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Winter Watch: Nisemonogatari #2

A wise otaku once told me, "Always keep your wits about you, for the path to Fanservice City sometimes cuts through tricky territory."

Welcome to Winter Watch, a look at the latest anime season. Among the many shows being broadcast, Nisemonogatari is perhaps the most anticipated one as it is a direct sequel to fan favorite Bakemonogatari.

Episode 2: Karen Bee, Part 2

Summary: Koyomi visits the homes of Nadeko and Suruga, two underclassmen who both try their best to seduce him.

Air Date: Jan. 14, 2012

Run Time: 24:10

Warning: This article contains spoilers. We recommend watching the episode herefirst.

This episode kicks off in earnest with Koyomi arriving at the home of underclassmen Nadeko Sengoku, the place he was heading in the previous episode. Once inside, Nadeko tells him that her parents aren't home and invites him up to her bedroom where she tries her damnedest to seduce him with a level of clumsiness and complete lack of subtlety that you'd expect from someone her age. In typical anime fashion, Koyomi is completely oblivious to her advances. In the midst of a game of Twister, Nadeko's mother comes home and Nadeko rushes Koyomi out of the house for obvious reasons. Bored and with no place to go, Koyomi decides to visit Suruga Kanbaru, an underclassmen he promised to assist in cleaning her room. On his way there, he sees his sister Karen walking down the street on her hands and stops for a moment to convince her not to do this in public. Afterward, he arrives at Suruga's house and is surprised to find her sleeping in the nude. After some banter, the two start cleaning her room and talk about a series of boys-love novels they find and the episode ends with (I'm not making this up) Suruga pinning Koyomi to the ground, unzipping his pants, and reaching for his crotch.

Just a day in the life of Koyomi Araragi.
Just a day in the life of Koyomi Araragi.

At this point, Nisemonogatari is essentially Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Koyomi lives a crazy life filled with crazy and interesting people and the viewers are just watching him go about his day. There's no story to it other than what's going to happen to him next? Enjoyment of the the series up this point is basically going to boil down to how much you like slice of life anime and whether or not you think the characters are interesting enough on their own to enjoy seeing them in casual situations. I'm enjoying it so far, mainly because all of the characters being reintroduced arrive with an interesting scene that entertains using not just excellent animation and impressive visuals, but genuinely funny dialog as well. Additionally, and I think this is a massive bonus for me, I have no familiarity with Bakemonogatari. I haven't come into the series expecting a certain form or method and ended up receiving another; I'm just taking it for what it is, which right now is a slice-of-life show that's funnier and significantly prettier than most.

Things get very tricky very quick.
Things get very tricky very quick.

Now, the warning. There is a white elephant in the room and that elephant's name is fanservice. EpicThe Matrix, "we're going to need guns, lots of guns," amounts of it. It is a constant and unrelenting force permeating every scene of this episode but that isn't really the main issue. If the image to the right makes you feel uncomfortable due to the age of the character and the suggestive nature of the content, avoid this episode. Things get significantly more provocative than that very quickly. To the shows credit, it is executed in a way that's tamer (sometimes), more tasteful (sometimes), and more artistic (all the time) than shows like Kanokon, Rio - Rainbow Gate!, or Majikoi - Oh! Samurai Girls!, but I can't help but think that the fact that it's artistically executed combined with the high production values of the series will make it all the more unsettling for people sensitive to this type of content.

Verdict

This episode made laugh out loud even more than the first one and the visuals are still great. Nisemonogatari is shaping up to be a feast for the eyes and a real treat for fans of animation and sakuga. There was an over the top amount of fanservice that often delved into undeniably tricky territory but even so, I'm still positive on the series and would recommend this episode to anyone looking for a laugh, albeit with a warning about the content.

Watch on Crunchyroll

- William Taylor ( sickvisionz ) is lazy by nature, procrastinator by trade. You can also find him on Twitter @mrsickvisionz and on Tumblr at In My Lifetime.

Turambaron Jan. 21, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.

It's the fact that the show is willing to shit on itself, it's protagonist, and the audience through its fanservice that makes it all far more palpable to me than anything your generic fanservice show offers. Araragi being sexually assaulted by Kanbaru to the point where he swears he will never start a conversation with Hachikuji with sexual harrasement took the cake for me.

No, this isn't some window into the depth of his mental condition like an almost broken down Shinji masturbating to the unconscious body of Asuka in End of Evangelion. It is smutty as all hell but it doesn't try to act sly about it. It tells its viewer in no uncertain way "This fanservice is smut. You are a bad person for watching this, smut watcher." And that is a damned delight.

zetzueion Jan. 21, 2012 at 6:53 p.m.

@Turambar: You, my friend, speak the truth!

zaldaron Jan. 21, 2012 at 8:10 p.m.

eh not for me then. Sigh hate to see good shows go this route. To bad. Hopefully it will improve.

