Owarimonogatari: OUGI Formula – The Beginning of the End – Part one.

Everyone already knows how much I love Monogatari, and this is the first time since the start of this blog where there’s been an opportunity to cover it while its fresh in my mind, episodically, as it airs. Of-course I will be taking that opportunity!

It’s true this first episode post is late, both because this is a double episode, thus it’s going to be quite long, and also because it was during the hectic time when all the new shows were having their premières.

Episode 2 is already out, and I’ll be on top of that soon, and from then on, I hope to be fairly prompt after the airing of each episode. Hope you enjoy reading.

00:00-02:03 — Euler’s Identity

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review, Ougi Formula, Euler Identity

Opening things up with a roundabout monologue that will of-course be extremely relevant as the arc plays out, glad to have you back, Monogatari. I’ll be copying out all the flashing text to comment on it for your convenience:

“What’s interesting– well, essentially, what’s beautiful about it, is that this formula wasn’t decided by us. It’s beautiful, but when you think about it, it’s also frightening.”

That’s what flashes up directly after Araragi states that the Euler Identity might be the closest we can get to proof a God exists. Such a beautiful equation acknowledged as being created by a higher power is terrifying because it takes control out of our hands, perhaps we are all part of a grand design, subject to the whims of an omnipotent creator. Of-course Ougi, who at this point is the closest thing Monogatari has to an omnipotent character, is going to cast the beautiful equation in its most frightening light.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Ougi in space
“because the answer is zero, nobody needs to bother with it.”

She’s being incredibly vague as always, but I take this to mean that if everything is set in stone by that omnipotent creator, the answer is zero, there’s no point trying to fight against the predetermined fate, there’s no meaning to be found — essentially nihilism. Araragi can’t come up with an adequate retort to these words, the only way to reconcile Ougi’s existence is to take her at face value.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review, Ougi is an enigma

And finally we get to the most explicit point:

“call it a story of numbers, after all, as you’ll soon see, the conclusion is driven by the largest number. It’s a story where the majority rules.”

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Maneki-neko
These are Maneki-Neko, a common kind of small statue you’d find in Japan, to represent fortune or good-luck, you might find it at the entrance to a gambling parlour, for instance.

[Commie] Owarimonogatari - 01 [00B15F61].mkv_snapshot_01.52_[2015.10.10_19.10.38]
“Our expression of inequality. An expression of our inequality. The ugliest expression in human history.”
The last few sentences especially, are supposed to be taken as Araragi’s own words, as opposed to impartial narration(which almost never happens in Monogatari in the first place).

02:04-3:34 — OP: Decent Black – Mizuhashi Kaori

Backgrounds predominantly black and white, the monochrome colours in this OP will feed into both the ideas of innocent and guilty, the above screenshot of inequality, and also the white and black Maneki-neko which will be a prominent symbol later on. The lyrics are from Ougi’s perspective, talk of solving a mystery, embarking on an adventure, “leading to a true and just future”, talk of lies and contradictions, – that must be in reference to Araragi himself.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review: Decent Black

03:43-05:39 — Sherlock and Watson (I’ll let you decide who’s who)

We’re in the midst of an abnormal situation already, Ougi already trolling like she is wont to do as Araragi struggles to open a door we know won’t be opened so easily.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Ougi be trolling

We the audience already know that this is without a doubt a scenario set-up by Ougi, so these first few minutes are just a little bit of dramatic irony as we watch her walking circles around Araragi. The glee in her voice is all but apparent, great stuff. The key thing here is the extreme angled shot from behind the television, the wires themselves taking the focus. It gives the sense that the characters are being spied on from afar, and adds to the unsettling vibe of the already surreal-looking classroom.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - The surreal classroom

And finally, spoken in mocking tone, the lesson Araragi had been imparted by Oshino Meme, “People can only save themselves”

05:40-09:24 — The Hidden Room 

As we discover the time in the classroom is frozen, Araragi takes a moment to explain how this situation came about in the first place. Ougi introduced to Araragi (for the first time it looks like?) as Meme’s niece, who already knows about their Oddities.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Ougi condescending
For somebody asking for help solving their “mystery”, she sure is condescending.
Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - reflection in television
And another one of those shots that give the sense that they’re being spied on.

Most of this is fairly straightforward plot exposition, but the most interesting exchange is when Ougi openly says she’s “attracted to fools who are easily deceived”, we can see she’s clearly taking advantage of Araragi’s impulse to help whoever asks for it, the same way she took advantage of the insecurities of the other members of the cast back in Second Season.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Dominant
Complete dominance and control over Araragi, steering the scenario however she pleases. Ougi is the closest thing we have to Nisio Isin himself stepping into the story. The omnipotent god.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Deserted school stairsOwarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - The hidden room

Some fittingly creepy music starts to kick in as we get some shots that create the atmosphere that something is not quite right about this completely deserted part of the school.

[Commie] Owarimonogatari - 01 [00B15F61].mkv_snapshot_08.51_[2015.10.10_19.50.33][Commie] Owarimonogatari - 01 [00B15F61].mkv_snapshot_08.56_[2015.10.10_19.50.41]

[Commie] Owarimonogatari - 01 [00B15F61].mkv_snapshot_08.58_[2015.10.10_19.50.44][Commie] Owarimonogatari - 01 [00B15F61].mkv_snapshot_09.07_[2015.10.10_19.50.58]

More voyeuristic shots, and some delightfully smug Ougi. She’s a wonderful addition to the cast, don’t you think? Posing and spouting ironic remarks, poking at the characters, definitely Nisio Isin.

