lauantai 22. kesäkuuta 2013

Steins;Gate: Negative Character Development

Surprisingly Complex: Steins;Gate

Steins;Gate has lots of things that are literally said to the viewer, yet only describe vaguely their real meanings. It's a rare series in a way that it actually deals more with the psychological aspect of time travel than just the usual butterfly effect and such. Even though butterfly effect for example is still damn well executed in it. But it still won't win out the main prize, as that goes to Steins;Gate:s protagonist, Okabe Rintarou, and his negative character development and the way it's shown to us. It's just pure ingenious.

Okabe Rintarou is a goofball in the beginning of the series and could easily be just put into the obnoxious comic relief -category, but what people miss there, is that actually, almost all of Okabe's character development happened BEFORE the series itself. It's not really shown as it is handwaved, but it can be seen. Okabe's "real" character development was actually his self turning more and more like Hououin Kyouma, that started just as an act. An act to save Mayuri from herself. This goes into the interpretation zone, but that's what I do the best (I think). The flashback where Mayuri is reaching for the sky and the "Angel Ladder" appears, was the point where Okabe's downfall began. He said to her "You are my hostage. You can't go." marking the beginning of Hououin Kyouma taking over his mind. (I interpret that he might have actually done that somewhere else than a graveyard, a bridge perhaps?)

Goodbye Okarin, Hello Hououin
Of course, it's just interpretation, and even without it, the signs are obvious. During the series, the more time he spends with Makise, the more he goes back to being the sane Okabe Rintarou, not the mad Hououin Kyouma. It's actually shown several times in the few last episodes, where he tries to talk like Hououin Kyouma, but sounds like he doesn't even believe his own words, or doesn't talk to his phone until someone notices it (Until he gets better). It was not an integral part of him anymore. Big part of the absolute wonder that is Okabe is the voice actor, who nails every little emotion in the speech mannerisms, in the subtle change of tones, and of course, the fantabulamous laugh. 

In episode 22 it's shown how Okabe Rintarou has come victorious in the battle against Hououin Kyouma. His dramatic speech turns from comical to tragic when he starts to sound like he doesn't even care or believe his own bull anymore. Mayuri even says: "You don't have to talk like that anymore" and the only response he can muster is a surprised face and a sad monologue. "Just as Hououin Kyouma has died, the Phone Microwave should die, as well." The battle of Ragnarok, that was actually just two personalities fighting, was finally over, and he reached Beta Timeline, his own incomplete Valhalla.

The end (Episode 24) really shows how he got the grip back. His negative character development was complete. He was completely sane Okabe, who just acts the part of Hououin Kyouma. I loved the aspect where for an insane plan, you need the insane man, making Okabe act like Hououin to get a grip of the mad scientist that lurks in his brain. The one that had slowly taken over him during all the years he was with Mayuri. It can be seen that it isn't the "real" Hououin Kyouma we've seen in the past, but just Okabe being silly. It's even remarked by Mayuri: "Mayushii likes Okarin better when he's like this", meaning embracing Hououin, but not being taken over by him. 

That's all from Hououin, but there's more

All alone with your insanity
Another interesting character is Moeka. She shows the dependence some people have for others, and the utter insanity of being abandoned. The series made you feel sorry for the one who killed Mayuri, the one who deemed insanity upon insanity on Okabe. It's really effective to show the character as a total emotional wreck after they've been abandoned. She was so blind on it, that she actually didn't notice that Future Gadgets Lab could have been a good option for her. I don't know if she already had pledged absolute loyalty, but it wouldn't have been impossible, right?

Rukako is another good example. Why did he like Hououin more, even though Okabe was always there? Because he felt that as years had passed, Hououin had become what Okabe couldn't, and as such, what Okabe wanted to be. Which was actually false as Okabe didn't become Hououin for himself. Okabe even lampshades many times that becoming Hououin was a stupid idea to begin with. 

Mayuri's role is, unsurprisingly, damn essential for the story, as she represents the past, where as Kurisu represents the future. The scene where Hououin Kyouma is born (Picture in the very upper corner) is really heartwarming as you can just sense their connection. "So Mayushii is your hostage, right?" is a random line without the context, but in the context, the impact is huge. It just shows the trust and care the two share, purely. It is sadly also turned against him. Notice how every time Mayuri dies, the world turns monochrome? It's because he feels he has failed, not in saving her currently, but in his lifelong mission of saving her. The whole reason for Hououin's existence is doubted there, as it was his way of saving her, but it had failed him nonetheless. He blamed himself of becoming Hououin, and that was his sin.

Random trivia:      

*Notice how the Divergence Meter's display is very similar to Phone Microwave's power display? Clever.


Okabe's biggest enemy is Hououin. The fight is just not shown.

tiistai 18. kesäkuuta 2013

Serial Experiments Lain: Foreseeing the unforeseen?

I'll give this away first. I foresaw the ending (Not fully, my god, that's not even possible) by the beginning of EPISODE 2. Really. I just watched this anime for the first time, and figured 95% of the stuff that's supposed to fuck your mind many episodes before they were actually shown. I'm not fucking with you here. It disturbs my anus greatly. Some people who have watched the whole series never got it, but I got it way before it's shown? Lunacy. I know, I'm not the only one, but goddamnit. REALLY? Of course, this is a series that REAAAALLLY is interpreted in a half a million ways, but I'm just telling you. NEVER did S.E.L genuinely surprise me. I feel like a genius, but I feel bad about it. I don't think this will be very long...

Surprisingly Complex? Serial Experiments Lain


Okay. Usually when I do this, I tell people the things they miss that clue them to the truth during a series. But this time is going to be different. I'm going to point out the things that no one notices, that helped me to figure this series out way before it unfolds. If you want a short review: It was a pain to watch, but I'm a masochist. It's like watching a friend of yours trying to hide something from you, that you actually already know. That's what it was for me. For someone else, it's different, you're free to have your opinions.

