by Nick Creamer,
How would you rate episode 4 of
In this week's episode of Owarimonogatari, Araragi and Hanekawa decide to go to Oikura's house. The End.
Of course, this is Monogatari, so a dramatic structure like that isn't particularly surprising. Monogatari could turn “Araragi butters his morning toast” into a twenty minute affair, and probably squeeze another episode out of Yotsugi arriving to steal it from him. It's the rambling, circuitous “getting there” that makes up the bulk of Monogatari's running time, and in this week's episode, that getting there involved a whole lot of devilish temptation courtesy of Ougi Oshino.
It's been clear from basically her first appearance that Ougi isn't to be trusted. Black-eyed and phantom-limbed and full of mysterious knowledge, Ougi seems to exist outside of time and human understanding. Not only does she consistently set characters like Araragi or Nadeko on paths leading to their own ruin, she seems to delight in highlighting her own omniscience. In this week's episode, Ougi arrives just after Araragi has been assigned to go visit Oikura, who's been absent from school ever since her confrontation with Senjougahara. Separated from Araragi from one more of those flashing traffic lights, she “reminds” him that he “made a promise to meet here at 3:42 by the school gates.” Of course, no one ever makes a promise to meet anywhere at 3:42 - it's a transparently ridiculous lie. But Ougi seems to like those kinds of statements; not only does she enjoy wielding power over Araragi, she enjoys stretching to an absurdity the extent that she does overpower him.
That dynamic was stressed throughout the first half of this episode, as Ougi slowly wound her way back into Araragi's errands. Just like in Ougi Formula, much of this invasion was expressed in physical terms - Ougi pressing a gloved finger against Araragi's lips, or standing so close to him that her nose was brushing his. Though Araragi tends to intentionally sexualize almost all of his relationships, when it comes to Ougi, he's the one feeling uncomfortably objectified. Positioned as a literal grinning shadow whispering suggestions into his ear, she slowly convinced Araragi that she should join him in visiting Oikura - and not only should she join him, but he should request her company, like a hapless victim inviting the vampire into their home.
Fortunately, Tsubasa Hanekawa is awesome. Arriving just before Ougi could sink her fangs into Araragi, Hanekawa jumped directly into a confrontation with the creature, thanking Ougi for helping Araragi while at the same time announcing she'd have done a better job. Araragi is easily defeated by basically any woman who gets aggressive with him (a fact that likely more than a little influences his relationship with Senjougahara), but Hanekawa isn't the type to roll over to Ougi's mocking jibes. She directly challenged Ougi, and when it seemed likely Araragi was still going to be won over, she whipped out the frustratingly effective nuclear option: “listen to me and I'll let you touch my boobs.”
That definitely got Araragi's attention, whether because he's a useless lech or because, as he hastily explained, “I knew Hanekawa would only say that if something about the situation was seriously wrong.” Hanekawa attempted to warn Araragi about Ougi from this episode's first conversation to the last, but something about her makes her transparent villainy invisible to her victims. Or maybe Hanekawa's just that good.
I'd count both Ougi and Hanekawa among Monogatari's most compelling characters, meaning this was a fairly satisfying episode purely for their clash in the middle. The writing somewhat trumped the execution, though - some of the ways the show physically portrayed Ougi's devilishness were very compelling (I particularly liked the shots of her as a grinning shadow), but overall this sequence was definitely less interesting visually than the visit to Oikura's old house. It was a nice showcase for two of the show's stars, but ultimately this walk to Oikura's house will likely be overshadowed by whatever happens now that they've actually gotten there.
Owarimonogatari is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.
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