One Crab to Rule Them All

Owarimonogatari Ep. 12 – One Crab to Rule Them All

While it’s easy to forget that the –monogatari series is a mystery series, it is near impossible to forget that it’s a harem series. However, it’s possible to forget that a (best) girl already won Araragi’s affection. Well, kind of…but ignoring Shinobu’s complicated bond with Araragi, Senjougahara is the only character who holds a serious romantic relationship with him.

As the season wraps up, let’s put aside the more pointed essays of symbolism and story theory, and instead take a general look at how this singular romantic relationship is presented to us. Senjougahara has been busy dealing other apparitions all season, so she missed out on a lot of screen-time. The least I can do is give her an essay all her own. Let’s figure out what cool things are happening during Araragi and Senougahara’s phone call.

Sadly, Araragi and Senjougahara don’t meet face-to-face just yet. Despite that, their phone conversation heavily mirrors their date from Episode 12 of Bakemonogatari. Both characters are lying down, looking at the sky. A piano track—while not the same piano track from Bakemonogatari—plays in the background and sets a similar mood to that original date. This style of background music is a rarity in this series; it’s unlike the music that plays when we ought to feel melancholy (e.g. when we learn about Oikura’s mother) and it’s unlike the music that plays when we’re solving a mystery (e.g. this track). The distinct tone of this track instantly sets the mood for an intimate, romantic interaction between Araragi and Senjougahara.

In addition to the change in music, the various shots of the sky are supposed to call our attention back to that first date. A cut from a shot of Araragi on his back to a shot of pure sky is meant to remind us of an identical sequence from Bakemonogatari. The night sky reflecting in Senjougahara’s eye is meant to remind us of what a starry sky means to her and to her relationship with Araragi. If you don’t believe me, let’s check out some dialogue.

Back in Bakemonogatari, Senjougahara lists off what she has to offer Araragi, which doesn’t amount to much else besides “this starry sky”. What that meant back then—and still means now—is that Senjougahara feels all she can bring to their relationship is her honest self, her love, and her experiences with Araragi. As shown by her short list, she’s not some bright and shining star herself, but she can share her life with Araragi. She can give him “no more than [that] and everything.”

You could say: even if she isn’t a shining star in general, if she can make Araragi see her as a star, that’d be enough. You could say: “even if you can’t become a special person in general, you can be a special person for someone.”

Senjougahara’s feelings haven’t changed since that first date. A relationship for her is about being special to that one other special person—that’s how she feels the bond stays strong. It’s no wonder that Araragi wants to have more conversations like this one. It’s a conversation only the special person Senjougahara and the special person Araragi could have. Only Senjougahara would answer Araragi’s questions with such honesty, or brazenly declare she’s attempting to be his bride.

Only Senjougahara would give Araragi everything she has.

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