Sunday, 30 August 2009

Bakemonogatari - Episode 8

From learning about the true nature of Kanbaru's "monkey's paw" that isn't last episode, this eighth instalment of Bakemonogatari launches us straight into the history of how this state of affairs came about for her, all the way from the loss of her parents in elementary school onwards. The story takes in how she became faster, how she ended up as a basketball ace, and the development of her relationship with Senjougahara.

The trouble for Kanbaru however is this: Now that she's made a contract with a devil, there are (as Oshino sees it) two ways to make the contract null and void - Either kill her, or lop her arm off. Not the kind of options you'd be jumping off the walls about in either case, I think it's fair to say. This rather inconvenient news is perhaps only secondary to the true torment that comes from Oshino's discussion of what to do next - The fact that Kanbaru's attack on Araragi, and her previous assault on elementary school kids in her class, were pre-meditated by Kanbaru's own sub-conscious, leaving her with no wiggle room to blame it on that pesky devil or the paw despite all of her attempts to do so.

As per usual though, it's Araragi who tries to be the knight in shining armour, suggesting a third way which could potentially come at a great cost to himself, but offering salvation for Kanbaru if he can beat her in a straight-up fight between them. It's probably one of Araragi's less intelligent moments, and it's left to another party to save him from Kanbaru's devil-powered frenzy before it's too late. No prizes for guessing who Araragi's saviour is though...

All things considered, this was an absolutely wonderful ending to the story arc; despite all of the supernatural powers floating around, it still managed to feel very human at the end of it all, from Kanbaru's deep-seated desire for vengeance through to Araragi's naivety in believing that her hatred and jealousy of him for taking Senjougahara away from her isn't that bad. Even Hitagi herself shows a perhaps surprising (but again very human) streak of forgiveness to both of them, despite having an awful lot to be angry about all things considered... and as we know, she's not the kind of girl you want to make angry. So, come the end of it all, coupled with its usual sharp dialogue and brilliant (indeed, brilliantly gruesome in places) visuals, I was left feeling really rather pleased and satisfied by an ending that, in other hands, would have felt far too convenient. Perhaps it's simply down to the wonderful characters that this show has delivered thus far that gives me that feeling, leaving me glad of a happy ending rather than questioning it as being overly trite - Either way, it works and works well, and that's what important at the end of the day.

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