Chatty AF 208: Monogatari Watchalong – Kizumonogatari (WITH TRANSCRIPT)

By: Anime Feminist June 9, 20240 Comments

Toni, Vrai, and Peter return to their Monogatari watchalong with the ultra violent trilogy Kizumonogatari!

Content Warning: Due to the nature of the material, these podcasts will include discussion of sexual abuse, sexualization of minors, trauma, and mental health struggles throughout

Episode Information

Date Recorded: May 17th, 2024
Hosts: Toni, Vrai, Peter

Episode Breakdown

0:00:00 Intros
0:01:25 Watch order
0:02:25 Suffering and gore
0:06:20 Visual style
0:12:35 Impressions
0:15:44 Hanekawa
0:22:35 Araragi’s savior complex
0:28:14 THAT scene
0:36:44 Sexualizing Hanekawa and Shinobu
0:41:33 Ending
0:44:44 Self-sacrifice vs self-destructiveness
0:47:41 Bodily autonomy
0:51:37 Scars/bonds
0:53:17 Edgelord deconstruction
0:55:52 Vampire mythology
0:59:22 Buddhist themes
1:02:26 Final thoughts
1:03:48 Outro

VRAI: Like you said, Toni, just as a film, it’s a better told story, it’s really engrossing, the action is incredible. It’s long, but if someone’s fine with that, I think it’s understandable to want to show them that. I don’t know how you would ever watch this and then survive Araragi in Bake.


[Introductory musical theme]

TONI: Welcome to Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. My name is Toni. I am an editor here at Anime Feminist, and with me I have Vrai and Peter. Say hello, guys.

VRAI: Hey, I’m Vrai. I’m the daily operations manager here at AniFem. You can find me sometimes on Bluesky @WriterVrai. I am also professionally sad about vampires, which is relevant today. My partner and I wrote a chapter recently for The Palgrave Handbook of Vampires about the history of transness in vampire narratives, and I think it was good.

PETER: And I’m Peter Fobian. ln an editor here at Anime Feminist. I have no vampire bona fides, but I am @PeterFobian on Bluesky.

TONI: And you can find me @poetpedagogue on most platforms.

All right, y’all. We are here to talk about the one, the only Kizumonogatari. For those of y’all who are wondering why we’re going on to Kizu next and not going on to Nise, there’s approximately three reasons. The first reason is that we’re going in novel release order. Kizumonogatari is the second novel that was released after Bakemonogatari and before Nisemonogatari, so that’s what we’re doing now, and I think it makes more sense plot-wise. The second reason is that it gives us another crack at looking at the direction of Tatsuya Oishi and kinda lets us say goodbye to him before we move on to Nisemonogatari, since this is the last part that he worked on in Monogatari, and can give us a really deep insight into what he does when he has a movie to work with and a movie budget. 

The third reason is that I hate Nisemonogatari and I want to at least get to Kizu before we have to tackle that horrible thing, so that I can hook Peter and Vrai with all the delicious scenes of Araragi suffering. So, yeah, did you get your wish? Did you get to watch Araragi suffer enough?

VRAI: It could have been more, but it was a lot, and I did eat. Mm, delicious. Suffering. Good way to get the movie on my side when it opens with five minutes of lighting Araragi on fire.

PETER: Yeah, I didn’t really expect it but I was kind of reminded of ConRevo with a lot of these fights, except they’re kinda using Looney Tunes–esque contrivances and pratfalls and, you know, somebody becoming stiff as a board after they were punched, that kind of thing, except rather than sentai action with these cartoonish foibles, it was people getting their arms ripped off and their chest punctured by somebody else’s head or stuff like that. So, the gore was pretty spectacular, I have to say. And yeah, yeah, Araragi crying his head off and stuff was kind of a bonus. Can definitely… Makes a lot of Bakemonogatari make sense where he has kind of a cavalier attitude toward being disemboweled after everything that happens to him in Kizu.

VRAI: Yeah. No, the gore filled me with so much joy, because one of the things that I miss most about ‘80s anime is how incredibly body-horror fleshy it is, like the loving amount of detail given to viscera, because you get blood in anime now but it tends to be either painted black or a bright neon color or blurred out for the Blu-ray release. But maybe because they have to do that level of censorship for the TV release, it tends to be just, like, stab wound and blood everywhere. You don’t get a lot of the just nasty, chunky visceral gore that often, unless you’re like Devilman Crybaby and you’re going straight to Netflix. But it wasn’t just gory; it was really creative in how it used that gore! Like, that last fight scene is [Blows a kiss] outré nonsense. That is a Cornetto film’s level of funny, weird, absurd gore. I tip my hat to it. Screaming Mad George would be pleased with this film.

TONI: I will say, I personally… The first time that I saw the final scene— So I suppose we should just move on to our impressions of the movie in general, but we can start with our impressions of that final scene. That was by far, I think, the greatest action scene I’ve ever seen in any anime. Like, full stop. I truly adore the final fight in this movie. There are so many— I remember the first time I watched it, I paused it, I yelled at my roommate to come over here and watch it with me, because I was just like, “You have to see this. It is such genius.” And especially… I think the movie… it truly had me when Araragi starts spinning like a top and then the top half of his body flies off and his bottom half is just walking around while his top half is doing a handstand, walking on handstand legs. I was just like, “This is made for me. I adore this.” 

Yeah, no, I love the action in this movie. And in general the style of this, I think, is quite different from Bakemonogatari in ways that I really, really like. What do we think of the change in style? Because this is the same director but working on a film budget and with, I think, a lot more creative freedom in what he’s doing. So I’m curious what you thought of a more unleashed Tatsuya Oishi.

