Owarimonogatari: SODACHI Riddle – Part Two

Episode 2 left us with Araragi and Ougi in the mysterious house that he was lead to by a mysterious girl five years ago. Today we’re going to find out the “secret” (that it was Sodachi), and the even bigger secret, the reason Sodachi called him there all that time ago, and how her hatred has spawned…

00:00-01:14 — Five Years Ago

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - young araragi

As Koyomi narrates, the most uncommon aspect to isolate about this normal child (notice the third person, he’s dissociating himself from his past) was the fact that his parents were both police officers. He’s inherited an “unusually strong sense of justice” from them. Of-course, while acknowledging it as unusually strong, he is still using the word “justice”, so he isn’t colouring that aspect of himself in a negative light.

Another troublesome line, that tells us a lot about young Koyomi is “Being on the right side of history was on the line”, yes, in response to his floundering math grades, but implicative that Araragi believes in some form of moral objectivity (something Nisio has made very clear is relative and subjective in Nisemonogatari).

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - James Bond

02:45-03:37 — Let us hone our intelligence.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - creepy text

Araragi changed his answer in the envelope to c, but not based in any reasoning, he says as much to the mysterious girl who opens the door to him.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Sodachi tilt
The mysterious girl’s words aren’t spoken, but just appearing onscreen in text, with the sound of a projector reel, like a silent movie. We also don’t see the girls’ eyes, just her smile, like one of a person eyeing prey, not a peer or a friend, prey.

03:38-07:12 — The fairy of mathemagics

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Araragi and Ougi in the house

Now, I’m not exactly sure what the globe and solar system behind Araragi are supposed to be saying here, the only link I can make is that he thinks himself insignificant? Just one of the many Sodachi had sent letters out to, there’s no special reason he was chosen. Regardless, we see many mathematical instruments lining the room as Araragi continues the tale.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Sodachi's loft room
The most striking thing is the bizarre angles the scaffolding in this loft room take. The scenery and architecture of Monogatari have always adjusted to match the mood of the scene, and here it is clearly locking Araragi in his own corner, with Ougi in a much more comfortable “box” of her own. Her “box” is encroaching onto Araragi’s one.
Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Sodachi's entrance
The front garden looks a whole lot less intimidating this time, now that Araragi is looking forward to these study sessions. The white stepping stones leading, beckoning him inside.

The other thing, is the broken toys and other such materials on the ground outside. You’ll know the reason behind these if you’ve watched the episode, but I can’t help but feel they also match Araragi’s next line: “I can recall a lot of formulas that’re useless in school off the top of my head” – the fun, experimental and exciting maths that Araragi gets to learn with his new teacher includes lots of useless, fun little toys just like that, broken in the eyes of anyone else.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - mysterious girl
Continuing to obscure her face. Maybe Araragi isn’t thinking of this girl as human, another person, blinded by the maths, the utility. They aren’t “friends” beyond the desire for “honing their intelligence”. Likewise, the same applies to Sodachi herself.

And we hear the conditions that Sodachi imposed, that young Araragi didn’t think too much of, taking it in kind with the “secret base” kind of aesthetic, not looking beyond the surface of why those conditions were created in the first place: Only meet here, keep it a secret, don’t try to find out more about me, ask me only about math.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - The Math fairy
Ononoki Yotsugi, the Math Fairy

07:13-09:27 — A formative experience.

On the last day of summer holidays, the study sessions abruptly end. Young Araragi waited patiently for his tutor, naively expecting her to show up, as she’d always been early and enthusiastic prior. But, to no avail, the only reward he receives for his patience is an envelope stuck to the bottom of the table, where only someone lying down would be able to see. Anxiously opening it, expecting another riddle, another challenge, a reason for the girl’s absence, young Araragi is disappointed to see an empty envelope, and with it, the knowledge that these study sessions would never happen again.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Araragi alone
Emphasising the missing space, where she had always been framed by the railings before.

“For the first time he was afraid of her. That’s why he didn’t go back to that ruin of a house” – whether struck by the ephemerality of life and bonds, or simply spooked by what he might’ve thought was a ghost, Araragi was still young at the time, he had plenty ahead of him, and was able to forget the girl without too much heartache. Of-course, the experience was formative, and young Araragi continued to excel in mathematics, acquiring the perfect score that fuels the events of Ougi Formula 3 years later.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Traffic lights
Divergent paths.
Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Traffic light symbolism
Red to green, his life resumed once more, normal once again, after that summer holiday, where it was on-hold, out of the loop, exploring a surreal world with the maths fairy.

“He kept on having strong opinions on being in the right.” as before, but the real kicker: “If this had never happened, he surely would have had nothing left in his heart after the class meeting that destroyed his sense of justice.” – tragically for Araragi, the girl five years ago was Sodachi, and he had failed her once before that meeting. The emotions that allowed him to keep on going after his “justice was destroyed” were also based in shaky foundations.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Formative experience
“That summer is the fabric of my personality”

09:28-13:41 – Questions and Answers

Ougi rudely interrupts with the foregone conclusion that the mysterious girl was indeed, Oikura Sodachi.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Ougi the master detective
I wouldn’t put that past you of all people, Nisio Isin.

