(A little sidenote: I’ve started a Patreon! If you’re interested you can find it here.)
This post will be a little different, I’ll be covering SODACHI Lost, but primarily the second part, the most recent episode. This was quite a special, and different arc, so it deserves a special, and different writeup.
The first part of this arc was quite a wide departure from how Owarimonogatari has been thus far. Where prior it was filled with tension, and one-to-one conversations between only Araragi and Ougi, this time we saw Hanekawa forcibly shake things up, raising some much needed suspicion on Ougi.
It played out as a farce, an extended gag played out to its most extreme extrapolation. We started with “Just how big a fool is Araragi Koyomi?” and the question was answered probably one-hundred times over. It was a delight to watch, the more confident post-Tiger Hanekawa exercising her clout, Ougi trolling and trickstering to the max, and in-between them, Araragi dumbly caught between mindgames he’s five steps behind, as the girls cajole him using empty pretexts.
Oikura Sodachi. A broken girl, a hateful girl, a resigned girl. Resigned to her fate, forsaken by herself, content with a life of regret and shame.
Oikura is making it as difficult as possible for Araragi and Hanekawa to offer help, from verbal abuse to trying to throw her “welcoming” tea at them. However, the two of them will not be intimidated, and they persist in trying to remove her shell, to try and understand and empathise with the distrustful girl.
How many of you have been in such a situation? Distressed and distraught, not willing to listen to anyone, heed their words, to wear your misery openly and aim it indiscriminatingly outwards to anyone who tries to approach you? I can tell you I have, this is where it always comes back to, me alone, against the world, “outsiders” trying to placate me, understand me… but how could anyone possibly understand my despair?
And then, after failing to repel my assailants, what would happen next? She would make known her self-loathing all the more explicitly, she would shift the blame, emotionally manipulate, try and guilt-trip anyone who came close to her, those who dared to assuage her hatred of the world.
And then, as Araragi pertinently mentions “you wasted your chance too”, Sodachi impulsively reaches for the tea, the violence once again, though Hanekawa is a step ahead of her. She won’t listen to reason now, she’s a furious ball of emotions, taking this line of reasoning and running with it into a tirade of self-deprecation and regret. She belittles the severity of her own situation, saying its “not uncommon”. Oikura describes her past in sickening detail, her voice almost taking glee, making an exhibition of her misfortune to Araragi, who she still blames for this.
She says her story has “ended”. After being failed by him twice already, she doesn’t want anything else from Araragi. Sodachi’s resigned herself to her fate, sitting in her comfy box, revelling in her “justifiable” sadness forevermore. Politely, once more, she asks to be left alone.
Hanekawa smartly changes the subject, poking into the specifics of Sodachi’s story, temporarily changing her aggression into contemplation. This doesn’t satisfy Sodachi for long, however, and she starts to dig deeper. As she explains what went through her mind when she had been taken from her own home into the Araragi family’s home for protection.
“It was so radiant. That’s why I ran away. The radiance dazzled me, blinded me” – Learning that the grass was greener on the other side only lead Sodachi into more suffering, as her attempts to try and fix her home were met with even more stout resistance, and thus violence, upon her body by her parents.
Thus, Oikura was taught, conditioned, to believe that making any attempts to reach for that dazzling brightness, happiness, was a fool’s gambit. Happiness was not befitting of her, not meant for her, her plight doesn’t matter. The boy Araragi Koyomi, who had initially been the door she could take to “the greener side” had warped into a taunt, a cruel model of the life she could never have.
and then Sodachi reaches her lowest point, reaching into a bitter and toxic slew of self-hatred, faulting herself for everything, wishing she hadn’t been born, while still contradicting her very own words by resolving to in the end, blame it on Araragi, have him play her villain. The reasoning matters not, she needs a spectre to serve as the focal point for her anger or she would break, collapse, die or worse…
And the apex, voice breaking, on the brink of tears, the only thing we can hear in her voice now is hopelessness, the tinge of anger and sarcasm gone. “Tell me, Araragi. You’re happy right? If you think I made the slightest contribution to your happiness, please tell me.”
This episode had already got under my skin, it dug into me hard, this point of emotional catharsis was overwhelming, almost too much to bear. I was watching this girl enacting my most deeply-rooted instincts, ones I’ve been living by for my whole life. I already knew the answer, I already knew what was coming next…
Sodachi knew the answer too, she thinks happiness would be too much of a burden, it would crush her, rip her apart. The comforting embrace of melancholy is what she’s content with, what I’m content with. Araragi’s next words also hit me hard, because it’s actually an inverse of a mantra I’ve often said to myself: “happiness is overrated” – on initial glance, it may seem like my words are in line with Araragi’s, but I used them for different ends. I used those words to convince myself happiness wasn’t necessary, wasn’t worth it, wasn’t worth going out of my comfort zone to achieve.
Araragi’s words are definitely his own, what he’s learnt from his own experiences and those of all the many others he’s met, the damaged teenagers he’s seen find their own brand of happiness. He knows that there are many varieties and flavours of happiness out there, and he wants Sodachi to know that there will be a form of happiness for her, that she can live with, accept, a form of happiness that will not crush her.
Sodachi is not entirely convinced, how could she be? After living a life not being able to experience this happiness, the one she perceives as an unreachable blinding light. These words alone cannot help her to love herself, that will take time, but she has found friends who are willing to spend that time with her, to allow her to hurt without hurting herself.