VRAI: It’s grander but I also feel like it’s more focused. You know, there’s still the scenes of characters on big vistas standing far apart from each other while dialogue happens, but it’s not just that, because there’s more money now, so those moments feel more like downbeats that are kind of a relief between big action beats, so they’re something to look forward to as opposed to something to kinda sit through. I really like the use of the reduced color palette where it’s almost entirely yellow, black, red, and a little bit of white. I think that it’s used really strikingly and really smartly. I feel like they kind of changed up how they animate Hanekawa for this movie. And for the most part, aside of the fact that I have a problem with everything to do with boobs in this movie (I think we’ll get to that), I’m hard pressed to say what it is other than I think it’s cute. I think she’s very… because she’s such a very self-conscious character, it doesn’t feel like the animators are drawing her to be moe. It can feel more like she is trying to be cute and to put herself off a certain way, and they gave her a little “3” mouth and that’s cute.

TONI: Oh, I was just gonna say I do think that she’s very purposefully creating this artifice of herself in that I think the— It’s very interesting to me because I think the only time that we ever really see her cry or come close to crying is when Araragi first rejects her, and I think after that she doesn’t really fully show herself again until parts we’re gonna get to later in the series. But it is interesting to kind of see her almost be trying to put on this brave face in front of Araragi or this kind of cute face in front of him all the time throughout the rest of this movie in kinda subtle ways that still allow Araragi to kind of idealize her and still allow her to cultivate a meaningful relationship with him but still leave her a bit guarded, I think.

VRAI: No, no, just my partner does continue to have laser-guided worst timing of walking through the room with this series. So they looked over during the panty scene and…

TONI: [Laughs]

VRAI: … you know, oh, God, the animation is so smooth like she’s eating a piece of chicken! And that’s for all of those at home who will remember a certain viral clip. I’ll send it to you later, Toni.

TONI: Okay. Peter, what did you think of the change in style? [Chuckles]

PETER: I’m afraid of discovering what that means. But…

TONI: Same.

PETER: I mean, it was extremely animated. So, that was very… very different from what I expected. I mean, there are definitely bursts of animation in the original series, but it’s like, yeah, definitely everything is super animated. I did like the color palette and I also didn’t really mind the use of… the 3D environments, I thought, were really cool, but I did feel like there was kind of an offset color between the two that really made the characters feel separated from the environments behind them, which I don’t know if I was a fan of. I feel like I need to sit with that for a little bit longer to really decide whether I liked that or not. But it did kinda make them feel like paper cutouts in front of fully rendered 3D environments, which was an odd feeling, especially with the way that they were purposefully colored in, like, a certain texture. But I mean, overall the character animation itself was fantastic. The final fight was spectacular. 

So, in a way, it made the slower moments feel slower to me. I feel pretty ambivalent about it, actually. Everything I like about it also kind of had a reverse reaction somewhere else. It really felt like all the scenes that I really like in the TV show, where two characters are talking and it keeps switching between those color palette bricks and some kind of visual metaphor or textiley-type background to try to convey some sort of thought or emotion or something like that… it felt much slower in these movies, almost like they were trying to pad out the time rather than playfully engaging in this level of metaphor above the dialogue that they’re having. So, I mean, the result’s gorgeous but, yeah, I feel like it kinda got a mixed bag based on what my expectations were with the rest of the series.

TONI: Yeah, and for those of you at home who want to watch a slightly more maybe streamlined version of it, there is a version that’s coming out, I think, called Koyomi Vamp, that I believe might have already been released in theaters (I’m not sure if it’s been released in the US or not), that is a more streamlined version of this movie. So, if you want that theoretical shorter version that maybe cuts a little bit here and there to make it snappier, that is there.

VRAI: It came out in January in theaters in Japan. I don’t think it’s come out over here in any capacity. But also, I just wanted you both to know that I dropped the chicken GIF in the show chat.

TONI: Okay, hold on. Let me take a look at this.

PETER: This just reminds me of an even more horrific one. [Chuckles]

TONI: Oh, my gosh, this is reminding me of that SungWon Cho… you know, how anime girls eat, where he’s just making that [Imitates loud chomping] “Aw-wum! Awm-wum!” noise. Anyways… Amazing.

PETER: Yeah, same. I’m familiar with the skit.

TONI: I feel like I should ask you all now, now that we’ve talked about the style, overall, how are we feeling about this movie, style and substance? Before we move on to talking [about] the more specifics.

PETER: Honestly, kind of confused. I feel like if I came into this series having watched Kizu before Bakemonogatari, it would completely make me feel different about pretty much all the central relationships. I don’t know if there’s another part that specifically does in real time the Tsubasa Cat storyline or, I don’t know, the one that’s referenced during Tsubasa Cat the first time that she—

TONI: [crosstalk] Yes, there is, there is.

PETER: Okay, okay. Yeah, because that one… I guess I wasn’t really aware that Hanekawa was that knowledgeable about…

TONI: Shinobu, or Kiss-Shot?

PETER: Oh, yeah, she’s Shinobu now. That’s right. Oh, yeah. So, yeah, I didn’t know she was aware of Shinobu, and all of her interactions without Araragi in this one seemed extremely like… My impression was that he was kind of ignorant to her interest in him, which I just don’t think is something that you could even play at after this movie. So, I don’t know if something changes during the Tsubasa Cat arc that changes the dynamic of their relationship that would make him think that she’s no longer interested in him. But yes, extremely like “What are you, an idiot?” and especially with the way he takes advantage of her based on their friendship, as well, doing stuff like asking to grope her boobs and, I guess, the way they meet with the panty flash thing, of course, is kind of… I guess he’s very sexually aggressive with all of the women in the show, but this one was, I think, kind of next level. I find myself more confused about their relationship than I was at the end of Bakemonogatari.

VRAI: So, overall I liked the… I had a good time watching the film, I think I will say. I think on the whole, I would liken… For some reason, Monogatari keeps drawing me back to Imaishi, but I think I would say that if Bakemonogatari is Kill la Kill (you know, has a strong central romance, some really neat characters, some interesting thoughts, and is also just drowning in its own bullshit), then Kizu is closer to Promare. You know, it’s not free of bullshit, and, Toni, I know that it makes you really literally physically nauseous so you weren’t able to watch it, but it’s probably the more distilled version of the same central ideas. And yet at the same time, I can’t say that it would be meaningful. I don’t think I could tell somebody, “Just watch Kizu,” because so much of what’s going on with Hanekawa is interesting to me because of the backstory from Tsubasa Cat, so it makes it sort of an odd beast on the whole.

