Kabukimonogatari – Mayoi Jiangshi, Part One

All right, let’s continue on with the next arc: Mayoi Jiangshi.

I wasn’t sure what Jiangshi meant, or where it came from, so I looked it up, using the katakana we get in the episode. Not that I don’t trust the translation, but may as well search the source. And I was curious why it’s titled “Mayoi Kyonshi” (まよいキョンシー) but the translation is Mayoi Jiangshi.

Long story short, キョンシー is the Japanese word for the Chinese word, jiangshi, which is a “Chinese hopping vampire; reanimated corpse in Chinese legends and folklore”. Needless to say, this arc may or may not have something to do with Mayoi, her death, and hopping. Although probably not the same kind of hopping as in the original legends…

Synopsis

The episode starts out with Araragi Koyomi running into Oshino Ougi, a curious girl with strikingly black eyes. We get a little banter between the two about traffic lights which then moves onto a broader connection about stopping and going in life, and how green is often more dangerous than red, despite what people typically think.

After the opening, we see Koyomi carrying Hachikuji Mayoi’s backpack when he runs into Ononoki Yotsugi. The two have some banter back and forth until they decide to go and eat ice cream in various places. Koyomi then explains why he has the backpack, as Mayoi forgot it at his house, and that he is looking for her. We learn about Ononoki’s origins, Koyomi fails to find Mayoi, and goes home realizing that he doesn’t really know her well at all.

Shinobu then appears before Koyomi and reminds him that he hasn’t started his summer homework. After panicking, as a joke, Koyomi asks her for a time machine. To which Shinobu decides to oblige. The two head to the North Shirahebi Shrine on the hill, where Shinobu creates a gate to the past in the torii. The two pass through.

When Koyomi wakes up, it’s daytime. He begins to worry about the ramifications of having gone into the past, such as how to get back to the present, but Shinobu reassures him that it’ll work out with various excuses. The two proceed to leave when they run into some middle school girls. Koyomi asks them the date, only to discover that they’d gone eleven years into the past.

Oshino Ougi

I believe this is the first time that we meet Oshino Ougi, and it’s an interesting encounter. Particularly because no special attention is given to her. She’s just there, as if she’d already been introduced in the past. And right off the bat we get some banter with her, as if we already knew her.

I’m not going to dig deep into the banter here, but she does bring up an interesting point with regards to traffic lights, red, and green. How we think of the green light, or “go”, as “safe”. Because the green in this instance indicates that “it’s safe to go”. Conversely, the red light, or “stop”, is “dangerous”, in the sense that you should stop because it’d be dangerous to continue.

The interesting point is how you can view these as the reverse. That in reality, the red light is safer, because to not go means to not risk getting hit at all. If you don’t cross the road, you run a much lower risk of getting hit, because someone could still run the light. And so with the green light, if you go, you run a higher risk of getting into an accident, even though the green light is supposed to signify “it’s safe”.

It’s an interesting line of thought.

Banter aside, there are two other points I want to bring up here.

First is that Ougi constantly belittles Koyomi, calling him a fool, and dumb. Even when she compliments him, it only serves as the guise for an insult.

“You’re surprisingly quick on the uptake for how dumb you are, Araragi.”
– Ougi

“Thanks for the compliment.”
– Koyomi

“It wasn’t a compliment. It was sarcasm.”
– Ougi

The second point I wanted to mention is not about Ougi, but instead that this episode actually gives us a preview into the arc, something I also don’t think we’ve seen before. After the talk about traffic lights, Koyomi begins to think about how Mayoi was hit by a car while crossing the street when it was supposed to be safe.

As for me, I recall that little tidbit along with Hachikuji Mayoi.
I recall it along with that lost girl.
As each traffic signal in the traffic’s path turned red,
she crossed the road when given the green light and got run over.

I recall it along with the memories of the girl
who died more than a decade ago.
Along with that great summer adventure.
What started off as an extremely minor thing
got so big it threatened to take down the entire world with it.
I recall it along with that story.
– Koyomi

What’s the significance of bringing up this “preview”?

Well, the fact that Koyomi is recalling the events of Kabukimonogatari before it’s happened for us tells us one thing:

This encounter with Oshino Ougi occurred in the future.

Meeting with a Doll

The story of Kabukimonogatari truly begins here, with Koyomi carrying Mayoi’s backpack, searching for her, and running into Ononoki Yotsugi. We get a little banter before the two get some ice cream. We learn a little about Ononoki here.

