“If I could see Mayoi Hachikuji one more time, I wouldn’t mind dying. For a while, I truly thought that. As for why I didn’t do so… Much though I was okay with dying, perhaps more so, I still wanted to live, contrary to expectations. I felt there was something for me to do while I’m alive.” -Koyomi Araragi
Teenage depression is a weird thing- it comes out of nowhere, and preys on the unsuspecting, leaving the hosts crippled and unable to move on with life. However, there comes a point where they must face themselves, lest they be swallowed by the moving tides of time, and be left behind. Being the conclusion to Araragi’s adolescence, Owarimonogatari Season 2 takes the time to make him finally confront his issues, becoming a fantastic lesson for not only him, but for everyone watching as well. As a lot of what made me love Owarimonogatari Season 2 is the frank discussions about various facets of depression, many of which are wrapped up within the story itself, I’m going to go ahead and put the big fat SPOILERS WARNING here. So if you haven’t watched all three mega-sized episodes yet, or read the books for that matter, go do so before I ruin the show for you with my iffy writing.
At the end of the last mini season, Koyomimonogatari, Araragi was heading to his college entrance exams. Before doing so, he decided to take a detour to the shrine where the finale of Hitagi End took place, only to find the oddity specialist Gaen there. Desperate to restore balance to the world, she sliced him into countless pieces with a legendary sword. Now he finds himself reunited with former ghost-girl Hachikuji at the bottom of Hell itself, and must come to terms with his actions up to now if he wants to escape.
“If I were to come across the same situation again, I’m sure I would do the same thing over and over again. But, no matter what I do, I can’t deny the feeling that I could have done it better.” -Koyomi Araragi
The conversation that really drew me into this season was Araragi and Hachikuji’s discussion on the difference between correcting mistakes and doing the right thing. As the in-between cards say, “The act of correcting mistakes makes people feel like they are doing the right thing.” However, Araragi (and, most likely, the author Nisio Isin as well) feels that endlessly correcting mistakes will lead to what he calls a “pitch black happiness.” Dolefully pointed out by Hachikuji, it’s a future where everything is fixed, but also where one is in the exact same place as where they began, with nothing they actually wanted. As the judgement of whether a mistake is fixed or not is judged by another, one’ll only receive what others give them. However she also acknowledges that doing so isn’t inherently wrong, it’s just that like was said, one won’t be able to reach the “impossible” goals by staying stuck in the past. All of this is perfectly visualized by the stairs that Araragi and Hachikuji are standing on. First of all, the gap between Araragi and Hacikuji shows the inability to reach lofty goals, and as the camera rotates around them, the stairs become an optical illusion. They seem normal and only progress upwards when looked at head-on, but when the camera comes around, it’s suddenly full of extra flights of stairs that either progress downwards, or just block the path, showing how that mentality will likely send one down a path they did not intend to go.
Another great part about this conversation is the first set of visuals that go along with it allow another interpretation of it, where multiple timelines come into play. Almost everyone wonders how life would be better if they just went back in time and erased all their mistakes. But as Araragi says his statement about “a pitch black happiness” we are shown a branching tree of railroad tracks, reminiscent of diagrams used to explain the multiverse theory. This is a reminder that everything that we have done made us who we are, and changing just one thing about yourself is likely to not lead you down the path you want. In fact your situation could end up completely different, a la the tracks that taking anything from 90 degree turns to nearly a full 180.
“No. I’m just delaying. To climb this white snake- to resurrect back into life. I’m delaying it further and further. Is it alright for someone like me to resurrect?” -Koyomi Araragi
No matter how far you fall into the pit of depression, it’s very likely that there’s someone out there who cares for you, and believes in you, even if you don’t. While there’s only so much of your self-deprecating bullshit they can take before they go off on you, that doesn’t take their love away. In the second half of Mayoi Hell, Araragi begins to have self-doubts of whether he’s worthy of reviving or not, only to get slugged in the face by Hachikuji and then subsequently have his behavior belittled. “What, are you chickening out?! You don’t want to go through difficult ordeals?! Are you tired of it all?!” she yells as she repeatedly hits his stomach. He lets out a weak response that can be read as, “No, I felt ready to give up, but at the same time I’m not comfortable with it.” Hachikuji comes back at him, telling him he can only say that because he’s young and inexperienced, and that he’s lucky that he has someone like her and the others that believe in him, because some people just don’t. This is a fantastic message as depression really fucks with your perception of the world and people around you, and that if you do have someone that listens to you and helps you despite what you say, you should listen to them in return.
