Bakemonogatari Episode 15 – Tsubasa Cat, Part Five

This is it, the conclusion of Bakemonogatari!
15 episodes just fly by, don’t they?

Where we had last left off, Black Hanekawa had just confessed to Koyomi Araragi on Tsubasa Hanekawa’s behalf after a long search for Shinobu Oshino…

Synopsis

Koyomi is in disbelief at first, but eventually he realizes that it’s the truth. All of his recent interactions with Tsubasa come back to him. He begins to realize some guilt for not having noticed. Black Hanekawa explains how Tsubasa had fallen in love with him during Spring Break, when he was still a vampire. More than that, he was different – something to help break her out of her bleak life. But then, Hitagi Senjougahara came in out of nowhere, and beat Tsubasa to the punch.

Koyomi refuses to break up with Hitagi for Tsubasa. Black Hanekawa then suggests a third solution. She has Koyomi stand by a streetlight, and then attacks him, telling him that she will just kill him then. Remove the source of her master’s stress altogether. Just when Koyomi is about to give in, he remembers Hitagi, and all of his friends, and decides to live. He calls for Shinobu’s help – she then emerges from his shadow and defeats Black Hanekawa.

The episode ends with the discovery that Meme Oshino has departed the abandoned cram school. Koyomi, Tsubasa, Hitagi, and Suruga all bid him a farewell, remembering what a nice guy he was.

Tsubasa Hanekawa

I could go into how Koyomi had missed all the signs of Tsubasa loving him, but then he even notes himself that Tsubasa is great at hiding things – if she told a lie, even Hitagi wouldn’t be able to realize it. In addition, he realized that it’s Tsubasa’s fault for not saying anything, and then relying on Black Hanekawa. He was right.

You all know I love sharing dialogue, and I really liked this moment:

“No matter the circumstances, it’s Hanekawa’s own weakness that brought you forth. What you told me is something Hanekawa should have told me herself. She’s just forcing you to do the hard part.

There are plenty of people who have lived through the same problems Hanekawa is having without relying on an aberration. Her relying on you is an insult to each one of them.”
– Koyomi

“You’ve got some nerve to say that, meow.
Oh well, I guess you’ve earned that right.”
– Black Hanekawa

I’ll also quickly mention that a piano rendition of Sugar Sweet Nightmare, the OP for Tsubasa Cat, was playing in the background during this whole scene. And it was excellent!

Anyways, I love that dialogue. It’s a step in the right direction with Koyomi. He’s managed to think for himself here, for once, by realizing that what is happening is not his fault. Normally he tries to help everyone without reservation, but in this situation, he is able to assert and hold his own position. The alternative, of course, would be to break up with Hitagi in order to get together with Tsubasa, to solve her stress problem.

As much as I’d like that, it’s not the best outcome, for obvious reasons!

Speaking of, Hitagi is really important here, even though she isn’t present. It’s Hitagi that gives Koyomi the resolve to say those words, because thinking of her, and his love for her, is what allows him to assert himself here.

An Unexpected Conclusion!

Who would have thought that the conclusion to Tsubasa Cat wasn’t about Tsubasa, but Koyomi! That’s right, Tsubasa Cat, while centering around Tsubasa, ends with development not for Tsubasa, but for the selfless hero himself. Because for the first time, Koyomi asks for help from someone other than Oshino.

That lost “little girl” ends up being the one that Koyomi asks for help. Prior to this, it was always Oshino, which I believe is because Oshino had a sort of “teacher / expert” role in Koyomi’s mind. Oshino was someone Koyomi had no qualms going to for help. But this time, he couldn’t rely on Oshino.

And so, with Black Hanekawa forcing him into this situation, by threatening to kill him, and take him away from Hitagi, as well as everyone else, he was able to ask for help.

It’s one of the major themes of Monogatari – Koyomi’s selfless hero complex that causes him to always attempt to sacrifice himself in order to help others, even if asking for help could be the easier solution. Suruga Monkey was an example of this, where he could have simply talked to Hitagi and she would have solved the problem – but instead he was almost killed by Suruga trying to fight the Rainy Devil.

The episode points it out, and it’s fairly obvious, but I’ll mention it here too just in case anyone didn’t catch it. Black Hanekawa knew that Shinobu was in Koyomi’s shadow, and she knew that she had to force Koyomi into a state of desperation in order for him to call for Shinobu. It’s why she had Koyomi stand by a streetlight, where his shadow would be clearly visible. Koyomi himself realizes this afterwards.

So while Black Hanekawa was trying to kill Koyomi, it was sort of a win-win in her books. Either Koyomi becomes desperate enough to swallow his pride and ask for help, because she knew that Shinobu was in his shadow, or he dies, not having deserved to live.

Sort of a cruel way to put it, but really, I have to imagine in her eyes if Koyomi still refused to call for help, even after she was literally leading him on and telling him to call someone for help, then he deserved to die. Someone like that has no business getting involved with aberrations, or being the subject of her master’s love… this is just speculation but I think that’s sort of the line of thinking Black Hanekawa would have had.

Wrapping Up…

I feel like this arc did a great job leading up to this conclusion. It’s one that has a lot of impact on the first casual watch-through, because you sort of expect the conclusion to be about solving Tsubasa’s problem. But Tsubasa’s problem is never solved. Once again, Shinobu drains Black Hanekawa.

And while Koyomi knows about Tsubasa’s feelings, Tsubasa herself still has to reconcile them and do something about them. Otherwise that stress is just going to build up again.

The conclusion being Koyomi calling for help, that’s the real surprise I think. While the possibility of Shinobu being in the shadows was posed by Black Hanekawa last episode, Koyomi dismissed it saying that she was still too weak to use that sort of power. Well, apparently Koyomi was wrong about that!

Next up we’re going back in time to Spring Break, with the Kizumonogatari movies!

We’ll get to see just what it was that made Tsubasa fall in love with Koyomi, what happened between Shinobu and Koyomi, how Koyomi met Oshino, and more!

So until next time,
Thanks for reading.

Bakemonogatari

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