Bakemonogatari Episode 6: Suruga Monkey, Part One
Koyomi is followed on his way home from school by Mayoi, and when she asks, he tells her about his plans later to study with Hitagi for the upcoming placement tests. His walk home, however, is interrupted by the sudden arrival of underclassman Kanbaru Suruga, the ace of the basketball team. She calls this an unexpected meeting, but Koyomi knows that she’s been following him, and he finds out that she hasn’t been doing basketball lately because of her bandaged left hand. Suruga claims to want to talk about current world affairs, but Koyomi doesn’t want to, and he ends up telling her about the studying that he’ll be doing with Hitagi. After Suruga runs off again, Koyomi explains to Mayoi that Suruga has been following him around recently, and Mayoi suggests that Suruga may be in love with him.
Warning! The following summary contains spoilers.
Later that day, when Koyomi is with Hitagi, she asks him about his plans for the future because she wants to go down the same path as him. Since he doesn’t have the grades to make it into a university, she suggests that they could live together, and Koyomi ends up agreeing. Hitagi also reveals that she’s never broken up with a man, and she has no intention to do so with him. Koyomi then asks her about doing track back in junior high school, so she emphasizes that she has no reason to do it any more because she doesn’t want to return to those times. That leads to Koyomi asking her about Suruga, and Hitagi almost attacks him for implying that he’s close with Suruga. Hitagi admits that she and Suruga used to be close, but the two of them fell apart after Suruga found out about Hitagi’s secret and Hitagi treated her the same way she initially treated Koyomi.
Hitagi thinks that Suruga is following Koyomi around after finding out that they were dating and that Suruga had a crush on her. The two then finish their studying, and Koyomi heads home, but along the way, he decides to call Tsubasa to ask about Hitagi and Suruga. Tsubasa explains that the two used to be known as the Valhalla Combo based on the word combination of the ends of their last names, and she also gives Koyomi some advice on his relationship with Hitagi. She believes that Hitagi has put up an impregnable self-field around herself and doesn’t like associating with others, and she suggests that it’s better for him not to look too much into Hitagi’s past.
After ending his call with Tsubasa, Koyomi thinks about how he wants Hitagi to regain what she lost and threw away. He also remembers that he forgot to take with him the payment that Hitagi wanted him to give to Oshino for his services. His thoughts, however, are interrupted when he notices a cloaked figure behind him, and this person suddenly punches him in the face. Koyomi is still reeling from the first hit when the person delivers several more, and he ends up collapsing with a bloodied face. He notices though that there are bandages hanging out from this person’s sleeves, and he’s reminded of Suruga’s bandaged left hand. The person then disappears however, and the next thing Koyomi knows, Hitagi is standing over him with the money he forgot.
I understand that this series has a lot of exposition that can pay off in a satisfying way once everything is revealed/explained (as evidenced by last episode), but I have to say that it doesn’t make me feel much better about the set-up episodes like this one. Certainly Hitagi threatening Koyomi’s eye was interesting, as was the very brief action scene at the end of the episode, but I zoned out at least twice in between, like when Tsubasa was trying to give Koyomi advice. I’ve said before that I like how Horie Yui voices her, but that segment was just boring, and nothing she said after the Valhalla stuff struck me as particularly important.
What I do think is noteworthy though is Hitagi and Suruga’s past relationship and how Hitagi said that she’d never broken up with a guy. The implication of course is that she could have broken up with a girl, and that statement would still remain true. I also think it’s pretty obvious that they’re pointing us towards Suruga being Koyomi’s assailant, and I imagine it’s because she still has feelings for Hitagi or something along those lines. The fact that it’s her arm that’s bandaged and that the title of the arc is Suruga Monkey reminds me of the monkey’s paw story from xxxHOLiC, which was in turn based on the original short story, and it made me wonder if something similar is in play here. We’ll have to wait an extra week to find out though because most of the channels broadcasting this are still catching up after airing that recap special, and MBS is taking a two-week break. Episode seven will air on August 21st.