I connected the pieces before there were fucking pieces!
Let's start with the opening. The opening shows, of course, Nintendo Wii before Nintendo Wii, but also Lain in many many screens. When I saw the opening for the second time, I knew she would be integrated into the system by the end of the series. That was the first clue, and it's practically the ending. What? Also, a random fact. I watched a bit Steins;gate before watching this, so after the "Present Day. Present time." I always imagined the Steins;gate opening to start. It's weiiiiiird.

Then... Some episodes in, someone says something along the lines of: "History isn't just a string of happenings. It's separate occurences, connected with a line." and "Everything can be connected with a line." Ten seconds, and I realize that Lain is/will become some sort of god. Why? Everything can be connected with a line. A line, a shape between points A and B. A line. Then say the name of the protagonist. Lain. Goddamnit. By the end of the series, she became a "connecting point" of everything. It's a stupid pun on an alternative way to say her name, but still. Goddamnit.

And all the talk about "the real world" and "the wired" connecting and such just flat out screamed to me: "THE LAIN OF THE WIRED IS THE REAL LAIN." I don't know. It's supposed to be mindbending, but somehow I just avoided all those.

By this time I basically won the series. It became kinda dull, because it was hiding information from me that I knew, and it doesn't really give anything if you figure it halfway through.

Only thing that mildly surprised me was the "god." His name was told, and I didn't make the connection right away. Why? This series came a long time ago, and I watched it straight through. The name of "god": Eiri, is shown in the previous episode for the first time in the series. So, from the point of the name being told and the time of revelation would normally be a week, but for me it was... 20 minutes. So...

I can see right through your plot
I'm not here to brag, just to tell people. This series is boring in a way if you figure it out too early. I still watched it, out of obligation, and to see how much I got right. I rarely get anything THIS right. Even in basic movies the twists can fuck my mind because I think too much about it. Maybe the special thing about Serial Experiments Lain is that it's right in the little spot where my mind does not overthink it, and I just see through it. I don't know how many have had this, and it's actually kind of annoying. I see the artistic side of it... Well... I can make this longer with that....

The basics go like this. S.E.L doesn't tell, it shows without telling. Like see how they made the outside world alien from the very beginning. The path Lain walked every day, with the weird shadows and such? Showing her alienation. Also, Lain's personality changes by the time she gets the new Navi in ep 3 i think. And from there, the shots of her room become darker and darker, and the real world becomes darker and darker. This just shows how the only thing with light, the navi, has become her light.

Also. Remember those mindfuckery imagery that disappeared after a couple of episodes? They were remainders of her mind in the Wired or such. They disappeared immediately when she connected to the Wired.

I really don't know, what to make of this. Did I miss something big? It just left a hollow feeling. Maybe if there was some really fascinating things that you would get only by understanding the series. I think the problem lies probably more in me than in the series. I just felt like it had interesting ideas that didn't really go anywhere.

Time to Steins;gate... We'll see how long that takes...


I figured this shit out too early, and that's why it's not so special to me. The only mindfuck I got was the one I made: I was right from the beginning.

maanantai 10. kesäkuuta 2013

The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

I've been on a break (Band stuff and games), but now I'm back in the game!

First off, there will be pictures, I have like seven, and that's because there's so much to talk about. I could go into great lengths to just talk about the metaphors of the pictures, but I'll just keep it short and add them to the small texts beneath them.

This is really something. I write this fresh (As always), five minutes after the movie (Actually I slept a full night sleep, but doesn't affect me). Thus some things haven't settled in yet. Oh, and there will be a funny thing including one of the latter novels, but it's just a minor thing so no need to worry about huge spoiler alert. Of course, I will rip the movie apart, so there will be spoilers of IT of course.

Surprisingly Complex: The Disappearance of Suzumiya Haruhi

The words that we're focusing today are "change" and "regret" as they are integral parts of the movie. Also their combinations are important. And the words themselves don't really mean anything, but more like just convey the general idea that it is usually used with. Change is more straightforward, but regret is harder to explain. It comes in the very end, but it has a powerful punch when it comes (The moment when Nagato tells that she actually changed the world). The very character of Kyon becomes an embodiment of regret. Silence tells more than any words could. Which was an important part of Endless Eight, where the silence of Nagato was actually creepier and actually showed her despair in a way. In the same way, Kyon is now filled with regret of two things. Firstly, getting annoyed of Haruhi's bull, leading Nagato (An observer that cannot fathom human emotion) thinking that wouldn't it be better for Kyon also if the world changed to a normal one. Secondly, not realizing that Nagato was changing, and relying on her too much.

Change ain't gonna come, is it?
Change as a part of the movie is obvious. The whole premise is, that the insane world has changed, and only one left from the another side was a nutcase. It's a man thrown into an insane world reversed. A man from an insane world, where going insane is the only way to survive, thrown into a normal world, where he cannot feel he belongs, as he has already gone insane. No, I don't really mean Kyon is insane, but if a person believes aliens, time travelers and espers exist because an oblivious god created it, in a normal situation you would be directed straight into the mental ward.

In the time Nagato was in our world (Particularly in Endless Eight) she must have felt like an alien. And when she thinks she could finally do some good (Give Kyon a world where he wouldn't suffer) she only succeeds in alienating Kyon of the world she created. Ironic?

Remember that Haruhi we know also heard that!
Might have something to do with godhood?
God theory time? Well, it's fairly simple this time, as Haruhi isn't actually involved that much. In a way, Disappearance is actually on Kyon's side on this. It even explains why Kyon was the only one unaffected: You can't change a real god. Which would make lot of sense. Or the Data Overmind is just that powerful. We may never know. Also, depending on the view, the scene in the left may actually be very important if you think about the fact that the normal world Haruhi also heard that. It enforces a theory that to Haruhi, Kyon IS John Smith, but she doesn't know that he is the real John. So Kyon has taken the part of a person who he actually is. Ironic as heck.

(A sidenote, Taniguchi's date, even if it seems random at this time, actually gets funny when we get to meet the girl he was on date with... That soccer scene just always made me laugh, but now it was enhanced!)

So, to the symbolism! This one's gonna take a while, believe me!

