When writing about Nisemonogatari, this week’s episode in particular, the train of thought is likely to lead to one of two topics: Incest, or the lack of trust that Koyomi has for Karen after the last stunt that manifests in ways that intentionally make the viewer uncomfortable. Saying that the two don’t meet is going a bit far, considering that the show makes sure that they go hand in hand like peanut butter, and sardines that taste surprisingly good with peanut butter.
So yes, to get the obvious out of the way early, there are so many implied incestuous feelings in this particular episode that the change of the translated title to ‘Incestory’ wouldn’t give anyone pause for thought. The statements that the Araragi siblings say to each other could certainly be interpreted along the lines of them basically saying “If we weren’t related by blood, I’d be all over you,” but it’s laid on way too thick to make that our default explanation. And it certainly doesn’t help matters that Koyomi holds and caresses Karen like a lover. So yeah, this is the obligatory awkward incest episode, and boy is it one of the weirdest of the series’ run. But there is a potential snag lying under the surface for Koyomi, one that I didn’t think of until I really gave it some thought from a different angle.
Because I haven’t blogged about it enough in passing, instead opting for the much more sane opposite, I’m going to get it out of the way right now: Koyomi and Senjougahara’s relationship might not be as strong as it looks at first glance. After last episode, which gave evidence both to support and contradict that statement, it’s difficult to make a full assumption that the two will be split up, but this episode definitely makes that argument hold a little more water. And no, that evidence isn’t just Koyomi’s lust for other women and his sister. If that were just the case, I’d might as well consider every other episode of both this and the previous series a crash course in the universe conspiring against his “peaceful” relationship with ‘Gahara.
The first piece of evidence is also the easiest to find. Since the beginning of Bakemonogatari, Senjougahara and Koyomi have always had a somewhat vitriolic relationship with each other, exchanging banter bordering on scathing with almost no reprieve. This led to that curious scenario of two opposites, the (usually) cool and collected ‘Gahara and the easily-flustered Koyomi, attracting and eventually entering into a relationship with each other, even with the throng of other nubile young women stumbling to give themselves to Koyomi. While this relationship has worked for them, it has introduced an element of shared tension that isn’t just sexual. Senjougahara in particular seems willing to resort to violence when seen fit to coerce Koyomi to her way of thinking, especially when she’s sure that he’ll end up hurt. Her heart’s in the right place, but the actions themselves are a little threatening toward his person.
The second is the fact that the entirety of Nisemonogatari could be taken as an extended metaphor for the trials and tribulations of Koyomi’s bid to keep the relationship with his girlfriend going strong. The other girls in his life, now evidently including at least one of his sisters, throwing themselves at him provide more than enough temptation to act as a counterpoint to his otherwise dedicated attitude toward his girlfriend. As can be imagined, all this female attention likely takes a toll on his ability to keep his eyes squarely on the prize of happy monogamy.
Finally, thanks to this episode, all of the above has coalesced into something that gives this post a degree of relevance. In the midst of all the sister seducin’, tooth brushin’ antics, Koyomi voiced several objections to his own actions, all of which were related to the simple tenet of groping his sister equating to a heinous act, and none of which were along the lines of “Man, if Senjougahara finds out about this, she’s going to be fucking pissed.” Now granted, there are more pressing matters in regards to his moral compass when he’s on top of his sister shoving something in her mouth, but the fact remains that he gave no thought to his girlfriend when he began somewhat regretting his actions, instead mulling over in his head how cute his sister is.
Is it possible that their relationship could be taking a one way train to Terrible Breakup Junction? Maybe. Is it also possible that I’m reading too much into it to avoid actually writing something about weird fetishes that has slightly more relevance? Most likely. Either way, if the heat gets to be too much and the two split up, I called it. Though I guess I could say that by pulling stuff like this, Nisemonogatari does a good job at depicting the highs and lows of a beautiful relationship between two people who routinely irritate each other out of love. But I think that might be giving the show too much credit.
As an aside, I like Tsukihi’s OP much better than Karen’s, so that’s worth sticking around for at the very least.