Happy New Year to you all! Hope you’ve all had a great time with family and friends, and hope you’ve all seen STAR WARS! We’re truly thankful with your patience thus far and hope our recent posts have met your expectations. Here’s a blast from the past and a signal to catch up. The surprise became too long to fit here, so expect an entire post for that.
Assassination Classroom ep 12-22
After dolling countless praises for this show’s first half, you’re probably wondering why this hasn’t gotten a full post like I promised. Well it’s not because the quality went down or that it lost any of its charm; there just wasn’t a lot to say apart from “it’s still awesome”. The jokes were consistently funny, the characters each felt like part of a growing unit, moments of tension were severe when necessary, and the plot went in interesting directions without straying from what kept it special from the start. Everything these 11 eps showcase seem like a natural progression from the first half, and it delivers as both an over-the-top thriller and bizarre coming-of-age story.
However once I got past all the excitement and laughs, I started to realize how little has changed from the status quo. Koro-sensei was still invincible, the students of Class 3-E mostly remain the same, and most of their victories seem trivial considering how quickly their opponents come back. It’s not like they’re anti-climactic or offer nothing new; in fact,a lot of them work as either payoff for a past struggle or set-up for future stories and character arcs. But beyond the conceptual level of an alien teaching a class that wants to kill it, the content is surprisingly safe and formulaic. A lot of my praises from the first post can be copy-pasted here and the only difference would be it goes where you expect.
Be that as it may, it’s hard not to get pumped up watching Class 3-E’s well-deserved string of victories. Under Koro-sensei’s guidance, they’ve gone from a ragtag group of misfits aimlessly flailing their fists to an unstoppable force ready to aim their sights. While uniting under a common desire to win, bonds have been strengthened, doubts have been cast, and everyone’s found a purpose only they could accomplish. By the time the tests are ready to be sent, they’re motivated and confident(sometimes too confident) that the upper class will scream in embarrassment. And if the last arc is any indication of what’s to come, it’s that they’ll never give under pressure even if their lives are on the line.
It’s certainly satisfying to see the arrogant upper class get their butt sent flying by inferior test scores, but witnessing them handle a hostage situation against actual assassins and a disturbed ex-soldier showcase how far their assassination training has taken them. It doesn’t feel silly or brainless like other teens vs terrorist plots (Mahouka); it’s an intense, exhilarating affair that involves careful planning, specialized tasking, and a whole lot of courage. And much like how Nagisa’s girlish looks contrast with his natural talent for killing, their aura of warmth and pleasantness works wonders in masking their lethal potential. With all my complaints aside, i’m looking forward for the 2nd season and excited for what they’ve set-up. At the very least, I know that they’ll deliver on what they promised.
For the past few entries in the Monogatari franchise, we’ve seen a steady deviation from its status as a supernatural harem to a coming-of-age drama. With the exception of Hitagi and the fire sisters(mostly since it was a joke to begin with), each of the girls have either moved on with their lives, grown to despise him, or get rejected by him upfront. And as painful as it is to say goodbye to the waifu wars, I LOVE EVERY BIT OF THIS! Not only was it a bold move to actually resolve the harem realistically, but it gave the girls opportunities to flesh out as characters. All the arcs thus far have showcased how their relationship with Araragi affected them, what they currently are with or without him, and what they could be in the future. Hanamonogatari did this especially well by showing how Kanbaru took inspiration from her senpai to handle an oddity by herself and still maintain a friendly relationship outside of a romantic one.
I say this because they make it blatant this time by forcing Araragi into the spotlight, then putting him in a situation where he can’t continue his adventures anymore. His vampirism has reached a point where further use of his powers guarantees complete transformation, making him a prime target for oddity hunters like Kagenui. Sounds like the subject for a pretty meaty arc, right? WRONG! Apart from a hostage situation that’s brought out of the blue and a quick scene indicating Ougi knows too much to be good, this has the least amount of plot-centric or character-changing events happening in a single arc. And don’t expect a lot of Ononoki despite her presence in all the promos, because she’s hardly relevant to the story until the last ep. Sure we get a thoroughly entertaining bath scene between Tsukihi and Araragi, but what you mostly get here is the filler material from Nisemonogatari: pointless jibber jabber and abstract fanservice.
And you know what? I’m okay with this. I’m fine that this is essentially a series of drawing room conversations mixed in with set-ups for future arcs and occasional pervert moments. Why? Because in the end, what it’s trying to get at is Araragi’s days of being an immortal playboy not only putting him at risk, but those around him as well. His meddling in affairs already brought more harm than good in season 2, having to rely on Kaiki of all people to get away safely. And I think in some ways, Ononoki was chosen as the lead girl to represent this shift. She’s one of the only characters in this show who seems to be written to have no individual purpose. It’s easy to see why she’s compared to a corpse or doll, because she seems to resemble people purely by looks and function. She doesn’t seem to have any personal motivations, nor does she emphasize any likes or dislikes. Her personality seems to be about finding a personality, imitating acts of expression through nicknames and “yey peace peace”. And much like a doll, her role in the story seems limited to that of an exposition dumper, supernatural shield, or sacrificial item.
At the same time, what Araragi provokes out of her indicates that we shouldn’t label her as a doll just yet. We learn that Tadatsuru, the kidnapper in question, worked alongside Kagenui to create her, and that their feud escalated when she decided to choose Kagenui as her partner. We don’t know why she did so, but the fact that she suggests to Araragi that he use her as a sacrifice be a form of redemption in here eyes, even though she claims it’s why Kagenui sent her in the first place. And after a skirt flip so spontaneous it could only come from Araragi, he states that it’s bullshit, that this is her punishment for making such a foolish statement, and suggests she uses her Unlimited Rule Book to take down Tadatsuru so that everyone leaves alive.
After showing clear signs of embarrassment, Ononoki states that slamming Unlimited Rule Book is akin to an insta-kill, going against Araragi’s policy of leaving no casualties. Yet once he ditches the idea and tries out begging, Ononoki decides to go ahead with wiping Tadatsuru off the map. Couple this with the fact that she stays with him as a bodyguard/sister figure, and you get a doll that blindly takes orders unless a purpose she prefers comes into play. And at the moment, that purpose is keeping her devilish onii-chan harmless, yet prepared. She’s a lot like Shinobu in that way, except devoid of romantic tension and past history. Her role isn’t to drive the story, but to resolve or stabilize whatever issue comes along. What more could Araragi ask for when its time to hang the coat of blood?