Theres' a larger emphasis on symbolism, and it can be noticed in the beginning if one keeps their mind open. Like see how Haruhi putting that little party hat on Nagato seems surprisingly important after you watched the part where she puts it on herself?

The smile so faint, even Kyon can't handle it
Also, when Kyon is thrown into the new world, there's this huge epidemic of cold spreading, but Kyon stays unaffected: strenghtening the feeling that Kyon doesn't belong. And as I told before, silence tells more than words. Especially during the visit to the new Nagato's house, after leaving, the silence that Kyon befalls on tells more about it than a wall of text about that one little smile ever could. Kyon is always prepared to say something snarky, but when he isn't, damn.
Overloading the world with fun like a BOSS.

On the moment of decision, before he points the gun on Nagato, there's so much of symbolism that it's better just to leave everyone to find most of them themselves. But some examples are good to take. Like on the right we can see the club room overloading with christmas swag, which actually symbolizes that Haruhi overloaded at least his life with fun.

Kyon's final choice, heartbreaking as it is, is also delivered in a neat package, with the scene on the left. It's a reference to the scene before where Nagato succeeded in keeping Kyon in her world (Her house), but this time, Kyon didn't give in.

  There's also this single beautiful picture (In the left). But it's a slight metaphor to the scale of world at large against Nagato, which she actually, in the end, succeeded in changing quite a lot. It also takes on alienation, how everything is so far away. But the weird part is that it has nothing to do with the fact she's an alien. If she was a human (With similar emotional disattach), she would be alienated as much as she is now.

This one (in the right) actually means 2 things: Nagato accepting the humanity she's gaining, and actually joining the SOS brigade, which she actually never did before.

There's a few examples, but I could delve deeper if needed.

In the scene where Kyon assures Nagato that if she goes missing, they'd go through seven hells to get her back. Here the interesting part is actually just a minor one, but one with great impact to the whole supposed continuity. It's the one on the left where Kyon puts his coat on Nagato. This means so goddamn many things, and it actually changes the dynamics of the series so damn much in a way. Kyon now takes responsibility, and takes his part as John Smith, the active defender of the world whatnot. It's told in the end, but the actual scene where it happens is here. It also serves as an oath to protect Nagato if needed. It's also a form of apology for all the things that happened to Nagato etc etc etc.

There's some symbolism for ya! (God, this blogpost looks like a clusterfuck)

torstai 6. kesäkuuta 2013

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Part 2

Surprisigly Complex: Suzumiya Haruhi, Connections and Endless misery

Last time I concluded in a question: Does Kyon feign ignorance to Haruhi's feelings? It may be or may not be, but I'll try to take that to account.

Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody is the most important episode in the series, and even the series itself recognizes this. So what's all the fuss about the Tanabata 3 years ago exactly? Taking account both god theories, it ís either:
1. Kyon going back in time three years and making Haruhi believe that supernatural exists
2. It's a simple effect of having three versions of a god (Kyon) in the same place.
Nonetheless, I am going to actually go with Haruhi-theory now, to give my own viewpoint: I see it as being possible that the reason of significance is shown, but from another angle. This is my theory, thus it may be confusing or not make any sense.

Even Kyon is confus of this shit.
I see it as this: Kyon was originally born 3-5 years prior to Haruhi (Making him a high schooler when Haruhi was in middle school), and in the original universe, on July 7th, stumbled to Haruhi by accident, carrying a beautiful girl that Haruhi did not believe was his sister. Kyon then proceeded to do the markings as is, and when asked his name, wanted to protect his identity (as he remarked: "If this had been the first time encountering such middle school girl, I would've thought of her as genuinely dangerous." Though it's not clear if he's actually referring to Sasaki, it's left open), and called himself John Smith. When later asked about the supernatural, he answered in a manner that he would've wanted (It's referred in the very first episode of the series), practically the same answer he gave in the series. This then activated Haruhi's powers as she probably kinda fell for him, wishing that they went to the same high school, which then changed Kyon's life in a way that he would simultaneously be there on Tanabata and the same high school as her, by time travel. This would make Kyon a slider, and Kyon as a slider is touched again in Disappearance, where instead of actually transferring to another world, the world itself changes. I'll come to that later.

Also, this would in a way explain Kyon's affection to Mikuru, because the only way to get Kyon's absolute trust required to get him to travel in time is to get his affection. And if Haruhi didn't want to meet a real time traveler, but a person who has experienced it, it makes even more sense. To make the connection to Kyon being able to be in the same high school as her while not technically being a time traveler from the future, she used the only thing he had with him as a reason, the girl. Thus was Asahina Mikuru born in the future.

The true meat of Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody is not what happened, but what it caused. It is the very reason the series' plot exists, and it's told so discreetly it's admirable. It got me to really love the series once I realized that.

Okay, onto the thing that almost all people despise in the series... Endless eight. They call it pointless, laziness of the animation department and just a waste of time. I beg to differ.

First things first. Endless eight can be seen as two things also, depending on theory:
1. Haruhi really wants the summer not to ever end because she is having so much fun
2. Kyon wants more time to get his summer homework done
One of the only things keeping her sane?
While both are valid in a way, the Kyon-theory falls flat. Kyon knows the pain Nagato is going through, and would still want more time? It seems too selfish to be real. Haruhi is oblivious of Nagato's pain, and thus doesn't give jack. So now to WHY KyoAni made Endless Eight as it is known today.

Endless Eight boils down to being even riskier artistic decision than Bakemonogatari's character lens. It frustrated so many fans so much, that many never watched the series again. It was a gamble of life and death, and simultaneously they succeeded and failed. I'm on the camp on who it succeeded on, as I eventually realized the reasoning behind it, but most people who saw it were just baffled. I personally even think the anime version (Eight episodes) was better than in the novel (One sole chapter).

I was one of the ones who almost quit. But still every week I came back to see if the endless eight had finally ended. And when it did, man was it glorious. But does it still deny the pain I went through waiting for something to change? For the seemingly endless misery of seeing the same things again and again? If I did my "drama" properly you might have already guessed the real reason behind the Endless Eight. It was meant for the ones who were following the series every week. If you watched the second airing of Haruhi after it was finished or after the endless eight, try to put yourself in the shoes of a watcher who watches it, and waits every week for a new episode.

