Nekomonogatari: Shiro – Tsubasa Tiger, Part Four

Last episode, we were given Tsubasa Hanekawa’s predicament: something is causing Black Hanekawa to emerge once again. But what?

In addition, the abandoned cram school had burned down.
Was it the Tiger’s doing?

Synopsis

Tsubasa wakes up and finds enough evidence to realize that Black Hanekawa is back. She initially pins the reason on the first fire, but acknowledges that things are different this time, as she isn’t experiencing any headaches.

As she is about to leave, Koyomi Araragi’s Mother speaks with her for a while.

On her way to school, she runs into Episode, the half-vampire vampire hunter that nearly killed her during spring break. They chat for a while until a woman named Izuko Gaen arrives to take Episode away. Gaen ends up telling Tsubasa a few things about herself and her situation that startle her, and then leaves.

After school back at the Araragi residence, Tsubasa plays cards with the Fire Sisters until she realizes the true nature of the Tiger – envy. From there, she opens her mind and then writes a letter for Black Hanekawa to see when she awakens that night.

Conversation with Koyomi’s Mother

Koyomi’s Mother catches Tsubasa as she’s leaving, and has a few words with her regarding her situation. Of all that she says, here is probably the most impactful part:

“People are free to run away if something bad happens to them,
but averting your eyes from reality doesn’t count as running away.
An outsider can’t interfere as long as you’re fine

with your current situation.

How about saying goodbye to that, first?”
– Koyomi’s Mother

There are two messages in here.

First is that while someone can run away from their problems as a solution, they can’t solve their problems by pretending they don’t exist in the first place. Or by refusing to ackowledge they exist. Ever hear that saying: “If everyone around you is the problem, maybe you’re the problem?” It’s sort of like that – you can live life just never acknowledging the real issue, and instead ignore it, pass the blame, et cetera.

It’s clear that Tsubasa is doing this, averting her eyes. In her particular case, I don’t think even she realizes that she’s doing it though. But at the same time, despite what the people around her have been saying, she still hasn’t realized it.

The second message is that other people can’t help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself. Change starts with yourself, other people can’t force you to change.

Altogether, the messages mean this: you first have to recognize the issue, and second realize that you want to change. Only after these two steps can someone else potentially help you.

As we know of Tsubasa, she still hasn’t fully recognized the issue. She may realize that there is some sort of issue, somewhere, related to something, due to Black Hanekawa’s re-emergance, but she doesn’t know anything beyond that.

Meeting Izuko Gaen

I’ll skip over the Episode meeting for now, but will mention it later on. What’s much more important is the words Tsubasa hears from Gaen.

“There’s nothing I don’t know.”
– Gaen

“Nothing… you don’t know?”
– Tsubasa

“Yeah. I know everything.
Well, I’m sure you’ll come to face the tiger sooner or later.
You’ll soon name him the Hystery Tiger,
an oddity with power unparalleled in history.

Nobody can help with that, though.
Nobody else will save you.
Because it’s your own problem.
Not mine.

And that boy you’re in love with?
It’s certainly not his, either.”
– Gaen

“Wha-“
– Tsubasa

“Araragi Koyomi.
Don’t tell me you didn’t know.
You don’t know anything, do you, Tsubasa?
You don’t even know that you don’t know anything.”
– Gaen

Gaen basically gives Tsubasa a verbal slap in the face here, by telling her about that which she had been averting her gaze from. Tsubasa’s weakness was always that she knew everything about everyone but herself.

Gaen also mentions that the cram school had burned down.

Tsubasa goes to research the Tiger after school, but can’t find anything on it at the library. She then speaks with Hitagi Senjougahara about it.

Hitagi points out two important things. First, that Gaen is Suruga Kanbaru’s mother’s maiden name. And second, that fires occurred in the two places where Tsubasa had spent the night – her home, and then the abandoned cram school. Meaning that it’s possible the Tiger will come for Hitagi’s place next.

