One thing the -monogatari series has always been about, to some extent, is the exploration of fetishization. What makes something a fetish? What can be fetishized? When does something cross the line between fascination and fetishization? Sexualization and fetishization? Where does the taboo here come from? Is fetishization inherently good or bad? Is it even inherently sexual in nature? Can it be romantic? How can our fetishes define who we are and how we interact with others? That it deals so intimately with such questions can at times make the -monogatari series embarrassing, uncomfortable, difficult, yet fascinating to watch. It is made all the more so by NisioisiN’s multilayered writing and Akiyuki Shinbou’s… shall we say, “directorial understanding,” of the art of fetishization. (this post is going to get me some weird search engine queries)
Nowhere is this more apparent than in episode 8 of Nisemonogatari. It is twisted, it is disgusting, and it is beautiful, and nobody who has seen it will ever brush their teeth the same way again. After spending so many episodes talking about fetishization, Shinbou put these ideas into practice. Here, he let loose, putting his full, horrifying power into delivering a perfect storm of everything that fetishization could possibly hope to represent. Every frame, every syllable, every musical note, every piece of circumstance upped the smut factor exponentially as Shinbou, who is often criticized for his subtle yet noticeably unusual fixation on just the wrong parts of his female characters, showed us all that we had not seen anything yet. And with so many anime throwing as much nudity and contrived sexually explicit situations at audiences in a desperate attempt to titillate, this scene effortlessly surpassed them in eroticism, and it did so with nothing more than a toothbrush.
This was the -monogatari series in one scene. And it was sick. And it was wrong. And it was glorious.