Sunday, March 04, 2012

:anime: First Impression:: Nisemonogatari Ep. 6

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Nisemonogatari, Ep. 6 - "Karen Bee, Part 6"
[Crunchyroll] [Crackle] [Hulu]

Nisemonogatari continues to get better with Episode 6, which picks up right were it left off…:

--Koyomi, despite his efforts, was unable to take on all of the poison, though Karen's condition has slightly improved. Walking to Hitagi's house, he comes upon Mayoi, who notices how pale he looks. He tells her everything that has happened and remarks how "idiotic" his sisters are, but she says he's a bit like that as well, but since he was able to help save her, they must have saved many others, too. He questions whether, being kids, it's fair for him to hold them to adult standards, but Mayoi suggests that the problem may be that they are forgetting that they are kids…

--At Hitagi's, Koyomi finds his girlfriend sharpening numerous pencils with a knife. She intends to kill Kaiki with them, whom she arranged a meeting with later. Not wanting her to become a criminal for her deeds, he tries to talks her down from it and asks to go with her. In spite of her initial opposition and feeling that he is ill-suited to go up against an evil like Kaiki's, she relents once he tells her of his sisters and delivers a couple "cool" words conveying his concern and dedication to her. She agrees to let him come--on a to-be-determined condition following the meeting…

--In the meantime, Koyomi returns home, but finds Tsukihi in hysterics as Karen has suddenly disappeared. He goes after searching for her, but soon hits a wall. Shinobu appears from his shadow and "offers" to lend a hand (albeit, she'd rather be "ordered" to, as "offering" would be "beneath" her). After some consternation, he obliges, and using her scent, Shinobu points in the right direction…

Also in this episode:

--Very, very sharp killing pencils.

--Girlfriend thrusting very, very sharp killing pencil towards boyfriend's eye.

--A running through the color gamut.

(I don't know, by this show's standards, this was one of their less-weird episodes.)

Although, opening it with a pastel-painted flower unfurling is out-of-the-ordinary…

Thankfully, not only were we spared from having to watch Koyomi follow through on his plan to save Karen, we got a very good episode here. None of the exhibitionism from previous episodes can be found and the story keeps its focus on the dilemma involving the Fire Sisters, Hitagi's long-simmering hatred, and the man at the center of it all, Kaiki. Mayoi made a good point about the girls, in the respect that their hearts are in the right place in wanting to help others (more so than treating it like a game), but as just middle-schoolers, they are too young, naive, and in over their heads with Karen sick and Tsukihi freaking out over her disappearance. However, it's amusing to see how oblivious Koyomi is to the similarities between himself and the siblings he criticizes, given his own propensity to help those in need and his penchant--even at the risk of his body and life--for self-sacrifice.

Additionally, Koyomi and Hitagi's relationship "got real" during the episode as one tried to talk the other down from committing murder. Hitagi's capable of it, and Koyomi showed genuine concerned over her becoming a criminal. It did not come easy, but seeing his words reach past her hatred of Kaiki to through to her spoke a lot about their compatibility and her admiration of him. On the other hand, a kill attempt on Kaiki is not advisable, anyway, as there increasingly looks to be more to him than what he lets on.

Having an appearance beyond its face, too, is the odd relationship between Hitagi and Tsubasa. Kanbaru made a cryptic remark in Ep. 3 of disapproving it and perhaps we now know why when the normally strong-willed Hitagi accidentally refers to Tsubasa as "Master" or uses high-minded honorifics for her in a subservient tone. On top of Tsubasa pulling rank on her when she was bodyguarding/kidnapping Koyomi by "threatening" to steal Koyomi, it's funny to think that anyone (besides Koyomi, to an extent) would have any control over the Tsundere Queen, much less with the amount she has, but part of me wonders how much their dynamic will play into the latter parts of the Monogatari series--and that doesn't include my suspicions of Tsubasa, either.

Aside from the substance part of it, this was also one of the best episodes, artistically, with its numerous stylistic changes, detailing, and full use of coloring, which gave everything an extra oomph of impact. Many of those flourishes did not feel gratuitous, either, and most importantly, they helped enhance their scenes. Not everything panned out: Hitagi's walk around the school utensils and some of her poses didn't make much sense and the whole lip close-up bit that Nise- seems to love just does not look appealing most of the time with the way they draw them, which are too dark and look unnatural (especially when the lips aren't accentuated on the main character designs). However, most of it did and yielded some powerful moments, such as the black-&-white scene where Koyomi finds out about Karen's disappearance and the ED-styled sequence that plays as Hitagi talks about her family.

Hajime Ueda's unique style is hard to miss…

The non-sequitars, the envelope-pushing, and the various art styles can be fun and comprise of some of the series' highlights, but sometimes they can be in excess and outmuscle the actual content (primarily due to the content stretching and plot stalling I brought up last time, with the subsequent need to fill time and keep things interesting). However, Episode 6 was successful in keeping them in moderation, utilizing their strengths, and keeping itself substantive. It also made a number of visual references to Hitagi and Koyomi's interactions in Bakemonogatari, which added to a very good and enjoyable episode, overall.

P.S.: An artistically-good episode deserves it's fair share of screenshots, no?

Mayoi Approved

At least your girlfriend doesn't have you in mind…

I always get a chuckle at his body language here.

Return of the infamous pen scene from Bake- (only this time, with a pencil)…

Already, this pose has become very popular in the artist community…

Unfortunately, Shinbo went a little too pose-happy in this episode with Hitagi…

…And this was probably the most egregious. It really didn't fit in and made little sense.
(So, she moonlights as an emcee…?)

The sharp shift in tone and the use of B&W to sell the scene were a big reason why this episode resonated so well.

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