Tsubasa Hanekawa has been taken over by a cat.
After nearly killing Koyomi Araragi, Meme Oshino has decided to step in and take responsibility for dealing with this development himself.
Koyomi heads to Tsubasa’s home at night, and sneaks in as Tsubasa is out causing trouble and her parents are in the hospital. What he finds inside causes him to feel horrible, and he runs back home for some comfort from his sisters.
Several days pass, and Koyomi goes to see Oshino. We then learn that Oshino has fought with the cat 20 times, and lost all 20 times. Oshino explains that while the meddlecat apparition is normally a weakling, because this meddlecat has taken over Tsubasa’s memories, it’s become exceedingly smart. He then mentions that the meddlecat needs to be dealt with soon, or else it may assimilate into Tsubasa’s consciousness permanently.
Koyomi goes to school and sits at Tsubasa’s desk. And then the cat appears before him in the classroom. She explains that she is simply relieving Tsubasa’s stress, and asks that Oshino back off. She also explains why she decided to try and help Tsubasa. After she leaves, Koyomi comes to realize something about his feelings for Tsubasa.
The Hanekawa Household
I don’t actually know if Tsubasa’s parents use the same family name as her or not, or if she at some point took one of their family names on in all of the mess that had to occur for her family situation to be what it is. But I’ll just assume that they use the Hanekawa name for now, and keep an eye open.
Anyways, Koyomi explores the household, and comes to one conclusion: that family is broken beyond repair. The reason for this? There were six rooms in the Hanekawa residence, and not a single one belonged to Tsubasa. Instead, what we are shown, is a futon and bedding folded up in the hallway. In other words, Tsubasa doesn’t have a bedroom – she sleeps in the hallway.
This realization prompts Koyomi to stay up for most of the night realizing that he knows nothing at all about Tsubasa, or her circumstances. He feels horrible for her, and wonders how involved he should have gotten, or should get, in her private affairs.
While Koyomi is talking to Oshino about Tsubasa, who still hasn’t been referred to as Black Hanekawa yet, and I wish she was so I could just start using that name, we get some interesting dialogue that applies to Tsubasa, but also is a pretty good insight into the human condition.
“A human being made exclusively of virtue cannot possible exist.
Kindness is nothing but the tip of the iceberg that is a person.
There is always a counterpart.
If there be light, then there is darkness; if white, black.
It’s an anecdote that sees right through human nature.”
“Why a cat though?”
“That’s because humans wear facades all the time.
Ms. Class Rep was likely wearing one too.
A human who is perfectly fair and virtuous does not exist.
Instead, it’s because she insists on being one that her stress becomes piled up, unleashing her dark side.”
Ok so something happened on the subtitles that made me curious. On the subs that I’m using, the word “facades” changes to “facates”. Maybe this is just a typo, but it made me wonder if there was some Japanese wordplay at work here.
So I listened to the words, and the word Oshino uses is kaburimono (被り物, かぶりもの), which can mean a headdress or a mask. The actual words that comprise it are kaburi meaning “head”, and mono meaning “thing”. I couldn’t really figure out the “cat link” from that, other than that the masks can be all sorts of animals, although fox masks are more common than cats. But, if you look up “kaburimono” on Google, you will find a bunch of images of cats wearing funny hats.
So maybe this word in the modern day is more commonly used to refer to a cat’s head accessory? Hard to say, because the dictionary won’t tell me nuanced details like that. Very well could be the case though that this is a play on words with “mask” and “cat” through this connection.
I think what I really liked about this was Oshino’s first two lines, especially the one about how kindness is nothing but the tip of the iceberg that is a person. It’s so true.
This is a bit of a tangent, but these days in society kindness has been equated to be some sort of virtue – I don’t think it is. Anyone can act kind. You always see those people on the news that are interviewed after someone they knew had murdered someone: “He was such a kind person, I can’t believe it”. And that sort of situation, that dynamic, is what Oshino is essentially referring to.
To me, kindness is a courtesy. Just like good manners, or not swearing, it’s something we expect from one another. But being kind on it’s face isn’t intrinsically good. For example, kind encouragement of self-destructive behaviour, or harmful behaviour is not good. Fact is, there are times where kindness simply doesn’t work.
Oshino is saying that kindness can be a mask, a facade, that people use to hide their true feelings. And in addition, I’d argue that kindness is not a virtue, because there are times when kindness becomes a detriment, can convey the wrong message, and can be evil. A good practice in most cases for sure, but not a virtue, and it’s not always the correct response to a situation, even if it usually is.
It’s like that saying…
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Back on topic, what we’ve learned here is that while Tsubasa outwardly appears as a saint, inwardly she’s seriously struggling. And as a result, she accumulated a lot of stress.
Even though it’s Golden Week, and there is no school, Koyomi has been going to school each day to see if Tsubasa is there. The reason for this is because Tsubasa goes to school everyday, even on weekends, in order to get out of her house. She was doing this during spring break also.
And there he meets the cat, who then explains what she is doing. At this point, we’ve both learned that Tsubasa has accumulated stress due to her family situation, and that the cat is working to alleviate it.
But why is she helping Tsubasa?
“However, my master held no sympathy for me at all at the time.
She held a funeral for me thinking it was the most obvious thing in the world to do. And she did it in a completely unemotional manner.
It was like she had no pity for me at all.
“If you find a dead cat by the road, bury it.”
Well, that’s the perfectly right thing to do.
You could even call it a law, or a formula.
So she obeyed that law. Followed that formula.
That’s all there was to it.”
“Normally, there’s no way one can abide by those rules.
Most people wouldn’t think about burying a dead cat,
even if they knew it was the right, lovely thing to do.
No, they might think about it, but they wouldn’t actually do it.
However, Hanekawa will pull it off.”
“That’s right. She’ll pull it off.
Her emotions won’t come into play at all.
She won’t feel a thing.
She can carry out her morals like a machine.
I’ve been given several funerals, but none on par with hers.
That’s why I felt inclined to save her.”
Just FYI I did skip a couple lines, not many but a few.
Koyomi tries to stick up for Tsubasa, but the cat just tells him as it is. Basically, the cat decided to want to help Tsubasa because of how pitiful of a state Tsubasa was in. Her emotions completely shut off, and only acting on instinct like a machine. It’s an interesting look into the psyche of Tsubasa.
It’s also hard to imagine something like that. Normally if someone was to bury a dead cat and have a little funeral for it, they’d feel something. Be it satisfaction that they did the right thing, or pity for the cat.. something. We learn that Tsubasa felt nothing. “She can carry out her morals like a machine”. Makes you wonder what else Tsubasa does without feeling anything whatsoever.
At the very end, Koyomi has another realization…
“I really do like her, unbearably so,
but these feelings of mine aren’t what you’d call love.”
They’d gone way past love.
“Forget always wanting to be with her…
Right now I want to die for Hanekawa.”
Interesting for him to feel this way. What does it mean? To be honest, it’s hard to interpret, if only because the idea of love itself is subjective and holds many meanings. There are all kinds of love, from familial, to romantic. I’m not sure where “wanting to die for someone” falls on the love scale, because someone could feel that way towards a family member, a friend, a lover.
So I don’t really have any answers for that.
Hopefully Koyomi clears it up next episode.
And next episode is the last for Nekomonogatari: Kuro.
So we can probably expect an interesting conclusion to all of this, as the Monogatari Series always provides great conclusions.
Thanks for reading.