When I heard that the Monogatari series was going to skip over Kanbaru’s arc and jump into the Worst Girl’s arc, I was prepared to make like a pair of descending sunglasses and deal with it. Indeed the first episode suggested that it wasn’t going to be a particularly engaging arc. But then what’s this? Entertaining dialogue, clever back and forth between two well developed characters, a charm and vulnerability in the lead while also emphasising the backbone she does have? I guess Hanekawa is back to being the Worst Girl all over again.
Switching perspectives to Nadeko really changed how I perceived her character. When you view the story from Arararagi’s perspective, Nadeko is just some onii-chan fetish for those who want the adoration and instant devotion of a younger sister without the messyness of an actual sister. It’s a shallow pedo archetype. Swap everything to Nadeko’s perspective though, and she becomes a shy young teenage girl, grappling with increased social pressure, new sexual feelings, guilt and her inherent shyness. The crush she’s got for Arararagi comes off as nothing more than that. Going instantly for the strong, dependable older guy with that older-brother vibe that he’ll protect her. It’s all part of a very typical young teenage girl personality.
What makes it work this time rather than in the last episode is, between the snake and Shinobu, they’re bringing out these parts of her personality and worries. I particularly loved the back and forth she had with the snake. It reminded me of Parasyte of all things, whispering into her arm and berating the creature for interfering with her concentration during school, while the creature observes and offers wry comments that get down into her psyche a little more. It was genuinely clever dialogue with great personality between the two. It was little things that made it, such as Nadeko giving the snake a very blunt order to “shut up” when she left the classroom. My personal favourite bit was the snake pointing out that she used the word “anyway” to get away from conversations she felt uncomfortable with, to which Nadeko responds by going “err…anyway” in a resigned voice. That made me laugh out loud, and for what’s supposedly a comedy anime, that’s something I do very rarely with Monogatari.
Getting away from Arararagi has really helped keep Monogatari fresh this season. Although I liked the end of the last arc, I wasn’t crazy on it at the start because Arararagi’s shtick was starting to feel stale. I mean, look at what they managed to do with Nadeko and Hanekawa, the two characters who before now I would have called the worst two. Imagine how good the arc from Kanbaru’s perspective will be? Oh dear, I thought about it for too long and now I have to change my trousers. Better not think about how good Senjogahara’s view of the world would be. Please please please tell me that arc is told from Senjogahara’s perspective, because if it’s not I will cry.