Nekomonogatari Episode 4 – Final
And so it seems, at least to me, that four episodes of this show can in fact be much more entertaining and effective than twelve episodes of Nisemonogatari. The tone is a lot more consistent overall, and it felt a lot more focused, though obviously that’s probably just due to the length of the series. Although it could be argued that the pacing issues with Nisemonogatari are due to the novel, they could have easily put another one in and trimmed the fat off so it wouldn’t drag on so much. I mean, hell, they’re already doing that with the next series, so surely they could have done it the first time around. Also, this time around they did a much better job with some of the exposition, because before, it’s been a little hard to follow exactly what they’re talking about in some of the faster dialogue-driven scenes. It could be the director and screenwriters are learning how to fit everything in better, or maybe people are just getting better at subbing this crazy-ass show, who knows?
I think that one of the main reasons this series worked so well for me is because when everything is said and done, Hanekawa is just a much more important and interesting character than most of the other girls. While the other arcs with Sengoku, Kanbaru, etc., are entertaining and all, in the end they don’t really have too much effect on the overall storyline or Araragi himself. Even in Nisemonogatari Hachikuji, Kanbaru, and Sengoku served very little purpose other than plot devices. Hanekawa, on the other hand, has been involved with Araragi from the very beggining of the series, and has a much larger influence on him and the story as a whole.
The scene about the moral ambiguity of Hanekawa’s situation at home was certainly rather different, because usually, you’re supposed to assume that any harm done to a supposedly kind character is completely wrong and unjustified. Oshino did a fairly good job at explaining how even things that would be considered horrible are never really black and white, and that there are always different perspectives to see the situation from. But obviously Araragi, didn’t even consider that Hanekawa could be in the wrong, which while may seem closed minded, I see it as more of him saying that to him it doesn’t really mater is she deserved anything that happened to her – that he would automatically side with her no matter what.
While I was kind of expecting some big fight (what, with the eight foot tall katana and everything) on par with the one at the end of Nisemonogatari or the fight with Kanbaru, I wasn’t too disappointed about how it actually played out. I also really liked the somewhat bittersweet ending here. Even though Araragi (well, actually Shinobu) exorcised the Cat from Hanekawa, like Araragi said, everything that’s wrong with Hanekawa’s life will continue to go on, and there isn’t really anything she can do about it. And obviously, she knew it too, due to her willingness to take the Cat back even after dealing with her parents. The entire conversation during this sequence was really interesting, if only for the fact that there is no cut and dry “good ending” to arrive at after it’s all over. Hanekawa will still have to deal with her parents and Araragi’s feelings for her are still a little shaky and unclear. Given that most of the other segments in the Monogatari series end fairly smoothly with everything solved, it was really nice to see something kind of different.
Probably the thing I liked most about this entire series was the expansion on Hanekawa’s and Araragi’s relationship. Considering that they’re technically the two main human characters for the most part, there hasn’t been a whole lot of interaction between them as of yet. It’s very obvious that they both have somewhat of a mutual need for each other, seeing as how at this point, there isn’t really another human they can connect with about the things that have happened to them or their personal problems. Hanekawa, as Oshino said, likely wanted Araragi’s help all along, but wouldn’t ask it do to her nature and personality. In the same way, it took Araragi a while to work out his actual feelings for her and why he had such a strong desire to help her in the first place.