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 4: Karen Bee, Part 4
Summary: Koyomi meets a mysterious man outside of Suruga's house and eventually gets kidnapped by Hitagi.
Air Date: Jan. 28, 2012
Run Time: 24:10
Warning: This article contains spoilers. We recommend watching the episode herefirst.
This episode kicks off with Koyomi having rushed home to answer the distress call about Karen only to find that she is with Tsukihiand Tsubasa Hanekawa and that everything has already been resolved. After some light banter between the four of them, Koyomi and Tsubasa have a talk in his room where it is revealed that Kaiki was behind Karen's predicament. Later, Koyomi takes a bath and is joined by Shinobu Oshino, who has come to bring closure on a past event that divided the two of them and to inform Koyomi about the curse that Karen was afflicted with.
So, another episode and another set of character reintroductions. Tsubasa's relationship with Koyomi reminds me of Suruga's in that, despite the flirting and suggestive body language, the two of them are just teasing Koyomi and their relationship or desire for a relationship are based around friendship. The second character, Shinobu, seems pretty interesting. Having not seen Bakemonogatari, I don't know the specifics of their history with each other, but based off of how they act around each other, it seems like the two of them have both a legitimate reason to despise the other and a reason to be trusting of each other, almost to the point of friendship. While watching it, I got the impression that it was similar to a more amicable version of Ichigo Kurosaki and Hollow Ichigo, where the two sometimes clash but ultimately they can put their differences aside and work together.
With those two having been reintroduced, another mainstay of the series reared it's head again. Marking the return of a physically underage character was a plethora of tricky content involving said underage character. Not since Kiss x Sis, a show in my watched pile of shame, have I seen a series that so relishes in the opportunity to sexualize and display the underdeveloped female form. To the show's credit, the creators are making a true art form out of trickiness and every angle and shot is deserving of a reference in a cinematography textbook. While there is flat out nudity in the episode, it feels noticeably more restrained than the Nadeko incident yet far more gratuitous. With Nadeko, the entire purpose was to show how clumsily she was trying to seduce Koyomi. Seduction is sexualization by default so it was necessary to feature it in order for the scene to work. However, in this episode there are so many fully exposed shots of a naked childlike character and none of it really served a purpose other than a two second sequence that was used to display that she has supernatural speed and agility. The situation seems even more egregious when you consider that Koyomi is naked along with her the entire time, yet we rarely see risque shots of him and their nonappearance has no ill affect on the quality or artistic merit of the scene.
Nisemonogatari is a good show and when it's all said and done it might end up as a great show. Every technical and artistic aspect, from animation to writing to voice acting, is so high quality and well thought out that it should make the series an easy one to recommend. The true shame is that any recommendation has to be given on the basis that the recommendee be accepting of the overt and gratuitous sexualization of minors, which will be a legitimate and understandable turn off for many.