The 8th episode of Nisemonogatari takes place entirely in Koyomi’s room as Karen tries to convince Koyomi to introduce her to Kanbaru. The episode begins with some revealing background on Tsukihi at the end. However, the main action revolves around the increasingly desperate and violent attempts Karen makes in her request. Koyomi eventually relents on the condition that she goes through a challenge. Little did they know they were embarking on a journey that would cross boundaries they would never imagine.
The beginning of the episode was a peculiar. As in it just looked like a typical montage of Tsukihi moments with Koyomi’s thoughts on her played over the top. That is until he says she’s immortal. This arc is titled “Tsukihi Phoenix” after all, so it’s not all that surprising that immortality is a part of it. Would we then be treated to an origin story on how she was afflicted? Would we see something that would feel like a close approximation to Tezuka’s unfinished Phoenix saga? Of course not. Instead the episode feels like the a morality play with Koyomi in the middle.
The basic premise of this episode starts with Karen trying to use her own idea of what Koyomi’s innermost desires are to try to get him to introduce her to Kanbaru. She takes some of Tsukihi’s clothes that don’t fit her very well and proceeds to appeal to to his base instincts. Those would be the same ones coming from Mayoi, Nadeko and Shinobu that he repeatedly spurns without a second thought.
He plays it off like a responsible older brother would. Karen doesn’t know what she would be getting herself into with Kanbaru’s perversions. Karen’s attempts at sex appeal do not work unless accompanied by violence. Her begging seems pitiful and another form of violence to him. As she goes through all the fetishes she can think of to satisfy him, she finally resorts to offering her virginity to him. He responds by punting her onto his bed; an act intended to knock some sense into her.
Getting tired of her increasingly ridiculous advances, and fearing the damage to his own body if he continued to refuse her request. So seeking to finally end this in his favor, he challenged her to something that seemed rather absurd on the face of it. She would have to endure having her teeth brushed by him for 5 minutes. Thus began their descent into hell.
He really began digging himself in with his explanation for why he chose that. By saying that it formed an emotional tie that began with trust similar to a hair stylist and his client. Once they began, and Karen had overcome the trust barrier it quickly became a proxy kissing session between Koyomi and Karen. He too became emotionally invested in what he was doing before he realized what he was doing. He didn’t explain to her the part about how it was a deeper connection because he was touching inside her body.
They both succumb to lustful feelings as they lost track of time. After nearly 15 minutes in which Koyomi was questioning his own wants and desires, he was finally getting the exact same signals from Karen that he had from Hitagi at the end of the last episode. Then, Tsukihi entered the room and interrupted them.
The interruption really marked how much Karen had suddenly grown closer together in a matter of minutes. More importantly, it provided the classic moment in a morality play where protagonist is supposed to repent. Rather than go back into the light and remember his role as the older brother, he chooses to stay in the darkness and go further down the journey he was going with Karen before they were interrupted.
This was probably my favorite episode to date simply because of how well this was written on an emotional level. The typical incest story you see in this medium tends to blame society itself for the relationship being morally wrong. This on the other hand was both parties knowing what they were doing was fully wrong, but they went ahead anyway. Tsukihi’s intervention was absolutely necessary to make this work because the opportunity to save themselves makes their subsequent decision have that much more impact.
At some point Tsukihi is going to have “die”, but it seems like the fallout from this will take precedent over the title character of the arc. Can they wrap it up in 3 more episodes?