The Child bound to the Statue – Jizo and Nadeko Sengoku

It’s a common practice in Monogatari fandom – ‘best girl’ ranking. Logic takes a spectator’s seat to the side; watching, but rarely taking part in the tumult of opinion and maelstrom of emotion. There are a few clear heads that stand above all the rest, this much is true, but I think I stand alone in defense of Nadeko Sengoku, the arc Nadeko Snake being one of the most thematically driven and narrative tight arcs of that first series.

But let me clarify a few things. First and foremost, I am, and always will be, a Hitagi-ist – have been since the beginning. That being said, I do not claim Nadeko privy to the title of ‘best girl’, but she is in the top three. Second clarification, I will not be covering Monogatari Second Season, I don’t think it imperative to this article. Second Season has cast such a shadow over what was already present; what occurs later in the story does not undo what has already been done, much like a sequel does not ruin it’s original. Finally, I don’t like Hanekawa nearly as much as everyone else does. Sue me.

This post has been moved to Wave Motion Cannon.

10 comments

  1. Monocle_Grizzly · October 26, 2015

    I do want to preface this comment by saying I really did enjoy getting some cultural context for this arc. It helps quite a bit.

    Ok, I’ll get to the point, while I agree with you that Snake is easily one of the strongest arcs thematically and narratively, I found the post lacking in its intended purpose as a defense of it and its central character.

    Do I value a car I ran into the ground? I have ruined a car before, and I didn’t dislike the car for it. I was angry at my neglect that caused it.

    Do I value meal I have distate for? I think the meal has value as nourishment, even if I didn’t enjoy it myself.

    I disagree with the implication that my being discomforted by seeing Nadeko sexualized and humiliated may be an example of deprecation /towards/ her (if I misconstrued your point, please tell me). I have no problem with sexualization as a thing, but the content in Snake, unlike much of the content in Bake, does a very poor job of justifying itself as something significantly deeper. Remember that a significant amount of shots in that scene you’ve focused on are of Nadeko’s cameltoe, and let’s also not forget the very clearly sexualized rape imagery in episode 10.

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    • Monocle_Grizzly · October 26, 2015

      I did revise this a bit in my head after posting it. Basically I don’t think it was necessary to sexualize a deeply insecure young girl to show that she is deeply insecure.

      I hope this extra comment doesn’t make it sound like I’m piling on you, because that’s not my intention.

      Like

      • Josh Dunham · October 31, 2015

        I can fully understand not agreeing to the ‘viewer sexualization/depreciation as a lens into character thoughts of self depreciation’, and respect your retort. I have amended the article to address the final scene of her arc, as I felt it needed to be looked at after reading your remarks. Thank you, I appreciate the honest comment.

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  4. Redwhitenblack · November 23, 2015

    I was going to reply on the 2nd Bakemonogatari podcast thread but I guess what I have to say belongs here more since it’s really a response to Monocle_Grizzly. I have a completely different read on the Nadeko-snake arc. Because actually didn’t see the exorcism in a sexualized light at all. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of sexualized characters in these series so I’m not trying to give Nisio a pass here. Especially in Nisemonogatari there’s some stuff that’s really difficult to square. That’d be a better point of departure for discussing sexualized characters I think.

    While the exorcism was undeniably very physical I didn’t see it as sexual anymore than, say, scenes from the movie The Exorcist. It’s a wrenching physical experience but not necessarily a sexual one. The aberrations the girls of the monogatari series encounter seem symbolic of struggles adolescent girls face. Like Senjougahara’s weightlessness I read as a traumatized young woman who’s struggling with anorexia, or has been placed on meds that keep her from ever feeling strong emotions. With Nadeko, I think there’s some body image stuff there too but I think what she was really facing was something more like rumors and betrayal. .

    Jizo is a protector of children but he’s also a revealer of truth. That’s what happens when the true culprit of the theft in the poor village is revealed by binding him (thanks for delving into the legend there, great job!) So, say two mean spirited kids in Nadeko’s school feel like she wronged them and then start some vicious rumors about her. She’s ostracized and feels sullen. She can’t fight back. Everything she does only seems to make the situation worse. She begins to hate herself. If the situation continues, she may even begin to believe what’s being said about her and start to harm herself. I think that’s what Oshino’s warning was getting at as well as what he told Araragi to remember: What goes around comes around. Araragi can unbind her but he cannot keep the consequences from returning to the two culprits once the truth of who is doing what is revealed.

    So I didn’t see the snakes attacking her as anything intrinsically sexual but something more symbolic about ingesting other peoples’ opinions of oneself. I think that fits with the serpent imagery more than the Freudian bit, but hey that’s the thing about good art right? It’s what you see in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Monogatari: The Sexuality is the Narrative | Wave Motion Cannon
  6. Huh. Nadeko Snake is probably my least favorite arc of Monogatari, not because of Nadeko but just how I don’t find it nearly as compelling as others and I strongly dislike how it ends as well. But this article shed some new light on the arc that I didn’t look at before, especially since I find most people don’t really take her seriously as a character (like myself) until when she invites Koyomi to her house while her parents aren’t home in Nise, or in Otori when her infamous transformation that turned her into ‘worst girl’ begins.

    I did not even notice the Jizo statues at first, that is a super interesting piece of cultural context that strengthens the narrative of that arc. I’m gonna have to take another look at this based on what you said.

    Very insightful and well written, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on haveyouexperiencedshitsurakuen and commented:
    Huh. Nadeko Snake is probably my least favorite arc of Monogatari, not because of Nadeko but just how I don’t find it nearly as compelling as others and I strongly dislike how it ends as well. But this article shed some new light on the arc that I didn’t look at before, especially since I find most people don’t really take her seriously as a character (like myself) until when she invites Koyomi to her house while her parents aren’t home in Nise, or in Otori when her infamous transformation that turned her into ‘worst girl’ begins.

    I did not even notice the Jizo statues at first, that is a super interesting piece of cultural context that strengthens the narrative of that arc. I’m gonna have to take another look at this based on what you said.

    Very insightful and well written, though.

    Like

  8. YahariBento · May 24, 2016

    – I did notice Jizo either (maybe I saw but don’t think jizo have some hidden secret). Thanks for your analysis and you see Nadeko as a Jizo statue made me see image easier.

    – I don’t think one of classmates who put curse will end up happy because one of them would be dead because jagirinawa Araragi tried to fight but fail. It means that snake will return to one of kids and killed boy or girl. If one of them knew another one was killed and how s/he died is the same as curse book mentioned, how can s/he live happily from now on?

    – I think the one who surv**** at****** Kaiki at the back and he fell while he is walking at snow field so one of them should still al*** but de****** him for mani******** them to play with curse. (I marked with * because I should not spoil, right?)

    Your analysis is very interesting and has so much detailed, so I will put my analysis (at other point of view) involved with bakemonogatari ep 9-10 here as well. Bakemonogatari and Corpse Party taught me many things about human’s (negative) emotions. Started from blood covered manga, especially “holding a grudge” to someone.

    I compared two stories in my analysis, focused on “holding a grudge” is not worthwhile. One is Bakemonogatari anime/novel, another is Corpse Party: Blood Covered game/manga. Both of them taught me it will waste your time, energy and made you have misfortune.

    Liked by 1 person

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