Beginning with an explanation for how Tsukihi in a phoenix granted human form destined to reincarnate once she lives out a natural life, and that while she may not be aware of it she is in truth an imposter, things start to advance when Karen arrives back and finds their house in its current condition.
Hard to believe I’ve had a good two thirds of this written up for a while now, but alas back to what I was doing.
Offering to take over watching what used to be their frontdoor from Araragi, who after consolidating just what he intends to do, finding that she would die for both him and Tsukihi and admitting that he would do the same, heads up to check on her. Where in order to confirm that she’s still his sister he decides to do of all things, kiss her and is met with a rather shocked reaction from her. Then going on to tell her not to count it as her first, and offer some rather sweet sentiments regarding their relationship as siblings. So now without a hint of doubt he rides off into the night to confront Yozuru with Shinobu at his side.
Letting her suck his blood in order to both toughen himself up and allow her to obtain a fraction of her former power beforehand, aging her up by around ten years as they confront Yozuru and Yotsugi. The former attempting to avoid doing things the way Oshino would and offering him a duel between two humans and two monsters, with Yotsugi putting up a tough act before she and Shinobu leave for their bout. Leaving Araragi and Yozuru to settle there’s, with Yozuru revealing some interesting information, that she, Oshino, and Kaiki were friends and clubmates in their college years, and that it was Kaiki of all people who sold her the information regarding Tsukihi. However while Araragi seems off to a good start Yozuru stops him in his tracks and meets him with a shower of savage blows, going on to accuse him of forcing his ideals upon those around them, as while he may not have a problem with it, it may be a different story for his family when they learn that Tsukihi is a monster.
Going on to her attacks before he can even regenerate and sending him through multiple floors before they arrive at the scene of Shinobu and Yotsugi’s battle, which happens to have ended rather conclusively with Yotsugi appearing to have been defeated with little effort regardless of her tough act. So as the two left standing, Yozuru challenges Shinobu only to be met with a maniacal laugh as Araragi slowly pulls himself back to his feet. Regenerating and telling her that yes, he will force his ideals upon his family, that he will continue to lie to them and be forever indebted to them in ways he can never repay so long as it means shouldering the burden. Leading to an exchange on the nature of good and evil, lies and hypocrisy, and an interesting question that Kaiki once put forth. Where given two identical things, one fake and one real, he asked what would be worth more, with him siding with the fake, Yozuru with the real, and Oshino that they’re equivalent.
After which Yozuru decides to leave things as they are with a convenient reason, and admitting that she could tell that he wasn’t serious in their fight, which for Araragi felt as if he was facing Oshino, before she decides to depart in a way that Oshino never would. So with the matter resolved Araragi heads home, jokingly admitting what he just did to Tsukihi and taking her unaware by deciding to introduce her and Karen to his girlfriend, Senjougahara. Who after the credits is shown meeting him along a beach with short hair.
That’s all? Honestly this was a good episode, a decent end for an arc, but for the end of the season that just isn’t so. If we consider Bakemono’s thirteenth episode as the “ending” for the first season it was pretty much perfect. An entire episode was devoted to providing it with a sweet note and epilogue to end the season on.
For this however, we got the last quarter of Tsukihi’s arc crammed in as Araragi and Shinobu teamed up against Yozuru and Yotsugi, fought them in both a battle of blows and will, and then it just ended. Oh, we did get a quick glimpse of the new short-haired Senjougahara, in around five seconds at the most, but I’ll further address that matter later. Carrying on from the last episode it was great to see Tsukihi get more screentime, both further addressing and explaining the matter of the phoenix and providing a sweet exchange between her and Araragi regarding their relationship as siblings, of how only from a few sides it’s always been that way. It was weird to see him just randomly kiss her but then again Araragi tends to do that sort of stuff simply because.
