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Last weekend saw the release of Owarimonogatari Second Season. But don’t let the title fool you—this anime actually brings to a close a multiple series-spanning story arc eight years in the making.

Owarimonogatari, literally “End Story,” serves at the ending to the story of not-so-normal high schooler Araragi’s final year of high school.

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And while there are many more tales of Araragi and his friends left to be animated (including the epilogue adventure Zokuowarimonogatari that takes place the day after this anime ends) Owarimonogatari Second Season neatly wraps up the overarching theme of the story and brings the tale to a satisfactory conclusion.

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From back in the first episodes of Bakemonogatari, the franchise has repeated the same basic message: Only you can save yourself. That’s not to say that others can’t help you along the way, but you yourself need the conviction to struggle to break free of whatever curse binds you—be that literal or metaphorical. If you lack that drive and passively wait, no one will be able to save you.  

Araragi himself has struggled with this concept over the course of the series. While he often gives lip service to the idea, all he needs is the most minor invitation to get fully involved in trying to save someone. This is all because of his simple moral code: Helping people is good, hurting them is bad.

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However, in the events of previous story Onimonogatari, Araragi learns that the concepts of “good” and “evil” aren’t as abstract as he thought them to be—especially when concerning the supernatural. Supernatural beings—“oddities”—have to act in accordance with their folklore-ish nature. When Mayoi, a ghost who is supposed to get others lost suddenly stops doing her job, she is acting against her nature. This in turn labels her as an aberration of the natural order for oddities—marking her for deletion by the cosmic force known as the “darkness.”

Your Complete Monogatari Series Anime Guide

Or to put it another way, reality itself rejects a wandering spirit who doesn’t act like a wandering spirit is expected to act.

While Mayoi escapes to the afterlife—the top layer hell to be more specific—Araragi is left with absolute proof that right and wrong exist. And in the case of Mayoi, his supposed saving of her from endless wandering was considered wrong by the very fabric of reality. This in turn causes him to wonder how many other people that he saved are now going to suffer for his potentially wrong actions.

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These worries manifest themselves as an oddity all their own: Ougi Oshino. His doubts and guilt personified, Ougi’s sole purpose is to make Araragi see his past actions in the darkest possible light—twisting the interpretation of his past motivations as well. It’s not that she is out to get him exactly—she is essentially a part of him, after all. So really, he’s out to punish himself for his past hubris.

Over the course of his journey in Owarimonogatari Second Season, Araragi is forced to admit that many of the people he “saved” didn’t need him specifically. Others were destined to come along and help. All his pain and sacrifice was technically unneeded. Yet, he discovers that even had he known that, he still would have put himself on the line to save the people that would become his friends.

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This is where we see Araragi’s other major problem: his amount of self worth. When danger comes, he puts his life on the line with ease. But asking others to put themselves in danger? That is something he isn’t willing to do.

Time and again over the course of the franchise, he heads off in secret to fight unwinnable battles. It’s only thanks to others intervening of their own free will that he lives to tell the tale. While not exactly a death wish, Araragi values everyone else’s life above his own. Losing his life to save any of his friends is natural in his eyes.

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But this is a childish viewpoint and one he confronts at the end of Owarimonogatari Second Season. By naming Ougi as what she is—i.e., an oddity birthed from his doubts and fears—her lies about being the “darkness” itself, Meme Oshino’s niece, and Araragi’s underclassman are laid bare. As an oddity, acting like something she isn’t marks her to be consumed by the darkness just as Mayoi had been.

But as the void comes for her, Ougi comforts Araragi, claiming he must have been right in his decisions all along as the fabric of the universe has decided that she is “wrong.” Moreover, with her death–i.e., the death of Araragi’s doubts and guilt—he will be able to move into the adult world after high school with peace of mind and a clear conscience.

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But Araragi finds himself unwilling to simply watch the impending deletion of his darker half and he pushes her out of the way of the oncoming void—sparing her, if only for a moment. It is at this point that Araragi has made the truly grown-up decision. Instead of shunning and discarding his darker thoughts, he has decided to accept his doubts and guilt as part of himself—and to try and keep on living anyway.

Moreover, if Ougi is right and Araragi’s actions were right all along, then saving people truly is the right thing to do. But this time, Araragi isn’t trying to save someone else, he is literally saving himself—proving to himself that he has value and worth, even his darker half. And in doing so, he truly opens the door for himself to be helped by others.

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It is why, at that moment, Meme Oshino appears. As we saw way back in Bakemonogatari, Meme is more than willing to help those who have the drive to help themselves.

By naming Ougi as his niece and acting as such, he forces the very fabric of reality to accept Ougi’s previous lie of being his niece. He likewise names her as Araragi’s underclassman—a role she’s been playing for months—and further reinforces her place in the world. Thus, as long as she lives the role now crafted for her, she will be allowed to live on—not as an oddity built of worries and guilt, but as the high school girl Ougi Oshino.

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The following morning brings Araragi’s graduation—another symbol of both the end of his adolescent life and the beginning of his adult one. Araragi asks his younger sister, Karen, what she believes the “right thing” to be. Her response is the same as his would have been during the previous year: “helping people.” And to bring everything full circle, he imparts what he has learned from his year of adventures with the supernatural: “Why not start by helping yourself?”

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Despite the ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural oddities in the franchise, that’s not really what Monogatari is about. In the end, it’s a tale about learning to accept yourself, save yourself, and then help others do the same.

And while Araragi and his friends have many other adventures to come, there is no doubt that Owarimonogatari Second Season is a supremely satisfying conclusion to the Araragi’s final year of childhood.

Owarimonogatari Second Season can be seen with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

Comments (4)
  1. “While Mayoi escapes to the afterlife—the top layer hell to be more specific—Araragi is left with absolute proof that right and wrong exist. And in the case of Mayoi, his supposed saving of her from endless wandering was considered wrong by the very fabric of reality. This in turn causes him to wonder how many other people that he saved are now going to suffer for his potentially wrong actions.”

    I’m having trouble parsing this. Mayoi didn’t go to hell because she wasn’t being true to her nature or because Arararagi saved her. Her ‘sin’ was that she died before her parents. Araragi went to hell because he saved Shinobu, a demon that literally feeds on humans.

    • Sorry if it was unclear but that paragraph is not about going to hell but about the nature of the Darkness and how it effects Araragi’s perception of the world—i.e., it teaches him that there is a natural force that eliminates the “wrong” things in the world of oddities. Because Araragi saved Mayoi, she stopped doing her job as an oddity in order to help him with this problems. This caused the Darkness to come for her because she was no longer acting as the oddity she was supposed to be. At that point, she had two choices: 1) be erased 2) escape to the afterlife. Going to hell was completely incidental.

  2. Noooo I don’t want the series to end!! We still haven’t seen the Fire Sisters’ boyfriends and Araragi’s dad.

  3. Great reflexion! I couldn’t help but realize I had exactly the same thoughts at times while watching this concluding season of owarimono.

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