This Week: Nagi No Asukara, Monogatari Series: Second Season
Happy New Year! To celebrate, things are… pretty quiet given the production break.
I think it’s appropriate, given the end of the previous season and this short period of quiet, to go over how I plan to handle the upcoming one.
Primarily, I’ll be scaling things back at little, in an effort to better fit my own schedule and ensure the ability to have larger commentary space for episodes when the need may arise or something particularly strikes me.
The continuing productions I was already keeping up on (Kill la Kill, Nagi no Asukara, and Gundam Build Fighters) will stay on board in the weeks to come. As far as picking up new programming is concerned, Space Dandy will certainly be joining us, though I have yet to determine if I will be tackling it either via subtitles or the very particular venture of the English simuldub project. Time permitting, I will probably attempt to watch the first episode both ways, and try and figure it out from there, but don’t hold me to that.
Aside from that, I will pick up Pupa as a short form series, especially given the long and tumultuous road it has taken to actually get into the broadcast cycle due to content concerns from broadcasters. In several respects, that is some of the best marketing a horror series can really aim to have, even if it is not airing around the more Halloween and horror friendly fall season anymore.
The 20th Anniversary project for Sailor Moon is holding a final spot, though admittedly details on this endeavor have been sketchy for months on end. Multiple setbacks, delays, and little in the way of prerelease synopsis or marketing. It is concerning and alarming on the one level, and yet on another the problems have been compounded for so long that I have largely resigned myself to think little about it. Maybe it will be pleasantly surprising after all of this and turn out pretty great, perhaps it will be dreadful, or potentially may not even be released at all and find itself pushed back even further. Should the project make it into the field of public consumption, I will watch it. If it does not get out the door though, I may or may not swap its spot with anything else. Not picking up another program would certainly allow larger backcatalog titles to be tackled, for instance, and I was very heavily leaning on currently airing shows last season. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it!
Speaking of bridges and timely transitions: mermaid kids still had an episode this week.
Nagi No Asukara (Episode 13)
Ah, here we are then, The Episode Where The Stuff I Was Pretty Sure Was Going To Happen Actually Goes Down.
It has been hinted at or alluded to for some time now, but even so the actual way this all occurred still was at least a little different than how I may have expected.
As far as the dialogue itself, I felt this episode went back on the more poetic “It sounds really nice on paper, but I can’t imagine kids this age actually sounding anything like that.” It is a little immersion breaking when kids are talking about ripples in their hearts making stormy noises and responding with “Because you are the sun” when someone asks why they are crying. If they were a little older or something, maybe? It is not so over melodramatic as to shutting me out, it just tastes kind of… off, swishing it around in my head. Particularly given how good it has been at other times at using more measured or better age appropriate language, with just these bubbles here and there of something beyond their years.
The Ofunehiki ceremony itself really reminds me that I do like the windows of the world that this show offers to me. I like the idea of the culture, history, associated imagery, the traditions, all of that. Akari ‘s shimmering attire does not feel like a gimmicky over the top statement piece, but rather something that feels wholly appropriate for the ceremony and holds a definite realistic place as what must have been a dear possession of someone before trading it in to a shop. It all tickles my gears, and the show really does look so much more rich and delightful at night, generally speaking. It might have something to do with the color palate, as there are a lot of whites, teals, light blues, and the like by default on its plate and it can all be pretty bright during the daytime. Which is certainly appropriate for more than one shoreside community out there. The night allows me to lean back a little more and appreciate the colors more, I suppose, and how they are handled with the richness of deeper evening tones and shades
The ceremony going all topsy turvy I do not think was much of a stretch for anyone to make, given the foreshadowing and the lead up we have been having. Even so, I had also pegged the death/s that would occur to involve other characters. Which on the one hand is nice, that the one I expected to be taken was not, and yet at the same time I really… don’t find myself too caught up on who was? They have been sort of all over the place for a bit now.
And for the moment, I do only think one character has left us. We already know Hikari is fine for instance, given his voiceovers from a previous episode talking about other characters and how they were acting at the time.
