Nisioisin, Nietzsche, and the Tyranny of Morality

Management: While my opinion of the show is generally positive overall, this essay, by no means, is meant to serve as a comprehensive review, but rather, as an articulation and analysis of some of what I feel is this series’ most integral and interesting themes. This essay discusses Zaregoto, Medaka Box, Katanagatari, and The Monogatari Series. Several points on The Monogatari Series were borrowed from previous posts on the show here, here, and here.

Monogatar Series 22

The first Nisio Isin/Nisioisn work I encountered was The Monogatari Series, specifically Bakemonogtari. Nisemonogatari followed shortly after that.

I admired how closely the narrative formula of Bakemonogatari’s supernatural apparitions and normal school girls paralleled Sigmund Freud’s concepts of neuroses. Ambivalent feelings and beliefs become so sharply contested between the other for dominance that a cognitive dissonance, an unbelievable amount of mental and emotional stress, is almost bound to plague the person afflicted. Take, for instance, Hitagi Senjougahara’s conflicting feelings of affection toward the mother that raised her and rejection toward the mother that let her almost get raped. To avoid this debilitating stress, a person may develop a neurosis. A neurotic dissociates himself/herself from the current reality that is painful and a creates a new reality that isn’t. In the Monogatari verse, neuroses manifest as the oddities of the series. For Hitagi, that oddity was a weight crab deity that unburdened her of both the physical weight of her flesh and the emotional weight of her feelings toward her mother, feelings pleasant and painful.

And then I watched Nisemonogatari, an addition to the Monogatari franchise, I’m told, wasn’t originally supposed to be published and, given this fact, should be seen as more frivolous than fascinating. Fascinated I was though by what I saw despite its fan service, especially with anything involving Kaiki Deishu, but for reasons I wasn’t initially entirely sure of. I felt there was some profound message that Nisemonogatari was trying to communicate that wasn’t entirely pretentious. I also felt there was more thematic fruit to Bakemonogatari than I originally took for digestion.

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Monogatari: Is She My Sister?

Management: While I overall hold a positive opinion of the Monogatari Series, this piece in no ways serves as a comprehensive review of the series, but rather an articulation and analysis of an interesting set of ideas brought up.

I’ve also written a response to this. Check it out.

Monogatari Series 2

A Peculiar Adult Threesome 

A particularly enduring presence in a lot of recent anime is the lack of presence of a certain, rather important demographic of the human race… adults. Much of the time, if any adults are present, they’ll appear in limited numbers, with limited screening time and limited spoken lines.

Monogatari plays a bit with this trope, a demonstrable lack of any adults appearing in the show at one time, not because the show itself only seems to fleetingly recognize the existence of the adults in the everyday. It’s because the main protagonist, Koyomi Araragi, only fleetingly recognizes the existence of adults in the everyday. In fact, it’s a habit of his not to realize anyone aside for himself and his immediate circle of loved ones, his sisters featuring rather prominently. Karen and Tsukihi, after all, people that he would protect and, if it comes to it, die for.

The lense we, the audience, look through when watching the show comes not from a impartial third party, but rather from an unreliable narrator. Everything we perceive in Monogatari Series: First Season (Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari: Kuro, and Kizumonogatari, whenever in the far future it comes out) and parts of Monogatari Series: Second Season (Kabukimonogatari and Onimonogatari), in other words,  is what Koyomi perceives, and perceptions are something that tend to be colored by the perceiver. Whenever we watch a story in Monogatari with Koyomi as the narrator unfold, we aren’t seeing the story on its own unfold before our eyes. We’re seeing the story unfold through Koyomi’s eyes, who tells us the story as he sees it. And what he sees may not match up with other people see, such as adults. Something like that is immediately apparent upon beginning Monogatari Series: Second Season.

The exception to this peculiar world view of his comes from three even more peculiar adults who happened to be colleagues from university. They’re adults, sure, but they leave such an impact on Koyomi that he has really no choice but to acknowledge them. Well, that might not be entirely true for one of them. One of them’s a friend of his, Meme Oshino, that he spends the better part of Bakemonogatari working with.

Monogatari Series 5

The other two, on the other hand, leave indelible marks on him from limited contact.

The con-man, Deishu Kaiki…

Monogatari Series 3

…and the hero of justice, Yozuru Kagenui.

Monogatari Series 4

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Of Epistemological Positions: Monogatari and the Death of Gods

Management: While my overall opinion of the Monogatari Series, is quite positive, this essay is, by no means, meant to be a comprehensive review. It is rather an articulation and analysis of what I feel are its most integral and interesting themes. Much of this essay draws from elements of Sigmund Freud’s and especially Friedrich Nietzche’s thoughts. That being said, the inclusion of those elements are not meant to be a total affirmation of everything they believe.

Monogatari Series 1

The Truth That Matters

When it comes to epistemology, broken down to its etymological roots as the study of knowledge, we ultimately end up having to ask or being asked some derivative of the question… What is truth?

What is it? It may be useful to inquire first truth’s opposite, namely, falsehood. Falsehood, in layman’s terms, are lies, and lies can be characterized as deceit, deception, and delusion. I’m asked why the sky is blue, and rather than answer “because it’s the oxygen in the atmosphere,” I reply “because it’s an ocean propped up by an invisible dome erected long ago.” That doesn’t work like that, or that never happened, or that is not. It isn’t real. So what does that mean for truth, and how is that meaning relevant to us, no less to a show like Monogatari?

Because what matters to us, boiled down, what we tend to say, what we tend to do, how we tend to lead our lives, is what’s real. It’s what’s is. Whether we are conscious of it or not, people orient themselves to the fulfillment of some meaning or purpose, of how we ought to live our lives. It’s the objective way of living. It’s what we feel will make us happy. It’s what’s natural. It’s what’s proper. It’s what makes us feel whole. In many organized religions, that means obedience and/or communion with some sort of deity or deities, constituting in sum things such as omnipresence, omnipotence, and omniscience… the highest rungs of what can be considered fulfillment or wholeness. It is the absolute, ultimate truth, and being part of that truth, theoretically, is supposed to make us happy. Philosophy trims the divine aspects of theology, but nevertheless leaves the theological concept, in function and even name, intact. Our absolute, ultimate truth is our god, and there is no god but ours. Truth’s naturally exclusive that way.

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