Sadly most don't even last eight
For me, the frustration in the moment was enormous. I wanted it to end. Really, to just end. I was actually kind of desperate, because one of my favourite series of all time was airing every week yet it was in a standstill. And that was the point of it. You couldn't escape the fact that it wasn't going to change. Of course, we knew the airing would end at some point, but would the rest of the series be just this? One episode, all over again? We couldn't know. It really was annoying, but only after, when I got a tiny hint, I realized it. The god of the series, KyoAni, was torturing me deliberately, to make me feel what Nagato feels. At that point the character of Nagato changed in my mind (This was still before Disappearance) as I realized Endless Eight's ingenuity. It was made to prepare us for the fact that Nagato was going to change. It was character progression without dialogue, without any action in the whole series (Kyon's random thoughts are not counted as they differ in every loop and he forgets them nonetheless). That was one of the biggest mindfucks I've ever come across. And also one of the reasons I still adore this series.

Of course, if you watched the series afterwards, it wouldn't really make sense, would it? It's an ingenious trick, but after the first time it's useless.

So we were practically made to feel the pain of Nagato in miniature size. Of course, the difference in patience of an Android and a human is incomparable (It's even lampshadowed in Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, where Kyon said that it would require a world of patience to wait the three years Nagato has been on standby mode), but I think the risk they took was still huge. Expecting people to wait eight weeks? It's lunacy. But as we all know, ingenuity and insanity come hand in hand.  Every time a person dropped the series for good during Endless Eight is comparable to Nagato committing suicide

Think about that.

keskiviikko 5. kesäkuuta 2013

The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Part 1

Being a seasoned Haruhi-veteran (I’ve read all the novels except 11) Watching the anime shows that the people at KyoAni really knew what they were doing.
In mindbending anime’s like Haruhi watching the first episode usually activates the part of my brain that just seeks clues for foreshadowing. Given that there are multiple theories about this series, I will be going through many of them, trying to pinpoint differences in execution, giving reasons to some things that may make more or less sense.

This will be different from my analysis on Bakemonogatari, where I explicitly went through one point of view that everyone seemed to miss. These theories of Haruhi are well known, but I’ll give my own twisted explanations on the matters. I’ll be telling them in one huge pile of text where I actually give my take to also some artistic touches that make the series interesting to watch in hindsight. And spoilerrific, this time I believe it’s going to be worse.

Surprisingly Complex: Suzumiya Haruhi, The beginning of the awkward, unrequited love

The whole point in the Miracle Mikuru episode being the first is to give the watcher a huge batch of foreshadowing to something miles (More exactly one “season”) away. It’s also there to serve as an introduction to the batshit crazy stuff of Haruhi…

Prepare to break the monochrome... 3. 2. 1...
One of the most obvious things one notices in the beginning of the series, is the monochrome which breaks with Haruhi’s introduction. It’s an obvious reference to the fact that Haruhi brought some simple joy into Kyon’s life that lies beneath his snarky and facepalm-y surface. It also supports the both general theories of godhood, Haruhi-theory and Kyon-theory respectively.

It supports Kyon-theory in the way that is pointed out actually not too long after that, when Kunikida explains Taniguchi how Kyon has always liked weird girls. So could Haruhi be just Kyon’s fantasy of meeting a batshit crazy girl with questionable morals and motives? Could be, or…

It could be Haruhi’s fantasy of showing the light to at least one person. Finding a one person to talk with. As such she could’ve created all the crazy stuff we’re to encounter in the series just to find a supernatural friend / a man to love (I will follow up on this in Part 2). Heartwarming in a way, but goddamnit. As we later see in the series, Kyon could be just a slider from a world where they never went to the same high school. When I get the Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody, I’m gonna talk less Tanabata and more theory. 

The rest of the episode is fairly normal “Haruhi being Haruhi” from the hitting the globe with a ball to grabbing Asahina. Taniguchi’s clearly butthurt attitude toward Haruhi is still funny to watch though. It gives a nice touch of a world that’s more alive, as there are things we’re told by simply the actions of the characters, without obvious remarks of it. It also raises the question: did Asakura become what she was because Kyon wanted to prove Taniguchi wrong, or just because you should beware the nice ones?

The latter episodes give information about the Tanabata incident 3 years ago, and give the information that our supernatural trio have been told by their higher ups. Also, I would want to give a side-theory which doesn’t really have anything to do with godhood. I would say, that in a way, it’s possible that Nagato, Asahina and Koizumi are actually the leaders of every given faction. Koizumi is the easiest to explain, as he has all the spoils that only a very high-ranking officer would have. Nagato on the other hand is possibly the an incarnation of the Data Overmind/ Integration Thought Entity, that actually regains consciousness / evolves during the Endless Eight (Which is actually more ingenious than many think.). The Adult Asahina being the leader of the Time Travelers would be no surprise, as she doesn’t really have any of the restraints the Young Asahina has.

I highly doubt that.
The Haruhi as a god wanting to be sort of comicbookish character makes sense, like how all those times she says to Kyon how “It’s not a date!” when they draw lots when they divide on their Mystery Searches. Why did she not end up going with Kyon at any of those? Because in a true comicbookish sense she wouldn’t. It would make it mysterious. Yes, she’s weird enough to frustrate herself to make her character more real.
The other side of the argument lies in Kyon’s desire to get on a date with Asahina and Nagato, but while it may seem immediately more obvious, in the long run it makes no sense. IF not for the fact, that he may actually be searching for the comicbookish situation, where a pretty girl just randomly tells him that she’s supernatural. In that sense, yes, it makes sense.

 Regarding the two theories of godhood, interestingly, the longer the series grows, the Kyon-theory actually starts to make less sense, until it pops up again (Sasaki, but that can be interpretated...). The fact that all the weird things happen to Kyon actually enforces to think differently of Haruhi as a character, because maybe she doesn’t want to actually want to experience all that weird stuff, but more like wants to meet a person who has. If you think about the character it actually kinda makes sense.