TONI: You know, it’s interesting because I sometimes will show people Kizu before showing them Bake because I know that they will like Kizu more, because Kizu is objectively better in every way. It’s just more entertaining and, I think, a better-told story, even though I absolutely adore Senjougahara’s arc in Bakemonogatari, to be clear.

VRAI: That’s easily the strongest part of Bake. Yeah.

TONI: Yeah. But I find that— I do think, as you’re saying, Vrai, Hanekawa, if you don’t know what’s going on with her from Tsubasa Cat… and then I know even more because I’ve seen further along. As you were saying, Peter, that part that’s referenced in Tsubasa Cat that’s about Araragi first discovering Hanekawa is a survivor of abuse is played out in full in an arc that comes right after Nise called Nekomonogatari: Kuro, or Nekomonogatari Black. And so knowing that also really shapes my view of Kizu. And so, I do think it’s interesting… If I didn’t know those things, it might be easy to look at Hanekawa and see almost this kind of fantasy of this really hot girl who’s weirdly into you for some reason. Knowing what I do about her from the other series, it makes me wonder, like, is she purposefully kind of trying to play that role because she’s scared of rejection, right? 

And obviously, she is in fact horny for Araragi. That is very clear from every interaction that they have, that she’s very into him. But as I said, I think if I hadn’t watched the things, it would be easier to write her off as a kind of fantasy that’s catered to the male gaze (which, you know, to an extent maybe it is also that) rather than a complex character who is trying to kind of perform having her shit together a little bit, when in reality she really, really, really doesn’t.

PETER: Oh, so you’re kind of saying, just based on your perception of her in the movie, she is kind of like a… I wouldn’t say she’s manic, but a pixie dream girl, whereas in the broader series, a lot of her actions make more sense when you know the context about why she’s out so late and…

TONI: Well, right. Because for example, right, she’s out looking for a vampire, right? And you know, that could be just a kinda quirky thing, like, “Oh, she’s looking for a vampire. She’s curious about this scary thing. How naive!” Right? But when you know about what’s going on in Tsubasa Cat and what’s been going on with her family, you remember, “Oh, yeah, she walks around a lot in the middle of the night because she just hates being at home.” Right? And maybe on some level, she has this self-destructive streak. Or, you know, she doesn’t really get much care or love at home, and so the first person who kinda shows her any positive attention… then she’s kind of, a little, throwing herself at him, right? When you’ve seen the rest of the show, it’s not a character who is necessarily a… She’s not your fantasy girlfriend, I guess is what I’m saying.

PETER: Yeah, I think that only kinda comes through at the end where she’s able to discern what it is that Kiss-Shot is after in her final battle with Araragi, I think because she does— Well, earlier on she had a similar scene where she was kind of offering herself up to him for him to drink her blood, knowing that he was a vampire, which kinda contextualizes some of the other things she does in the movie as well. But that’s the only part of her real circumstances that sort of bleed into the movie there at the very end.

VRAI: Well, and the movie ends with her getting presumably her first headache, which, again, also only means something if you’ve seen Bake.

PETER: Yeah. I’m wondering, like, what is the sensible way to enter into this franchise, because I feel like if you don’t watch it in chronological order, then your jumping-in point really gives you a false interpretation of the relationship dynamics at play.

VRAI: Yeah, incidentally, because it was on the Libby app, I briefly dipped a toe into the Bakemonogatari manga, and (A) it sucks and I hate it, for many reasons, mostly the full-frontal panty shot of Mayoi; but also, it includes, right at the beginning of the Snail arc, just the shittiest six-page summary of the Kizu movie. It’s just another reason it’s bad and terrible.

Thinking more generally about— I can’t imagine… On the one hand, like you said, Toni, just as a film, it’s a better told story, it’s really engrossing, the action is incredible. It’s long, but if someone’s fine with that, I think it’s understandable to want to show them that. I don’t know how you would ever watch this and then survive Araragi in Bake.


PETER: Yeah, literally the opening scene in Bakemonogatari, after another Hanekawa panty shot and the whole thing with him catching Senjougahara, is him asking Hanekawa about Senjougahara in a way where it feels like he’s very interested in Senjougahara, and you can kind of interpret Hanekawa’s reaction based on that. And if you had just watched Kizu beforehand, I feel like my impression would be like “Wait, what the hell’s going on right now? Because obviously, you know that Hanekawa’s into you. And now you’re asking after this other girl that way, and she thinks that you’re interested in her, very obviously. What are you doing, man? You gotta coach this somehow. Otherwise it’s going to come off like this girl you know that is interested in you, you’re just kind of casually asking her about another woman on campus like you’re—”

VRAI: After you tried to feel her up and took her panties.

TONI: There’s so much going on there. Also, we gotta get to Neko Kuro because it will explain so much, I promise!

PETER: Okay, yeah. I’m…

VRAI: You can’t dangle that carrot in front of me forever, Toni!

PETER: Yeah. [Chuckles]

TONI: No! I just— The thing about this show is that it just so gradually reveals everything. The order is so non-chronological. It only eventually gets to a vaguely chronological order (and that’s just vaguely) once we get to second season. And even then, it’s basically not, at all. But yeah, no, I think that that also is part of what makes the show interesting, though, is the fact that you wonder, like “Wait, what’s going on? Why is Araragi talking so interested in Senjougahara right in front of Hanekawa when he knows that Hanekawa’s into him?” It’s a question of “Is he purposefully playing dumb because he’s afraid of confronting her feelings, or is he not aware of them?” 

