Bakemonogatari Episode 9 – Nadeko Snake, Part One

A trip to a nearby abandoned shrine ends up sending Koyomi Araragi down another rabbit hole. This time involving a girl from his childhood named Nadeko Sengoku… and snakes, as you may have guessed.

Synopsis

Koyomi and Suruga Kanbaru visit the nearby abandoned Kitashira Snake Shrine on Oshino’s behalf in order to place a seal. The shrine is located at the top of a mountain. As Koyomi and Suruga ascend the stairs, they run into a girl who is descending. When they reach the top, Kotomi places the seal. They then find something disturbing – a snake cut into five portions, all staked to a tree. Nearby they also find a mountain of snake corpses. Koyomi remembers that the girl they ran into was someone he knew from his childhood – Nadeko.

The next day Koyomi speaks with Tsubasa Hanekawa about what he experienced at the shrine, after school in a bookstore. They surmise that it must have been some sort of ritual. Tsubasa then chastises Koyomi for getting so close to Suruga while he is daring Hitagi. Later on, Koyomi notices Nadeko at the bookstore.

Koyomi calls Suruga, figuring she’s better at dealing with girls, and they visit the shrine once more. There they find Nadeko killing a snake. They all return to Koyomi’s room, where Nadeko reveals that she is covered in snake scales, that are wrapped around her body.

Nadeko Sengoku

We now enter a story involving snakes and curses. A slightly edgier variation of the popular board game. And the victim is none other than the middle school girl from Koyomi’s childhood, Nadeko. At the moment, we really know next to nothing about her. But the episode gives us some information to work with.

First sighting of Nadeko is when she is descending the stairs from the abandoned shrine, which just so happens to be a snake shrine. At the shrine itself, while there is a mountain of dead snakes, there is also a freshly killed snake, staked to a tree. It’s blood still clearly visible. Who else but Nadeko could have been behind this?

And then we see her once again at the bookstore. There, she returns a book to the occult section, and leaves. Koyomi takes a look at the book she left. Thanks to my limited kanji knowledge (because the book‘s title wasn’t subbed for me), I was able to piece together the title of the book: Complete Works of Snake Curses.

This told Koyomi everything he needed to know, and frankly, it tells us everything we need to know as well. Why would anyone need a book on snake curses, unless they themselves were cursed by a snake? The only alternative is that if they were just interested in random occult knowledge, but considering Nadeko was spotted at the snake shrine a day prior, there’s no way she was reading that book just for the sake of it.

Once Koyomi realized this, he didn’t go to Oshino – instead, he called up Suruga and went straight to the shrine. I’m guessing Koyomi figured she was heading there because she didn’t purchase the book, just put it back. Nadeko likely only visited the store to read the book prior to following whatever instructions were contained within.

Anyways, it doesn’t matter all that much, because Koyomi finds her at the shrine. And then the form of the curse is revealed to us – scales, wrapped around Nadeko’s body.

Tsubasa Hanekawa

In the bookstore, Tsubasa not only chastises Koyomi for being too close with Suruga, but she also teases him by moving in for a kiss. The idea was to demonstrate the type of action that Hitagi would be worried about, because Koyomi kept on acting clueless when she tried to bring up the topic.

But what I wanted to quickly mention here was regarding Tsubasa herself.

First, despite being the top of her class and likely a shoe-in for any university, Tsubasa reveals that she will not be going to university, but instead travelling for two years once she graduates. While she tells Koyomi this, she wants it kept a secret as her teachers would have a fit and try to convince her otherwise if they found out. Only question to ask here is: why? Graduation is less than a year away, and then Tsubasa plans on leaving the country. Does she want to run away from something?

Second, Tsubasa gets a headache. Koyomi offers to walk her home, but then realizes that this wouldn’t be a good idea. Why? Well technically we don’t know why yet, because whatever happened during Golden Week hasn’t been explained to us in full. All we know is that Tsubasa’s home is a touchy subject, and that on Sundays she goes out for walks in order to escape her home.

The headache itself, while seemingly innocent, is very important to note.

“It’s nothing.
It recently started to happen from time to time.
It starts hurting without a warning.”
– Tsubasa Hanekawa

The important part, aside from the headaches themselves of course, is the line “it recently started to happen…”. Why only recently? Of course, I know the answer to this, but this is Nadeko’s arc so I’ll just leave it at that and say that those words, and the headaches, are worth noting for when we get to Tsubasa’s story. And I’ll be sure to bring them up again when we get there.

Wrapping Up…

Through a brief flashback we see Nadeko playing with Koyomi and his sisters, who Nadeko was friends with. There we learn she had no friends aside from Koyomi’s sisters, and playing with them made her happy. Framed as a very lonely girl, and while it’s not stated, watching the episode you get the impression that Nadeko is still a lonely person.

The episode ends with Nadeko crying for help in a way that tells us she is nearing her wit’s end. Her body is becoming wrapped up in strange snake scales, she’s clearly cursed, but she doesn’t know what to do. So she was reading books and trying whatever she could to save herself. Desperation.

So when Koyomi enters into the picture, she throws all of her hopes at him, and you can really hear it in her words.

I didn’t pick up any other notable references or occurrences this episode aside from what those involving Nadeko and Tsubasa. While Nadeko was pretty straightforward, given that this is her arc, I was impressed by the Tsubasa references this episode. They tell an interesting story.

Speaking of, that’s it for Part One of Nadeko’s story.

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

Bakemonogatari

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