Koyomi is instructed by Oshino to pay a visit to an abandoned shrine up in the mountains where he must affix a special charm (ofuda), for reasons not given. En route he encounters a young girl that he recognizes as a friend of his sister’s, called Nadeko, leaving the area. Kanbaru, who is with him on his expedition, starts to feel curiously queasy and sick up near the shrine, and the two soon discover that the place is filled with the mutilated bodies of snakes.
When he meets up with Tsubasa later in order to get her to help him choose some study books, she questions him about his ‘relationship’ with Kanbaru and whether it is wise, considering his relationship with Hitagi; however Koyomi reveals that Hitagi pretty much ordered him to ‘be nice’ to her under-classman. Tsubasa then starts to have a headache and leaves, right when Nadeko appears again. Since he saw her in the occult section, he thinks she may be behind the snake mutilations, and sure enough sees her at the shrine again shortly after, although she seems very troubled. He invites her back to his place, with Kanbaru, and she reveals an ‘oddity’…strange, snake-like patterns on her skin.
The start of another arc means the introduction of a new character, so this episode shows us Nadeko, who seems to be a loli. So far the ‘oddities’ have been on, in order, an older girl, a loli, then an older girl, then another loli…do I spy a pattern here? Nadeko however doesn’t get all that much screen-time in this episode at least, so I can’t really say much about her personality at this point; besides the fact that she seems really moe, unlike the first bratty loli we met in this series. She also seems to be rather shy; perhaps a crybaby, and has looked up to or perhaps even admired Koyomi since a young age. I’m interested to find out the nature of her ‘oddity’ as well as why she ‘needs’ to dismember snakes up at the shrine.
However, despite this being the start of the Nadeko arc, I think that Kanbaru shone the most here. She really is an amusing character…particularly when she nonchalantly declared that she was commencing the search for Koyomi’s porn stash when she went into his room. Although with her getting most of the screen-time, there was no space for Hitagi at all…she only appeared in a brief flashback, and I’m starting to miss her.
Naturally, Nadeko having strange patterns on her skin means that she would have to show these off; which means yes, this episode does feature some underage fanservice. There was something rather awkwardly humorous about this whole scene…particularly Kanbaru’s reactions. Even though it was maybe a little unnecessarily fetishized (Nadeko had school bloomers on, for example); it somehow managed not to be incredibly sleazy; perhaps because of the focus being on the odd markings.
Besides the humour, the other thing that really stood out to me in this episode was how varied the palette was. A lot of the other episodes hold a certain colour theme all the way through, but this one changed with every scene; with each change being a lot more noticeable. The lovely greens in the bamboo forest, and then the vibrant colours of the book store, then the bright orange afternoon glow…this episode was simply very colourful.
Interesting and quite visually pleasing; out of 5,