Then comes the real juice. The dimension created in the last episode of the first season, where Kyon and Haruhi would’ve been trapped forever if Kyon didn’t act up. If Kyon really was god, why would he create that dimension? Does he really have the guts to destroy the whole world because he feels it’s a pain in the ass (Which is actually denied in Disappearance). He whines without purpose, not trying to really change anything.

Yes they do.

In my mind, this actually enforces the Haruhi-god theory that the series itself throws on us. She created that dimension because she felt Kyon wanted there to be a world with everything cool in it. And she also wanted to be with him. Kyon probably knows about Haruhi’s affection to him, but either he acts that he doesn’t because he doesn’t know what to do with it, or because he doesn’t want to deal with it.

Does Kyon feign ignorance?

Join me next time for Bamboo Leaf Rhapsody and Endless Eight, where I go truly outlandish and explain my own view of the significance of the Tanabata 3 years ago -incident.

tiistai 4. kesäkuuta 2013

Nekomonogatari: When love is not enough

First off... Let's change the name of the Summer Triangle Drama... It's what I call the Hanekawa Triangle. Why? Because, even if it's seen through the eyes of Araragi, Hanekawa is ultimately the most important aspect of it. There's a reason why it's shown only in her openings. And I'll try to make more sense in this text, as I've failed miserably in making the previous texts make any kind of fucking sense. Thus, now I'll try to reconfigure my thoughts in a proper manner, and try to explain this shit.
Hanekawa Triangle, the very existence of it is formed AND destroyed in the end of Nekomonogatari, as Araragi says: "I will find another woman to love than Hanekawa", in a way to honor her as more than just a target of love. He says it has become something more, and this was actually one of the points where the series REALLY touched me. I may seem like an analytical motherfucker, but at that exact moment, I realized that Bakemonogatari HAD to be my favourite series of all time.

I gotta rewrite this and some other updates... Or maybe I'll just save it for the later retrospective. Just a heads up, the text here is kind of dated, but still relevant. By dated I mean extremely confusing.

The reason why I loved the series so much before that very line, was because I loved the art, loved the music, loved the characters... But at that moment, it ascended to a point beyond love. And the reason is simple, as I am talking now of my own life. I have said in my mind, exactly the same words to myself, for the exactly same reason (Without the bullshit with oddities), the feeling of going beyond love. Now this may sound like cheese, but it can't be really explained. The reason why I started to watch the series again, that led to my discovery of the absolute character portrayal of Araragi, the reasoning beyond the summer triangle, about everything that is ESSENTIAL to my love to the series as is, was of two reasons, one of which it's kind of portrayal of my own feelings quite some time ago, of which I'm still lingering with, and the other... I'll explain it in soon.

Surprisingly Complex: Nekomonogatari

Good fucking question!
Fake. That's what Senjougahara's and Araragi's relationship felt to me all this time. And in that way, the series succeeded in simultaneusly getting me question it and believe in it, and then just pulled the carpet under my feet. I fell, hard. I realized that the most important aspect of the series, the love between Araragi and Senjougahara, was just a fantasy of both of them. For Senjougahara, Araragi is the prince who comes to save her from the cruel world, where as for Araragi, Senjougahara is a target of fake love. BUT. Taking account the very philosophy of Nisemonogatari, this shit is AGAIN turned on it's head. Because fake love can be more real than the real thing, as it involves trying. They both try so hard to love each other, that they manage to pull it off, even when they both should not, in a way, be capable of it. This makes this shit so interesting. As all the triangles we've been fed are actually, in a way, just red herrings. Because Hanekawa believes so hard it being a triangle drama, it stops being one. Araragi doesn't believe that there is triangle drama, as he doesn't really love Hanekawa as he cares about her in another level. Overanalyzing? Maybe... But...

There are hints to their love being genuinely fake in the first episodes, before Senjougahara's initial confession. Senjougahara asking about love out of obligation, and her mentioning that maybe she is deceiving herself (3rd and 2nd episodes, consecutively). It actually gives their love story lot more depth. And I think that's where I got the idea, it just stuck to my mind until I forgot that I actually got it from the series itself.

So... Hanekawa is the most important character in the series, so why not talk about this girl for a while. It's actually shown in Nekomonogatari that she doesn't know everything, yet she does. It could be even so absurd, that in the final fight she almost killed Araragi because she knew that she could get rid of the cat that way, as she knew that Araragi wanted the cat out of her. She could just feign ignorance about knowing the sword. I don't know how much Kizumonogatari will change this again, but I hope it will again pull the carpet beneath my feet. Also, on the same note about Hanekawa. With the fake theory again (Damn, it's like I wanted to people to forget what I said earlier, WTF am I supposed to do with this conflicting information? Let's just call them differing viewpoints...) Hanekawa is seen as so fake, that she becomes real by being incapable of being real. Again, I apologize for the pseudo-philosophical bullshit feel of this, but it's true. When we try to become something, it already means that in some ways we are. Some things we can reach, some things we can't, but that's what makes us humane, right? Her incapability of being normal/real makes her such, at some level.

Continuing... The portrayal of Araragi's feelings is less over-the-top than Nisemonogatari, but it makes it more real. If you think about it, the whole scene where the cat appears in the school could just be Araragi's imagination. I saw it that way. It was more like his own analysis of the situation than the cat telling him directly about the things. He knew that Hanekawa feels no pity, and when he heard the story about the cat, something didn't add up. He then came up with this idea. Remember, it's just a theory. Ok, if the whole scene is not just in his mind, the end of the scene definitely is (Thinks I), where Black Hanekawa is leaving, and he tries to run to her, but stops, as he can't touch her. And as she says: "The right choice", it was actually Araragi's subconscious saying that to him, and NOT about physical touching. It was his mind telling him to let go of her. Which is a heck ironic considering what will come in the future.

Last stop, Araragi.. If you don't jump off now you may not even walk home.
Hey, remember when I said that when in Bakemonogatari there were flashbacks of Nekomonogatari, that they were inaccurate, but explained how they could really work like that? As we see in the last episode, they are in an abandoned building, not an alleyway. I think it's intentional. The abandoned building was where he was, but an alleyway leading to a dead end what he felt was. There was no way out of the mess that didn't go through Hanekawa.