After which it was just a great scene, having confirmed his reason and being more than willing to die for it he took off with Shinobu, I can’t exactly put my finger on it but it was just great, complete with flowing animation, sweet uplifting music, and having him further consolidate his reasons by admitting them to Shinobu. Who in this episode we were also able to see a new form of, I’m already aware that she’ll do this quite a lot in Kizumonogatari, steadily growing in accordance as she regains her power. But up until this point I don’t exactly think we’ve seen it animated. And not only was it interesting to see her take an appearance similar to Karen, but Araragi even allowing her to take it shows a certain ammount of trust between them.
Following that the fight between Yozuru and Araragi was brutal to say the least, or could it even be called a fight? A beating would sum it up better, even with a vampiric power up Araragi wouldn’t do anything as she continued to pummel him both physically and mentally. Making it clear that his viewpoint was simply that alone, his viewpoint. Let alone Yozuru seemed to approach the whole deal rather calmly excluding a few outbursts. In the end it was actually quite amazing to see him still stand up at the end of it to at least counter her argument, that he’d take it upon himself to ensure that Tsukihi’s secret would never see the light of day again. Somehow leading to the interesting connection between Yozuru, Oshino, and of all people, Kaiki, as well as some more interesting ideas on what is true and what is fake.
Moving on though I’m not particularly sure how to feel about the new short-haired Senjougahara, I’m aware that it had already been shown in some rather old promo art, had even seen her with short hair in some illustrations, and that Nisioisin himself happens to be a fan of short hair. So it can also be seen as an act of favouritism by him. Other than that I will admit that she has gone through signifigant growth as well, but ultimately it just feels as if it was done for the sake of doing it. Not to mention that Senjougahara’s long hair is almost iconic, I couldn’t exactly properly imagine her without it before.
Another solid addition to SHAFT’s track record, personally along the way I thought that there were a few pacing issues and sure there was maybe a bit too much fanservice, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment one bit. Each episode was a lot of fun regardless of those factors, though maybe this episode could have done with a better epilogue.
But moving on, this season was not only interesting in that it developed characters that we already knew, but also that it introduced quite a few as well and expanded the cast. Bringing in the likes of Kaiki, Yozuru, and Yotsugi to play villain sorts of roles, the former being particularly interesting, as a conman you could never really tell whether he was being truthful at all and his motives were as effective as they were simple. That’s not to say that the latter two weren’t interesting though, with their introductions and appearances rushed through in the past three episodes we just barely knew them. Other than that it was also kind of surprising to learn that they were all connected to Oshino.
Secondly how it developed the characters we also knew was great as well, before this we barely knew the likes of Karen and Tsukihi and they ended up getting entire arcs at least partially focused around them, presenting the Fire Sisters and showing off just who Araragi’s sisters were and how they differed from one another. Almost being opposites of sorts, with Karen being fiery and a bit more impulsive and Tsukihi being a bit more reserved until she was launched into one of her hysterics. Other than that Shinobu ended up being one of my favourite characters, all I could really deduce in the last season was that she was somewhat bitter about what had happened before, but what we ended up learning about her was great. Regardless of her previous silence she turned out to be refined and quite talkative, let alone it was cute to see her obsess over a donut sale.
Finally this show also asked some interesting questions in regards to what was real and what was fake, faced with two indistinguishable things one real and one fake it asked which one was more genuine or important? It’s simply an interesting question and the reasons they offered were just so, by the simple act of a fake attempting to perfectly mimic it’s real counterpart it suggested that by the ability to do that and the effort required to do so made it superior, in Kaiki’s opinion at least. While, as Oshino brought up whether they’re fake or real doesn’t make any difference, seeming to ask just what determines whether something is fake or real. And just how Karen’s sense of justice and Tsukihi herself fitted into this was great as well, providing some interesting aspects for their characters.
So in all, while it may not be as good as it’s predecessor I still thought that this show was all right, it still maintained the same fun unique style that it had and brought in some more fun characters and interesting ideas. However it just didn’t seemed to be at a lower standard than Bakemono.