Omo and ghosty are right, Nisemonogatari is porn, but you know my corner of the blogosphere isn’t going to let the discussion end there. Whereas my first post on episode four chronicled the chaotic confusion that came over me when I watched it, today I’ll be examining what it is I really saw, and determining how I want to see it from now on. It will be uber-kimoi—I’m not fucking kidding.
A lot was going on when I watched episode four the other day. Before I started, ghostlightning had hyped me up like crazy on how badly I needed to watch and post about it. From the start of the Shinobu scene, I was already thinking about how I was going to post about it, while also being overwhelmed both by what I was seeing and by the facts of what I was seeing—one of the most relentless onslaughts of fanservice which I’ve ever witnessed. I quickly lost track of the subtitles and didn’t know what the characters were talking about anymore, so I started messaging ghostlightning to share my incredulity. The result of everything was exactly what you saw days ago.
Now that I’ve rewatched and really taken in the scene, I can react to everything and figure out how I feel—and there’s a lot to figure out. The sheer density of happenings in this scene is more than enough to make it the most memorable scene in anime I’ve watched since… well, Bakemonogatari.
Adding new aspects, such as voice and dialog, to an existing character is a big fucking deal, especially when you’re talking about how otaku will react to changes in characters that they might like specifically for the formula of their existence. Back when the Black Rock Shooter OVA came out, I theorized that the reason BRS had had almost no dialog, nor indeed done anything besides fight, was that it would be dangerous to try and give a definite personality to a character that had accumulated so many fans who’d filled in the gaps using their imaginations over the years. It could be horribly damaging if the character turned out to have a personality which their original fanbase didn’t like. (I’ll be interested to see if the new BRS anime starting tomorrow continues to play it safe.)
Shinobu was originally voiced by Hirano Aya, but never had any dialog. The Shinobu that I loved in Bakemonogatari therefore essentially had no voice, and since I really don’t care for Hirano Aya, I was pretty content with this. When Shinobu suddenly started talking for ten straight minutes, I was mortified. As it would happen, Shinobu’s seiyuu was switched out with Sakamoto Maaya, whom I love, but that doesn’t mean that I love this performance. Sakamoto’s take on a haughty loli persona is a lot like Hirano’s, which is to say that it comes across as really forced and annoying; albeit I’ll take Sakamoto’s Shinobu over Hirano’s Katja from Seikon no Qwaser any day.
Besides the performance itself, I really enjoyed Shinobu’s dialog. I’m able to tolerate a minimal level of haughtiness and domination from a character that I like, and I think Shinobu coasted along that level. I don’t know how Shinobu reads in Nisioisin’s original text, but here, I feel I can thank the team who brought me the similarly tolerable Mina Tepes of Dance in the Vampire Bund.
Shinobu is Cute
These things are both true: I am a lolicon, and I think lolis are cute. It’s easy to get these things confused, especially from an outside perspective, but the reason that I read loli doujins and the reason that I watch magical girl shows aren’t the same thing. To make things more complicated, Shinobu is a “paleololi,” another thing that I find both cute and attractive, but not for the same reasons necessarily as regular lolis.
But let’s not be mistaken here: Shinobu is supposed to look like a little girl (Araragi claims that she looks about eight years-old). I’ve made the case before that a lot of characters who are older but tiny (say, Konata from Lucky Star) can realistically look the way they do. Shinobu is not one such case. Shinbo (and yes, I’m sure it’s him, because I’ve seen Le Portrait de Petit Cossette) has gone out of his way to make Shinobu’s body lack curvature and appear childlike. On one hand, this makes the scene even more creepy if you’re looking at it sexually, but on the other hand, it also creates, for me, a scene that can, at times, be cute with no sexual feelings. I can imagine a familial kind of relationship between Shinobu and Araragi, and this is supported by something else I’ll talk about in a bit, which makes a cute, hartwarming scene. But of course, that’s far from all there is to it.
Shinobu is Hot
More obviously, and without argument. I could argue ’till the cows come home that Murasaki’s bathing scenes in Kure-nai weren’t sexualized at all, but this scene is completely on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s not enough to have Shinobu naked for ten straight minutes in a room with a naked guy, whom she eventually gets in the tub with. She strikes a ton of sexy poses with staggering attention to detail. Included are parts where her hair is up in a towel, dozens of close-ups of her feet, cuts of her washing pretty much her entire body, dashing and dancing about, and in the penultimate moment of perversion, being covered in shampoo that clearly is meant to look like she’s been jizzed all over.
This is overwhelming. It’s like they knew the character wouldn’t be showing up much, so they gave her twelve episodes worth of fanservice in one scene. There’s nothing else like this. Even in porn anime, you never see a sex scene that lasts a full ten minutes. Seikon no Qwaser was, until now, the farthest that I’ve ever seen fanservice taken in TV anime, with scenes of characters literally engaging in sexual activities, fully nude, for minutes on end. I don’t want to say that Nisemonogatari has surpassed that level of service, since the sexual situations are nowhere near as extreme, but in terms of sheer length, it beets everything.
So yeah, I find Shinobu hot in this scene. How could I not? The only way to reject this level of fanservice is by finding it unappealing to begin with. Shinobu isn’t my ideal loli or anything. I don’t really like how Shinbo has gone out of his way to make her look young. The appeal of a “paleololi” for me is that they are an adult. It’s both a matter of personality and a matter of my preferring developed bodies (just ones which happened to complete development and still be under five feet tall with no chest). But I still like Shinobu. I think Nadeko and even Mayoi are hotter, but I also like Shinobu more than them as a character, and that in itself makes me enjoy getting fanservice for her even more.
Araragi is Cool
Araragi has always been my favorite character in this franchise. I love the way in which he thinks about his relationships with the other characters (largely because the way I think about and fret over my own friends is exactly like the way he does.) At the start of this scene, Araragi’s facial expressions convey a deep level of relief and happiness over Shinobu’s sudden outburst of speech. He’s excited to have a chance at bonding with Shinobu, and throughout the scene seems to be so glad that she’s talking, he hardly ever objects to what she says. Even better, when Shinobu finally threatens him with a serious proposition, he is stern with her and lets her know exactly how their relationship should be.
I’ve been watching this motherfucker’s shit for half a decade now—a bathroom shaped like a church, complete with stained-glass windows, doesn’t make me bat an eye. Hell, that room is the most standard Shinboism in the show so far. I might not have even noticed it were it not for the fact that it is, indeed, a bathroom.
This will sound weird, but I’m in love with bathrooms. It’s an obsession which mostly grew in the past two years, as I’ve had my own bathroom, and I’ve spent a lot of time in there. I’ve even made a music video about my bathroom (called “The Sentimental Bathroom“). More than bathrooms in general, I’m in love with baths and showers, especially big-ass tubs like the one seen in Nise 4. The use of these bathtubs in Seikon no Qwaser was one of my favorite aspects of the show (and especially my alltime favorite ED). You give me a whole scene centered around one such bathtub, along with naked Shinobu, and you get the sensory overload that was my original post.
Anyway, there’s a grand and a half of words you didn’t want to read.