Titan 17, Monogatari SS 5

Even before the female giant shows up this was an exciting episode.

Even before the female giant shows up this was an exciting episode.

Two things that make Shingeki no Kyojin 17 especially effective: First, it’s a particularly scary one. That female titan (“with the nice ass,” as one corpsman says, and I’m glad someone said it) is not only faster and more agile than the regular ones, but it’s tons smarter. The scouts who have try and distract her from the center of the formation can’t work as well in the flat terrain to begin with, and now they’ve got to deal with one that seems to know what it wants, can avoid distractions unless they’re going for her nape (which she knows how to hide), and isn’t a blithering idiot.

Oh, it's just Armin.

Oh, it’s just Armin.

If that wasn’t enough fun, we have the mystery behind it. Armin deduces that it’s another human-turned-titan; that makes us ask the obvious question question: who? Can we assume a female? That narrows down the possibilities. But what about that scene earlier when Auruno bites his tongue? Was that a red herring? Maybe the human form may not be the same sex. And can we even say that titans are male or female, when they have no genitalia? The “Whoa! A girl!” factor aside, we must then wonder what she wants. Armin (behaving bravely and nearly dying twice, using a verbal gambit to get released the second time) assumes it’s after Eren, and maybe it is, but no one knows for sure. So we got the curiosity over the new giant atop the danger she brings, a nearly great episode. Not great because much of the dialogue between the scouts is only to be endured. I think Armin gets to do one of his speeches twice, and other times one of them will say a completely superfluous line at a moment when we already knew what he was going to say, so back to the action please! Well, there was a LOT of that, so I can’t complain too much.

Monogatari Second Season 5 has no problems with its dialogue, only the deus ex machina problem at the end. And that’s debatable. Otherwise this was an outstanding episode.

A tiny part of Hanekawa's world tour.

A tiny part of Hanekawa’s world tour.

We start with three monologues. Hanekawa first writes her cat-self a letter asking for help. She sees her shironeko self as a manifestation of her frustration, and the hystery tiger of her envy, which I would argue with (so does the tiger), but her intentions are clear: she want so to bring these monster forms of herself back within herself and have them manifest in more traditional ways, like showing negative emotions. While she’s writing this we’re treated to a series of flowing images of Hanekawa taking a trip around the world; it’s so good that it’s hard to pay attention to the subtitles. This is often a problem with the Monogatari shows (however you look at it it’s the show’s fault I don’t know Japanese) but in this case it becomes especially frustrating.

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Next it’s a brief rebuttal by her nyan-self. Apart from her agreeing to help, and a quibble over using the word “family” there isn’t much to it, apart from the point that she is a soul of a stray cat that attached herself to Hanekawa and now has a home for the first time, while, ironically, Hanekawa doesn’t have a home and even when she did it wasn’t a good place to live. After that it’s the Hystery Tiger’s turn; he’s more singleminded (or simpleminded) about the whole thing and refuses to eave peacefully … Meanwhile, Senjougahara’s house is waiting to be burned down.

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Which leads to our first actual conversation of the episode. More points are made about Hanekawa’s pure-white nature, that she keeps herself that way by making monsters out of her emotions and releasing them to wreak havoc. The concept of “heartburn” comes up again (Wish they could have chosen a better term), and the origin of the tiger. I believe the Fire Sisters are also mentioned, without being mentioned, contrasting with Hanekawa’s “sister” cat and tiger, and suggesting members of a family that Hanekawa doesn’t have but who welcomed her anyway. Meownwhile, we viewers are realizing that the tiger won’t come peacefully. Time for a fight. But what can a cat do against a tiger, especially a burning one? As it turns out, not much.

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Now, is Ararararagi’s surprise appearance a cop out? At first glance it looks that way. It means that Hanekawa isn’t given the opportunity to drive down her demons herself, and this is a problem. However, by having Araragi fatally wounding the tiger with one stab the show could be saying that Hanekawa could not have taken care of her issues by herself, no matter what she tried. The rescue being performed by the boy she loves might bug some people, but since her unrequited love probably helped trigger some of these destructive beings, it guess it makes sense that the would-be lover helped to defeat them. Besides, Araragi’s the main character. Nice touch, by the way, having the restored Hanekawa finally confess to Araragi, only to be (gently) shot down. So the Hanakawa-Neko story arc is polished off with. Araragi’s rescue (or interference) aside, I can’t think of a better one. It didn’t have the quirks that a regular episode usually has, apart from Hanekawa’s purrfect speaking, and it was more straightforward than others, but it had more emotional depth to go along with the amazing visuals and quick cuts and weird angles. I wonder if this particular series can top it.