“What kind of oddity are you?”
– Koyomi

“What kind? That’s a hard one.
I’m a unique familiar that my sister made all by herself.
That said, I am, at my core, an artifact spirit.”
– Ononoki

“An artifact spirit?
Like if you use a tool for a century, you give it a soul,
but throwing one away right before a century passes
makes it curse you.
Something like that?
Am I wrong?”
– Koyomi

“No, you’re mostly right.
But I’m a human artifact spirit.
The artifact spirit of a human that was used for a century –
Well, it’s more like I’m the artifact spirit of a corpse.”
– Ononoki

Koyomi’s eyes basically pop out of their sockets initially when Ononoki mentions that she is a human artifact spirit. He goes on to ask her if she’s a hundred years old then, and she responds that her life started when her sister (Yozuru Kagenui) “revived her”.

Maybe I’m just tired, but I’m not entirely certain what this process of reviving Ononoki into a doll worked. How does one use a human or corpse for a hundred years in order to give it a soul? I’m not sure, maybe we’ll learn more later because I can’t think of anything right now.

The conversation then moves to death and rebirth, which “coincidentally” is also part of this arc’s theme, as the jiangshi is related to the topic of reanimation.

To sum it up, Ononoki explains that she, Koyomi, and Mayoi were all humans that died in their own way:

  • Koyomi became immortal when he died, which Ononoki says means he didn’t actually die at all.
  • Ononoki died, and then after her death, she came back to life. Was reborn.
  • Mayoi died, and didn’t come back to life. She stayed dead, as a ghost.

So one never truly died, one died and was reborn, and one died and stayed dead.

As to what the significance is of this conversation, I once again, am not sure. I know that it links to the arc itself, because death and reanimation are both themes in this arc, which we know from the title itself. Other than that, I’m not sure, there’s probably more to be said though.

Time Machine!

Next is Shinobu and the time machine. This is a very funny part in the series – Koyomi and Shinobu going on a time travelling adventure. Why? Because Koyomi forgot to do his summer homework, and Shinobu wanted to show off a little.

One thing I will point out, knowing what I do about the story, is that while it may seem like future Koyomi’s quote of “What started off as an extremely minor thing” is specifically referring to the summer homework being the catalyst that kicks off the arc, it’s possible that the “minor thing” is actually something else. Basically, there are two things that I could see it referring to. One of them is the summer homework, but there is one other reference. When we get to it, I’ll try to reference back to this quote.

Anyways, the two head to the shrine. There, Shinobu is able to use the power in the area to make the gate into the past. The two then walk through the gate, and proceed to fall down the stairs. Which is why Koyomi was knocked out after stepping through the gate. They fell down the stairs.

The cut to Shinobu’s legs, all scratched and bandaged up, drives the point home and gave me a good laugh.

“So, did we succeed in travelling through time?”
– Koyomi

“But of course.
I have never failed at anything in my entire life.”
– Shinobu

“Well, aren’t you a braggart. Wait.
Maybe I just fell down the stairs and was knocked out cold for twelve hours.”
– Koyomi

Falling down the stairs is one way to time travel… into the future!

Anyways, the conversation continues with Koyomi wondering how they get back, because Shinobu used the energy at the shrine to make the gate they went through already. Shinobu responds by saying that they are in the past, so she hasn’t actually used the energy yet, so they can use that energy to go back to the present.

Koyomi then responds by saying that if they use the energy from the past, then there won’t be enough energy in the present to go in the past in the first place, creating a paradox. Shinobu then just shuts Koyomi up by… lying. When he asks her how she knows what time it is, because she borrowed his watch prior to stepping through the gate, she lies once again and tells him that she adjusted the watch based on the sun’s position.

Anyways, with all of the worrying out of the way, Shinobu’s carefree nature comes through. For a vampire like herself, the implications of being stuck in the past or whatever don’t seem to phase or worry her at all. That and she has her pride to protect, she wouldn’t want to admit that she made a mistake with the whole time travel thing!

Wrapping Up…

The two step out into the world on their little adventure into the past.
Only they find out that it’s not one day, but eleven years!

And that marks the end of the first part of another awesome arc in the Monogatari Series.
One of my favourites, for many reasons.

We’ll see what happens next in the next part!

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

Monogatari Series: Second Season

2 thoughts on “Kabukimonogatari – Mayoi Jiangshi, Part One

    1. This is my third watch through, and I’m still picking up so many interesting points each episode that I hadn’t noticed previously. It’s always cool to find new things like that in something I’ve already seen twice.

      Liked by 1 person

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