Nisemonogatari Episode 02: Tempting Encounters (and Encountering Temptation)

The only show this season which I was looking forward to with great anticipation was Nisemonogatari.  It hasn’t disappointed so far, revisiting old friends and hooking us with wonderful wordplay and dialogue, not to mention the amazing direction and music.

But while watching episode 2, I became very uncomfortable for obvious reasons – it was so ecchi.  I didn’t remember Bakemonogatari containing so much sexual charge, though I know it certainly had more than most shows I’ve seen.  As I looked through others’ posts, I realized that this particular episode was heavy in this content (here, here, here, here, and here, among other places).  I will say that it really wasn’t so fanservice in nature, as Akiyuki Shinbo was resourceful in using eroticism as part of the story.

Art by 安来さくの (旧: あさひ)

I have a feeling this episode was especially intended to be heavy in ecchi content and possibly (hopefully – at least for me) the high point of it in the series.  But really, besides being bothered by the innuendos and skin (which I avoid, honestly, because I find it appealing – I want to avoid it for my relationship with my wife and with God), the other thought which came to my mind was this – Araragi is far stronger than most real life males.  He finds himself in several tempting situations with attractive girls, but besides some playful words (and glances?) he stays completely and utterly faithful to Senjogahara.

But real life ain’t so easy.  As Araragi walked to Sengoku’s house, and even as he prepared to do so in the previous episode, I kept telling him telepathically (and across 2D/3D lines), “Don’t do it.”  The situation is just full of…possibilities.

I remember in college striking up conversation with a pretty classmate.  She invited me to her house and I was ready and eager for what I thought could happen.  Nothing did (girls are always thinking something different than guys, am I right?), but I felt that feeling in the air – the one that would make me drop my appointments, plans, and even my values for the possibility of what was to come.  I wasn’t in a relationship at the time, but knowing me, even that may have been sacrificed.

The thing is, though, when you’re in a relationship, you need to sacrifice in the opposite way.  If that relationship is important to you, you need to avoid circumstances where even a bit of weakness can open a door into an unforgiving situation.  This answer is obvious, spiritual, and rational, but in itself can be a sacrifice, because if you avoid these kinds of meetings, you may lose special moments, the development of friendships, and, well, fun.  But if you love your significant other, take some biblical advice: flee from temptation.

Because truth be told, we can’t all be as strong as Ararararagi.


15 thoughts on “Nisemonogatari Episode 02: Tempting Encounters (and Encountering Temptation)

  1. I didn’t realize you were watching this. I can see how this was a difficult episode for you as I didn’t feel entirely comfortable with the explosion of fanservice in this episode either. On the other hand, I find fanservice most disturbing when it reduces characters, whichever gender, to the role of an object of desire, and I have to give it to Shinbo that he plays around with the concept in innovative and flashy ways, but rarely steps over the boundaries of good taste. Anyway, I also hope this is the high point of ecchi this season, most fans should be content with what they got, so maybe we can move on to other things.

    As for the points you make on temptation, I’m not so sure on the issue. I’m usually a simple kind of guy who thinks being faithful means being faithful, and not “being faithful in a smart way that avoids putting yourself to the test”. Jesus didn’t avoid deserts just in case the devil showed up to tempt Him. Isn’t doubting the strength of God within you in order not to lose to temptation just choosing the lesser evil? I do not propose seeking out temptation on your own to test yourself or anything prideful and empty like that, but wouldn’t the ideal be to live your life with your head held high – facing as many challenges as God sees appropriate along your way? Christianity makes it clear that failing to achieve such ideals is very much human, but also that we are all meant to strive for those ideals to the extent our strength allows us.

    Which is not to say that I consider your way wrong, as I can definitely see it as a an act of love. Love for your close ones, where you want to protect them from your mistakes, love for yourself, because resisting temptation up front is much more of an ordeal than doing it from a distance, and love for God, I suppose, because preventing sin is doing His will. It’s just that I can all too often see the idea of “avoiding evil” abused to justify ignorance and narrow thinking. Where does one draw the line?

    1. I agree with you regarding Shinbo’s “good taste.” He’s not showing skin just to show skin – what’s interesting is that he’s very aware of what he’s doing and that he’s titillating viewers – and THEN he makes it integral to what he wants to do, creating this strange double-play of fun, intelligent conversation while there’s a ridiculous amount of sexual tension in the air.

      As for your other comments – I see where you’re coming from. But I think the Bible backs me up, at least in what I’ve trying to express. These verses are not all directly related, but create a convincing argument as a whole:

      – Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (I Cor 6:18)

      – But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Tim 6:11)

      – Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Tim 2:22)

      Remember that God does not tempt us. We may be challenged and we may be tested, but not tempted by God. Sexual temptation can be a strong one for anybody, but certainly especially for males – and so, why not stay away from it? I think that approaching a situation that has the potential for such sin is actually a bit prideful – “me in my faithfulness will be able to conquer this.” In fact, I think the test may be before the situation – do you trust God enough to say “no” to entering into a situation that opens the possibility of infidelity and “yes” to knowing that God has something better in store for one that resists?

      I also like your point about drawing the line – I think this is very important. It’s definitely not as black and white as I perhaps presented it. Each person is different – some are stronger than others. The question we have to ask is, “what tempts you?” I’m admittedly very weak – my line needs to held closer to my body. What I do isn’t what I suggest above, because it’s more drastic than many would agree with – I simply avoid spending any one-on-one time with women. That’s my line.

