Sengoku Nadeko has gotten herself involved with a snake, and we already know that this partnership won’t end well. Before we can move past that though, we still have to learn more about the journey itself.
When did it all go wrong?
Sengoku lies to Koyomi Araragi on the phone, telling him that she wasn’t seeing things anymore. The snake then discusses terms with her, which we come back to and learn about later on in the episode. Essentially, the snake said it will leave her alone during the day, and at night, she would help find it’s body, which was somewhere in town, probably.
At school, we see a little more of Sengoku’s class situation. While talking with the snake, her homeroom teacher asks her if she has made any progress on the favour he had asked of her, in a very pushy manner. From this, we learn that Sengoku is the class rep of 2-2, because no one else wanted to do it. The homeroom teacher had been pressuring Sengoku to do something about the class’ atmosphere – an impossible task, and one that should be the teacher’s job.
That night, Sengoku sneaks out and walks around. The snake will tell her if he senses his corpse nearby. He has her dig up a sand pit in a park, but she doesn’t find anything. Then, Koyomi finds her and takes her to his home.
We learn that Sengoku’s mom had found out that she was gone, and called the Araragi residence to ask Tsukihi if Sengoku was there. Tsukihi, being the chill person she is, covered for Sengoku without hesitation and said that Sengoku was staying the night. Koyomi found out about this and immediately went out to search for her, and then found her at the park.
Koyomi scolds Sengoku a bit, before saying she can sleep in his bed. As he’s about to say there’s room enough for the both of them, Shinobu Oshino appears and knocks him out. She then has some words of her own for Sengoku, before dragging Koyomi downstairs to the couch.
A Lie to Koyomi
Well, who would have thought that Sengoku was capable of lying to Koyomi.
So the question is, why?
It’s not all that surprising, considering she didn’t call him back after the snake called her, and instead, she went to the shrine at the snake’s behest. And THEN she even agreed to do a favour for it. Why though? What’s her angle? She already could have leveraged what she had heard to get Koyomi worrying about her.
Is she trying to get deeper in trouble first? Last episode she had revealed that she would have accepted the snake’s offer even if she knew the true nature behind it.
Anyways, this is the question to keep in mind as we move forward – why?
What’s her motivation?
Once again we find out a bit more about Sengoku’s class. And also about Sengoku herself.
We learn is that class 2-2’s homeroom teacher is incompetent. Or at the very least, he’s not a good teacher. And that Sengoku, of all people, is the class representative. A role that wasn’t forced upon her, but that she didn’t turn down either.
“No way. Doesn’t “class rep” mean class representative?
In other words, the best student in the class
that manages all class affairs, right?
And you say you’re the class rep?
“You saw how my class had this strange atmosphere, right?
That’s why, at the start of second term,
there were no volunteers or recommendations for the position.
So I was chosen to take up that role.”
“How the hell did that happen?”
“Well, if I had to say,
it was because I was the only girl in class
who hadn’t gotten involved with the charms,
“Oh, so basically, it was by process of elimination?
In other words, they forced the job that nobody
wanted themselves or others to do onto you, huh?
What a worthless bunch, eh?”
“It’s not like they forced it onto me, though.”
In her own words, it wasn’t forced onto her. In all likelihood, she just didn’t refuse when she was nominated. And clearly the homeroom teacher didn’t think anything about it. He seems to think she can do something about the situation. But we know that she can’t, and won’t, and we hear that from her soon after.
“One glance is enough to tell you
that it’s not an atmosphere that one kid alone
could do anything about from the inside.”
“It’s not a big deal.
It’s not a problem for me.
“Not a problem?”
“Not a problem.
I mean, it’s not like I’ve actually done anything.”
“Neither class rep work,
nor what Mr. Sasayabu asked me to do.
I haven’t done anything.”
Sengoku just does what she always does – averts her gaze, and says nothing. By doing so, she never truly takes responsibility for anything, and people never really learn who she is. Instead, they are basically forced to form their own opinions of her.
Going back in time a little bit, to before her teacher showed up, we see a glimpse of how Sengoku operates.
“Wait a sec, Nadeko.
Have you always run away from uncomfortable topics?
Is that how you’ve been living your life?
Without ever holding a proper conversation?
