[Updated with Video Script] Hitagi Rendezvous and the Importance of Screentime

Monogatari’s main story arc has come to an end with the release of Owarimonogatari 2. Of course, this ‘End Story’ isn’t the true end of Monogatari; there are plenty more books left to be adapted, and evidence points towards the idea that plans are already in the works. But we’ve now seen the end of Koyomi Araragi’s final year of high school, and with it, the end of an era. This story that’s been going on for more than 8 years has finally ended, and it’s done so in great fashion. The ending feels utterly conclusive, and though I’m certainly eager to see the coming stories, I’d be willing to accept it if we stopped here.

As far as I can tell, Owari 2 is very popular among fans of the series, to the point that it’s the fourth-highest ranked anime on MyAnimeList right now. The whole thing is beloved and I’ve seen praise for every arc, but particularly popular are Mayoi Hell and Ougi Dark. The remaining arc, Hitagi Rendezvous, has seen much less praise, which I think is a bit of a shame.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the other arcs are great, and they deserve videos to themselves. Mayoi Hell brought Mayoi back after four years, and it’s easy to understand why people were excited by that. It’s been quite a while since we got to see her unique dynamic with Koyomi, and I certainly shared in the joy of seeing her once again. This arc was almost certainly the best-looking one of the season, using inventive techniques, particularly the scenes featuring Hajime Ueda art. Perhaps most importantly, the arc did a great job at exploring how Koyomi has changed over his hectic senior year, while also showing his refusal to take back his actions, demonstrating that he’s still the same person. It was a thematic powerhouse paired with the return of a beloved character, so I totally understand the praise it gets.

And if Mayoi Hell was a thematic powerhouse, Ougi Dark was a thematic masterpiece. It managed to tie up almost all of the series’s major loose ends, answering nearly every one of the lingering mysteries. It masterfully used the ideas established at the very beginning of the series to demonstrate how much Koyomi had changed in coming to truly love himself by showing his willingness to accept Ougi. Shinobu and Koyomi re-established their bond eagerly, without any signs of unhappiness or spite, a marked change from how they felt at the end of Koyomi Vamp and Shinobu Mail. And the arc ends on the perfect graduation note, showing that Koyomi is still going to save everyone he can, leaving room for more of his adventures without it being necessary. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect ending arc for a series like this.

And yet, Hitagi Rendezvous manages to be my favorite arc in the season. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite arcs in the series. I haven’t enjoyed an arc this much since Suruga Devil, which is saying a lot given how much I enjoyed Sodachi Lost. So what is it that makes this arc so appealing to me? I have a lot of reasons for liking it, but ultimately it comes down to one thing: the amount of time we’ve seen our lead characters, and the amount of time we haven’t seen them.

At this point, we’ve spent so much time with the characters of Monogatari that I feel something resembling familial love towards them. I just feel this deep desire to see these characters be happy, which I think is understandable given how much I’ve seen them suffer. This is particularly true for Koyomi, who hasn’t exactly had an easy time of things, even if it is often his fault. This sense of familial love is a real value of longer shows that often goes unaddressed; the more time you spend with a set of characters and a world, the more you’ll be invested in them. When you spend almost a full day of time with a group of characters they almost become people to you, and from that springs forth a desire to see them happy and satisfied. This is a desire that Hitagi Rendezvous fills.

Particularly strong is my love for the relationship between Hitagi and Koyomi. I liked it from the start, but it was the famous episode 12 of Bakemonogatari that really sealed it as one of my favorite canon relationships in anime. Unfortunately, while we see plenty of the pair throughout the series, we don’t spend a ton of time seeing them together. Outside of brief moments like their Valentine’s Day date in Tsuki and their phone call in Owari Part 1, we haven’t really seen them as a duo since Nise. And that kind of sucks, because they’re a cute couple with a very solid emotional backing. Those brief moments when we did see them talk only reminded me of how much I like them, making me wish to see more of them together.

So it should come as no surprise that I really enjoyed Hitagi Rendezvous. Getting a whole arc where they simply go out on a date is fantastic, and much more than I would’ve thought to ask for. The time they spend together is excellent, as we really get to see how their personalities interact after a long time of not really getting that. Hitagi tends to be pretty aggressive in the short moments where we see her, something which is only accentuated by the fact that her last major arc involved Kaiki. Because of that, it’s always great to catch a glimpse of her just being a cute girlfriend. The same applies to Koyomi, as his more perverted traits often distract from how much he really cares about Hitagi, something we got to see here.

The date was excellent even from an independent perspective, but it wouldn’t have meant nearly as much if we hadn’t seen what these characters had to go through. Seeing Koyomi keep himself alive for Hitagi’s sake while Nadeko was a god, seeing Hitagi work with Kaiki to keep Koyomi alive, those kinds of things made this moment all the more valuable. And it wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful if we had seen them together all the time. The rarity of such an occasion only made this arc better, as I got to see everything I was hoping for and so much more. The show would get pretty boring if it was just Hitagi and Koyomi flirting all the time, but when we rarely get that, it’s a great treasure.

And this all culminated in what is, without a doubt, one of my favorite moments in the series. They’ve spent the entire show using one another’s family names, except for those rare times when Hitagi teases Koyomi, and this entire time I’ve wanted them to take the leap and use their given names. The setup for actually taking that leap was perfect, with Hitagi clearly attempting to force Koyomi to do so throughout the second episode, only for it to culminate in a beautiful, mutual moment at the very end of the arc. This part easily drove me to tears, and I’m so happy we got to see it before the end of the show’s main narrative arc.

Hitagi Rendezvous has the least to say out of the arcs in Owari Part 2, so I understand why people talk about it less. It’s not as thematically dense, it doesn’t wrap up as much, and the inclusion of Ougi surely made it feel like a prologue to Ougi Dark for some people. But the use of past screen time to make me really care about Hitagi and Koyomi’s relationship was brilliant, and I emotionally connected to it more than I have to anything else in this show for three years. It’s resonant, it’s memorable, and it’s my favorite arc in Owari Part 2.

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3 thoughts on “[Updated with Video Script] Hitagi Rendezvous and the Importance of Screentime

  1. I can’t believe I missed this when it first came out. You’ve give me some food for thought about what I might write for this when I eventually get to my seasonal write up.
    If I may offer some constructive criticism on the video, while the audio quality sounded fine, the tone of your voice sounds kind of repetitive, especially the intonation with which you end your sentences.

    Like

  2. Ep[isode 12 can make me weep. It is the truest expression of love I have ever seen on the screen. I fell in love with many of the main players. To fall in love with even one means I would consider an anime to be outstanding.

    Like

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