Well, in the same way as Araragi's feelings toward Hanekawa are so much deeper than love, so much that it cannot be love, in the same vein, my feelings for this show are really hard to describe. I've always loved series that somehow portray myself (So does everyone, right?) but Monogatari really did it in a way that I could say almost no other series could. Also, it's very interesting philosophy made it a BLAST to watch, giving me much ammunition to use in my own life. It heightened my philosophical angle, made me cry a wee bit while doing it, and killed me in laughter more than once. It also made me feel very uncomfortable in an engaging kind of way (That one trip to Hanekawa's house). I will make more of Monogatari when there is more (This summer, to be exact), but on the meanwhile... It's time to watch something else.
Nagaru Tanigawa time it seems...


It's practically just me getting all feely about why the series is the best, and everything's fake you should know the drill?

lauantai 1. kesäkuuta 2013

Nisemonogatari: To be a fake (Complete rewrite)

More Monogatari, hopefully this time, also more sense put in there

Surprisingly Complex: Nisemonogatari

Detours. The story of Nisemonogatari is all but linear, starting in medias res and almost every episode a self-contained story. This doesn't really make it worse by any means. It actually enforces the point that life doesn't go on rails, with all the important things happening in order. While some may just point out that most of Nisemonogatari is filler, I tend to disagree. In this kind of series, the filler is more important than the stories themselves. Monogatari is characterization in it's heart, and that's why the actual "storylines" are less important than even the goofier "filler" moments.

I can give you an example. Which was more important to the Monogatari series, the part where Tsukihi is blown into half and made Araragi rage for the first time we've seen, or the bath scene with Shinobu. Exactly. The part where Tsukihi is blown apart is not even important in it's own right, only it's consequence is. Because Araragi doesn't see limits of family going between blood, but with emotion, we get to see more character of Araragi... Which has nothing to do with the scene actually. On the other hand, deepening the relationship between Shinobu and Araragi is so goddamn important to the story at large, just not the particular part of story where it's told. Weird, isn't it?

Heads up: This guy talks HC philosophy
And there was a good segue I didn't use. Araragi's development in the very end is actually crucial, as the same exact philosophy is told to us by Kaiki just few episodes before. He tells us about a fake being capable of being more than the real counterpart, as the fake must deliberately try to obtain it's goal, which for the real one, is given. It's one of the most important philosophies of this show, and even though this part of the series was not even supposed to be canon, it still effectively makes the series as a whole much better. The philosophy of being a fake can be applied to all parts of the series, before or after Nisemonogatari, and it always gives a new point of view in the matters.

Let me de-rail a bit, but it may be skipped if you want to continue on Nisemonogatari.

Meta-Redux: Bakemonogatari

There's a reason she hammers that line
Bakemonogatari didn't have such a strong main philosophy as Nisemonogatari, as it had many. Two most important ones are that only you can save yourself, and that things rarely change, only the viewpoints change. But applying the philosophy of Nise to Bakemonogatari is easy. Starting with Hanekawa. She deliberately tries to be normal, and as we sometimes see, fails at it. Normality can be seen as a kind of reality. She thinks she can somehow redeem herself from her miserable life by just enduring and trying to be as normal as possible. The problem is that she surpasses normality and becomes kind of a saint. It's also touched upon that her ability to surpass normality and becoming as good as she can is her downfall. Her perfect self reflects everyone else's problems, and they are seen in many different ways. Where as Araragi doesn't see her perfectly normal and good intentions reflecting his own misdeeds, he does see it, in a different way: lack of experience and information.

Yes, I just said that the whole idea of Hanekawa knowing everything is in Araragi's head. He sees his own stupid deeds not as a moral problem, but as an informational one. Thus creating Araragi, and us, the watchers, an illusion of Hanekawa knowing every possible thing there ever could be. To be normal, Hanekawa researched everything she could (But not everything period), making her the perfect human. Now, if we were to say, that she wasn't human, oh boy. I don't know yet, Kizumonogatari might explain it.

Meta-Redux END

On the second time watching Nise, I realized there's also a lot of talk of MONEY in the first arc. Like one of the better jokes being love sold at the convenience store for 298¥, Kaiki talking about philosophy of money and I would even count the flying money during Sengoku's and Araragi's Game of Life to be counted as some kind of foreshadowing for it. Thinking about the philosophy of money, and comparing it to the overall philosophy of fakes, you could see money as some kind of fake justice. And that leads to you know what is behind the character of Kaiki. Money can be just as good as real good, if it's used to make the cogs of society spinning and thus making good for everybody.

And from that, back to the main subject:

Araragi is a problematic case. He hypocritically says that his sisters' fake justice is just playing and nothing really to be taken seriously, even though it's lampshaded that he does the exactly the same thing, difference being between justice and helping being actually pointless, as the Fire Sisters most probably do the things they do just to protect their friends too. This makes them all three fake, but as one is not more fake than the other, it doesn't really matter. They do their thing just to make sure to see people with smiling faces, and they usually succeed in that, where as real "justice", carried out by law, leaves many with tears

Goddamnit Araragi!
Araragi's moods and feelings jump disturbingly much, almost enough to confessing that in a case of if he could, he would probably cheat on Senjougahara with Hanekawa (It's contradictory to what the very next part of the series tells us). Goddamnit Araragi. At this point I want to remind you, that even if it's not played with much, Araragi is just a high school hormone monster, and with vampire blood in him, who is to say that it doesn't actually enforce it even more.

There's also hints to the fact that Araragi is not with Senjougahara of love and that Senjougahara fascination was just bull he made up to lie to himself. There will be more of it in the Nekomonogatari Black.

Also, Toothbrushes.


Filler is more important than the main series, trust me, I'm a genuis (typo intended).

Bakemonogatari: What's a character lens? (Ver 1.2)

This blog post was born originally as a snap theory of mine, one which has now been recognized in the fandom.

