Owarimonogatari
Episode 8

by Nick Creamer,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Owarimonogatari ?

This week's Owarimonogatari was an improvement from the last one, though it still couldn't measure up to the consistent highs of the Sodachi material. There was plenty of the usual banter between Araragi and Yotsugi, followed by some firm advice from the corpse-girl. There were some genuinely endearing scenes between Araragi and Kanbaru, along with a brief phone appearance by the ever-intriguing Gaen. And then there was the less-than-dramatic reunion between Shinobu and Araragi, still separated following the events of Shinobu Time, and now forced to fight before Shinobu can return to her “master's” shadow.

We opened with Yotsugi explaining that she was at the cram school for her own reasons, tracking down an apparition that she assumed had morphed into Araragi's samurai attacker. This prompted Araragi to ask if he could back out on his promise; even though he'd said he'd ask Kanbaru to help Gaen, he hadn't really been thinking that help would involve roping her into something as dangerous as this, and he'd been hoping Kanbaru would turn down the request anyway. This was an understandable request, and I really liked how neatly it played into a wide array of Araragi's personal issues.

First, there's the fact that he consistently undervalues how much the people around him care about him. From Suruga Monkey onwards, Araragi has had to hide the danger he puts himself in from Senjougahara - he doesn't really care if he lives or dies, but it's an expression of selfishness that he isn't at least willing to extend his concern to the people who'd be hurt by his absence. And so he assumes he'll be able to get out of this situation somehow, not internalizing the fact that Kanbaru would be willing to agree to his request no matter what. That lack of self-concern is also what led him to make this promise in the first place; it's exactly the sort of crazy scheme he always agrees to, and so he thought little of it at the time, but the fact that Kanbaru is implicated makes him actually consider it like a normal person. And finally, even beyond his concern for Kanbaru, it's almost certainly clear to Araragi that this case involves Shinobu's past, and will possibly dictate Shinobu's future. Araragi has just lost Mayoi after attempting to help her escape her past; losing another close friend so soon likely seems unreasonably cruel. And so even beyond getting Kanbaru out, he likely wants to drop this case for his own reasons, and run away from the chance of losing Shinobu.

Of course, Yotsugi's having none of that, and rightly points out that Kanbaru's already implicated (while stepping on Araragi's face). So far this arc has been largely Araragi-Kanbaru and Araragi-Yotsugi, and that's unsurprisingly meant it's been significantly more fanservice-heavy than the previous one. Araragi tends to creep on Yotsugi, and Kanbaru uses her sexuality as a comic weapon against Araragi, so if you're looking for gratuitous footservice or Kanbaru brazenly messing with Araragi's head, this arc definitely won't disappoint.

The episode's second half got a bit more interesting, as Araragi and Kanbaru found themselves trapped in a Lost Cow-style maze by some enemy actor. Araragi called Gaen for help, but Gaen refused; instead, she suggested Araragi rely on Kanbaru's assistance. That suggestion seemed like it might serve two purposes - both make Araragi more comfortable in acknowledging the agency and desires of the people he's close to, and also make Kanbaru come closer to embracing the significant power-legacy her mother left her. Gaen knows how to get what she wants.

Kanbaru's advice actually did end up getting the pair of them to their destination, but it turned out Gaen wasn't even there. Instead, they ran into Shinobu, along with a strange new claw-armed foe. It seems likely that this is the opponent Yotsugi was actually chasing, and it seems equally likely that Gaen isn't going to step in to save them this time. Things are looking more and more like some kind of weird test for these characters - like Gaen is “training” them in her own way, forcing them to get ready for the day when no adults will be around to save them.

This wasn't a standout episode of Monogatari, but it was a reasonable one. Some nice banter and character beats, solid reflections on the central characters' overall journeys, and a few silly faces throughout. Shinobu Mail is still feeling like a bit of a step down this season, but if it keeps gaining momentum, it could turn out to be a fine arc overall.

Rating: B

Owarimonogatari is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nick writes about anime, storytelling, and the meaning of life at Wrong Every Time.


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