And I’m much more inclined to believe that he was very much aware of them but was just really, really uncomfortable with them because of the things that he learns about her life and being afraid of intimacy with somebody. Hitagi Crab is largely the process of Senjougahara processing her shit and starting on the healing journey. Hanekawa has nowhere near processed her shit and is in fact still in the shit, right? She’s still experiencing the shit during the events of Bakemonogatari. Right? So I think that Araragi on some level… He loves to save people. He loves to save girls. But actually being intimate with their real emotions when they’re in the shitter, I don’t think he’s necessarily ready for that, I guess? I don’t know.

PETER: You mean, solve their supernatural problems but not assist them with any kind of real-world problems? Because that was kind of my interpretation where things left off in Bakemonogatari, because Hanekawa was obviously in the… I mean, I guess he was perfectly aware of the abuse she’s suffering at home. But they had reached this equilibrium in their friendship where they sort of just didn’t talk about it and she was silently suffering every day, and then they were just basically casual friends at the point where Bakemonogatari started, where he was politely ignoring her problems since he believed he had solved the one that had a supernatural origin.

VRAI: This is a film that requires Araragi to grasp the idiot ball with all his might and go, “Oh, my God, vampires kill people!”


PETER: Oh, yeah, that’s true. [Chuckles] It took him a while to figure that one out, yeah.

TONI: To figure out that he made a terrible choice in reviving Kiss-Shot, right?

VRAI: You mentioned, I think, in the first episode—or at least we’ve talked about it a fair amount off air—that one of the things you really like about this franchise is the connection you feel with it in its depiction of intimacy and the way it really resonates with you as a queer person and levels of sort of ambiguous intimacy. And I really thought about that during this movie, because on the one hand, part of me can only give out Araragi so much shit, because the first girl I ever had a crush on was a huge Beatles nerd (she was that kind of gal) and at one point, she was telling me about her favorite songs and just loudly name-dropped “Let’s Do It in the Road” [sic]. And I got nothing off of that.

TONI: Oh, I get it! I get what you’re saying. I get what you’re saying. Oh, it took me a second. It took me a second.

VRAI: Now, Toni, in my defense, in my defense, this was in the middle of a classroom.

TONI: Oh, my fucking God!

PETER: Oh, yeah, that’s… Yeah. Mm-hm.

VRAI: Yeah. Yeah. So that didn’t go anywhere. [Chuckles] So, in that sense, I can kind of vibe with this idea that sometimes shit can get real overt and you’re still like, “Man, I don’t know what’s happening.” But at the same time, Monogatari, despite having that sort of subtextual resonance, is conversing in a very heteronormative space. Right? This whole movie is very gender, in some ways that I think are interesting and purposeful and in some ways that I think are really, really not. So much of what Hanekawa is doing is putting herself in this very vulnerable place where essentially she’s trying to… as it got touched on at the end of Bake with that brief fantasy sequence that I liked so much, she’s really trying to live out a supernatural romance narrative here and throw herself in the path of monstrosity and to be the one who understands the monster and the one who’s special. And I feel in my heart for her. But also, at the same time, for Araragi, it’s like, “Oh, well, I can get sexual favors out of this girl because, you know, that’s a normal thing to do with your friend’s who’s a girl and who’s your friend, but also you don’t owe, like, emotional constancy and responsibility to her, because you’re friends! But also you should get to touch her tits.”

PETER: Yeah, it reminded me of Mushoku Tensei, where essentially she just… When they’re meeting in the sports utility room, she just kind of coached him through this tremendous emotional confrontation he was going to have to have with Kiss-Shot. And you imagine in that moment, he’s feeling a lot of gratitude toward her and for her friendship and all that. And then he somehow spins that into “Oh, but you should let me grope you.” [Chuckles] Like, wait, I thought literally moments ago you were grateful towards her and felt like you owed her a favor, and now instead you’re asking for, basically, sexual favors off the top of that. Makes me feel like you didn’t actually learn anything.

TONI: One thing that I’ve been trying to figure out, every time I’ve tried to watch this, is how much of that scene is just a fantasy sequence, right, like him imagining in his head what that would be like.

VRAI: All of it.

TONI: Right? Or how much of it is… Because the implication is he doesn’t actually, like, get on top of her and start dominating her and telling her to, you know, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, say you need to touch me, blah. You know. Which, I remember when I first watched the film, I was like, “Oh, thank God! That didn’t actually happen,” because it was very uncomfortable for me to watch, because that would have been… Because it’s complicated, right? Because (A) clearly she’s into him, but being into somebody is not consent, right? Those are two different things, right? Even being into somebody to the extent that you just spontaneously, without asking, give them your panties, is not the same thing as consenting to them, like, dry-humping you and biting your ear and all kinds of stuff, right?

VRAI: That scene is so… Because for a hot second, the movie had to be insofar as like… Yeah, there’s fanservice in this and there’s some bullshit moments, and this man has no idea how breasts work. Excuse me, she’s not flapping two boobs independently in the wind while wearing a bra. Get out. Get out! Get away from me. As a former possessor of boobs about that size, no. But I did kind of respect that we detour to be horny about Araragi for a hot second. And she’s just admiring his eight-pack, and I was like, okay. This feels a little better when it’s mutually horny. That’s something. That’s not just our milquetoast protagonist and the women around him who all fall at his feet and are the object of sexual framing while also he doesn’t emotionally owe them anything because they’re just friends! 

But also, then, in some senses I think that the groping scene is kind of interesting insofar as… like, it’s him imagining it just using cut-and-paste lines from a porno. Those are all porn lines that he’s using, and they’re super hackneyed. But I also don’t think it— JK Haru is a Sex Worker tried to do something similar, where it sort of mashed up these cliché, very hentai bits of rote dialogue in the sex scenes with the more lived experience of her in her moments when she’s not working as a sex worker. But, you know, I think we had an article about somebody dissecting why they felt that didn’t really work, because even if you’re contrasting them, you’re still ultimately spending a lot of time in that space, in a way that really focuses on that same degradation that becomes the purpose of the original porn. 

