This is an important episode; it’s the episode for defeating the monster. This is usually the episode with some kind of action.Well, what did I see?
Slides. Stills, Flashing Text imitations and Anno copycats at work and failing poorly.
I already read somewhere that a lot of scenes in this episode were replaced with the “slide” that states: “Line, voice over”, possibly due to the fact that Shaft studio is woefully low on animation personnel. What I didn’t expect is to see so much of the action cut of and replaced with slides and even when the action died down and it was talking time, Araragi’s lips didn’t move. It was so blatantly obvious that they didn’t even bother to animate most of the second half of the episode (in contrast with the artistically done first half), except for the loli service part where Sengoku writhes and screams in pain due to a miscalculation on Araragi’s part.
When Anno pulled his trick due to lack of budge in his case, he pulled it off with enough artistic merit that it was confusing to a lot of people for a while whether it was simply art or simply (brain) fart. However, during the second half of this episode, it was immediately clear that Shaft did not even attempt to use any artistic ruse to cover up the fact that they didn’t bother to animate most of the character movements, talking, struggling with the monster and so on.
But critical comments aside, this episode exposes a few things about the Characters.
1. The Case of Araragi.
He feels that because as an ex-supernaturally affected after Shinobu’s attack (this is painfully obvious at this stage and hats off to anyone who guessed that by episode 2), it is his duty to help out all involved in supernatural curses and events, even including the perpetrator. In other words, because he can somewhat emphasize, he attains his messiah complex. Time and time again, we see him getting involved in different girls’ cases and refuse to pull out at anytime – this suspiciously convenient plot makes me think of To Heart, where Hiroyuki just happens to be at the right time and the right place where a girl needs a help, and he gets to be “friends” with them all in the anime and fuck them in the eroge. If real life were the devil, it surely is laughing at the absurdity of it all. In Bakemonogatari the animation, the story/plot pattern is now clothed, repackaged and represented as a supernatural story with lives at stake and possible nasty deaths, which increases the seriousness of it all. In any event, from time to time, Araragi feels guilty for trying to help out too much and sometimes beyond his level of capability, thinking that his immortal status will stay around forever (remember, he lets Shinobu suck his blood often). He is reminded and reprimanded for doing so but he doesn’t change.
2. The Case of Kanbaru.
She’s now the sidekick girl that can’t decide who she wants to fuck; Senjogahara or Araragi? She’s a sidekick because she mostly follows the action of Araragi and provides assistance without providing constructive opinions and actions, except at the end of this episode, where she finally puts some sense in Araragi. However, mostly, she follows him and not Senjogahara around, even though she confessed to Senjogahara and not him. Kanbaru willingly assists Araragi not because she cares for any of the victims but because Araragi somehow takes place of Senjogahara, who for all intends and purposes, has been missing from the show, which in my opinion, is detrimental to the charm and character dynamics to the entire show. In any event, she can’t get with Senjogahara and Araragi doesn’t love her. She’s reduced to the sporty underclassmen character in a dating sim/eroge, who tries to hook up girls up with Araragi but is really in love with him. Yes, in this story we can say it’s because she wants Araragi to breakup with Senjogahara, but so far the efforts serve to deliver more loli fan service than anything else.
3. The Case of Sengoku.
The spiral down the age path furthers and we have a middle school girl who can’t decide to keep her clothes on and continues to blush in Mikuru-esque embarrassment every time the three characters, Araragi, Kanbaru and her, get down to the business of evil-busting and placing her in another Japanese style erotic outfit. She is obsessed with old memories and even when Araragi confesses that he doesn’t remember, she smiles bitterly but does not lashing back in anyway. As the non-blood-related little sister character (notice that Araragi’s own sisters never make significant appearances if at all), she’s understanding and patiently acts like a cute little sister-friend without really trying to push the boundary any further. In her case, the obsession is so strong that she refuses to call Araragi’s sister by her real name and still uses the nickname that she used when they were kids. As a side effect, because she refuses to let go of the past, she’s cursed [spoiler] twice over and suffers great pain constantly, [/spoiler] but in some way, she sees that as a sign of martyrdom for her unfilled love toward Araragi. If she needs to be saved, Araragi is there to save her.
4. The Case of Senjogahara.
What case? She’s missing in this episode and she’s the most interesting character in the entire show! Tough, smart and charming, SJgR is one of the most fascinating characters in the anime-verse, but she has been gone for two episodes out of probably 11 total, what the fuck? Is Saito Chiwa, her voice-over, sick or something and can’t perform the role? In any case, the character dynamics is definitely at somewhat of a loss without her.
This show is becoming another harem show as potential female love interests are introduced one by one. Yes, Araragi is going out with Senjogahara, but they spend only one episode showing their relationship aspect after the official confession. For the episodes after that, Araragi is with someone else. My feeling is that from time to time, this turns into a thinly-veiled harem show with all the standard character types at play. I’m rather surprised that this is all Shaft seems to be able to do; I’m not surprised that Shaft is animating this after the ef series; I will not be surprised if Bakemonogatari is made into a dating sim/eroge in the future, if it hasn’t been made into them already.
Additional Notes (Contains Spoilers): We now know a possible reason for Hanegawa’s worsening headaches. Thanks to the fact that Shinobu, the chibi-vampire is in town, the monsters are gathering at the destroyed shrine (its destruction could be due to some skirmish among the monsters), which gives off aura influencing people who are still under supernatural effects. Kanbaru feels sick near the shrine; Sengoku’s snake demon exercising routine fails and Hanegawa’s headaches get worse. Of course, I still believe that Hanegawa still has a demon to exercise and I guess Araragi will play the savior again. After all, she’s part of the harem – she’s the meganeko.