Traumatic events have a huge impact on people, especially when they are young. Sometimes, it can seem like you are defined by your trauma. Finding meaning and hope again after severe trauma is quite a struggle. Trusting others again is one part of the difficult ordeal. This idea is explored in Mononogatari with the characters of Hyoma and Botan. Although it’s simplistically handled in this show, trauma and its effects are still heavy subjects to consider.
The following article contains a recap of Mononogatari episode 12, as well as a few thoughts of mine in response. This anime finished airing a few weeks ago, and I’m only just getting to it now. Please bear with my tardiness. Let’s begin.
When we last left off, the powerful Tsukumogami named Kai had appeared before Hyoma and provoked him by mentioning the paper umbrella spirit. A battle between them ensued, but Hyoma was clearly the weaker one by far. Nagi and company come to the rescue, with Kai’s companion Itsuki in tow. Kai is made to stop attacking by the spells that keep him in check as a Tsukumogami. He calms down and explains that this was just his way of greeting and testing Hyoma.
As if to add more confusion and negativity, Kai says that Botan is the one responsible for the killings done by the paper umbrella spirit. This is only his theory, however. Hyoma does not react directly, but asks for time off to himself. Botan overhears all of this and falls into a depression when Hyoma doesn’t return to the house for four days.
In a bold and independent move, Botan goes to see the Kadomori family to ask them about the paper umbrella killings. She didn’t seem to learn anything of consequence. While there, she runs into Hyoma. It turns out he was spending his time training with the Kadomori. The old man who leads the Kadomori dismisses Hyoma and sends him away with Botan.
On their way back to Nagatsuki house, Hyoma and Botan have some important discussion. Hyoma is adamant that Botan is not the paper umbrella monster. Botan then opens up about her trauma from when she was seven. Her life was always intense and stressful anyway, just because of the nature of her latent powers and the way everyone monitored her. But in addition to all that, there was also a specific and distinct trauma that occurred.
Botan was ripped away from her parents when she was a baby, and many relatives tried to take her as she grew up. One such relative was a terrible man who saw Botan as an object and wanted to “own” her and use her for her powers. So Botan’s aunt, Satsuki, saved her from the man and started a quiet life with her in a new town. Botan and Satsuki loved each other immensely. However, everything ended abruptly when the same man from before attacked again. He caused a car accident that killed Satsuki. Botan was forced to watch Satsuki’s final moments as she bled out on the pavement.
This was so distressing that Botan does not remember what happened immediately after. It’s possible she went on a rampage with her powers. When she came to, she was safe with the Nagatsuki family again. But because of that traumatic event, Botan can’t trust others. She doesn’t want to be betrayed or used by bad people, and she doesn’t want others to protect her because they might die in the process.
Despite all this, the episode ends on a positive note. Hyoma boldly suggests that Botan should try trusting him. After all, he isn’t interested in using her, and he’s convinced he will not die, at least until his revenge is complete. He vows to protect the strange girl. Botan is flustered, but doesn’t object to the idea. As the two young people walk home together, Haori watches from afar, pleased with their progress.
With the episode recapped, we will next go over some of my general thoughts. Although there were parts I enjoyed and got emotionally invested in, this was still an underwhelming installment for a first season’s final episode. The idea that Botan is the paper umbrella monster is patently absurd and nothing but a red herring in the plot. It felt like a very forced way of bringing the story back to Hyoma’s revenge quest. There were other issues too, including awkward scene transitions, over-the-top voice-acting for some characters, and cheap, simplistic visuals.
I’m not surprised that the final episode was not great because Mononogatari as a whole was far from excellent. Hopefully, I’ll get around to writing a series review soon; but for now, I’ll just say the quality of this anime is subpar. The visuals are cheap, choppy, and lacking in detail. The songs were not my style at all. The story concept was good, but a little tropey and predictable. In execution, the narrative was highly awkward. Nevertheless, for the most part, I don’t regret watching Mononogatari. I liked the characters of Hyoma, Botan, and Yuu. They made the anime tolerable.
In this episode, there wasn’t much of Yuu, but I enjoyed the developments involving Botan and Hyoma. Botan is absolutely adorable and it’s impossible to stop wanting all the best for her. Hyoma is also cute in his own way. I like how he gets stiff and speaks old-timey when he’s flustered or surprised. On a more serious note, both characters are dealing with the long-term effects of childhood trauma: Hyoma with the deaths of hi siblings, and Botan with the death of her aunt. I think the two of them will continue to improve by being together. They have a nice character dynamic between them.
On a random final note, I view Botan and Hyoma as examples of neurodivergent anime characters. Hyoma might be on the Autism Spectrum, but this is just a loose hypothesis of mine. As for Botan, she can be seen as someone struggling with persistent major depressive disorder. She’s gloomy, feels empty, and keeps herself isolated. Depression is definitely a neurodivergent experience.
This concludes my main thoughts on the episode. Eventually, I’ll have a brief series review of Mononogatari on the blog. Thanks so much for visiting the site, and take care until next time.
Thank you for reading~