And so I think… It’s not that it’s just Araragi thinking through how he’d be such a master lothario when he can’t even… like, he can’t touch a woman. He’s too terrified to even touch this girl who is so blatantly into him and wants him to touch her, even if not under these circumstances. But it gets lost in the sauce of just being the thing, of just being gratuitous exploitation of her. And not even her. Like, the fantasy that he thinks she is.

TONI: Well, it’s also interesting to the extent that he… there’s this kind of, almost, mockery of consent that he engages in. And I think part of that is, as you’re saying, kind of this fantasy, romanticized, almost degradation porn where consent is, I’m sure, mocked, and the woman is assumed to be in this kind of degraded role where the idea that she would consent is mocked. Right? Because there’s that moment, of course, where he’s like, “You must say, ‘I, Hanekawa, want you to touch my boobs,’ so that in a court of law I will not be convicted,” which is, like, bananas. [Chuckles]

VRAI: Yeah. It actually— Mm-hm.

TONI: Well, and I was just gonna say, to what you were saying earlier about fantasies and my own experience as a queer person, right, I’m in a lot of spaces with a lot of people who really, really, really enjoy that kind of degradation, right? And—

VRAI: Yeah. There’s nothing wrong with it if folks are into it.

TONI: Right. I don’t necessarily get the sense that Hanekawa’s into that. [Chuckles]

VRAI: [Obscured by crosstalk] you think so.

TONI: And it’s also interesting because Hanekawa… It’s also lampshaded, because Hanekawa… I think, at the end of the scene or maybe before the scene, she pulls out the boobie magazine that Araragi got and points to the part of it that is obviously about her or someone like her and is like, “You’re looking at porn of people exactly like me. Hm.” Right? So, it’s very much intentional, I think, that Araragi is struggling with the contrast between the real, intimate relationship that she wants to have with him as a friend—and more than a friend, clearly—and the fantasy that he’s kind of projecting onto her that is deeply degrading.

VRAI: Like, I think it has some awareness of the fact that— Even if I think it sort of falls into just doing the thing, I think that scene is meant to show sort of a gulf between Hanekawa the person and Hanekawa as configured in Araragi’s brain as this simultaneous Madonna–whore figure, where he’s horny for her because she’s got big jugs, but also she’s this pure saint that’s too good for him. Like, the amount of scenes where she’s backlit by this ethereal light are truly something.

TONI: Well, that’s also interesting because during that scene, it’s not clear she’s enjoying it when he’s dry-humping her and preparing to grope her. It almost seems like she’s not enjoying that, right? And in that sense, he’s projecting onto her this almost bodice-ripper thing, when I think that under different circumstances, based on what we had seen earlier, if they actually were fucking, she would probably be a lot more into it than what we saw, right, in that kind of degradation fantasy.

VRAI: And I think… I would sort of make jerk-off motions at you, but you could maybe make the argument that they’re both sort of talking past one another with their respective fantasies, where she wants to be the heroine of this supernatural romance who wins over the broody vampire and is the only one who understands him and he wants to fuck her like in a terrible porno mag but also have her be his bang maid who takes care of all of his emotional needs. But I think that Hanekawa, even then, is still allowing herself to be a lot more vulnerable and has a lot more to lose in that situation, and it’s not necessarily an equivalence.

And I’m also very weirded out by how this movie treats Kiss-Shot’s body, because it’s like it’s so disinterested in her as her 27-year-old self. You know, she has the scene at the beginning where she’s sort of in this imposing look, even if she doesn’t have her limbs. But then the boob jiggle kicks in once you’ve layered over the crying baby sound effects and she’s sobbing and begging him for help in a really pathetic way where she’s dropped this imperious femdom sort of vibe. You know, we don’t spend a lot of time with her except for the sort of comical Grand Guignol combat scene at the end. We don’t spend a lot of time with her being sexy in her full adult form. We spend a lot of time seeing her ass cheeks when she’s, I guess, apparently supposed to be 12 according to that one line of dialogue, physically. 

I know this is not an everyone thing, but I really, really hate the shiny blush effect. Like, I think it is meant to make a character (specifically characters that are young and female) look more sexual because it’s blushy and sort of makes the skin look flushed and, you know, pink and inviting like lips. And I think part of the reason for this— Something you would point out for that subtext is that they’re not putting the cute little blush stickers on Araragi, are they? So, it’s just weird to me that the fanservice shots go away the older her physical form gets, except for that one really great scene where they have their rooftop date, and I really like that scene.

TONI: Oh, that scene is so lovely. Yeah, what do you think of Kiss-Shot, Peter?

PETER: What do I think of Kiss-Shot? Uh… That’s a good question. I don’t want to— It’s weird. I keep wanting to talk about the movie, but whenever I think about it, I just sort of think about it in the larger context of the series. So, given all this— God, I don’t think we should be talking about the ending yet. I can say, as far as her physical presentation, I did kind of note that, especially after her first transformation, it did a lot of… because her clothes changed as well, and it put her in kind of the sheer dress where, of course, like Hanekawa, she was getting backlit and you could see it was transparent and she was obviously not wearing anything underneath it. And I was like, why, this is an interesting time to really start doing those shots as opposed to, well, before and then after. So, I’m not quite sure. Well, I mean, I’m very distrustful of why they did that, of course, but I don’t know what they were—

VRAI: [Chuckles] Right, because you’ve seen Bake!

PETER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess. So, wasn’t really a fan of that. I also did not like that crying at all. I think they were trying to convey that that was what led him back, is he could just hear… the whimpering started sounding pathetic and helpless like a child so he came back, but it seemed very infantilize— I mean, literally, there’s no other way to describe it. That’s exactly what it… [Chuckles] Couldn’t get more textbook than that, right?

