Contemplating Nisemonogatari: …and the controversial…
April 15, 2012 2 Comments
Some of the scenes in episode two set off the critics, but it was the fourth installment of Nise that really lit the fireworks. This being the episode where Shinobu, in her 8-year-old form, is shown bathing for a good half of the episode, in Araragi’s presence.
|Why is there a Degas picture here, you might ask? Well, read on…|
To most viewers, the reception of this particular episode was arguably divided roughly into two camps: those who loved it and those that hated it. Many of the former, which seems to comprise the majority, went wild for the Shinobu ‘fanservice’, though a few emphasised the amusing and informative conversation that revealed much about the relationship between these two vampire relatives. The latter mostly just felt incredibly uncomfortable at being treated as people with loli-fetishes, what with Shinobu, in her 8-year-old body, erotically stretching, posing and effectively flirting with her ‘Master’.
But head tilts and little idiosyncratic movements…this is SHAFT, remember? And is it really that much of a surprise that Shinobu would behave in such a manner? She is, after all, a 500-year-old vampire. Generally speaking, the scene really came across as two people working out where they stand with regards to each other, though as partners rather than as lovers, at least to this viewer…
I won’t begrudge those that feel uncomfortable about it, but do allow me to elaborate why I simply don’t find this scene as objectionable as some others do, despite being a gal who hates most fanservice for the guys. In fact, it might even have something to do with the fact that I’m a girl who has lived in Japan, for I’ve experienced the Japanese bathing culture several times. For those who don’t know, basically, it involves first washing oneself thoroughly at a low tap before getting into the bath for a soak. At first, it was somewhat uncomfortable getting into a public bath with other women – though I still can’t say whether going with friends or with strangers is more uncomfortable… Anyway, having gotten pretty used to seeing other ladies and girls in the bath, it really didn’t bother me to see it animated.
|Washing oneself…it really is an everyday thing, you know…|
It should also be noted that this is a ritual partaken not only at public bathhouses but also at home, with all family members taking turns to use the bathroom. Furthermore, parents typically bath their children until they are old enough to bath themselves or until puberty, and it’s usually the father that performs this role. And if SoreMachi is anything to go by, perhaps it’s not so unusual for siblings to be in the bath together either…? Given the relationship Araragi and Shinobu have then…I personally don’t think what was depicted in episode four was particularly risque.
But there is another reason for my bemusement: it’s all been done before. Art through the ages has depicted nudes in numerous settings, and I find it difficult to believe that more than a few people (excluding er…certain religions) would be taken aback by any of these works. Even more pertinently, the subject of the woman bather has already been heavily depicted by Eduard Degas. Indeed, he completed quite a number of works depicting the female form bathing, as did a number of the other impressionists. Obviously there is still a somewhat arbitrary division between the subjects that ‘fine arts’ and ‘media’ can tackle. Perhaps Nishio, SHAFT and Nisemonogatari will be an important step in the breaking of this barrier? Doubtful I guess, but one can always hope ^^
p.s. I don’t normally do this, and I doubt it would change anyone’s minds, but verdant has written an EXCELLENT commentary about Nise.