It's been two years since I launched this blog, writing this blog post in a flash, then another, and then another. I basically watched all of Monogatari that had come then (Bake to NekoKuro) in a few days and wrote these original posts. Now, it is time to redo them. While I redid the Nisemonogatari post already once, it will probably get the same treatment. Just a heads-up. This remaking process will be slow, but it will be wholesome.

Surprisingly Complex: Bakemonogatari
The Beginning of the Character Lens

Those who have watched Bakemonogatari might have noticed that the storytelling methods in it are a little abstract, a little weird, and a little indirect. Well, one could say it is a stylistic choice, which it is, but unlike many other stylistic choices, Bakemonogatari (And all of it's sequels and prequels) has a stylistic technique I call the Character Lens. While on the outside it might seem like a regular first person narrative trick, it is not. It is the absolute extension of the first person narrative, something which is only possible in drawings and animation.

If you pay attention to the backgrounds, Bakemonogatari seems to often lack them. Not entirely lack them, but they lack... detail. They are very simple, created from wide objects, lacking texture most of the time. And even when they get details, the details often disappear quickly. All the cars look exactly the same, except when Araragi (Or any narrator to be exact) is going to get on it. All the bikes look exactly the same, except the one Araragi rides. All the houses look the same except the one Araragi lives in, or the ones he's going to. No people can be seen, except the ones Araragi knows or is paying attention to.  What does this mean?

Budget restraints, art style? Yes, both, but they are used cleverly to make a new story altogether. The world that we see in the series is not the world the world is over there, but, it's the world that the characters perceive. Colors are accented and always similar because we don't think about things as "midnight blue" or "seafoam green" instinctively. We think they're blue or green. We don't pay attention to other people's bikes, because why would we? Yes, we SEE them, but to us, they are bikes, not blue bikes or green bikes. The only bike that matters is MY bike.

This kind of thinking is extended to all parts of the series, and it goes incredibly deep. Remember all those fight scenes where Araragi gets almost killed? It looks like that (And usually has insane colors to match) because the moment is chaotic, painful and Araragi feels like he's dying. Same happens with erotic scenes. Hanekawa in vicinity? Zoom to chest. This is because Araragi unsurprisingly is an incurable pervert. Fanservice, yes, but character building at the same time.

Where it gets weird is when the visual allegories come in. Remember the scene when Araragi catches Senjougahara, falling from the sky to his arms? That one, on the right?

It never happened like that. Senjougahara did not plunge from hundreds of meters from the air straight into Araragi's arms. She just slipped on the top of a flight of stairs, and Araragi catched her as she fell. It just felt like she fell to his arms so that is what we see. Don't believe me? Here's an excerpt from the original light novel:
As previously mentioned, I had a tendency for tardiness, and was therefore rushing up the stairs of the school building. At that moment, a girl fell from the sky.
The girl was Senjougahara Hitagi.
To be truthful, she probably didn't fall from the sky. She'd probably tripped on the stairs and fell backwards. I could have dodged it, but I chose to catch her and break her fall.
Compare it to the scene in the first episode. It had Senjougahara falling from the sky, but as we don't rarely actually peek inside character's heads, we didn't know that in the actuality she didn't fall from the sky. I did this discovery before I read that part from the book, and I was overjoyed to know I was right.

Nonetheless. To think that this is one of the first scenes in the whole series of now ranging over 50 episodes, it is comparable to the tip of the iceberg. The combination of in-world fact and fiction is endless, from character interaction to visual motifs that appear. Everything has a reason, and everything is thought out.

With this in mind, how can we even be sure if the things the narrator does actually happen? We cannot. It all happens like a story being told by the narrator, twisting the little facts and fictions of what happened into the direction the narrator saw them. I have suspicions of the real happenings in many scenes, but they are hard to pinpoint. One of the later narrators in the second season even explicitly stated that they will lie to the watcher.

So, why watch the series then? If you can't even know what is happening, really, what fun is watching it? To me, the fun is uncovering it. To uncover what is really going on, bit by bit. But I am not in any way discrediting the stories themselves, they all have interesting aesops and evoke lots of philosophical thought inside my head.

(I will leave the rest of the original just laying here for now, I will see what I will do to it later)

It's interesting that not one person I've seen on the internets has pointed out the ingenuity of Bakemonogatari and it's sequels, in the sense of storytelling. Not even the ones who have read the novels, to whom it should be obvious. I don't know. This blog is all about things people miss, and this one is the one definite thing that almost every single person watching this anime has missed. Or if they haven't, they haven't spread it, which is a shame.

Surprisingly Complex: Bakemonogatari

What's a character lens? I can tell you, with this anime series, it something really important. More on that soon...

There are few animes that require thinking to be enjoyed. Where as Bakemonogatari, at face value, can be very entertaining to some, I aim to give everyone the maximum enjoyment that you can get from the series. This I will do by deconstructing the elements of it, explaining the loopholes and giving space for some very interesting text. So, let's begin!

Bakemonogatari, in it's heart, is a story from the first person narrative, obviously. While that's like saying 1+1 equals 2, the actual execution is different from other series/movies with first person narrative. Think about these questions for a bit:
-Why are there no other people in the whole world than Araragi and the girls? (Senjougahara's dad is also explainable)
-Why do objects (Cars, bicycles and houses) not connected to Araragi all look exactly the same?
-Why are the violent and sexual scenes often so gratuitous?

During the first 2 questions some will think about budget restraints or it just being the part of the art style, but if it is art style, why? On the other hand, the third question may be thought as some kind of fanservice-y thing so they would have something to show in the trailers or such, but from my point of view, that is not the case. As you can guess, it has something to do with first-person narrative. You are absolutely right. And if you think it has something to do with character lens, you are absolutely right. Character lens is a technique that can be used to execute an abstract but logical world.

When using a character lens, what actually exists and happens is not shown, but what the character "feels" or imagines is. I'll explain. The whole series is actually more in Araragi's head than in his surroundings, it's just shown from a different perspective. Why is Araragi's bike different from the rest? Because it is his own, and is special for him, thus he pays attention to it. He doesn't pay attention to the surrounding people (Except Senjougahara, Hanekawa etc.) therefore they "don't exist."

