Tuesday, January 31, 2012

:anime: First Impression:: Nisemonogatari Ep. 3

<--To Nisemonogatari, Ep. 2 | To Nisemonogatari, Ep. 4-->

Nisemonogatari, Ep. 3 - "Karen Bee, Part 3"
[Crunchyroll] [Crackle] [Hulu]

After two episodes of fun banter, the story really kicks it up in this installment. So, let's get it start…:

--Taking a break, Koyomi and Suruga discuss his love life, when she warns him to be careful of girls taking advantage of his kindness. While she jokes about him marrying Tsubasa instead of Hitagi, she also makes a cryptic note about the two's relationship. With his secret still on his mind, he asks her about how she deals with her family regarding her left arm being constantly wrapped. For her, she has played it off as an "injury", but because of an incident regarding her mother, she not on much speaking terms with her grandparents, whom she lives with.

--As he leaves her home, Koyomi comes face-to-face with a mysterious man named Kaiki. The nonchalant, solemn stranger happened to be in the area when he was passing by the supposed residence of a certain woman's child--one bearing the same surname as Suruga's mother. But with little aura to be found, no money was to be found for him, either, so he simply leaves. The man's presence invokes reminiscences of Meme Oshino (Bakemonogatari) and Guillotine Cutter (Kizumonogatari), causing Koyomi to follow suit. But as soon as he is peddles in his direction, he swiftly peddles in the opposite, his instincts telling him otherwise…

--Downtown, Koyomi runs into Hitagi, who is none-to-pleased to see him neglecting his studies and sinks a few barbs into him. She also manages to detect how many girls he has met that day and warns him over getting to "friendly", albeit in jest. As they walk together, Koyomi mentions meeting the strange man by name, and is promptly knocked-out over it…

--Chained inside an abandoned school building (and bringing the story full-circle to the beginning of Ep.1), Hitagi informs her boyfriend that she intends to keep him as far away from Kaiki as possible. The "ill-omened" figure was one of the five con men that tricked her and robbed her family of money when she fell under a curse (Bakemonogatari), and she does not want to lose anything else precious to her.

--However, Koyomi receives a text on his cell from Tsukihi simply reading, "Help me"--and it's enough to cause him to break free from his restraints with his vampire powers. Hitagi, despite her efforts, proves understanding of what he must do, but now he suddenly receives a phone call. Hitagi answers it, and becomes uncharacteristically flustered by the voice on the other end. She agrees to go along with what they say, and allows Koyomi to leave, even apologizing. Asking who it was, she replies that it was Tsubasa…

Now, in conjunction with all of this were:

--Multiple insults and (possibly legit) death threats from one's girlfriend, including multiple homicides of one's lady-friends to keep them company.

--Being threatened, via box cutter and on one's backside, by one's girlfriend while she has her hand half-down one's throat while grabbing their bottom jaw.

--A well-documented Akira reference.

--Being knocked-out and kidnapped--for one's own safety--by one's own girlfriend.

After spending the first two episodes touching bases, the storyline of Ep. 3 came hard with the plot, which managed to flow back into Ep. 1's beginning rather succinctly. Hitagi's well-meaning, but typically heavy-handed, efforts were not completely without method. Kaiki is, indeed, one creepy, "ill-omened" dude, and SHAFT did a great job illustrating that without coming on too strong with it. The background of dead trees basking in a crimson twilight glow was very befitting of the character both in name and presence (the "ki" in "Kaiki" meaning "dead trees"). His voice, design, and overall demeanor helped accentuate his ominousness, but perhaps no more so than the music presiding over the scene. Satoru Kousaki is one of the best and most underrated composers in anime, and his score here may rank near the top of his, as each piece has helped complement and carry each scene they have been in. This one was certainly no different, as the violin and piano piece helped add another dimension to the visuals.


The score also delivered in the final act between Hitagi and Koyomi, doing very well in backing the changes in tone. The last minutes of the episode proved to be a microcosm of their relationship, a very unorthodox one between an abrasive, no-nonsense girl and a helpful, nice-guy boy, but also one in which they are shown to be compatible and understanding of one another. While Hitagi was rather rough, for example, she meant well, and knew when to step aside when Koyomi had a dire matter to attend to, and the tender talk they had after he broke free underscored everything about their love.

However, I doubt anyone would have ever seen the day that anyone would shut down the Tsundere Queen herself, let alone for that person be Tsubasa Hanekawa, of all people. Suruga's ambiguous comment about their relationship, coupled with both of them being the most important figures in Koyomi's life, seems to pointing to some kind of unknown partnership between the two. It is likely a mutual agreement to protect Koyomi, and it's clear that Hitagi respects Tsubasa very much, but her surprise reaction and resignation to the situation seems to point to something deeper. How deep and what that is remains to be seen, but also of question is Kaiki's knowledge of Suruga and her mother…

On the other hand, this episode may be the least newbie-friendly, so far, as it makes reference to crucial events in Bakemonogatari, including a character from Kizumonogatari (one briefly shown in the prologue of Bake-'s first episode, which provided a break-neck montage of the story's key events and will likely be delved into greater depth in the June film adaptation). This is a sequel, mind you, and with things beginning to come together in a big way, it is perhaps Nisemonogatari's best outing yet. But, with Karen at the center of this arc's plot, in addition to the mysterious phone call she had last time, Tsukihi's plea for help does not bode well for the future…

P.S.: So many, many more pictures… (I thought I was supposed to keep it in check?)

Someone at SHAFT had to have been begging to do this shot…

Very good…

I have to wonder: who would win in a bike race?
a) Koyomi, b)
Akira's Kaneda, or c) Golden Boy's Kintarou?

The real danger?

Far-off shots tend not to have the most detailed character renderings.
However, this one turned out cute…

She blushes!

P.P.S.: Added links to Crackle and Hulu, who were added as streamers of the show after this review was done.

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