12 Days of Anime #12: Teenage Relationships in Kizumonogatari

In my previous hectic and stressful Autumn term I somehow managed to attend the Leeds International Festival for their animation day. Opening with the first two Kizumonogatari movies, ending with A Silent Voice and chock full of interesting and unique films in between it was quite the day. Since I never got round to finishing the article I began about that day, I think it’s fair to talk a lil about it over these 12 Days. Starting with Kizumonogatari.

(The following will contain base plot spoilers for the first and second Kizumonogatari movies. It will also contain more detailed spoilers of certain scenes involving Araragi and Hanekawa.)

The Kizumonogatari film series is the traditional teenage action romance story that Monogatari’s base premise is riffing on. In particular, the second movie consists primarily of the fights the recent vampire Araragi engages in to restore the heavily injured Heart-Under-Blades power after she was dismembered by a vampire hunting group. (The first movie, I believe, covers how they met, the dismemberment and Araragi’s turning. Unfortunately, in part due to Leeds Council deciding a marathon should be held the same day, I missed most of the first movie.) Standard fair for a young adult dark fantasy movie: Beat up these three dudes, get back (Kiss-Shot-Acerola-Orion-)Heart-Under-Blade’s vampiric powers, return to being human. Perhaps, more importantly, Kizumonogatari focuses on two key relationships Araragi forms in it, that with Heart-Under-Blade and that complex messy sort-of-romance-sort-of-not with Hanekawa. In particular, todays post will talk a little about two incredible scenes from the second Kizumonogatari movie that focus on Araragi and Hanekawa.

Hanekawa is not impressed with Araragi’s misuse of Russian.

The first scene I am going to talk about from the film involves Hanekawa and Araragi talking with each other shortly after the first fight between Araragi and the vampire hunters. Hanekawa caught sight of Araragi fighting after he’d done his best job of distancing himself from her. This allowed them to reconcile their nebulous relationship as Hanekawa now has, at least some, understanding of Araragi’s circumstances. Araragi himself also, probably, has some idea of Hanekawa’s. At least to the extent of understanding that any student who spent the night at their school alone probably has some troubling stuff of their own to deal with. Araragi and Hanekawa’s relationship, at least what I believe is the case solely from the second movie, is a pretty messy one, that more or less revolves around Hanekawa catching Araragi staring at her underwear.

However, in this particular scene, Araragi is not playing up or legitimately acting lecherously. This scene in particular is not really about Araragi’s desires. Instead, this scene has Hanekawa getting her own back. This isn’t to the same extent or style to the various perverse things Araragi gets away with in Monogatari. She isn’t perving on a dead 10 year old ghost cow snail. She isn’t going out of her way to buy pornography so that the til attendants don’t question her masculinity when buying BL. Nor is she engaging a sibling in no-holds-barred incestuous toothbrushing. However, Hanekawa is still allowed to express her interest in Araragi’s body. She gets to make him uncomfortable as she caresses his abs and chest, entirely on her say. It isn’t like there’s any other real reason why she’s depicted doing so. Sure there’s some minor exposition given from a sleeping Heart-Under-Blade now and then but the whole scene exists to depict Hanekawa’s interest in Araragi’s body. It’s a very physical and touchy scene. More importantly, it’s a very physical and touchy scene depicting the sexuality of a (admittedly Highschool) woman as being interested in a (also Highschool..) man’s body. The Gratuitous body shots aren’t on Hanekawa’s body, for once, they are firmly fixated on objectifying Araragi’s.

Not pictured, Hanekawa tracing her fingers along Araragi’s abs as he stutters and blushes.

The other scene I wish to talk a little about comes later in the movie, right before the final fight. This time, rather than just addressing one character’s desires for or at the other, both Araragi and Hanekawa’s mutual sexual interest in each other is depicted.  After a very Monogatari montage of them enjoying the refreshing taste of Coca Cola as they spray it all over each other by the riverbank, Hanekawa lends Araragi her underwear. This may seem a tad ridiculous – because it is – but Araragi being obsessed with her underwear has been a key point in their relationship up till now. Araragi used this ‘obsession’ to test Hanekawa when she caught him at the school. He was trying to get rid of her by acting like a skeevy perv. But she immediately complied, and thus he backed down. This time, it’s different. Again, this is something Hanekawa is depicted as starting herself. She isn’t being pressured into behaving in a sexual manner, she is depicted as acting of her own volition. You could maybe criticise Monogatari as being very wish-fulfilmenty, but I feel this is trying to go beyond that.  As Araragi and Hanekawa, they joke together, they tease each other, and – through this awkward display of exhibitionism – they care for each other. Not in the typical puritan high school romance anime way. But in a: these are two messed up and horny teenagers enjoying each other’s company. Any responsible adult would of course decry them as behaving inappropriately, or terribly. Because they are. But that wonderful blend of teenagers being terrible is something I tend to adore in media.

Hanekawa and Araragi’s relationship isn’t really healthy in any adult or sensible sense. But, as I hope I’ve expressed, it is definitely a well depicted case of mutual messy teenage sexuality.

I’d’ve liked to use funner cuts of the riverbank scene here (or at least of the ‘contract’ Araragi and Hanekawa form over her underwear) but the trailer unsurprisingly lacks that. However this serious shot does show how that scene really is an integral part of the movie. It’s a vital part of Araragi and Hanekawa’s relationship that is treated as a vital part of the movie.

(All screenshots have been taken from the second Kizumongatari’s trailer. I’d love to say where you could watch it online but unfortunately it isn’t available for streaming in English and I am unsure it ever will be =/)



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