Tsubasa Tiger finale time.
After a little soul searching, it seems Tsubasa Hanekawa has finally found the answer to her Tiger problem.
Tsubasa writes a letter to Black Hanekawa.
After falling asleep, Black Hanekawa awakes, and we read the letter. It details how the Tiger was born, Tsubasa’s pleas to Black Hanekawa for help, her decision to change, and how she views both Black Hanekawa and the Tiger as her little sisters.
Black Hanekawa drags her feet at first, but soon finds herself willing to fulfill Tsubasa’s request. She confronts the Tiger just outside Hitagi Senjougahara’s home. There, the two exchange words, but talks break down as the Tiger refuses to stop burning the sources of Tsubasa’s envy. Tsubasa reveals herself at times, showing that both her and Black Hanekawa were already beginning to become one.
Tsubasa / Black Hanekawa fight the Tiger, but they are badly burned and cast aside. The Tiger pursues, intent on finishing them off. Just as Tsubasa, crying, realizes that she was never able to tell Koyomi Araragi that she loved him, he appears and defeats the Tiger.
Koyomi shares some words with Tsubasa. She confesses to him. He rejects her, as he loves someone else. She takes the Tiger back into herself, before breaking down in tears.
In the aftermath, we see that Tsubasa has managed to become one with her two “little sisters”, the sign of which being stripes of white hair on her head. Her family found a new house, she asked for and received a room of her own, and called it home for the first time.
We start the episode with Tsubasa, who is in the process of writing a letter to Black Hanekawa. There’s a lot here, but I’ll go over what I think are the main points.
I’m fully aware that it leaves me in no position to ask this of you, but I’m afraid I’ll hurt my precious friends if I stay this way, so I have no choice but to rely on you. You’re the only one I can turn to.
That’s why I utter these words for the first time in my life…
Help. Please help me.
I don’t think much explanation is needed here! First off Tsubasa apologizes to Black Hanekawa, or more specifically, the meddlecat, by saying that she likely only buried it out of self-righteousness, and that the meddlecat was bound to her as a result. After which, she asks for help, which she herself stresses – it’s the first time that she does such a thing.
After the OP we get more of the letter:
Just like you are the incarnation of my stress, the Hystery Tiger is an incarnation of my envy. To be honest, the word “envy” had absolutely nothing to do with me until just two days ago. It was only three days ago that it skyrocketed.
On that day, the first day of the new term, I headed to the dining room to have breakfast, only to see the person supposed to be my father and the person supposed to be my mother helping themselves before I got there. I clearly witnessed it then.
I clearly saw them having the same thing for breakfast.
The sight of them trying to go back to being a family gave me heartburn. My heart burned with the fury of a thousand suns. My level of envy crossed a threshold, giving birth to the Hystery Tiger.
As you can see here, the envy that Tsubasa felt was not actually towards Hitagi Senjougahara, for dating Koyomi, whom she liked. It was due to her own family, trying to act like a family, without her. As someone who had grown up in a disconnected home that was always disconnected, the sight of her “parents” trying to connect as a family over breakfast, without her, made her envious of them.
It’s a pretty good twist, but one that shouldn’t be entirely unexpected I think. I feel like her situation as a third wheel between Hitagi and Koyomi would seem like the more obvious cause of the envy, but then, that’s something that has been going on for a while now. So I guess it’d be strange for her envy to explode out in the form of a tiger so suddenly.
I actually went back to the first episode of the season, and sure enough, this revelation is foreshadowed. It’s so subtle, that if you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t notice it. You wouldn’t even think anything of it. But here it is.
Two identical meals for breakfast, neither of which is Tsubasa’s. When we see this image, Tsubasa is in the process of explaining how everyone in the “family” has their own cookware, cutlery, and dishes, implying that they all cook and eat for themselves. So to see these two meals, side by side, tells us that one of her parents made a meal not just for themselves, but also for the other.
Cat vs. Tiger
Let’s get more dialogue in here.
“I believe I told you that I wouldn’t let you get away with it if you hurt my master.“
– Black Hanekawa
“What a strange thing to say.
I couldn’t care less about that woman,
which is why I haven’t the slightest intention of hurting her.
But the desire to burn down that apartment
came from none other than your master in the first place.”
“It’s also true that she wanted to suppress that envy of hers.
You seem to be ignoring that, Tiger.”
– Black Hanekawa
Is that not what gave birth to me, an oddity?
You reap what you sow.
My flames don’t care about such circumstances.
They just burn. As if to wash everything away.”
So now we understand how the Tiger works, although we basically already did. It burns that which Tsubasa envies. First, it burned down her home while she was at school. And then, it burned the abandoned cram school. Finally, it moved to burn Hitagi’s house.
It’s easy to figure out why it would move to burn her home and Hitagi’s home, the former being her envy towards her “parents”, and the second being her envy towards Hitagi’s family.
But what would cause her to feel envy for the abandoned cram school?
Honestly, I don’t know.
As Tsubasa on the ground, burned and defeated, she laments her weakness.
“I put my life on the line,
and all I managed to do was delay your arson by ten seconds?
I’m starting to hate my own weakness.”
“I told you so.
It’s impossible, reckless, and futile.”
“It was impossible, reckless, and futile.”
I never did get the chance to tell him.
I loved him so much.
I loved him so much I even turned into a monster.
Yet I never once managed to tell Araragi that I loved him.
“It was impossible, reckless, and futile.”
“No, it wasn’t, Hanekawa.
Sure, it may have been impossible for you.
Reckless, even. However, it wasn’t futile.
If you hadn’t put your life on the line and managed to delay this tiger’s arson by ten seconds, I wouldn’t have made it in time.”
It’s a pretty awesome moment, when Koyomi returns after we haven’t seen him at all yet this season. As Tsubasa herself puts it: I feel like I’m seeing him for the first time in a hundred years.
I don’t have too much to say other than that the scene is basically set up to make Koyomi look very heroic. It’s a cool scene, one of the most memorable ones in the Monogatari Series, I think.
As she was lamenting not having confessed to Koyomi, Tsubasa finally takes this opportunity to do just that. Koyomi responds in the best way he can, telling her that it makes him happy to hear, but that he loves someone else. She understands, of course, as she knew he wouldn’t accept her confession, but she had to do it. This scene is also very good.
I think both Koyomi’s return, and Tsubasa’s confession, together, are a great pair of scenes, making the conclusion to Tsubasa Cat pretty amazing.
I feel like there actually isn’t too much to point out here, most of the conclusion to this arc was fairly straightforward.
Once again, the highlights for this episode are:
- Tsubasa asking for help.
- Learning the cause of Tsubasa’s envy.
- Black Hanekawa / Tsubasa’s confrontation with the Tiger.
- Koyomi’s return and Tsubasa’s rejected confession.
Overall it’s just a great episode to wrap up Tsubasa’s arc before we move onto something else. We get some good closure on Tsubasa, how she’s become self-aware enough to realize what she was doing wrong, and how she takes steps to get closer to her “family”.
Her hair is also a symbol of the two “cats” that she’s reigned back in, the two emotions that she had previously cut loose from herself.
And that’ll do it for Tsubasa Tiger.
Next up is Kabukimonogatari, another one of my favourite arcs.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.
Monogatari Series Second Season
- Nekomonogatari: Shiro