Hanekawa Tsubasa | Catharsis

After having read the Kizumonogatari novel many months ago, we learned more about Hanekawa Tsubasa. Basically this was the missing key to fully explore her character and her character development. Hanekawa was always one of my favorite characters in the Monogatari Series, and also one of the most interesting characters. She has a very complex personality and seems to be very unpredictable. You never know what her next move will be, but that’s something you can say about the most Monogatari characters.

They are all like cardboards. It seems like you know them and they do share some common trope but Nisio Isin always manage to write them in a way, where they turn into characters which are very unique to the point it’s almost ridiculous, but thanks to the world and setting the Monogatari Series is set in, it always works. In this blog I want to focus on Hanekawa.

She is a character who appears in pretty much every arc, and always is a big help to our protagonist Araragi. She knows exactly what to do, and how to handle several problems. She is always saying the right thing and manages to give Araragi the perfect advice. But we shouldn’t forget that it’s Hanekawa herself who needs help as well. Hanekawa is always portrayed as the perfect human being. Very smart, very liked, very happy and overall seemingly untouchable. We don’t only get this impression, but Araragi himself keeps saying this. Hanekawa knows everything and whenever he has a problem he knows he can go to Hanekawa. But what about Hanekawa herself ? What can she do when she has a problem ? Where can she get help from when she needs an advice ?

Hanekawa is getting introduced at the very beginning of Kizumonogatari. Her personality was already chiseled in stone from the very beginning. She has a long conversation with Araragi where she shows how curious, friendly and positive she is. Araragi found a friend in her, while no one else would bother to talk to him. Araragi himself wasn’t really interested in talking with other people, but Hanekawa has a certain aura. Hanekawa was a character who was very important in Kizumonogatari as she kept helping Araragi in the most dangerous moments, and this makes you question something. Why would she go so far for someone she barely even knows ?

To explain this we need to look into her past and her background. Hanekawa’s biological mother was 17 years old when she got pregnant and had many different lovers. Hanekawa doesn’t know who her biological father is. Later her mother married a workaholic and commited suicide after she gave birth. Hanekawa was born without having real parents. Her “new” parents or guardians are not blood related to her, which wouldn’t really be much of a problem as long as they treated her like a daughter. But if you look at her life at home, you can’t realy say that this is the case. Hanekawa doesn’t has a room of her own and sleeps in the hallway.

We saw that her father hit her and her personality lead to many problems. After all Hanekawa really is smart, but this is something which caused a lot of problems at home. From the perspective of her parents she seemed like an arrogant kid who knows everything better. Under this premise a healthy relationship was never possible in the first place. Overall she has a very unhappy life at home and struggles every day. As you probably noticed this is the exact opposite of how she is like when she is not at home. Hanekawa is a person who is struggling to pretend to be as happy as possible. On the surface you can pretend that everything is fine, you can pretend that you don’t have any problems. But the longer you hide these feeling, the more it will eat you. The stress inside you will grow and grow and explode at some point. The question is, was this inevitable ?

Meme Oshino is a very intresting man who always tries to be as objective as possible. According to him, he was surprised she didn’t got hit sooner. This is a very extreme thing to say but he said that her “nice” personality is a double edged sword, to the point where it seems like she is mocking you. If it’s her intention or not is a different story, but her extreme sense of righteousness can lead to problems. Of course this doesn’t justify her father to hit her. Taking all these things into account, it’s not surprising that Hanekawa has a huge amount of stress building up inside her, and this needs to be released. To do that Hanekawa is transforming into an oddity at night. Hanekawa is a girl who is unable to release her stress, or doesn’t seem to find a way to do that, so she transforms into Black Hanekawa at night, and this is the time where she can do whatever she wants. Usually the oddity is possessing a person and is forcing them to do things they don’t want to do. But Hanekawa is not innocent. She is not the victim here as she has full control of her state. She knows exactly what she is doing and basically is using the oddity for herself.

One day we see Black Hanekawa meeting Araragi, and during this meeting we see Black Hanekawa saying that she “hates” Araragi. Why does she “hate” Araragi ? Ironically for a similair reason why Hanekawa is so unhappy at home. She is blaming Araragi for not being able to help her. She hates Araragi for not treating her in the way she wants to. Hanekawa is in love with Araragi, but Araragi doesn’t love her. There were many situations where Hanekawa was trying to get closer to Araragi but always got rejected. Be it in Bakemonogatari where she tried to kiss him, or in Nekomonogatari where Hanekawa offers to do anything Araragi wants, and he spends this offer to help her.

There are more situations but why does Araragi refuse to do anything with Hanekawa ? She is a very pure person compared to all the other Monogatari characters, and he doesn’t want to ruin her image. Considering Hanekawa offers him to touch her breasts or to kiss her, she wants exactly that. Being the pervert Araragi is, he is burdening Hanekawa with expectations while giving nothing in return.

Even his kindness towards Hanekawa is nothing special, as he treats everyone in this way. From Hanekawa’s perspective she finally found someone who cares about her, but this someone is not only acting this way towards her, but to everyone. The problem with Hanekawa’s personality is the fact that she expect other people to reach out for her. She wants someone to help her. Over all these years she had no one who could help her but the problem is that there is absolutely no way to help her, because she is keeping all her feelings inside.

No one knows that she has problems, no one knows that she unhappy. During a fight between Black Hanekawa and Araragi, she is confronted with her own feelings and has to realize and accept that it’s all her own fault. She can’t expect someone to help her when she doesn’t open up. Hanekawa is starting to realize her mistake. She starts to open up more and actually express her feelings. She’s even confessing to Araragi and gets rejected. This rejection was the final blow she needed, because she managed to pour out what she had on her mind for such a long time. She finally had a reason to be disappointed and to be sad. She was heartbroken, but in order to live properly this is necessary. You need to feel different emotions, you need to be able to be sad or happy. Even her problems at home were problems which could have been solved if she spoke her mind. Later in the series we see Hanekawa confronting her parents and asking them to give her her own room and guess what ? For the first time in her life she doesn’t feel like she is sneaking into someone else’s home. Being confronted with her own feelings allowed her to start again, and actually try to change her life. She finally can live her life the way she wants to and doesn’t have to suppress her emotions and feelings.

At the end we could see that Hanekawa wasn’t the perfect human she seemed to be. Obviously no one is perfect and even when she is trying to show no weakness, it doesn’t make her stronger. There is nothing wrong with asking people to help you. But don’t expect someone to help you, when you don’t give them a reason to act. This character development is something I really loved in the Monogatari Series, and this shows how hard it can be to express yourself. How damaging it is to keep everything to yourself. If Araragi wouldn’t have helped her, it probably would have ended with a self destruction.


One thought on “Hanekawa Tsubasa | Catharsis

  1. The problem with this analysis is two things.

    One, Hanekawa did in fact tell other people about her issues, and they shunned her. She had friends who she confided in before Araragi. That was told in Neko White.

    And two, nothing changed when she asked for a room. She got it because her parents didn’t want to cause an uproar. Again in Neko White, it literally says she will only have that room, and that she never actually made up with her stepparents. They never opened themselves up to her, and never seem like they will. That was what the anime skipped over, how she tearfully walked from Senjougahara’s place to the new home her parents got, because she knew nothing would change. She just is grateful to now have a space to herself.

    The anime missed a lot of important facts that won’t make entire sense for you later if you don’t get the whole picture of Hanekawa. Even Oshino’s comments in Nekomonogatari Black about her had the caveat that she was right to be cross with her parents, because they had actually no good reason for how they behaved, which was reiterated in Hanekawa’s letter to Black Hanekawa, to herself, in Neko White.


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