Araragi’s response to that is to acknowledge that he had “forgotten what he owed her”, and seeks to apologise to Sodachi the next day, even though he knows it won’t do much good. He also rebuts that it was unfair to place the expectation on him of knowing what the empty envelope could mean.

Ougi rightly points out that these protests are drivel, framing the hypothetical conversation between Sodachi and Araragi like a farcical shoujo manga. She then goes on to point out that Koyomi should think hard about Sodachi’s reasons, instead of attempting to shift the blame.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Araragi behind bars
“Nothing infuriates the victim like half-baked apologies.”

The next bit is key, a clock and constantly ticking metronomes serving as the background, Ougi gives her ominous lines, backed up with the vocal reverb that always accompanies important lines in Monogatari. “Always the fool. […] I know nothing. You know everything, Araragi.” Somewhat of an inverse on Hanekawa’s famous line, but there’s more to this than just that. Ougi knows nothing, is nothing, but seems to be one step of Araragi in every facet, if Araragi knows the truth but isn’t willing or smart enough to decipher it, then is Ougi the manifestation of that vague sense of guilt and insecurity? She can always dig her claws in and loosen his tongue.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Quizmaster Ougi
Quizmaster Ougi gives the hint, and to add more to the self-aware nature of the proceedings, gives us one-hundred and twenty seconds thinking time to answer the question as the ad-break kicks in.

13:42-20:22 – A regrettable autopsy.

Thinking time is up! Araragi’s got nothing. Ougi takes over with explaining Sodachi’s logic from the beginning. With the comparison between the old-cram school and this ruined house being brought up, the dots are connected and Araragi realises the awful truth: the ruined house was where Sodachi lived.

[Commie] Owarimonogatari - 03 [311DC8C0].mkv_snapshot_15.42_[2015.10.28_20.58.24]

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Ruins
The room takes on an otherworldly hue as Araragi assesses it anew, under the pretext that this wasn’t just some ruined house, it was a home.

As Ougi relentlessly continues to explain the obvious logic that Koyomi was overlooking, cast your minds back to the start of this arc, as they arrived at this house, how particular Ougi was about the nameplate at the entrance.

Domestic violence. A broken family. A truth hidden behind every person, especially the girls has already met, Senjougahara, Hanekawa, Mayoi, who’ve all had an ugly situation at home, how appropriate that the one girl Araragi couldn’t “save” had suffered the same “affliction”.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Uncomfortable truths

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Uncomfortable truths
The subjective reality defined by your experiences is something Monogatari always comes back to.

It wasn’t that Araragi forgot, or remembered wrong, per se. It’s that he interpreted the situation differently, working from his own assumptions. Most people, especially those in a privileged situation like young Koyomi here, want to assume the world is a just place, and that bad things don’t happen to good people, that there’s some unseen morality or karma at play. They wouldn’t see clues and then seek to dig deeper under negative presumptions, he took the easy route: to think it was just some ruined house.

Of course, for one whose parents are police officers dealing with the very real dark side of society every day, this is an extreme blow to Araragi’s conscience. Even more than the Class Assembly which demonstrated to him that justice isn’t some objective truth that is always served, here we have someone suffering directly under his own oversight that he had the ability to help, all the while having the strong belief that he was an ally of justice.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - Justice and the police
“Those parents who instilled such a strong sense of justice in you.”

Araragi is quick to almost tread on the line of victim blaming “why did she tell me to keep it a secret?”. Ougi lectures on, laying out the mindset, the absolute terror and pressure Sodachi must’ve been under, her only resort was to bring in someone from the outside and hope they could recognise the signs and get help. It was too difficult for her to accuse her own parents.

Araragi took Sodachi’s mathemagics, but didn’t pay the compensation, he tried to bring the candy, but that wasn’t what Sodachi wanted, she wanted to be seen as an actual person, not some math fairy tutor.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - nameless heart
Empty promise, hollow justice, wrong door, waste of time etc. etc. – the sickest of burns.

And oh-so-cruelly, together with the sickly green glow the room has taken on, Ougi probes Araragi for a “closing statement”, or an autopsy if you will. Not Sodachi’s autopsy, no, the autopsy of Araragi Koyomi’s justice.

Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - self loathing
“I’ve started hating myself a little for my happiness”
Owarimonogatari episode 3 anime review - a perfect line
“Then that little bit is how much I will love you.” – A perfect exchange.

Closing Message

End of this episode gives us a scene of Araragi telling Hanekawa about Ougi. This is leading into the next arc, SODACHI Lost. I’ve seen the first episode already, and expect a post about it soon, what I can tell you though, is that when Ougi and Hanekawa butt heads, it’s a sight to see, and a sound to hear indeed.

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