I am also extremely glad (given the description above) that I avoided the end of eva movies....end of the show was much more enjoyable and sensible than that.

Turambaron Jan. 21, 2012 at 8:54 p.m.

@zaldar said:

eh not for me then. Sigh hate to see good shows go this route. To bad. Hopefully it will improve.

I am also extremely glad (given the description above) that I avoided the end of eva movies....end of the show was much more enjoyable and sensible than that.

If you're talking about my line, regardless of how insensible you think that scene is (I personally find it a pretty good representation of how fucked up Shinji's mental state is at that point and there's nothing sexual about it), if you're letting a 30 second scene prevent you from watching an hour long OVA, well, I don't know what to tell you.

Actually, here's the scene. Judge for yourself.

More on topic, I think my opinion of fanservice compared to the one in Nise can be summed up as this. Most shows use fanservice as a reward. But it is a really shitty reward. Nisemonogatari uses it as a punishment. And it is really good punishment.

sickVisionz moderator on Jan. 22, 2012 at 4:42 a.m.

@zaldar said:

eh not for me then. Sigh hate to see good shows go this route. To bad. Hopefully it will improve.

I am also extremely glad (given the description above) that I avoided the end of eva movies....end of the show was much more enjoyable and sensible than that.

You're really missing out on probably the best show this season. There's no real justification for the sheer amount of loli service in the episode, but I can say that it all made sense in the context of the scene and the scene wouldn't work the same for comedic effect (especially in this episode and #3 where Koyomi is still oblivious to what happened) without it.

I don't want to turn this into an end of Eva thread, but I'll just say this: I think you've really misjudged the movie and are missing out on a pretty essential part of the Eva story by avoiding it.

@Turambar said:

I think my opinion of fanservice compared to the one in Nise can be summed up as this. Most shows use fanservice as a reward. But it is a really shitty reward. Nisemonogatari uses it as a punishment. And it is really good punishment.

Hmm, it never felt like it was designed to be punishment to me. The artistry behind it always felt like it was an extremely well put together reward.

Loli-service in general

I think the issue is always going to be that in Japan, the age of consent is generally lower than the US. In a US movie, it's ok to sexualize kids who are supposed to be at the borderline of that consent line. Movies like Transformers 1, American Pie, Scream, and others will throw sexed up high schoolers at you all day and most people don't bat an eye about it, I guess because it's close enough. In Japan, I think it's the same way except that age is often younger so the it's ok line is dropped a few years, which can make things seem a little tricky or just fine depending on the laws and mores of your country.

zaldaron Jan. 22, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.

@sickVisionz: tsk tsk...not sure you should have put up the scene like that, as I am sure it breaks copyright laws...;). Anyway I don't like watching single scenes without the context as it takes away from what they mean. My problem with those movies is that I found them unnecessary. The ending of the show made sense to me, they were attempting to create an overmind, a version of humanity that had gone beyond the body. Due to the way they were doing it Shinji had the power to either cause it to happen or destroy humanity. Finding a reason to live he choose the former and humanity evolved. The movie seems to take that and throw it out the window from the little bit I have heard about it, and can be thought of as the creators doing the above scene to the fans. I do own it so I will probably watch it eventually but to many other things I want to watch first (like a rewatch of lain)

Loli service in general

Loli service in general bothers me greatly. I do think it contributes to a general feeling that it is ok to sexualize young children and the fact that our society has begun to do the same bothers me (toddlers and tiaras, the show on children dancers, Britney spears). Parts of American Pie (the only movie you listed I have seen) bothered me a bit. The professional bothered me extremely. The anime that I have seen do it, don't seem to do it as part of a story or for reasons of plot or artistry but as pure bait to fans that like it for reasons that frankly make me uncomfortable. Much like any sexual fan service really. The aspect of Japan that goes even farther than we do in sexualizeing young girls (idol culture) disturbs me as well.

Have talked about this here before of course but thought I would iterate it again. I will probably eventually check this out but will have to see how the rest of the episodes go.

Turambaron Jan. 22, 2012 at 12:13 p.m.
@zaldar said:

@sickVisionz: @Turambar tsk tsk...not sure you should have put up the scene like that, as I am sure it breaks copyright laws...;). Anyway I don't like watching single scenes without the context as it takes away from what they mean. My problem with those movies is that I found them unnecessary. The ending of the show made sense to me, they were attempting to create an overmind, a version of humanity that had gone beyond the body. Due to the way they were doing it Shinji had the power to either cause it to happen or destroy humanity. Finding a reason to live he choose the former and humanity evolved. The movie seems to take that and throw it out the window from the little bit I have heard about it, and can be thought of as the creators doing the above scene to the fans. I do own it so I will probably watch it eventually but to many other things I want to watch first (like a rewatch of lain)

End of Eva would be uneccessary if it was simply a retelling of the final two episodes of the series.  (Though even that is a stretch as what happens in the real world during that time is only hinted at with still frames.  Seeing Unit 2 in full glory taking down the mass production models is glorious glorious fan service.)  What End of Eva strives to do is to give us the alternate.  In the original ending, Shinji accepts the Human Instrumentality Plan: the melding of all humanity into a single conciousness done by, as the movie shows, destroying the personal AT Fields of all humans, and letting their physical forms revert to the primordial soup of LCL fluids.  
 
