trouble.
After learning a simple self-defense spell from Miyuki, Izumiko models for traditional clothing, which requires her braids be undone. However, the Himegami appears after she has re-braided her hair, while Miyuki is scolding Izumiko. Now fully “synchronized” with her body, Himegami can come and go and do as she pleases. Miyuki takes her to Hachiouji Castle’s keep, where he tells her who and what she really is.
Hailing from a country with less than three centuries of history, we are easily intrigued and even astounded by the histories of far older countries like Japan. We are also, sadly, dreadfully ignorant of most of it, despite our interest. This episode was made richer by the historical background, especially when you consider the forces that be may be using the entire festival, and the impending battle, to decide which school faction will advance in the competition for World Heritage. A “not so safe” battle is coming, and Izumiko will have to choose a side.
Even more fascinating is everything we learn about Himegami: how she’s not really a god (though she is god-like), but was once just another human, who lost her body many thousands of generations, and indeed three timelines ago, and fears the fourth, the one in which Izumiko is her vessel, may be her last chance to avoid the annihilation of humanity. This episode has to feed us a lot of new and important info, but it never felt anything like an infodump. The stakes have been raised significantly, making the petty conflict between Souda and Takayanagi seem peripheral, even irrelevant…though it probably isn’t.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- When Izumiko hear’s someone screaming “Milady!” prior to passing out, we can’t help but think she’s inhabiting the memory of the castle’s lady, during the siege in which the lord wasn’t home and thousands of women and children died horribly.
- Dressing Izumiko up in a period costume wasn’t just random, but a potential plot by someone who may have wanted to bring out the Himegami.
- Himegami has some nice fish-out-of-water moments in Izumiko’s body, taking note of her “stifling” braids, her exposed legs, and her unfamiliarity with the legal drinking age
- Himegami can draw Wamiya out of Miyuki to protect Izumiko. That being said, Wamiya doesn’t much like him!
- After spending the better part of a day with Himegami, at its end, all Miyuki wants is for Izumiko to come back. The episode ends without her returning.
Araragi Koyomi formally introduces his sisters Karen and Tsukihi. Karen is an aggressive athletic tomboy who, while Tsukihi is even more aggressive, but with a more feminine and innocent outward appearence. Koyomi then pays a visit to Sengoku, who seems to be in an unusually playful mood. When her mother gets home, Koyomi migrates to Kanbaru’s, where he busts in on her naked, then teases her by making the case she’s a more normal girl than she lets on.
Things you’re assured to get lots of in spades (besides kuro color cards) in Nisemonogatari: intense, intimate close-ups, particularly of girls; innovative and often downright raunchy poses by said girls; visually stunning ‘sets’ – I mean, a waterfall of books complete with rainbow? Applause. You’ll also get lines like this: “There’s harder BL on a lower stratum!”, made all the better when spoken with utter conviction by Miyuki Sawashiro. In other words, you get lots of weird, offbeat stuff. This season seems to be kicking up the sexual tension.
This episode further reinforced our perception of this series as an ‘anime play’ – it was mostly one-on-one conversations in fixed settings, after all – first, Sengoku’s house, then on the street with Karen (nimble lil’ minx, her), and finally in the liturature-replete home of Kanbaru. We also like how these familiar characters from Bakemonogatari underwent subtle but effective visual makeovers. The busy, kinetic opening focused on Karen as a bee spirit of sorts. There’s a foreboding to Koyomi’s description of his ‘fire sisters’ – as if there are many out there who believe they’re some kind of heroic duo. He contends his kid sisters merely have vivid imaginations and aren’t above exaggeration.
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.