Unless this is the Matrix or something, and Kaname’s line a while back about maybe they were already asleep all along comes to pass and thus folks are really only waking up as a result of these events or something.
Monogatari Series: Second Season (Episodes 21 – 26) END
“Now then, a depiction where lies and truth intertwine. Weaving in things that did and didn’t happen.”
I had mentioned way back during the Nisemonogatari summary episode of this season that I really did like Kaiki as a character, and I had hoped to see him again before this series was over. He was one of the highlights of what I found to be a kind of wonky and overly long television series. And while I’m certainly late to the party on this train, I certainly did not expect that he would be getting his very own narrator arc and character focus to carry us through all the way to the end of this season.
The really swell part about waiting to watch this series in its arc long formats as a sort of film or movie night is I get to devour the whole thing at once. It really helps with how much of the franchise is dialogue focused where very little may actually objectively “happen” on screen. The not so awesome thing is that much of what I could say has likely already been devoured and picked apart seventeen ways to Sunday by folks who are much more on top of this series week to week than I am.
That said though: There are definitely more adults and other characters in Kaiki’s worldview. The faceless masses at the shrines, the waitress at the airport, Nadeko’s parents, he has a much wider view of things. The only time Hitagi really ever looks in any way powerful, strong, or imposing in the entire thing is where she wears her Groucho Marx glasses, and even then it is really only a mask or a smokescreen. She’s a weak teenager who is, yes, kind of a brat. So much of the resolutions of certain previous arcs in the franchise have resulted in her just getting what she wanted, and making threats that there really is not all that much palpable follow-through on because she never really has to. She flat out said she would kill Kaiki in the airport had he actually left. But she’s just a high school girl, at the end of the day, threatening or indomitable as she may seem to others.
Kaiki’s narration then, and the perspectives that he has, really made this arc a really great part of the whole franchise. So much of it dealing in perspectives and manners of lenses or representations, and yet so much of it has also been from Koyomi’s experiences, which is certainly a definite objective this whole season of the show has been trying to get distance from. Except for one little scene in this arc, Kaiki does not see him. Even then, they are physically far away from each other. Their worlds are massively different, and Koyomi’s is so far removed from what Kaiki lives in and processes that it may as well be an alien planet.
Aside from mere age or the like, this is true on more than one level. Now that the season has concluded, Koyomi’s world is one where he, somehow, still always gets a happy ending. Even when a friend disappears forever, he still gets to have a solid little chat with them and a goodbye moment. Even when his body is destroyed, such as Nadeko ripping him and Shinobu apart episodes ago, Hitagi was able to call in and prevent a final execution. And Nadeko herself was also saved in this arc, which he tried so hard at off screen, even if the actual saving was done by Kaiki. Koyomi still gets to be the one to take her back and Set Things Right, as it were.
Kaiki… does not get to have this sort of experience with much of anything. Of his plans aimed at doing good, while they solve one issue for a time, end up merely causing larger problems. He is highly skilled, and yet, does not have that consistent safety net of being able to barrel on ahead and do whatever he wants and things just work out. He is reduced at times to dealing in fake charms to junior high school students for pocket change. Which itself comes back around to bite him. It is a lot of juxtapositions of life situations that he himself is also cleanly aware of, given how he manages his own lifestyle and the chats and speeches he has when representing his prices or appreciation of money. Expecting wholeheartedly that something, one day, would backfire on him too hard.
For all the work he does as a liar and a con man, Kaiki’s world is not only a colorful one, but consistently showcasing and engaging with a nearly blinding amount of white. Snowfall, Nadeko’s snakes, even the airport bathrooms and the like. To say it functions as purity contrast would be hyperbolic, but it does reinforce the notion of him seeing the world where he is the good guy doing the best he can even when he is otherwise perceived as a villain by the outside.
It was a well handled series of reflections and conversations from a distinctive but generally underutilized character who was able to in many ways show us from an outsiders perspective the franchise itself. It was a swell fit for him, right down to nonchalantly asking if being a god actually makes anyone special, even as he sits in a pit of snakes.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.