You can tell when I’ve fallen for a character while episodic blogging when I look back at the screencaps I took for the episode and it’s all of that one character. When I checked my images folder after finishing taking screencaps, I had about 20 pictures. 1 had Araragi in, the rest were all of Gaen Izuko.
A big part of the reason why I like her is the colour palette with all her appearances. You knew she was going to appear in the last episode before she spoke because you had that rainbow spiral appear behind her. Normally the clouds form beautiful little rainbow patterns behind her like she’s the baton twirler in front of the weather’s gay pride parade. But even when in front of random other things, like stacks of chairs, the light will still shine in and turn give the scene a faint multicoloured glow. It doesn’t strictly mean anything. I just think it looks awesome and I’m easily pleased like that.
What I love about her character is the uneasy sense of danger around her. The shots of her facial expressions did love to show her looking just a little psychotic more than once. Shaft have tried to do this with each of the ghostbusting college friends with varying degrees of success. I really liked the way Nisemonogatari handled Kaiki’s character. He felt sleazy. Not perverted sleazy, but like a funeral director who has massively overcharged you on running your parent’s funeral because you’re too distraught to consider the cost-benefit analysis at that time. The platform shoes lady didn’t pull it off that well at all, although I’m willing to put that down to lack of screentime. She mostly just felt curt and short-tempered. Meme had this aura like he was always in control but was in a nice mood so felt like helping. He was a strange figure in Bakemonogatari but it wasn’t until the later seasons with Shinobu finally talking did you realise how much control he really had. Ultimately though he’s probably the ‘nice guy’ of the group.
Gaen though is wonderful because her scariness comes from her boundless knowledge. You get the feeling she might be a perfectly nice person if she didn’t have all this knowledge, but enjoys lording that knowledge over people. She’s bursting at the seams, which is why every now and then she gives a slightly crazed expression, or blurts out something that potentially destroys someone’s entire life, or says “but I knew that already”. It’s kind of the same power all four of them hold. Kaiki has that knowledge and uses it to exploit in minor ways that feels sleazy. His slightly bored outer demeanour is because he’s just waiting for you to get on with it so he gets his money. Platform Shoes lady has the knowledge and is curt because she just wants to get on with it and doesn’t have time to be patient with those that don’t have her knowledge. Meme is in control of all the situations because he has this knowledge. I’ve said it many times before, but I would love a prequel series about these four in college together. They seem like way more interesting characters. It wouldn’t be a harem since the genders are evenly split. No pedo shite because they’re all college students. The Monogatari novels are ending soon-ish, and Shaft and Aniplex will loath to see this cash cow die. So why not?
As for the actual plot of the episode, I did quite like the explanation for why this entire arc existed, although that might be because it was told by Gaen. She could explain the plot of Guilty Crown to me and I’d probably go “yeah sure that makes sense”. The whole goodbye with Araragi though felt a bit silly. Sad loli dying in the rainbow patterned clouds. It got particularly silly when it portrayed their relationship as being romantic. Their relationship was based on Araragi regularly molesting her. Plus she’s 12, I don’t think you have a good idea of what romance is when you’re 12. I like Mayoi but sticking her goodbye at the end of this boring arc sorta guaranteed that it wouldn’t have the desired effect on me, but even so. It’s falling into the Jun Maeda trap that any sort of bullshit plot can be excused so long as you put a crying little girl on the screen. What do you mean this doesn’t make sense, it has a little girl crying! Wow, much sad. So tears. Must be awesome emotional scene because it has little girl crying. Despite my bitching, and indeed bitching for the entirety of this arc, I ended up being totally OK with this episode. Mostly because half of it was Gaen Izuko.