TONI: Well, she’s also dying, so…

VRAI: Like, she is fully dying, but… [Chuckles]

PETER: Yeah, but then in the end, we circle back around to her purposefully trying to die for his sake, which I guess you could call character progression on her part, or just being entrapped in the same way as all the other women in this series are to Araragi’s… uh, we’ll call them charms, I guess.

TONI: I also think, though, that that’s— I don’t think it’s just that she’s… character progression. I actually think that’s character regression because a lot of that is connected to her backstory where she was unable to choose to die to render her first minion a human again, to make her first minion back into a human, right? And so she wants to do that for Araragi because of the guilt that she feels over kind of just inadvertently destroying the life of her first minion, I think. I think, also, a lot of this movie is about self-sacrifice. And not just the women in the movie, but also Araragi. I mean, this movie is all about Araragi’s self-hatred and self-destructive tendencies. Which isn’t to say that the girls in Monogatari don’t have an issue with revolving around the orbit of Araragi at the expense of everything else in their life. Though, that will be complicated [in the] second season.

PETER: Well, in Araragi’s case it’s always very heroically presented, too. I didn’t know if the series really wanted to present it as heroic or not, but it definitely felt like, just as Oshino said, it was a way that everybody would suffer instead of getting the outcome that they all truly desired.

VRAI: Yeah, I think you can definitely say there are moments in Bake that are critical of Araragi and want us to know that he’s not a good person, but I think that is continually fighting in that series against the sort of harem format. I think the thing that really pushes Kizu above it in this particular way from a storytelling perspective is that ending is really, really sad and upsetting but on purpose. Like, I actually believed that this movie is trying to tell me that Araragi is an asshole rather than just me observing that he’s an asshole but also I’m supposed to root for him. Like, that ending is so disquieting. I’m quite impressed by it. I’m upset by it, but I doff my cap.

PETER: Yeah, because maybe I was, again, just kind of digesting it as part of the larger franchise, where specifically Senjougahara says one of the reasons she falls in love with him is because of his selfless self-sacrifice toward not just her but anyone he encounters who needs that assistance. But yeah, in the context of the ending for the movie, yeah, it felt like he was being heroic despite the wishes of Kiss-Shot. And yeah, it did not feel like he had threaded the needle to find a good solution to this problem that they’d run into. He just had decided to not do the hard thing and instead caused all of their continued suffering.

TONI: Yeah, I think that there’s a question of what— I think this movie is also interested in the idea of accountability. Like, what does it mean to be accountable for your actions, right? Kiss-Shot is wrestling with her own accountability for creating her minions, right? She’s like, “I created this minion. Now am I accountable to die to make that minion human again?” Right? Where characters… if you die, you don’t really have to confront the consequences of your actions.

PETER: Yeah, it’s really tied up in— I don’t know if I’m derailing you, but I think it’s also really tied up in… because Hanekawa is able to recognize what Kiss-Shot is trying to do, because I feel like she has a similar self-destructive streak—or similarly self-sacrificing, I should say. Well, no, self destructive because it’s almost like finding a good justification to punish yourself. In Kiss-Shot’s case, I think, yeah, she definitely comes to recognize Araragi and, in him, see her previous… (what’d she call him?) her servant, and, because of her guilt, decide that it’s better if she dies and she can return to being human rather than repeat history. But Hanekawa can kind of see her readying to sacrifice herself for his sake and intervenes to try to stop it.

TONI: Yeah, whereas Araragi is so wrapped up in his own self-sacrificial bullshit that he can’t see that, right?

VRAI: You sort of brought up earlier that Hanekawa’s the only one who is able to figure out what’s going on with Kiss-Shot while Araragi, you know, just is too busy focused on the thing immediately in front of him and his own feelings. And I think that— I wish it was gone into more, but I think that that’s one of the really interesting background threads of the film, the fact that the three of them are all both self sacrificing and self involved and Hanekawa’s the only one who knows herself well enough to see it in other people—except Araragi because, also, she has the single worst taste in men. Girl, please. Please!

TONI: And I forgot to mention this earlier, but, I mean, Hanekawa is most into Araragi— To kind of back up what you were saying about Hanekawa having this kind of idealized supernatural… She wants a supernatural boyfriend, right? She’s most into him when she’s noticing the changes—

PETER: She wants to go Anne Rice.

TONI: She does! She notices the changes in his body that are due to him being a vampire, and she is turned the fuck on by them. She’s like, “Oh, my God, I could have a vampire boyfriend? Oh!”

PETER: Eating those tomato sandwiches in front of him.

TONI: Oh, how sexy.

VRAI: She’s so thirsty, and I want good things for her, and I want her to have literally any other partner. Please. God.

TONI: The other thing I think is interesting to talk about is Kiss-Shot’s loss of bodily autonomy, because bodily autonomy is, I think, a big theme in this movie, right? Like, choosing what happens to your body. And at the end, the ending really is: she completely loses her bodily autonomy. She loses her autonomy generally. She loses her name, she loses any kind of identity, she loses her powers, she becomes a child, and she becomes forever dependent on Araragi. Right?

VRAI: All of that happens to her and it’s a nightmare. It is Araragi’s save-the-sad-girl narrative played as just horror. Like, it’s really upsetting what happens to her. And there seems to be no fixing it.

TONI: Yeah. Yeah, the only fix would—

PETER: Yep. Until, like he says, “You can kill me at any time.” So he’s basically saying, “I refuse to pull the trigger, but you still can if you want to kill me.”

VRAI: I absolve myself morally, yay!

PETER: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I’m gonna absolve myself of responsibility if we’re going to commit double suicide here. But yeah, I think that’s another way of looking at the ending, is he basically put the onus on her to end things and, in doing so, kind of just returned them to the way they were before, disregarding the fact that she ultimately did care about his life.

VRAI: It’s so telling and purposeful to me, I think, that we see him smile at the end and we do not see her face. Which is, I think, undermined a tiny bit by the fact that Bake closes with the fact that she’s basically his silent protector forever. But I’ll take it as a cool thing on its own.

