At Shinde Iie, I put the utmost effort into providing strikingly original, thought provoking content that you’re sure not to find elsewhere. That’s why I’m going to clasp my hands over my ears, close my eyes, and sing a repetitious song to myself while I pretend that nobody else has written about fanservice in Nisemonogatari, especially in this week’s episode. So yeah, nobody else has written about the fanservice from this week’s episode of Nisemonogatari, so I feel obligated to fill that completely present void in the aniblogosphere.
Fanservice and ecchi as concepts, much like horror and comedy, are hard to grasp and vary in effectiveness from person to person. What gets one gent’s rocks off will inevitably repulse at least one other. And that’s why I’m going to throw up a disclaimer here that no matter how much I say that Nisemonogatari has some of the most optimally implemented fanservice out there, I fully acknowledge that it will put as many people off as it will resonate with. I’ll also say here and now that I’m going to delve a bit into what I fancy and how many boxes on my theoretical checklist Nisemono checks off, so if that kind of talk makes you squeamish for whatever reason, it’s safe to back out now. I’ll just tell myself that contextualizing it doesn’t make me a bigger pervert than I really am.
For the most part, fanservice is the least important part of a show for me. When I go into something like Nisemonogatari or Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, I’m in it to gawk at gorgeous animation and get a few laughs, respectively. If there was nothing eye catching as far as character assets goes, my opinion of the show wouldn’t be lowered at all. Yet one does fanservice pretty well for me, and the other doesn’t.
For another counterpoint to Nisemono, let’s take a look at one other fanservice-centric show airing this season, Highschool DxD. While the two are completely different, both have a similar goal: To titillate the viewer with the bodies of young girls of questionably realistic proportions. I doubt this will come as a shock, but the two handle the material in very different ways.
To call Highschool DxD subtle with the sex appeal would be like saying that a seal has feathers, or that K-ON! is a cyberpunk thriller that’s as thought provoking as Ghost in the Shell, or that Rio: Rainbow Gate is anything but a masterpiece; it simply is not true. Gargantuan, bouncing boobs are the name of the game here, which couple with the ridiculously skimpy/fetishistic outfits to create something that’s way sillier than arousing. It’s all about the fanservice, but it’s too unrestrained to be anything but a joke. A damn funny joke usually at the most inappropriate times, but a joke nonetheless.
In contrast, Nisemonogatari’s fanservice is more… punchy. I suppose that’d be the best word for it. While it isn’t any less prevalent than in the previous example, it often manifests in subtler ways, or at least as subtle as a show with a naked vampire girl can be. The conversation that so litters the series with verbosity is often just as stimulating as the various poses and other physical factors of the gals featured throughout while skirting around the issue of sex with all the skill of an experienced flamenco dancer. That and two other things factor into why this tickles my fancy in ways that Highschool DxD couldn’t even dream of doing.
The first one, less ludicrous boobage and proportions in general, is a given. While I’m not opposed to large breasts, there’s a point where it’s just impossible to do anything but laugh at them, and HS(D2) has reached and far surpassed that point. While it is probably intentionally goofy in this regard, I can’t help but be a little disgusted by what’s on display just because of how cartoonish it is. The second, much lengthier factor is simply confidence. The girls in Nisemonogatari really radiate poise and grace, even when exposed to Araragi’s hungry gaze, and this is attractive in a way.
Jokes may be had at Shinbo’s expense related to his apparent fascination with blonde vampires of a youthful bent, but it’s hard to debate that Shinobu was designed with allure in mind, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t work just a little bit on me. The appeal is hardly physical (Though it would be a different story if the body were matured a good ten years), most of it is in her demeanor; that playful, venomous manner that throws Araragi for a loop, shared in part by Hachikuji and Senjougahara.
Unlike the other two though, Shinobu can tease and remain an enigma with the best of them. While Senjougahara often has sharper jabs, they’re done with a clear goal in mind that the audience gets right away (She cares about Araragi). However, Shinobu manages to keep her intentions somewhat under wraps. Her deft use of mixed signals keeps this going for the longest time until it’s finally revealed toward the end that part of her motivation is just her weariness from 500 long years of life. There are other layers to her personality, but I’m hoping that we’ll see more that can unravel the mystery that is Shinobu.
In the same vein, Tsubasa was infinitely more enjoyable this time around. While her cat form from Bakemonogatari was easily one of the highlights, the confidence gained from her overcome personality crisis definitely shows here. While her conversation skills with Araragi aren’t up to par with the greats, it’s easily made up for by a definite sense of teasing confidence. I find this aura and the sly, assured grin that she seems to always wear much more attractive than any scant clothing or thinly veiled sex talk, though it helps that there’s still a heap of that to keep things going.
If Bakemonogatari was a flurry of fanservice interspersed between sunny moments of plot and character progression, Nisemonogatari is a full on blizzard that bombards the senses with partially-obscured nudity and suggestive poses. It isn’t necessarily a good development, but it’s been done with enough competence and thought to actually pull it off well without going overboard, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t affected. If fanservice could ever be tentatively called classy without a hint of irony, that would apply to Nisemono. Loli vampires or no, this episode cements that fact.
Long story short, episode four of Nisemonogatari adds little to the grand scheme of things that we haven’t already seen before, and that doesn’t hurt it in the slightest. The animation is as stark and generally Shaft-like as ever, the conversations rival the human genome for intricacy, and the characters are becoming more and more relatable as we learn about how they fit in Araragi’s life. It can get a little too wrapped up in itself at times, but this was yet another enjoyable episode.