You don’t agree to what I said,
but you neither object to it nor take it into consideration.
You simply sweep it under the rug.
Is that your survival technique?”
Sengoku is such an interesting character, and yet, she’s such an empty character. There’s no real substance to her, no depth. The shell of a girl with nothing inside. Who even is Sengoku Nadeko? Aside from her basic characteristics such as name, age, height, and so on, what do we even know about her? It’s pretty amazing how a girl like her can exist and wade through society by never engaging with anything or anyone.
Well, there’s not too much to say about the hunt except for this: the snake said that it could feel it’s corpse in the sand pit, only to tell Sengoku after she couldn’t find it that “looks like it was a malfunction”. Did the snake really detect something in a playground sand pit? I have my doubts.
We know the snake has an angle that hasn’t been revealed yet. Sengoku told us as much through her narration last episode, when she mentioned “had I known what his true motive was, I still would have accepted”. In other words, he has an objective of his own that we don’t yet know. Finding his corpse is likely not the real objective – it’s likely that there is no corpse to begin with.
Sengoku doesn’t know this yet, but then we know that it doesn’t matter because she’d do whatever the snake asks anyways.
Meeting with Koyomi (and Shinobu)
First is a fun little quip by Koyomi.
“I was wrong, huh?
That’s a relief.
And here I thought that unbeknownst to me,
you got tricked by an oddity into looking for something,
or some other kinda convenient excuse of a task,
and that’s why you dug up that sand pit.”
Sengoku scraped together an excuse about feeling stressed because of her class at school, because she is the class rep. Of course, Koyomi was right but he trusts her too much to push any further.
More importantly is what we hear from Shinobu, although it’s nothing new. If anything, it feels like this entire episode has just been driving home Sengoku’s character, or lack of it. How she just ducks her head and avoids everything. Anyways, here’s Shinobu’s take.
“You sure are privileged… is what I was thinking.”
“I’m not privileged.”
Don’t people act all nice to you
just because you stay silent?
Don’t people think you’re smart
just because you stay silent?
Don’t you get away with
whatever mistakes you make?
Don’t people forgive you for your lies?”
“I… I hate that.
That’s not privilege.
It’s pretty much discrimination.
“…having a rough time?
Don’t people go out of their way
to help you out when you are?
Don’t they assume you’re
the victim in case of a dispute?
…What in the world am I saying
to a mere human?
You’re fine as you are.
Keep living like that.
I couldn’t care less.
Live like that, and die like that.
Go ahead and make Koyomi
worry about you your entire life.
Good for you that you just happened to be cute.”
Again, it’s not really anything new, but it’s another take on the same thing. We’ve learned about Sengoku from the snake, herself, and now Shinobu.
While Sengoku lied to Koyomi (several times) and went out at the behest of the snake, I feel like the real purpose of this episode was to establish just who Sengoku is to us. There’s more at play, as we know from last episode, which showed us what this story is leading into, but first, we have to know who we are dealing with. And now we know.
Sengoku is an empty person. Shinobu referred to her as a “natural airhead”, someone who enchants others into doing things for her and treating her well for no reason other than that she’s cute. Somehow Sengoku grew up to be just that, a cute girl who realized she never had to lift a finger for or against anything.
Aside from her love of Koyomi, what do we really know about her?
And so when thinking about her motivations for helping the snake, what else could be on her mind? Does she even have any other interests, hobbies, or anything that she values?
I guess we’ll have to keep watching and see where this story goes next.
One small tidbit that I will mention, that’s not important, is that in the school’s I’ve worked in, the role of class rep rotates on a regular basis. It’s not just a single student for the entire term. There may be some students in certain classes that are more outspoken and take on more of a leadership role in the class, but the actual work (delivering notebooks / homework to the faculty office in the morning, noting down the day’s lesson and the planned lesson for the next class, leading class aisatsu (greetings / concluding words), and possibly a few other things) is not just dumped on a single student for the whole term.
Of course this is my experience in middle schools, and Sengoku is a middle schooler, but it could depend on the school.
Anyways, that’s about all that came to mind from this episode regarding that sort of thing.
There are two more parts of this arc to go, but that’s not quite the end of Sengoku’s story just yet!
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.
Monogatari Series Second Season
- Nekomonogatari: Shiro