[Infinite Themes] Case File 2: On the Subject of Wild Animals
Back by popular demand, I’ll continue from my last entry into the Bakemonogatari mythos by finishing up my case study on the remaining heroines.
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you’d be willing to give anything to have it? Of course you have. You’re human.
Desire is the basest of human compulsions. It’s why greed and envy are considered the more serious of sins and why so many have devoted themselves to understand these impulses. Religions are based on the conquering of these desires and people spend entire lives to overcome its grip.
But the problem with these ideas are that they never place the responsibility on the barer. It is always the temptation, the folly of man that’s to blame.
It’s human nature
I couldn’t help it
I was gripped by envy.
As if envy or greed were external vices. So the beauty of Suruga Monkey is that it does consider the true target of fault, the individual themselves.
She says so herself didn’t she? That she wanted, not just for the disappearance, the peaceful removal of her obstacles. She wanted them hurt, eliminated,fueled by jealousy and anger she wished for a more aggressive end. That her actions were caused by her own arm only drives home that point. It didn’t simply curl a finger and have its victims run into tragedy. It grafted itself to Kanbaru’s arm to carry out her desires.
It is her fault and by the end of the arc she accepts this fact and the arm remains deformed as punishment for her actions. For those thinking perhaps it’s too much for her to remain in such a state for actions she repented for then I have bad news for you. Not all stories play themselves out with such an optimistic outlook.
I understand my actions and I apologize.
I learned my lesson. I was wrong. Isn’t that what’s important?
But understanding one’s actions and taking responsibility for them are two very different things and I like how the show asked these questions. Why are base human actions attributed to outside forces beyond the realm of human control? Why can’t I be greedy? Why can’t I have these desires? To take something not simply because I want it, but because I need it. Because I believe somewhere inside me that my life is incomplete without it. In this case it isn’t greed as a desire for success, but rather greed as a desire for sanity.
Envy and greed are often overlooked in this regard but we all had those feelings we turn away from. But if you look at these things face to face and in matters where these feelings were the strongest, then I think you’ll find yourself knowing that the items of your desire weren’t simply superficial trinkets. These things were those that kept you up at night. Whatever it was completely dominated your thought and lifestyle and the only cure was acquiring whatever it was you wanted. Well love can be like that too I suppose and I think it speaks volumes of Kanbaru’s love. Greedy and envious of success, love, pride, these are all things that go beyond the physical and instead affect the soul.
Well just take responsibility for your actions is all I can probably say.
So about this love thing. There is of course love and love.
I love you.
I don’t see why not?
I love you.
Well let’s not be too hasty shall we?
I love you.
Do you really love me?
I really love you.
Well I don’t love you.
Then I hate you.
Then you never really loved me.
Love is…complicated to say the least. I don’t think anyone truly ever understands love, they just feel it, understand that there exists an intense infatuation. Children are especially prone to this misunderstanding. The idea of love is too intricate, too vast an idea to be fully comprehended by anyone. Children in a need to understand the world simplify and justify their thought processes to account for such complexities.
So it’s adorable when we hear children say they love us I suppose but it’s dangerous in a way isn’t it? In fact isn’t love dangerous all the time?
The monkey arc already demonstrated how envy and greed and violence stem from this feeling and this arc asks similar questions dealing with what is and isn’t justified when it comes to the matter of love.
Is it true love for the person who fell in love with Sengoku and cursed her for not reciprocating his feelings? That he was so hurt that the only way to stop the pain was to kill her? Highly doubtful. It was simply because he was a child and he couldn’t get what he wanted.
What about the girl who liked the boy that liked Sengoku? That she was so jealous of his feelings for another that she needed to eliminate the person that was standing between her and her affection? Probably a case of jealousy.
What about Araragi and his need to save anyone in need. Surely a man as compassionate as he proves that one can have infinite love. Well now I’m just being silly mistaking chivalry and stupidity for love.
