Revisiting That Vampire Loli In the Crazy Bathroom (Nise 4 Redux)

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.

That Voice

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.

16 thoughts on “Revisiting That Vampire Loli In the Crazy Bathroom (Nise 4 Redux)

  1. The Bathroom is pretty cool because they were able to change the way it looks by Tsukihi turning on the lights, it was really neat when it happened. And you can write about the implication of that, or someone else.

    I thought the comparison of Katja to Shinobu is misguided. I know I’m in the minority on this but I think Aya Hirano would have made a better Shinobu, and it wouldn’t sound like Katja so much, and more like young Haruhi. But more pertinently, the BATHROOM in Qwaser is the one I would compare with the one in the Araragi House.

    • In the Drama CD, Shinobu is voiced by Aya Hirano, and she sounds like Konata rather than Haruhi. It’s cute but doesn’t have the necessary arrogant vibe.

    • Maybe this is what you meant, but she didn’t turn on the lights from what I could tell—it was the light coming in through the open door I thought, since I don’t see why she’d turn them back off when she ran to get the knife.

  2. How dare you blaspheme against Katja-sama?!

    Yeah, I’m with Omo. I don’t think Maaya does good loli/little kid voices unless that kid is like Ciel and sounds almost like a dude. Hirano on the other hand is much more believable because her natural speaking voice is closer to higher pitched end of the spectrum. Also I don’t hate her (in fact I often like her work) so there’s that.

  3. And here I thought no one else saw the cute part of this sequence. Rekindles your faith into humanity. Kind of.
    However you talk about provocative poses when I see playful and childlike behavior.

    But I guess “I would say the person with the perverted imagination is the pervert”.
    Sounds familiar?

    • That’s bull. Shinobu pretty much says outright at the beginning of the scene that she is aware that her naked body might be perceived sexually by Araragi. Small Children usually do not have this kind of insight or only very superficially at best until they hit puberty. Shinobu on the other hand may look like a child but her character is that of a 500 years old adult so she knows very well how to manipulate her male counterpart using her body. It’s hilarious how some viewers try to rationalize what is pure fan-service for a subset of viewers with rather “special” tastes. It’s almost as bad as the rationalizations I read that Jar-Jar Binks was a deep character and not just thrown in to sell toys when The Phantom Menace was first released.

      • You’re bull. That was a sarcastic reference to what Araragi said to Kanbaru. And you apparently don’t know any children either to not know they can say very salacious things pretty often.

        • Repeat != understand. Children repeat all kinds of stuff they only have a superficial grasp of. That’s alright, it’s part of growing up and increasing one’s understanding of the world. Let it repeat me: Shinobu is not a child so her behavior cannot be judged according to the standards of regular 8 year olds. She played the sexual card for 10 (!) minutes straight. This doesn’t change the fact though that she did it within the confines of a body which looks physically to be 8 years old which was really uncomfortable for me as a viewer (unlike our generous host here I am not into lolicon). Additionally the dialogue didn’t really depend on the scene to be as it is, it could have been played out in a number of alternative scenarios with only minor modifications to the dialogue. But I’m sure an uncensored blu-ray edition will sell buckloads and I’m sure it will be solely to increase the artistic value of Nisemonogatari. :-/

          • First off, let me apologize for my insulting post, it was uncalled for.
            Secondly, it’s true that there’s little connection between her apparent age and her actual age. So pointing that out was pointless.

            But I’m sorry, I still don’t see how sheer nudity is perverted. I’m no lolicon, but I seriously don’t see what was outright fanservicy about this scene. There’s no close up of her body (except the head and feet), Araragi never shows any sign of arousal or shame, nor does he make a move on her (except for washing her hair, but even then he stays pretty far behind her)… We see more of Araragi’s anatomy than Shinobu’s!
            Again, I am not defending the anime, I’m saying what I see. Is that so despicable?

          • Stef I know you apologized for being insulting so I’ll do the same preemptively. Are you fucking insane?! This is the very definition of fanservice. Body close-ups (you said there’s none but they are of individual body parts) and yes, nudity is fanservice, of course it is, especially when there’s posing and it’s being flaunted for ten damn minutes, not the least bit hidden. No, rather they carted in fan-favorite animators just to show this shit.

            Nisioisin writes these stories to read like porn, and he does it semi-ironically as parody of otaku culture, but the point stands that he does it. Shinbo is as perverted a director as you can find. He directed 5 of the most bizarre, intense, fetish-fueled porn OVAs I’ve ever witnessed, and that’s when he’s not making fanservice-tacular late-night otaku-oriented TV anime full of lolis. This guy has probably sexualized more loli vampires than any other director out there. It’s fucking fanservice.

  4. Interesting. I do have to entertain the possibility that this somehow is indeed fanservice. And that Shinbo pulled specific strings that only otakus react to. That means I don’t think like an otaku (thank god for that) and that I have a very different view of nudity than pop culture has.

    But that’s alright. I like to think I have an open mind, and it’s no fun when a discussion goes in circles because every one stands their ground. Even though I failed to provoke thought at the topic at hand (which isn’t that important to me, by the way), I can say I have learned something about the way anime fans react to difficult subjects, so it wasn’t a waste of time. At least for me. I hope you gained something from that too. I wouldn’t like to sound like a misanthrope.

    Time will tell, or not.

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