Cards & Realization

While playing cards with the Fire Sisters, they end up mentioning that they have boyfriends. Tsubasa is surprised about this, because Koyomi had never mentioned them to her. The sisters then explain that Koyomi pretends their boyfriends don’t exist.

“What it comes down to, at the end of the day,
is that he’s jealous of the guys he feels are stealing
his precious sisters away from him.
He’s just heartburned.”
– Tsubasa

This then triggers the following monologue:

Heart…burned?
Envy. Now I see it.
It wouldn’t have been at all strange if heartburn was the keyword I’d hit upon first. I mean, it’s so closely connected to fire.
“The way he sees it, those two don’t exist.”

In other words, he’s averting his eyes from the truth.
He’s just like me. We both avert our eyes and escape from reality.
Surely that is caused by one of the strongest feelings people have…
A feeling powerful enough to be included as one of the seven deadly sins.
Envy.
– Tsubasa

Alright, I wasn’t planning on actually looking into the wordplay here, but the subtitles clearly don’t tell us the entire story. Hystery Tiger doesn’t exactly sound like “heartburn” or “envy”.

First, “Hystery Tiger” is spelled as 苛虎.
苛 means “torment, scold, chastise”.
虎 means “tiger”.
So combined what we really get is something like “Torment Tiger”.

Second is “heartburn”. I was wondering why they used this for the subtitles, at least in the translation that I have. When Tsubasa’s inner monologue says “Heart…burned?” what it actually actually says is:

焼きもちを。。。焼く? (Yakimochi wo… yaku?)
焼きもち (yakimochi) which means “jealousy”.
焼く (yaku) is a verb that means “to burn”.

Notice that the kanji 焼 is used in both words, which means “bake, burning”.

And the reason the translation uses “heartburn” is likely because while there are other words for “jealousy”, this specific one, 焼きもち (yakimochi), incorporates that kanji. Which leads me to believe that this particular definition has more of a context of “burning with jealousy”.

What’s the connection between Hystery Tiger and heartburned?
I don’t see one, personally. Tsubasa remarks that if she had thought of the word “heartburned” earlier, she would have realized it. Which tells me that “Hystery Tiger”, or “Torment Tiger” doesn’t have a strong connection to the word she was really looking for: envy.

Gaen did say that Tsubasa herself would “soon name him the Hystery Tiger”. And technically, by telling Tsubasa that name, I guess she was right as Tsubasa began to use it. Perhaps that’s all this was, Gaen never claimed that this name meant anything or would help Tsubasa uncover the Tiger’s secret.

Tsubasa Wakes Up

After that realization, that she loves Koyomi, and that she’d been hiding averting her gaze from that fact, Tsubasa wakes up.

Basically, I’m heartburned.
I cut my memories loose.
And I cut my feelings loose.

The conversation I had with Episode this morning is a basic example.
In my mind, that was a casual conversation I had with him while scared,
with the events of spring break in the back of my mind.

But in anyone else’s eyes, there couldn’t have been a stranger sight.
I was having a chat with the guy who tried to kill me.
– Tsubasa

In addition, here’s another little tidbit that Episode himself had said during that chat:

“Hanekawa Tsubasa, was it?
Compared to when I saw you last,
you’ve become totally ordinary.


Whatever it was that I sensed in you earlier has vanished completely.
Well, it feels more like it was cut off…”
– Episode

Nice little connection there, as Episode even refers to it as “cut off”, which Tsubasa herself calls it. Tsubasa had averted her gaze, and in doing so, had cut off her emotions. Unable to even recognize that she was in love. And unable to recognize that she was jealous of Hitagi. Envious, even.

Wrapping Up…

Well a lot sure happened in this episode.

The last few episodes have set us up for this perfectly, by pointing out that there was an issue, something, causing Black Hanekawa to emerge. As well as something that had caused the Tiger to emerge.

So for Tsubasa herself to finally get it and understand what is going on felt pretty climactic, despite there being no real action. It’s a great episode where everything just comes together.

And now, the Tiger has to be dealt with somehow.

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

Monogatari Series: Second Season

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