Arararararagi’s Cheap Grace

You know what I’ve realized?  I kind of despise Ararararararagi, the protagonist from Bakemonogatari.

I already mentioned how, out of his own choice, he puts himself into tempting situations.  But perhaps more to the point, Araragi is selfish and blind.  Though Senjougahara is anything but perfect (STAPLE!), she’s still a multi-layered, beautiful character who loves him.

Bakemonogatari Senjogahara
Art by キョウ

So what does Araragi do with that knowledge?  He continues to see and, further, flirt with many of the girls in his life, including those that are purposely pursuing him.

I’m reminded of a parable that I’ll paraphrase here (Matthew 18:21-35).   A businessman was settling his accounts and a man who owed him a ton of money was brought in to pay his loan.  Unable to do so, the businessman decided to make good on the consequences of his contract and sell both the man and his family into slavery.  The man begged and pleaded, and moved by it, the businessman forgave him.  Just like that, the debt was erased.

Feeling pretty good about himself, the man ran into another who owed him a much smaller debt.  Yet, the forgiven man shoved, pushed, and choked him, asking for his money.  Unable to afford it, this debtor was thrown in prison when reported by the man.   The businessman’s outraged servants reported the goings-on to their master, who was stunned at the man’s hypocrisy.  Justly, he had the man thrown into jail until the debt was repaid.

We are too often blind to the wonderful things we’ve received, living a life of ungrace.  For me, I’ve been blessed with wonderful, obedient, funny, and outrageous children.  And yet, I harp on them a lot, expecting so much when who they are is already more than enough.

This is a problem of the heart.  God has offered us complete forgiveness for our faults – and more than that, He provides this forgiveness through the very shedding of His blood.  But our everyday response is…nothing.  We continue to be stubborn, prideful, vengeful, and petty, as if receiving God’s grace (if we are believers) is something that never even happened.

We act like Araragi-kun – characters in an anime that look that gift horse in the mouth, living as if we haven’t received a tremendous gift.

Very quickly, let me relate one more parable (Matthew 13:44).  A man found a pirate chest (<– the pirates are my addition) full of gold in a field.  He went home and sold his meager possessions to purchase the field, which was worth far more than anything he had.

That should be our response.  When we receive a gift as beautiful and powerful as grace, we should respond with everything – a complete change of our lives.  Otherwise, we are cheapening grace.

And it begs the question – like Araragi, do we even know how blessed we are?


9 thoughts on “Arararararagi’s Cheap Grace

  1. Does he really flirt with any of them, though? I do get it that most people in his place would be flirting, but isn’t there always something that makes his relationship clearly non-romantic? Mayoi and Nadeko are apparently below his strike zone and don’t register on his radar, Kanbara can’t really be with anyone other than Hitagi, and he told Hanekawa quite clearly that she’s his savior but can’t be his lover. There’s no escaping being together with Shinobu and any incest scenes don’t seem too serious either, so Nise doesn’t change much in the matter.

    If you assume the interpretation that Araragi’s keeping up those relationships because of temptation and not because of simple friendship etc., then he’s a cheating bastard indeed. Doesn’t seem to me that it’s like that, though. How believable all of this is is of course another matter.

  2. I think there’s little smirks and other signs here and there that infer that Araragi is enjoying the attention he’s getting from these girls. I don’t think there’s a clear line – I think he values them greatly as friends and as girls he’s rescued and cares for, but that he also continues to go out of his way for them (and frankly, spends considerably less time with Senjougahara because of them) for more lascivious reasons.

    We’re of course looking at the series through anime eyes – fanservicey moments are expected, as are the girls displaying actions that are tempting (ex. wearing certain clothing, BRUSHING TEETH). But taken it from a man’s perspective, if Araragi was real and so were the girls, the temptations would be overwhelming (not to all men, but most).

    Araragi is just a character of course and it would be boring to put him in a situation where he just wants to engage in friendship, asking Suruga to a cup of a coffee in a public place. But applying to our lives, that’s certainly what I’d suggest for one trying to stay faithful – don’t get yourself into the situations that Shinbo writes Araragi into.

    1. It’s Nishio Oshin writing him into those situations, I think. Shinbo is just responsible for “all the right camera angles” ;).

  3. To be fair, people make a great deal of fuss over how worthy Senjougahara is, but if she showed him attention and affection more regularly, his obviously tremendous libido would be hers to toy with. He obviously craves it, but from what I’ve seen she’s never really around that much. For the mighty cravings Nisio’s written him as having, Ararararargi’s actually been surprisingly restrained. This isn’t an anime where real-world logic applies, after all.

    1. Ehhh…mmm…well, if we do apply real world logic, though, we can look at married men who have a very high sex drive, and many married women who don’t. And still, the men expect to be restrained. Ararararagi could, after all, just leave Senjougahara if he was dissatisfied (though she might possibly kill him in that scenario…and that wouldn’t be good).

  4. From reading several of your posts on __monogatari, I think I get where you got ummm, “disappointment” with Araragi. My guess is, you somehow see Senjougahara as the anchor heroine & her being with Araragi is the “ideal route”; the ideal couple of this story. 🙂

    The funny thing is, there is a scene in Nisemonogatari suggesting that this is probably not the case. I don’t remember the exact scene, but in it Araragi & one other character (forgot who s/he is) where discussing the who’s who in monogatari relationship chart so far. It jokingly states that while Senjougahara is the official wife, Araragi will always has two mistresses (Hanekawa & Nadeko), one lover (Suruga), and his true love is Mayoi. Now while this all speculation was delivered in that scene as a joke, I can’t shake the feeling that this is actually the blueprint of how Nishioshin based the characters & their interactions – and he deliberately expose this on that scene, breaking-fourth-wall joke or something.

    If that is true, then _monogatari is not actually a story of one ideal couple that prevails againts all temptations, but more of a harem comedy (Big Love?). In the first, Araragi is kinda a lousy figure. In the latter, I think he handles things pretty good … to some degree ^^

    I wonder if knowing the blueprint above will affect your view on relationship(s) in __monogatari. 😀

    P.S. Too many Umineko> you’re no longer restricted by the story; you’re trained to read the author’s head instead 🙁

    1. Thanks for the great feedback (as always). It’s maybe a ridiculous endeavor to try to criticize Araragi…but, eh, I’m still doing it. 🙂

      The idea of “route” doesn’t really effect my thinking…because it’s about choice to me. Araragi could be with any of the girls and if he put himself in the situations he does, I would feel the same.

      Regardless, you gave me food for thought. Thanks for the comments!

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