What about Sengoku? What does she feel? What is it that she sees? She sees the person of her desire go to such lengths to save her. She is willing to bare any burden to be with him, to make him happy. Does she know that he is in love with another? Does she care? What can we call her feelings? Is it love? Is it childish?
I don’t know.
Remember who you’re trying to save.
Love is hard. It’s also very easy. It’s so many things at once that by saying that it is both hard and easy I am essentially saying nothing at all of value (Self referential bonus). But isn’t that the point? I couldn’t put my finger firmly anywhere near this topic because I didn’t know anything about anyone. Araragi whom I thought was trying his hardest to save Sengoku was just as willing to save anyone else just as easily. Sengoku’s love for Araragi I empathized with despite the voice in the back of my head thinking how childish her feelings were. It was complicated and poisonous (sort of like a snake amirite?) and unpredictable.
All’s well that ends well probably fits best here so I’ll take my leave.
How hard is it to be a model citizen?
Mustn’t cry in public, mustn’t make a scene, must be quiet and polite and in control of your emotions. It builds up doesn’t it? The pressure? The stress knowing that you are neither free to express yourself or call out for help. It’s because people don’t understand and can’t fully understand each other. We can empathize, we can grasp an idea that a person is troubled, but for all of our intuitions and instincts we are still unable to understand each other one hundred percent.
There are rules. You can’t be in love with someone who is in love with someone else for example. Hanekawa’s example. You can’t tell anyone, you can’t continue living under that sort of burden for long.
It’s lonely, it’s painful, and it’s all something we have to face alone. What’s worse is the frustration when you do attempt to communicate these feelings. You tell your friend but he waives it off as inconsequential or not of concern and it’s true because it isn’t a concern for that person. I can never understand you no matter how many years I live or how long I spend that time with you. You will never understand me no matter how much about myself I tell you.
It makes people angry. Obviously they don’t understand me because they’re not trying hard enough, they’re too stupid, they’ll learn in time, only when they see what I’ve seen. But the truth of the matter is that it will never happen. Your best friend, your girlfriend, your parents, me, none of us will ever truly understand you and it causes such a divide between people, such uncertainty that we begin to fear the judgement of others because we realize how little we understand about them.
What are they thinking?
Are…Are they thinking about me?
What if they aren’t thinking about me?
If they were, what do you think they think of me?
And this is how people become trapped. They cripple themselves because of how little we understand of each other. Araragi for example after hearing from the bakeneko that Hanekawa loves him waives it off as a “mistake“. It’s quite obvious to us because it has been explained to us as part of a narrative but lets make the situation real.
You like someone but you don’t know how they feel about you. So you bottle it up for fear of embarrassing yourself. Do you see how far the distance already is between you and that person? Then you console yourself by telling yourself that she/he would never feel the same way about you and the gap widens. Then you believe whatever lie you told yourself to make the pain less intense and that distance can never be crossed. You give up. That’s the distance that people create for themselves. It’s not society that places these rules, but myself.
So imagine that sort of stress on a person. Imagine that pain. You probably don’t have to imagine. You probably know just like I already know. It hurts. It hurts a lot and somewhere deep inside we know that it is because of us that we feel this way. That we’re too cowardly to do anything about it. The heroine in this scenario kept those feelings inside believing it to be the right thing to do, convincing herself she wasn’t in pain because that’s what people do in situations such as these. All of it exploded of course as it was inevitable that it would and what came out wasn’t very pretty (Metaphorically speaking, cat girls are fine too). Unfortunately for us, we don’t all have demonic alter egos to release that stress though so that can’t be healthy (Maybe try hot yoga?).
Well that’s it for me. Whatever I thought about the series is all here. All the things I think about when I talk about this interesting little show are all written down and whether you agree with me or not doesn’t really matter at this point. Whatever I feel about the show and whatever you feel about the show may be completely different but what’s important is that we have opinions about it. So here’s my take, let me hear yours.