So How Many Sony Press Conference Jokes Have Been Made About This Show Anyway?
Well it’s time to kick off the second part of my look at Bakemonogatari. The first bit was of course supposed to be the kind of reaction to the opening episode you might see if you decided to take everything that happened literally and without trying to go into what the themes and ideas behind the show might actually be. That was fun, but now I think it’s time that I got a little more into the serious business of really telling people what I think about the show without the role playing, gags and just general nonsense gut reactions. Just what are they getting at with this story about a weightless girl and the guy that says he’s going to help her? While I might be a little bit late to this part I still want to see if there’s anything I can’t add to the conversation at hand.
First just my general impressions off of this episode when it came to production values. Well right off of the get go I’ve found a lot to like about Hitagi’s character design, and it seems like Shaft likes her design a lot too since they have no qualms about showing her off in some very alluring poses in the pre-opening shower scene and pretty much the episode in general. Though I will say that I don’t see why about a quarter of the episode needed to be taken up with her and Araragi having the obligatory awkard girl stepping out of the shower scene. I thought the pre-opening credits was plenty fanservice, but you still won’t hear me complain to much since I also loved how it was played differently from the norm with her actually tricking Araragi into looking at her in lingerie. Sexy and clever at the same time….so different. Anyway Speaking of the opening, I found it to be much to my liking. It’s not the greatest thing in the world nor something I would put on my best of the year list, but it’s nice and relaxing with a visual motif that fits quite well with the character we are seeing in this arc. Certainly a better and more thematically fitting use of staplers than with My Love Is A Stapler I would say. However speaking of music I still cannot say I like the BGM any better this episode. If I do anymore posts on this series this will probably be the last time I mention that though. Anyway now with the analysis and musings:
– Right off the bat when Oshino said “I can’t save you but I can help you” to Hitagi I got the impression that she must have done something to invoke bad karma that caused her to become weightless and that only she could really save herself by coming to terms with whatever caused this to happen to her in the first place.
– If I didn’t know any better I’d say Hitagi was definitely flirting with Araragi as well as messing with him, and vice versa. It’s kind of weird how the two seem to flip-flop between who is in control and doing what for who, but it’s also kind of neat at the same time and strikes a nice balance between the characters. Neither is dominant, but neither is submissive either. Also she kind of has a point, he should appreciate it even if it is a little bit strange that the thank you was what amounted at the chance to see her in a cheesecake pose.
– Incidentally now I understand what added use the rapidly shifting camera angles can use. Showing off Hitagi from all angles. Still I am kind of hoping that they can be put to better use yet. When I saw Citizen Kane for the first time I was wowed by how effective the usage of camera angles could be in conveying a certain feeling about a scene, whether it was a low angle shot of Charles Foster Kane himself making him look larger than life, or an angle shot into the mirror that created multiple reflections symbolizing the multiple personas that he was perceived as having by each person interviewed. So far they don’t really seem to be going to any significant artistic use, but maybe there’s something I’m missing here.
– The crab concept makes it reappearance and this time it’s linked to the old Japanese folktale of the rabbit in moon pounding mochi. Of course Araragi mentions that most cultures perceive it as a crab. This gets me wondering at whether it was the moon that Hitagi saw when she lost her weight, which would at least make a little more sense than a giant enemy crab. I guess we’ll see, but I’ll mention that the waxing and waning of the moon can also symbolize rebirth. Perhaps the loss of weight could be attributed to the lifting of some burden or sin from Hitagi and now once she regains her wait she will have been born anew. Of course this is just wild and random guess theory for the time being.
– On the other hand Hitagi mentioning that she doesn’t like wearing clothes because of the wait seems to indicate that she gave up her weight willingly.
– Two curious things during the ceremony with Oshino. One is that when Oshino mentions that the crab is all around them and all-encompassing I could almost swear he was referring to a force like Karma. Also curious was that Hitagi answered all of Oshino’s questions honestly and without reservation except for three. “Can you tell me any stories about how you screwed up as a kid?”. “I don’t want to” she replied. “What kind of guy did you have you first crush on?”. “I don’t want to say”. And then of course she refused to even give any reply at all on the last question at first which was “What was the most painful memory in your life up till now”. If that isn’t telling that she screwed up somehow and potentially all of this is karma related then I must be getting played the fool. I think we’ll find the answer when we find her memories and that that memory will herald the return of her wait once she accepts it as a part of her being.
– Oh well….the episode just went and confirmed that immediately after I typed this out. This is what I get for writing this as I watch.
– So there is an actual crab that is revealed to us the viewer which would seem to throw a monkey wrench into my theory about the moon having anything to do with this, but I don’t know if it rules it out altogether or if it really does just mean that the crab can be perceived as being everywhere in the existence of this world and that it truly is like a god. I mean it does appear to physically attack Hitagi. Is this really happening or is just meant to symbolize Hitagi being unwilling to accept her weight/burden back. I’m leaning most towards the latter because of Oshino’s bit of dialogue about it being her current mental state. We also got to see him helping her from being overwhelmed by this apparent karmic force by judo throwing the crab, but he still hasn’t saved her. Man is true to his word.
– Another arrow in the direction of the crab as a karmic force is when she apologizes to it as if it represents her burden’s negative karma attempting to crush her. I get the sense that she just tried to pretend the incident with the cult and her mother getting hurt and the whole familiy being torn apart never happened and thus while the weight was removed from her it never really left her and has been weighing her down in other ways such as symbolized when we see her attacked by it. That is my best guess anyway and it seems to make sense given the dialogue point from earlier where she asks Oshino if the crab is beside her and he implies that it’s all around her. If we don’t take this as literally all around her then we could also perceive as meaning that wherever she goes it’s never far behind, even as she tries to run from it. And of course this brings us back to earlier where she said she didn’t like the weight of clothing, which indeed does imply that she was trying to avoid the feeling of weight. Man….I kind of feeling like listening to Under Pressure by Queen right now.
– Well I’ll be…at the end of the episode it pretty much lays it all out for me anyway. Well writing this article and following the clues was pretty damn fun even in itself. Everything isn’t all good yet now though, as it seems somehow Araragi picked up some extra weight himself. It seems like it should be something directly related to Hitagi, but then she seems to have already got her memories, feelings and burdens back by the end of the episode judging by her totally different demeanor in her last scene. Where does this lead us next.
– As a last point I still get the impression that Hitagi willing rid herself of those memories and that the idea of a crab or seperate entity taking them was just a red herring and it was all her. Another theory though is that the crab is basically the world and that what Oshino said is true and it is all around us. If we consider that Araragi did a lot of the work in guiding Hitagi to a position where she could get herself weight back and that being like taking her burden onto himself then it is entirely possible that his added weight at the end of the episode is what he still has to get back to her. Perhaps that pertains to somehow fixing her troubled family life and helping her really reunite with her mother since Oshino seemed to imply that that was still as yet undone.
Well that was pretty fun, and hopefully people liked this better than the screwball first impression bit from last time. I’m really getting into this show right now and I’ll say it’s definitely up my alley. Between this, Umineko and Professor Layton and The Diabolical Box it looks like I’m going to have no shortage of things to puzzle over for the next season or so.