The classroom still looks fairly normal as each shot of Araragi’s gaze is matched with the sound of a camera, a classic Monogatari trick. And as Ougi slides the door shut behind him, its emphasised with the louder sound effects, and exactly as it closes, we cut back to where we were at the start of the episode,  trapped, in the ethereal green not-classroom. It couldn’t get more explicit than that.

09:25-13:31 — The Art of Suggestion

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - The surreal classroom
“Which means, unraveling the reason why will lead us to our escape from here”

Ougi proceeds to poke and prod Araragi to answer his own questions, as always, pretending to be an equal partner in the solving of the mystery. Ougi knows it all already, she exists to bring forth the truth that’s already within Araragi’s mind. As the study session comes to mind, we get the flash of his memory, accompanied by the static of the TV. Bad memories, repressed memories.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review
“I don’t remember saying that… But I guess I must have, considering her confidence.”

Ougi’s insistence tells us that this chair is going to be the key, which as you know if you’ve watched this, it indeed is, let’s watch how it unfolds as Araragi’s memory of this classroom is triggered…

13:32-17:48 — Repressed memories, Formative experiences.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Blue Classroom, sinking into memories

Blue now, Araragi sinks into the classroom, forced to confront the memories buried inside. As he comes to, classroom now in black and white. Ougi has achieved her “goal”, so it seems.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Ougi eyes
Ougi is now sitting behind Araragi. Seeing through him but he can’t look back at her. He’s looking into his memories now.

From this point onwards, we have a background track that is slowly building in intensity as the tale is recounted…

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Empty Chairs
Monogatari, no, Shaft in general, has always used empty chairs as a symbol to represent people, whether a non-present party, or an non-negotiable, faceless mass.

“I don’t need friends. You become less human when you make friends” – this was a formative moment for Araragi. To match the emotional truth of this moment, to highlight Ougi’s words, the classroom we return to see is no longer green, or blue, or white, but coloured in an eerie pink glow. The music continues to rise.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Distorted reflection
Distorted reflection.
Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Ougi ensnares Araragi
Ougi hasn’t just ensnared Araragi with her words like before, but now also physically. And the wires once again.

The music ceases, and Araragi continues recounting the story more calmly.

17:49-21:56 — Oikura Sodachi 

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Oikura
Oikura tapping her feet, twirling her hair, waiting on the tardy Araragi. We get the sense she’s a perfectionist already.
Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - The classroom.
Outsiders, bystanders, normal people. Are often not of concern to the self-absorbed characters of Monogatari, we rarely see them at all. However, when they must be acknowledged, each of our characters paints them differently. To Araragi, they are just names he has heard called out in the register every day.

Back to the green classroom we had started in.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Social network
Araragi wasn’t part of the schools natural social network.

Araragi insists that him not being passed the information of a class meeting was not due to him being a loner. But he knows the truth, even though he doesn’t admit it.

“She doesn’t misunderstand entirely”  – the onscreen text, Koyomi’s thoughts.

“Ougi, this is the story of how someone without friends decided he needed no friends” – His words, what he would like to believe.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Hitagi
Hitagi’s presence here is an anomaly, she isn’t just part of the crowd.

And finally, as we the audience are finally let in on what the mystery even was, 20 minutes into the episode already, the building music is back, and even stronger, rising with suspense. The study session. The discrepancy in scores. The culprit.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review
Sodachi’s words ooze outrage and indignance at the prospect of cheating. She cares about this the most, by far.
Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Sodachi's glare
We can already see that she possesses a different form of ire pointed only at Araragi.

21:57-25:40 — An Unwilling Moderator

Araragi must moderate the discussion, the trial, as he wasn’t present at the study session but still achieved a perfect score on the test.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Sliding Chairs
Desks slide around and away from Araragi as he explains the above, finally leaving only one desk in the centre of the spotlight, himself. The process of elimination.

“I believe I told you this, but the reason Oikura pathologically hates me is because I’m quite good at math.”

Those words may seem credible for now, but remember, that’s the reason Araragi is going with to attempt to rationalise Oikura’s hate of him.

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Classroom in space
The classroom is now in its most ethereal, surreal state, as the tale comes to a close. The reflected lights emphasise the moment.

Ougi announces her Sherlock-esque “aha!” moment and explains it with glee: “We’ll be able to leave this room by solving the case that went unsolved two years ago… This here is the shape assumed by the regret and guilt of all students in class 1-3”

And as she announces the most cutting truth, the spotlights and desks serve to trap Araragi in a box with her:

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review - Araragi trapped with the truth.
Trapped with the inescapable truth. The turning point of the episode. Where we switch from discovering what the mystery was to actually attempting to solve it. (Though the answer has been infront of us the whole time, Nisio Isin, the master of irony)

Closing Message

Owarimonogatari Episode 1 Anime Review
The time to solve the mystery. But also the time for you readers to take a breather. Monogatari is as dense and full of things to talk about as ever, expect the second part of this post soon, and a post on episode 2 itself before episode 3 airs!
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