TONI: Yeah. I’m very curious to hear what you all think once we get to her parts in Nise. But I do think it’s interesting, right? Because in Araragi saying, “You can kill me at any time,” again, it’s this idea of death as evading accountability, right? Like, you can get out of this arrangement by killing me. Right?

PETER: Yep. Yeah, I definitely don’t think he escaped the movie looking very good at the end of it, with where he finally lands with Heart-Shot and [Chuckles], well, just based on our watch order at least, where things land with Hanekawa versus where they start with Hanekawa in Bake.

TONI: And I think that— It’s interesting. And this gets back to the watch order question, right? Because is it a good thing that Bakemonogatari starts with probably the arc where Araragi looks the best? Out of almost any arc in what we’ve seen so far, right? He is at his best when he’s with Senjougahara, right? Whereas Kizu

VRAI: Unquestionably.

TONI: —is him at his absolute worst, where he’s a pathetic edgelord who is making terrible choices that will negatively impact the people around him forever. [Chuckles] Right?

PETER: Hanekawa, I think… Knowing more about her, I think, really changes how she appears in the movie, too, because I know you could definitely see her interest in him and, well, just her ability to put herself in, obviously, this dangerous situation, whether it’s because of a singular interest in the supernatural or whatever the reason. But knowing what you know about her in retrospect, I think, does really color the way you interpret her actions in the movie, which I think is very interesting.

VRAI: I also have to give them credit. Considering how much time Bake spent with these long conversations about the kanji that Nisio Isin chose for these characters’ names and why they’re meaningful, please appreciate me—

TONI: [Laughs]

VRAI: —they never overtly address the pun in the title. And by God, I appreciate that because it’s a pretty good one!

TONI: You mean—

VRAI: Oh, well, you know, “Kizumonogatari” is “Scar story,” but “kizuna” is also “bonds,” and the movie opens with Araragi’s edgelord monologue about how he doesn’t want relationships to other people. And it closes with him talking about how this is the beginning of his and Shinobu’s story as damaged people. So it’s about the intertwining of emotional bonds between people and also the scars that are left by and necessary to be human beings, and, oh, my God, themes! Look, themes! You have themes.

PETER: Yeah, the bite marks on his neck never going away representing his relationship with Kiss-Shot, yeah. Although, yeah, I mean, definitely did not just shove it down your throat like Kiznaiver did. God, the number of times they reference scars and bonds in that show. I don’t know if anybody even remembers it anymore.

VRAI: No. No.

PETER: Okay. Yeah, that… Yeah. Well, yeah, when you put it that way, yeah, it had a tremendous amount of restraint talking about that one particular point, compared to Trigger’s strange anime.

TONI: Well, I think it’s— It’s also interesting to me because, to an extent, this is a critique of edgelords, the critique of a very specific kind of edgelord who are like, “I don’t have any need for connection,” and then the minute that they can get any connection, they latch on to somebody so hard that that person loses all autonomy. Right? Right? Because that’s the thing, right? Araragi starts off and he really is starting to build, I think, somewhat of an okay relationship with Hanekawa, you know. I think he feels secure enough in their attachment that he can say to her, like, “Hey, why don’t you just wait for me at school? I’m gonna deal with this shit, and then we will pick up where we left off.” And that’s not necessarily an unhealthy thing to say to her, given he wants to protect her, right?

PETER: Yeah, yeah. It is extremely pathetic the way he says (what was it?) “Friends make you weak” or something, and then she gives him her contact information and the moment she’s out of sight, he’s, yippee, skipping home.

TONI: Yeah, it’s pretty…

PETER: Not a good look, yeah, based on your entire moral philosophy leading up until that moment. [Chuckles]

VRAI: That is such a profoundly teenage thing, though. I kinda like that scene.

PETER: Yeah, yeah. No, it was good. Yeah, definitely the fate of all people who say, “I don’t need friends,” because they have trouble making them.

TONI: And then at the end, right, he literally attaches somebody to him so tightly that they will never be able to escape no matter what they do, unless they kill him. It seems to me to be this kind of interesting critique of the type of person who has no idea how to create secure attachments, right? Like, either they’re “Get the fuck away from me” or “I will now attach you to me so tightly and so abusively that you lose all autonomy.”

PETER: God, does Senjougahara ever find out about this relationship? I feel like she might have some feelings about it. You know?

TONI: [crosstalk] Oh! Sorry, again.

VRAI: I would hope she did.

TONI: Spoilers! [Chuckles]

PETER: At what stage in your relationship do you reveal to your girlfriend that you have a mutually codependent, destructive relationship with a 500-year-old vampire?

VRAI: Who looks 8 now, BT-dubs. That’s fine.

PETER: Yeah, oh, yeah. Yeah, the 8-year-old vampire. He’s not supposed to lie to her anymore. They agreed. No lying.

TONI: No lying. Would you mind telling me how this film comports with your understanding of vampire narratives, as our resident vampire expert?

VRAI: It made me laugh that Episode is clearly— I can’t even get a lock on the level of malice on it, frankly, because he comes and goes so quickly, but Episode is so clearly an Alucard parody. That made me smile.

TONI: A parody of what?

VRAI: Alucard from Castlevania. Because he’s a half-vampire who has a grudge against his own kind and he travels by turning into mist and, you know, he’s blond with wavy hair. As vampire narrative goes, it was kind of interesting to me that it, in keeping with the series, sort of focused on Japanese narratives. It persistently uses the “kyuuketsuki” phrase rather than the loanword “vampire,” which tends to lean more into folkloric inspiration like Vampire Princess Miyu does, whereas something like Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood— Oh, no, now I’m gonna be wrong about that, but I think Ms. Vampire uses the loanword. Eh… But I thought that was interesting, sort of coding her into the world of oddities rather than as this Western thing even though she is implicitly a Western character or a European character. 

