Don't you just hate it when a crab comes along and steals all of your weight? If I had a penny for every time it happened... Actually, come to think about it, I do have a bit of spare weight hanging about these days, so if there are any crabs reading....
Anyhow, I digress - Having your weight stolen by a crab is exactly the scenario which Hitagi Senjougahara is looking to rectify, and thanks to Araragi she's now met Oshino, the mysterious man who claims that he knows how to do it. Before any such spiritual "cleansing" begins however, she's sent off to take a cold shower and get a change of clothes.
Thus begins the first half of this episode, with more fan service than you can shake a stick at and lots of opportunities for Senjougahara's acid tongue to be used to full effect in conversation with Araragi, which made for brilliant entertainment all on its own - This girl knows how to put a guy down, that's for sure.
With that out of the way, it's time for Hitagi to get her weight back, and at this point the entire episode does a complete 180 degree turn into far darker territory - Via a slither of Japanese wordplay, Hitagi's crab becomes a metaphor for the burdens in her life she has somehow managed to rid herself of, and we soon learn the sad truths behind her broken family... truths which pout her on the path to redemption, and eventually regaining both her lost weight and lost feelings towards her family. Is this the beginning of a new, less snarky Senjougahara? Personally speaking, I think I'd prefer her to wit and sharp humour close at hand.
From watching this episode, it's become absolutely apparent that SHAFT are the only people who could possibly animate this surreal series, as is perfectly suits the foibles of their tried and trusted tricks and techniques - The weird angles, the zooming shots, the use of "real" visuals throughout all combine to make for an almost unsettlingly otherworldly experience that really accentuates everything about this series. It appears that this series is also not going to tell its stories in chronological order, as the hints last episode that this is the case are reinforced here as Araragi makes mention of other friends who Oshino has "saved" in some way or another, and doubtless these will be making up future story arcs in their own right.
When a series brings us a plot (and even characters) who are as off the wall as this, it's difficult to measure it on any kind of meaningful scale - What on Earth could you compare this show to for example? Regardless, thus far Bakemonogatari is an absolute and undoubted artistic triumph in my mind, and its characters and surreal worldview have got me absolutely hooked at this juncture. Here's to more of the same as the series progresses.