  2. But it seems to me the reason Araragi is so “strong”, is the the writers want viewers to have their cake and eat it too, that is, they have the main character consort with all sorts of beautiful ladies (allowing the viewers to fantasize about them and enjoy them) and yet have him be faithful to one (allowing viewers to fantasize about being loyal and dignified). So it sounds like writing of this kind is very much produced just to please the viewers and not with any kind of realism in mind.

    1. You’re absolutely right – Araragi is in no way realistic. He is strong because…he is fictional. The audience (the male portion at least) is supposed to live through him. I don’t think most of us would be so strong. It’s titillating for the audience to enjoy the sensuality, but not have to get caught up in the fall. Smart, smart anime.

  3. Nisemonogatari, so far, is smut. Pure and unapologetic SMUT. Senjougahara’s actions are fap fodder for masochists. Hachikuji and the Araragi sisters are for the strange tastes of some otaku. Sengoku is the devoted childhood friend who slowly grows up and learns how to express her desires, or at least follow them in ways that keeps them ambiguous enough for the other party to misunderstand them. Kanbaru on the one hand food for yuri fanboys, on the other hand a doppelgänger for Araragi’s (seeming?) perversions. Episode two turns that up a notch and ends with a moral lesson: thou shalt not rape. How does it do that? No pointing fingers at evil villains, no preaching from scholars, just Araragi experiencing what he did, and promising not to do it again.

    It might be that this is a natural expression of the more casual treatment of religions in Japan. (Are the Shinto gods as perverted as the Greek ones? I’m not exactly an expert on that topic.) What struck me when reading your post is that it kind of felt natural to me (on paper roman catholic, in reality at least agnostic). I don’t know how I’d behave in Araragi’s situation, but I’d at least try to behave. Not because a book tells me, but because I don’t wanna be a creep who scares others away. Maybe it’s in my nature, maybe I taught myself to be like that, maybe a mix of both. I don’t know. But what’s just as important to me is enjoying who I am and enjoying what I like. Nisemonogatari is a kind of smut I can enjoy with my mind, as opposed to the kind I can only enjoy with my dick.

    (looking back at this comment, I hope it doesn’t get caught in a spam filter, hehe)

    1. I think most of us would “try to behave” if our significant other was important to us. I dunno about the whole “creep” thing, though…I mean, is not Sengoku, at least, trying to seduce Araragi?

      You’ve really piqued my interest – are you saying that if you were Araragi’s place, at Sengoku’s residence, that you wouldn’t let yourself be, er, seduced by her, even if Senjogahara not in the picture?

      1. The creep thing was not really in relation to Bakemonogatari, just a general thing about me, maybe a bit awkwardly worded. Araragi is not a creep, except around Hachikuji sometimes, for example in the first season when he sneaked up on her and groped her. I’ve read an interpretation of the first season that says he is a commentary on otaku, since he is only strong around weak girls, or something like that.

        It’s not even that I wouldn’t let myself be seduced by her, I wouldn’t let her try to seduce me in the first place, because she’s not eighteen years old. That’s a purely arbitrary number I chose because a) as far as I know that’s the law here in Switzerland (I don’t know much about those, so I might be wrong) and b) I don’t want anybody who’s too far away from my own age, 21. For a hypothetical situation for somebody within the acceptable range, I’m guessing it wouldn’t be seduction and should more be mutual interest, but I can’t really speak from experience.

        1. Okay, thanks for clarifying – I totally get what you’re saying now.

          As for the whole Araragi as otaku thing, I think I read that, too (We Remember Love, perhaps?) and I agree, particularly as it pertains to his interactions with Hachikuji, which either have to be taken in some sort of symbolic way, or else he comes across as a pretty terrible guy.

          1. Yes, that’s where I read it, thanks for reminding me.

            Apropos Hachikuji, if she was male and of same age, he and Araragi would be total bros.

    2. From what I know of Shinto gods, they are far less perverted than the Greek ones. However, there’s a good amount of sexism that runs rampant in Japan- rape isn’t taken very seriously (and America can’t point fingers, since rape only really came to be considered a serious crime around the late 1960’s-70’s). In that kind of culture, I’m not surprised that the whole scenario is treated with a suprising amount of insensitivity- my mother would be happy to relate stories about how when she was young the subject was treated the same way here in the US of A.

      It’s not a religious thing, it’s a cultural one.

  4. Chances are good this will be the last sexual driven episode because if Nisemonogatari follows trend then Ararararagi will meet up with Tsubasa, the vampire girl and probably his other sister. I expect we will get more Karen styled interactions next time around.

    Arararagi was very passive towards the girls this episode and didn’t take an dangerous actions. Which is good for his relationship with Senjogahara.

    1. I agree. Not knowing anything about the light novels, it really feels like the first two episodes has dual purposes: 1) reintroduce us to the sisters on a basic level and 2) recaptivate us by helping us remember the characters and their personalities.

  5. Hehe you speak the truth. Thing is though I really enjoyed the fanservice in this episode. It does remind me of how weak I am or would be in those situations.

    1. Well, you know, it was meant to be enjoyed. Really good directors and animators know how to pull at our heart strings (if that’s the right phrase).

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