Later in the series it delves into even deeper to the character lens, showing allegories in visual form. It's also shown when later in the series, the narrator changes, the world changes with it. It remarks some sort of ingenuity in the process.

Getting kicked hurts, right? Getting kicked by a devil, I imagine, feels something like this.
So, why are the fight scenes always so weird and abstract, usually having weird colours and over the top effects? Because that's what Araragi feels to be in the fight. IT HURTS. A LOT. And thus he overestimates the effects of pain and it is seen by the viewer as huge pools of blood and gore. Notice how the surreal nature and colours of ie. the fight between the Rainy Devil disappears IMMEDIATELY the red scene accompanied with Senjougahara's line appears. That's how. He puts his attention to something else (Senjougahara) thus the chaos of the fight has ended. Surprisingly simple.

Same happens with sexual things. He's a teenager. It's not just fanservice. He's a teenager. So every little perverted thing may be HUGE in the mind of such libido-minded guy like Araragi, making the scenes themselves more perverted intentionally. Like every time Hanekawa's chest is in the radius of 500 meters he goes nuts.

Ok, time to jump theorising about Senjougahara's birthday, which is actually completely offtopic to the subject at hand, but gives an interesting theory.   (SPOILER ALERT)

Triangles, everyone! That's what you get!
 First up. Triangles. Everyone fucking loves triangles, right? Well, triangle drama is actually pretty common, and I think the Monogatari-series has done a damn good job inserting it to the story. The whole love story aspect is a mess on the first time through though. We're given vague glimpses of the things that happened while Araragi was a vampire, and that somehow Hanekawa saved him, and that's why they love each other but they can't because of reasons and somehow Araragi hooks up with a psycho virgin. Well, after watching Nekomonogatari and watching Bakemonogatari the second time it makes a lot more sense. Even the actual "triangle" of the triangle drama becomes a more of an abstraction, as it doesn't really apply, because of the ending of Nekomonogatari (Watch it and understand it). And the reason why Hanekawa and Araragi aren't together is explained, in a pretty logical way.

Summer Triangle and Tanabata. Tanabata is July 7th, coincidentally also Senjougahara's birthday. But surprisingly, it carries a meaning. Why in the stargazing scene does Senjougahara show the stars Deneb, Altair and Vega, the Summer Triangle, first? Because Tanabata is her birthday, and those three stars are important for her. In her age of darkness (Read: just before and after the crab made a visit) the tale of Tanabata was the only thing she could rely on. That's speculation, but anyway. If this was the case, then damn, giving us some goddamn character depth right there. Well, anyway, when Araragi showed up, she had already put all her defenses up to maximum and was not expecting it, but when Araragi genuinely helped her, she started to believe. The Summer Triangle Drama (Yes, I'm calling it that for now, will change it's name during a latter update) is formed by Senjougahara, Araragi and Hanekawa. Hanekawa's part is impossible to explain without heavy spoilers on the character of Araragi, thus I will not yet. If you know anything of the story, just try to figure the most bare-bones idea of it and try to think about it after you've watched Nekomonogatari. 

So, how are these three connected to the tale of Tanabata? Actually, they are not. And if they are, they are very vaguely. Anyway, things don't happen like in ancient tales, there are just occasional coincidences. That's life, and that's what we're shown. The characters know that it doesn't happen that way, and they do show it. So what have I been rambling about? The fact that a character makes this connection, quite obviously, and nobody understands what it means. Also, few make the connection between Senjougahara and Tanabata, because simply... No one in the series does except Senjougahara. "I'll give you this starry sky" an obvious reference to the Summer Triangle she just mentioned, but Araragi doesn't get it. ( I was damn lucky to have Haruhi as one of my favorite series, and accidentally made the connection.)

Also, it may be a plotpoint later in the series or Nisio Isin put it there and forgot it or something, I dunno.

Well... That went off topic. (SPOILERS END)

Back to character lens. As everything, absolutely everything is basically in Araragi's head. It leads pretty well to another part of the show. What we're shown is often just Araragi's interpretation of it. It is said in the series, that the very essence of Oddities is that they are what people believe them to be. This is lampshaded as Oshino points out, that Shinobu has become childish because Araragi believes she is just a child (That's actually in Nekomonogatari, but anyway). The whole series is what Araragi believes it to be, and all we see is only that. That is why some things for example seem to happen but don't happen. It's usually in the middle of dialogue where something is said, but it's left unanswered, or a comment is thrown but it doesn't affect the dialogue itself. In these cases, Araragi imagined saying something, or the other person saying something, but the thing isn't said.

Sometimes things are highly overplayed outside of violence and ecchi. For example: take the very beginning of the series (Not the pantyshot you pervs, I just said outside of ecchi : D), where Araragi is running up circular stairs in his school, and Senjougahara falls to his hands. Later, we see Araragi running down the stairs of the school, that are NOT circular. The staircase never was circular. And Senjougahara didn't fall from far, she just tripped on the top of a staircase, with Araragi walking the said staircase upwards, and he caught her. We're shown the circular stairs and 50-meter fall because Araragi felt that Senjougahara fell to his hands.

You'll be amazed how blatantly this is executed in many cases, go and watch an episode or two.

I don't remember if there are any scenes without Araragi actually being there, but I tell you, if there is, it doesn't really happen the way we see it. It's just Araragi reconstructing a possible way the situation went out. I will address this later, when such scenes come. For example, remember, if Araragi talks to his phone and we see the one in the other end, we only see what Araragi thinks is going on on the other side, not what is actually happening.


We see what Araragi sees, mentally and physically. Also some random Tanabata trivia.

PS. BTW If you feel there is something to improve, do say so. My information about the Tanabata tale for example are very lacking. Also, give your own viewpoints, I love hearing other people's ideas!

PS2. This seems to be the bread and butter text that everyone reads first (I wonder why...), so I made some polishing.

PS3. Well goddamnit. I just realized there was hardly any philosophy in this update. Just read the next one about Nisemonogatari, it has plenty.