The Shinji of End of Eva however does not accept that end.  He personally rejects Instrumentality and thus at the end emerges from the sea of LCL alone with the only other person bearing an individualist personality to do so: Asuka.

The anime that I have seen do it, don't seem to do it as part of a story or for reasons of plot or artistry but as pure bait to fans that like it for reasons that frankly make me uncomfortable.

Ironically, it is the shows that do attempt to fit it into their plot that bothers me far more.  The likes of Seikon no Qwaser attempting to justify its smut through shoddy presentation bothers me far more than smut itself.  And this is what I meant by reward and punishment.  Ecchi is dumb and dirty at its core.  But most ecchi shows in some way shape or form attempts to justify it shoddily, trying to make the viewer feel better about it's existence, that it somehow fits.  And that is far more shitty than the smut itself.
 
Nise's decision to not make excuses about it, and also shove it in the face of both the viewer and the protagonist of exactly what it is they are viewing/doing and why they should feel bad is what makes the existence of the smut in that show a punishment, and far more palatable.
fijilovesyouon Jan. 22, 2012 at 7:18 p.m.

I think showing Sengoku showing her forehead is enough fan service already. Seriously. But my love for the series won't be destroyed by mere fan service. If you hate it, don't watch it. Things are getting better if you have seen the next episode.

The OP song of Karen... marshmallow justice.... I love it. I loved every OP of Bakemono and I even like Futakotome (first OP). I just can't help it. The VAs singing it are very good.

Fan service aside, Koyomi's moments with Sengoku and Suruga are very entertaining.

Bocamon Jan. 23, 2012 at 7:28 p.m.
THERE IS FAN SERVICE  IN THE NOVELS, THIS IS NOT ANIME ORIGINAL. NISIOISIN LIKES FAN SERVICE. BAKEMONOGATARI HAD FAN SERVICE AS WELL, THIS IS NOTHING NEW.
shelson Jan. 24, 2012 at 2:05 a.m.

@Bocam said:

THERE IS FAN SERVICE IN THE NOVELS, THIS IS NOT ANIME ORIGINAL. NISIOISIN LIKES FAN SERVICE. BAKEMONOGATARI HAD FAN SERVICE AS WELL, THIS IS NOTHING NEW.

Yeah as far as i know is toned down in the anime, i heard from people who read the source material, nisemonogatari is a fanservice feast, probably Nisioisin's novel with the most amount

But people still complain when there's anime with horrible story and much more blatantly fanservice

WatanabeKazumaon Jan. 24, 2012 at 6:59 a.m.

@Turambar said:

Ecchi is dumb and dirty at its core. But most ecchi shows in some way shape or form attempts to justify it shoddily, trying to make the viewer feel better about it's existence, that it somehow fits. And that is far more shitty than the smut itself.

I'd agree with this, I can dismiss it normally, but when its somehow contrived into a show via the narrative it just becomes unbearable.

zetzueion Jan. 25, 2012 at 6:55 p.m.

@sickVisionz: I just noticed this:

"Additionally, and I think this is a massive bonus for me, I have no familiarity with Bakemonogatari. I haven't come into the series expecting a certain form or method and ended up receiving another;"

Are there people saying this is different from Bake? Because it's most certainly not. The difference is that Bake(the light novel) was 2 volumes divided into 5 stories and this was 2 volumes divided into 2 stories. And even then the last of the stories in Bake was longer(and more in line with the rest of them), so the longer format stories are nothing new :/

Side Note: With the revelation that Nise will be 11 episodes long I think it will be separated like this: Karen Bee- 6 episodes and Tsukihi Phoenix- 5 episodes(In the novels the first volume has more chapters). The last story in Bake(Tsubasa Cat) was already 5 episodes long.

AURON570on Feb. 5, 2012 at 7:42 p.m.

Lol wow, the last scene where Araragi got assaulted by Kanbaru, actually succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable.

Dig Deeper into Nisemonogatari

Nisemonogatari is a 2012 anime series that serves as a sequel to the 2009 series "Bakemonogatari". Both anime are based off of Nishio Ishin's popular "-monogatari" series of light novels.

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