However, Isin doesn’t stop there. He has Araragi question Hachikuji again, basically asking “Why do I deserve your love and support? Isn’t there other people suffering more than me? It’s not that I don’t want help, it’s just that I feel like someone else is worthy of your attention.” Hachikuji twists her fist on his stomach as she tells he that he DOES matter, and lets go, asking if he’s not worthy of her time, then specifically who is? She believes in him because she wants to, and if he keeps belittling himself, then eventually she’ll believe him and leave. But why? She steps back, takes a deep breath and yells all the pervy things that he loves at his face, and eventually stops joking and tells him that he is simply someone who loves being alive and happy, and thus he deserves that happiness; no matter what he feels. This calms him down, and he comes to realize that yes, he did love just living and interacting with others in his life. This is where Isin comes down to a very personal level, basically telling the reader that if there’s ANYTHING you like about your life, be it talking with others, reading, playing games, etc. Then that alone is something worth living for. It may not be grand or necessarily helpful to the world at large, but that doesn’t ultimately matter in the end. Life is what you make of it, not what society set in stone.
“Even if people can’t become happy, good things happen to them… As long as they are alive.” -Nadeko Sengoku
Depression never really ends, it just fades in and out as time goes on. Yet once I mostly left my depression behind, I found myself hollow, missing the optimism and desire for a shiny career that filled my earlier years. I had stopped caring about the future at some point, as way too often I burned myself out trying to work for it. During that time, I decided to drop a lot of my higher academic classes, and switched to various career pathway courses, eventually finding myself content with culinary. For once I had a lot of fun learning in school, and I probably would have never gotten to experience it if I stayed where I was, or simply offed myself during my most depressed stage. Now that I’m out of high school and in college, I still don’t have a clear vision of my future, but I do know that my current path is one I’m content with following to the end, no matter where it takes me.
Due to all this baggage, I really found this short, quiet, section starring Tsukihi very relevant to my current situation. About to be left behind in life by both her older sister and Araragi, Tsukihi confides a bit of worries about the future to her friend Nadeko, and later hitches a ride with Ougi, who makes her confront those feelings directly. But before I get to that I would like to highlight out a very poignant line by Tsukihi about Nadeko: “[Nadeko] is all right, I guess. She’s not dead. If anything, it’s more like she had been dead before now.” While I caught this the first time around, seeing it again really helped solidify the cautionary tale that was Nadeko Medusa- namely that becoming so hung up on your appearance and ideal self can easily alienate you from everyone that knows you. Sometimes it’s so much that it seems like you’ve died and been replaced by another person. After that line and a few words on how “cuteness” was a blade and chain that Nadeko ended up cutting and binding herself with, Ougi asks Tsukihi what she wants to become in the future. To which she says, “What do I want to be? I don’t really have anything. I’m fine as long as I’m enjoying the present. I feel like times like that link together to form the future.” A bit later Ougi finally retorts that the future Tsukihi mentioned doesn’t actually exist- it’s a lie she created so she doesn’t have to worry about a lack of planning, and no matter “how much of the present her piles up” it won’t lead to a future, just an endless present. Before she leaves, she finally asks if Tsukihi is “able to live in the present, without heeding what is to come, with disregard of the future?” Yet, with a simple eight words, Tsukihi shrugs all those objections off: “Well, probably. I’m pretty good at living.” At the risk of repeating myself here, this entire conversation very much reflects my post-depression stance on living. I don’t have any goals, but I don’t let that get to me as I’ve spent more than enough time brooding over my past and future. The only thing that will get me to ANY future at this point is focusing on the present, even if that means I must disregard what is to come, and lean heavily on the support of others. It’s certainly not the healthiest stance on life, but it’s much better than ignoring my current situation while muddling over the past and future, and ignoring anyone that wished to help me.
The End of Adolescence
“It’s rather simple isn’t it? Killing yourself for the sake of others. It’s something you do every day. It’s Koyomi Araragi, the one that you loathe the most. So… go end it all. By your hands you need to end it all. That is the end… of your adolescence” -Izuko Gaen
Adulthood is a myth. Growing up is not the same as maturing, and neither of those are the same as becoming an independant person. Maybe all all those together make up adulthood, but I’m pretty sure we can say a lot of people don’t fit all three of those. However, adolescence does end, and the way it ends determines how you approach life afterwards. In the climactic act of the main Monogatari series, adolescence’s end is depicted as being able to conclude in three ways.