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  1. 123
    August 6, 2013 at 7:09 am

    I thought this episode of Monogatari was the best one so far.
    On the Shingeki front, another good episode. I’m kind of saddened that Sasha’s spirit has been broken, but that’s the harsh world of Shingeki I suppose.
    Given the Shingeki doesn’t move all too fast (I mean, lots happens but I wouldn’t say the overall plot progresses that fast), I really hope they can fit enough into the last 8 episodes to wrap up well.

    • August 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

      I’m not sure where Sasha’s spirit got broken in this episode. She had that chase scene early on, but she’s getting menaced by giants almost every episode she’s in. And, yeah, I haven’t the slightest idea where they’re going to go next with the plot, not having read the manga. It’s begging for a second season, no matter how they wrap it up.

      • 123
        August 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

        Oh, I don’t mean in this episode, I mean since Trost. Like, she’s much more scared and stuff. But maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about 😄
        Yeah I haven’t read the manga too, I sure hope it gets a second season.

      • August 7, 2013 at 9:16 am

        Ah, I see. Well, she’s always been not quite right. That’s why I love her. Since we usually see her when she’s about to get eaten, we get the terrorized version of her weirdness. Or something.

      • 123
        August 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        Haha I love her too :-). And Zoe.

  2. Amy
    August 7, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I thought the arrival of Araragi out-of-the-blue was awesome! After all the buzz in the anime forums about “Where’s Araragi?” “The series is odd without him!” …and all the remarks in the episodes about Araragi being off doing some mysterious important stuff… he makes a heroic entrance that I loved. I didn’t even think about it being a deus ex machina. It was especially cool that the demon sword Kokoro Watari was brought back for a second attack on a Hanekawa apparition – a nice bookend to Nekomonogatari (Kuro). His heroic action is also a sweet counterbalance to Hanekawa’s thought in Nekomonogatari (Kuro), “Araragi-kun… so you won’t be my hero…” My delight runneth over.

    • August 7, 2013 at 9:33 am

      I’ve forgotten that “won’t be a hero” line, but I can see your point. I thought his appearance (with the sword) was a great moment, too. I just sort of wished Hanekawa could have rescued herself. She had come to the right conclusion about expressing her negative emotions, but wasn’t able to put it in practice … this time around.

      I wonder if we’re going to go back in time now and find out what Araragi’s been up to, and what tore up his shirt.

      • Amy
        August 7, 2013 at 9:53 am

        (Umm… I think I’m rambling here… pay me no heed…)

        Hanekawa lived her life rescuing herself (mostly by creating coping mechanisms). If she had rescued herself, there would have been no need for anyone else in her world. People should be independent, but Hanekawa was too much so. When she asked Black Hanekawa for help, that was an unprecedented act – and a personal breakthrough for Hanekawa. She learned she could receive help from others – that it wasn’t a shame.

        I think asking for help – or being the recipient of help – might often be a very difficult thing in Japanese society.

        I try to be very independent myself. But I’m a romantic also. I would love to have someone heroically come to my aid in time of need. Black Hanekawa was in the depths of despair, knowing she had lost the battle and that the end was imminent. It is very romantic to be rescued by your hero. I think that even added to Hanekawa’s feelings for Araragi.

        From what little I know (I haven’t read the light novels)… we will indeed hear the story of how Araragi saved the world (just before saving Hanekawa) in a story arc in Monogatari Series Second Season

      • August 8, 2013 at 8:59 am

        Again, I’m not putting down the thrill of the moment that Arararagi (sorry, I stuttered) showed up. And your point on Hanekawa having to learn how to ask for help is well-taken. After all, for me the biggest theme of Railgun is the idea that some things can’t be battled by yourself. Though, thinking about it, Misaka still won’t ask for help … To work as part of a team to defeat an enemy might also be a Japanese thing.

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