Last week, I made a rather big deal of separating the message being conveyed in Nisemonogatari from the actual dialogue, and I shall continue to attempt to do the same this week. In this episode, we had Koyomi complete his journey to Nadeko’s house to take part in some games. Then, after agreeing to help Kanbaru help clean her gigantic pile of BL literature she ran into titular character Karen. Finally, he made it to Kanbaru’s where he was hoist by his own petard.
As I was watching this episode, I really started to delve into the title of the series itself. Nisemonogatari implies at least a couple of deceptions taking place in the series. Koyomi gets to the root of it immediately by calling his sisters a pair of fakes, but this episode doesn’t exactly get to that point yet. That isn’t to say there’s no fronts being put up here, rather there are some in all three of the relevant scenes.
Let’s begin with the opening act. Tsukihi’s point about relationships between men and women applies when Koyomi shows up at Nadeko’s house to play some games. False fronts are put up by both sides as they play games in her room alone. Nadeko presents ever more promiscuous versions of herself to Koyomi as the games allow. Koyomi has to remind himself that he is there to play games with her and that he cannot allow himself to be attracted to her at all. All the while, a joke is being played on the audience. Mainly that the whole situation is as meaningless as the play money being thrown around in their game of Life. Koyomi would never make a move as the situation is now. Nadeko doesn’t have the will to do anything beyond tempting him. Even as they play games together, their relationship is going nowhere as these two may never be able to settle for being friends.
The second act of the story was on the way to Kanbaru’s when Koyomi ran into Karen doing handstands. Again, both characters are putting up fronts, though we don’t quite know the extent of Karen’s. Karen immediately pierces through Koyomi’s defenses when she says that he simply doesn’t want to talk about himself. Meanwhile, Karen says she’s performing some sort of community service. Being the skeptic of his sister’s actions, he questions her on it. Fortunately for her, she’s able to get away from questioning by distracting him using cool lines while in a ridiculous posture.
I can probably relate to some of the actions here. Koyomi’s already agreed to help a friend. Karen is strong enough to where she can probably handle most problems, and she doesn’t really want to deal with him until later. Such is the relationship between the two of them that he knows she’s lying, but he doesn’t really care as she is much lower on the priority chain behind his girlfriend, and her friend and so on.
Then on to the third act, which took place over the phone and at Kanbaru’s house. Here, I got a rather interesting take on Kanbaru as a character. Koyomi was coming over to take a look at all of the BL books that had piled up in her room to determine which could be thrown out. She ends up completely naked by the time he makes it over there, which I thought was more symbolic than anything. She was exposing her collection to someone she though of as a friend, and her body served as a symbol for that.
It was only when he started evaluating her tastes that the clothing started to go back on her. As he responded ever more tentatively to her perversions that she started to cover herself both in mannerisms and in clothing. The naked basketball camp story was a good example in another way. She was revealing everything to them and it made them all ever more uncomfortable while she retreated to not even playing basketball for the school anymore. So as he gets to work, he quickly stumbles onto a book that fits into her preferred BL genre that must not be thrown out. That he hones in on her preference for handsome men is distressing to her. She’s never had anyone understand her so well and accept her in such a way.
The way she expresses that is first by threatening to strip more clothes, but he had already seen everything to begin with. Then, she forcibly stripped him down against his will. The lines she delivering were very much textbook erotic fiction. Perhaps that was the point she was making, that her preferences looked normal from the outside, but are much darker on the inside. Ultimately, Koyomi was being taught a lesson on how sexual harassment felt from the other side as he vowed never to do it again to Mayoi. Though he hedged that by saying he wouldn’t start the conversation by doing it.
So in the ends, we end up with Nadeko’s aggressive push being too half-hearted and looking silly anyway, Karen being up to something but Koyomi is too indifferent to care and Kanbaru making an extreme point to prove her own level of perversion. Where else will this crazy summer day take Koyomi?