First of all, there’s Ougi. Born out of Araragi’s desire to be criticized by someone for what he felt were his “failings,” she is the literal manifestation of Araragi’s inner voice. She wishes for the most destructive ending possible for his adolescence, where he recognizes his “failings” as exactly that, cut his ties with many people he knows, and attempt to erase his past and mistakes. Notably by killing Kiss-shot, and possibly leaving the town altogether (though that’s mere conjecture on my part). Her position also represents rejection of authority. “Well, that is the correct answer, Araragi-senpai. That is the right thing. What, so you can do the right thing, too? Unfortunately I wanted you to decline that.”Araragi knows what he must do, but Ougi, his consciousness, feels that his mistakes need to be “fixed” before he moves on.
Secondly, there’s Gaen and, in a way, “The Darkness.” Their position is one of inner destruction rather than outer. To them the end of adolescence should be recognizing your self doubts themselves as wrong, and purging them from your thoughts and actions.While it’s certainly the less damaging of the two options, and would sound like the reasonable choice had I not worded it so negatively, the matter of the fact is that doing so also comes at the cost of rejecting part of yourself. (Which is one reason why Araragi is scared when The Darkness suddenly appears behind Ougi after revealing her identity.) If you do go down this route, you risk becoming a cog in the machine, where you shut your inner voice down in favor of living a stable life. Doing so can also instead lead you down an incredibly reckless path where instead of ever trusting your gut, you only ever trust the future that plays out in your head.
Finally, there’s Araragi’s choice. After being confronted with both choices, and with the black hole opening in front of his eyes, he asks Ougi why she came to him if she knew that their current situation was going to happen, to which she answers, “There are times you have to fight, even if you know you’re going to lose. If I could say something akin to dying words, I believe that, in my own way, I was able to make Koyomi Araragi’s adolescence into something more right, even if I couldn’t make it better.” She gives herself into defeat, saying that nothing Araragi did was wrong, and congratulating him for making it to the end of his adolescence, and the beginning of his new life. Araragi begins to say farewell to Ougi, and his doubts, as well, but in the end, he can’t just reject what made him who he is, and shields Ougi before The Darkness can take her away, losing his arm in the process. This causes Ougi’s shell to finally crack, as she shows emotion for the first time, and tearily throws nearly every major self-doubt and criticism Araragi had at his face. In response, Araragi gives his answer to how he wants to end his adolescence: by embracing his doubts, accepting that they made him who he is, and moving on without losing sight of his past. This is by far the best outcome someone can obtain when growing up, but it can easily swallow you back up if you begin to doubt yourself again, and you’ll end up fall down the same pit of despair you just escaped. And yet, if you can pull this off, even if you have to repeat yourself a few times down the line, I, Araragi, and Niso Isin feel that this, is the most happy, and right ending for a young, foolish adolescence.
“If you’re saying what I have been doing until now wasn’t wrong… ...the fact that I’m doing this right now should not be wrong, either. I am not wrong. Yup. Just as you are not wrong.” -Koyomi Araragi
Honestly I don’t have much of a traditional conclusion for this, nor do I desire to write one, so I’ll just put a few thanks here since this article got a little personal:
Thank you to you readers who liked or commented on one of my articles. Seeing people I know nothing at all about do so made my day back when I started, and still is a joy to see now now.
Thank you to every mean person I met online. You guys helped me realized that I am sane, and that the best way to deal with you is to either laugh at you, or block you.
Thank you to Niso Isin and SHAFT. You’ll probably never see this, but together you guys have made Monogatari one of the best and most heartfelt shows I have ever seen. The constantly interesting (weird) visuals and witty, but grounded dialogue have somehow tricked me into watching a show where a boy does nothing but talk for literal hours, and I wouldn’t have it anyway else.
Finally, thank you to the friends I made here on AniTAY. You guys are the bright spot in my dull life, as after elementary and by moving into the Magnet program for smarter kids in middle school, I never really made any friends. I felt out of place in a group of kids who had their younger and more innocent days to form bonds, and I was much less social in general compared to before. Finding TAY in 10th grade gave meaning to my life, as 4 years of semi-social isolation had gotten to me. The ensuing drama that came with all online sites, while not really healthy for me to be experiencing at the time, forced me to go through a very rapid maturation that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, and helped me settle in with AniTAY and find others who share similar interests (and introduce me to new things to boot).
A with that I’ll leave you with one last gif. Here’s a Ougi who thinks you’re a fool for liking this article (and me as well if you know me) but is happy nevertheless:
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