The “Anyone I bite turns into a vampire” is Dracula lore. It’s not as common post–Anne Rice because Anne added the factoid that you can’t just bite; if you just bite somebody, they’ll die. You have to feed them your blood back. And then that became a fairly standardized version of the narrative because it’s got that intimacy quality to it. The reattachable limb stuff is her, though. And I’ve not seen eating the entire body of your prey before. I’m sure it’s been done, but that’s the first time I’ve seen that. Also, fucking top tier, Araragi’s nightmare scene where he dreams about kissing Hanekawa and then rips her face off. Holy shit. God, the gore in this movie is good!

PETER: I was wondering if that was the implication, where she actually eats people rather than just sucks their blood, because she was chowing down on that guy.

VRAI: Well, she drinks blood, but anybody she drinks blood from becomes a vampire like Araragi unless she then eats the entire corpse, basically.

TONI: That’s not quite true because remember—

VRAI: [crosstalk] I will say—

TONI: Hold on, hold on. hold on. Let’s remember, she did also suck the blood of Hanekawa to do an energy drain on her, and Hanekawa did not turn into a vampire.

VRAI: That’s true. That is true.

PETER: [crosstalk] Can you turn into a vampire if you’re already something else, though?

VRAI: But she was, like, energy-vampiring in that case, so I guess it’s something different. And also she’d already lost most [of] her powers? I don’t know. Hm. Also, every time— The inclusion of the line “You’ve got to be the first person to willingly offer your neck to a vampire” is some nonsense. Daniel Molloy did not sweat buckets in 1976 for you to say that nonsense! Respect the original vampire-fucker!

PETER: I also remember having that thought. I should have written it down. When she said that, I was like, “I don’t think it’s that hard to find somebody who would be down. You must not be looking very hard.”

TONI: Okay, so, to talk about Buddhism, the Buddhist imagery, I think, reaches its peak at the moment where Araragi realizes just how shitty of a choice that he made, right? Because the Buddhist imagery really gets strong when he has this almost hallucinatory encounter with Buddhist imagery right after he encounters Kiss-Shot eating Guillotine Cutter—who, by the way, totally deserved it. Fuck that dude. Fuck that dude and what he was gonna do to Hanekawa.

VRAI: Yeah, eat his face right off!

TONI: Very happy. Eat his face. And I think that there’s a couple different ways to read it. I think, on one hand, the movie’s really interested in this idea of attachment, and secure attachment versus anxious attachment versus avoidant attachment, and to what extent can we have healthy attachments while not (how do I put this?) becoming weaker or when somebody else hurts we hurt, when attachment creates suffering. Right? I think thematically the movie is trying to do things. Like, I might interpret it as kind of about a little bit of that, right?

VRAI: Yeah. Yeah, and the way that ties into the idea of the nobility of denying the self and denying attachment versus the fact that the story is all about how we need attachment because that’s what makes us human.

TONI: Right. And I think, also, the characters… I think you could also talk about the characters being caught in a cycle of samsara. Right?

PETER: Is she dispensing with earthly attachment by allowing him to kill her or just affirming it and ensuring that she won’t break free of the cycle of samsara?

TONI: I mean, that’s a question, right? I think, also, the ending is interesting in that context, right, because in a sense she’s reborn as Araragi’s kind of pet.

PETER: Well, not her desired outcome. [Chuckles]

TONI: No, absolutely not. And the thing is that… That’s the thing, is: rebirth is not a happy thing in Buddhism; rebirth is just being put right back into the cycle of samsara. Right? And so, yeah, as you’re saying, it’s kind of an attempt at escaping the cycle of samsara for her to die. But yeah, again, is it really, though, when she’s dying partially over her guilt over her inability to protect her minion… or not protect, but make her minion back into being human?

PETER: A death for someone else’s sake.

TONI: Yeah, attachments in this movie over and over and over again both provide characters with solace and comfort but also cause them enormous amounts of suffering because they are unable to have healthy attachments. Right? So, I don’t know. That’s my reading. 

We are about out of time. Any last thoughts before we wrap this up?

VRAI: I liked it. I had a good time. I think it definitely took the balance of more things that I like than annoyed me, which I always take as a win, frankly.

TONI: [Chuckles]

PETER: Yeah, I think it ended in a very interesting place. But also, I am really now wanting to know what the heck is up with Araragi and Hanekawa between that and Bakemonogatari. So in that way, I guess it’s encouraged me to digest even more of this franchise.

TONI: Well, unfortunately, all of that is on the other side of Nisemonogatari, which, if we continue with this watchalong—which me, Vrai, and Peter will discuss—will be the next thing that we’re watching.

VRAI: Yeah, I suspect we might take a little bit of a break, but folks have expressed interest and I’d be down to do it. We just might have another different watchalong before we pick back up with it. We’ll see.

TONI: We shall see.

VRAI: Don’t want to have six straight months of Monogatari.

TONI: Yeah. I feel like our reader base might [Chuckles] be like, “When are they gonna wrap this up? Get us back to the lesbians that we came here for, please.”

And with that, we are wrapping up. This has been Chatty AF: The Anime Feminist Podcast. If you like what you heard, please leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It really does help people to find us.

If you really like what you heard, you can subscribe to our Patreon! If you subscribe to our Patreon, you can get access to our bonus episodes and also get access to our monthly newsletter and our Discord, where we talk about all kinds of things anime related. It’s a really fun place, I promise. I hang out there. Many members of the team do, too.

And we also have a Linktree, where you can find all the different things that we do. Is… What is it again, Vrai?

VRAI: That has all our socials on it and both our Patreon and our Ko-fi.

TONI: Yeah! And if you want to make more of a smaller donation, Ko-fi is really the way to go. We’re currently doing a Ko-fi campaign to increase our contributor rate— [Corrects self] or keep the raised contributor rate for next year. We are almost at 50% of that, so I wonder if one of y’all can make us get 50% of that sometime soon.

And with that, we’ll see you next time! Bye, everybody.

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