Nagi no Asukara 12 and 13 breaks out of the static relationship doldrums and finishes with the wildest and most confusing boatdrift ceremony anyone can remember.
But we have to prepare first, and so episode 12 works out some of the relationship issues; it seems like everyone was trying to get on the same page as everyone else. The little girls start it out with a cute scene with Tomoru, surprisingly the first time they’ve met, and the little ones apologize a lot, and not only for the flowers they stuffed up Tomoru’s nose. Later there’s another Tomoru scene, this one with daughter Akari, with more pleas for forgiveness and gestures of thanks. This happy, peaceful, and dull trend comes to a stop when Kaname, of all people, asks in front of everyone else what Hikari thinks of Chisaki. This sets off a chain of events that can’t be hauled in so easily, and soon Manaka has run off in tears to be caught in Tsumugu’s net again. It’s like we’re starting all over, except Manaka hasn’t confessed to anyone yet.
So we have our tears and shouting, then everyone makes up, more or less, and I tried to figure out the love geometry as it stands now. It reminds me of the one in Ano Natsu de Matteru, a long string of characters who love the next one down the line, making the one at the tail unhappy. Kaname loves Chisaki, who loves Hikari, who loves Manaka, who loves Tsumugu, who keeps his thoughts to himself. Akari, Itaru, and Miura are a sideshow. So when the boat festival finally kicks off, and this unpleasant god they all worship, kicks up a fuss, it’s maybe not so strange to see who gets sucked down.
I had to watch it twice to get the details. Akari goes first, rescued by Manaka, who says “take me instead,” to which the god says “okay,” while Hikari can only watch. Tsumugu tries to help but nearly drowns, rescued by Chisaki and Kaname, the latter being flung off the boat for his trouble–poor guy never gets a break. So in the end, Manaka is taken (crunch!), and Kaname is god-knows-where. Akari is discovered floating peacefully in the water. The weirdest bit is Kaname, who is flung off after seeing Chisaki holding an unconscious Tsumugu, a pair-up not in the books and easily explained away. Maybe he thought the hell with it, and that’s why he was smiling as he sank. Who knows? Oh, and apparently everyone’s asleep down there, too. Er, pleasant dreams. Well, this is the sort of episode I was waiting for, and now that the boatdrift madness has ended there’s no clue what’s going to happen next. Everything had been so leading to this scene that I thought for a while that it was only a 13-episode series, a couple of weeks ago I would have dreaded the thought, but now I’m looking forward to the second half.
Monogatari SS wrapped up with a series of conversations, an exorcism, and a blow to the head, or two. Rather a surprise, that last bit.
I’m just going to talk about a couple things that stand out. First, Kaiki’s death, which probably took a lot of people by surprise. Not the death itself, though killing of the narrator is still uncommon. Rather, it’s how he got killed, some kid tipped off by Ougi rather than Nadeko, Gaen or even Senjougahara. Like Kaiki I also scratched my head about the name and had to google it. While it’s plausible for someone with Kaiki’s past angry enough to bash his head in, the fact that they stuck it at the very end, after the main story was over, made it feel like the creators thought “Damn, couldn’t kill him off in the main story. Well, I’ll just kill him off now.” Because he deserved it, maybe. Because he was once a bad guy. I dunno.
Also, this bad guy exceeded expectations by not only getting Nadeko to not kill Araragi, Sejougahara, and whoever else she was after, but getting her to renounce her godhood. And he did it by basically telling the truth. They were platitudes which boiled down to “you have your whole life ahead of you,” and “you never know until you try.” He even gave Araragi advice on how to treat her when she came to (which is: not at all). Not only that, but earlier in a conversation with Yotsugi it is implied that some of his actions during the scamming of Senjougahara’s family were more humane than they seemed. Not that Kaiki was ever a saint, but maybe he isn’t the same level of low-life that everyone in the show makes him out to be. Or maybe that concept alone about a man who has done so much damage was enough to send that kid with the ax, or mallet.
So the show’s over. I’m of mixed emotions about it. On one hand I miss it already. I won’t get a new dose of long, winding, amusing and confusing conversations with weirdo camera angles every week. On the other hand, in spite of its dismissive and perfunctory end (I can’t think of a weirder way to end a show) it seemed to drag more than its predecessors did. Did Hitagi End really need six episodes to tell its story? Hanekawa’s story also took a long time, and Araragi was absent for most of both, though I expect it’s coincidence and not causation. And let’s not forget all the recap episodes. I don’t think the franchise is wearing itself out, but I do think it could use a breather. Or maybe I could. Or maybe Shinbou. So I check and disover he’s got a new show coming up. Of course he has!