So I recently read Kizumonogatari because I was frustrated with how Shaft keeps pushing back the release date for the movie and found many similarities between Emiya Shirou and Araragi Koyomi. Before I start my short comparison of Emiya Shirou and Araragi Koyomi I want to warn everyone that I will be using information from all of the Monogatari series and Fate/Stay Night. If you have yet to read / play / watch these, spoilers will be inbound.
Both Araragi and Emiya view living as repenting for their sins. Emiya’s guilt is caused by the lost lives at the fire of the fourth Holy Grail War. He is the only one to survive due to Kuritsugu and as the only one saved he believes that his life must be dedicated to saving others as a hero to compensate. The Holy Grail War itself is Emiya’s chance to achieve his naive goal of saving everyone yet the only way to get the Holy Grail is to go against his ideals.
I can’t stray from my path for those I’ve left behind. – Emiya Shirou
Why Araragi is lamenting is a bit more subtle. To figure out why we have to flashback to before Araragi met kiss-shot acerola-orion heart-under blade. Before high school Araragi was a hard worker, studious and obedient. Strangely enough what caused him to change was not the supernatural apparitions, but just good old teenage angst and parental expectations.
Toiling in junior high school Araragi was able to get into the prestigious Naoetsu Private High School where he failed terribly. In comparison to the exceptional Fire Sisters and his past performance Araragi was scolded by his strict parents, leading to uncomfortable relations with his parents and sisters. Arguing with his parents and envious of his sisters, Araragi wasn’t able to keep the most precious bonds of family. Everything was going fine until he failed so he believes that these deteriorating relationships are his fault. Unable to recuperate from this he adopts the idea that bonds make people weaker and separates himself from others. All of this is implied in Kizumonogatari and happens before the story takes place.
That will be all — my fault. Because I saved her. – Araragi Koyomi
Then he meets Kiss-shot where the Monogatari story begins. Araragi sacrifices his life for a total stranger that happens to be a vampire, because he determines that his own life is worth less than a strangers. I don’t want to tell you the whole story so you can read it here, but by the end of Kizumonogatari the only reason Shinobu is alive is because of Araragi. He has to live with the burden of the death that Shinobu caused and keeping Shinobu alive. Also note that throughout Kizumonogatari Araragi has short hair, then after Kizumonogatari he grows his hair out to cover the vampire bite mark. Hair is a common motif in Monogatari that represents one’s burden.
Devaluing of the Self
Wracked with the guilt, Araragi and Emiya see themselves as worthless. This causes them to act with a reckless abandon, that endangers themselves. Both are generally far from suicidal but when anyone is in danger or in need of help these two will use their own life to save them if needed. This can often be seen as an act of selflessness or generosity but in the case of Araragi and Emiya it is more that they do not care for their own well being.
I have never had a reason to keep living no matter what, I have never had a reason to give priority to my life, even if I died, it won’t have any impact on the world! My life is not beautiful. It is not pretty. In that case, I should die in order to keep this beautiful thing alive. – Araragi Koyomi
When Araragi and Emiya hit rock bottom they even wish for their own deaths for the sake of others. In Bakemonogatari the main character is Araragi, yet the focus of every arc is about each of the troubled girls. The show itself is framed in a way that emphasizes how Araragi devalues himself and puts priority on others. Also in the Nekomonogatari arc with Hanekawa there is a point where Araragi is pinned to a wall in a way that resembles Jesus being crucified. He acts like a martyr, as he intends to sacrifice himself for Hanekawa and similar to how Jesus was reborn 3 days later, Araragi is just plain immortal.
In a similar manner Emiya is also practically immortal through the scabbard of Excalibur embedded in his body. Though unlike Araragi, Emiya does not know about his body’s durability until much later in the Fate route. During one point I was astonished that he threw himself in front of Berserker to save Saber, who he just met that night. A total stranger that appeared in his life because of some magic war, and he risks his life to save her. At first I viewed him as a selfless character that had this moment without much thought, but Emiya repeats this chain of events again and again with Rin, Illya, and Sakura. Leading him to be viewed as reckless and accurately exposes how he judges his own worth.
Reflections of themselves
I think it’s about time I talked about Kiss-shot-Acerolaorion-Heartunderblade and Saber. They both parallel the ones they are bonded to and mirror their personalities. At their core they are the same as their partners and when you see them develop it is also the development of Araragi and Emiya. Both Saber and Shinobu share the above problems of a guilty conscience and self devaluation, but instead they get to be viewed from the outside. And from that perspective Araragi and Emiya learn more about themselves and grow.
Saber’s back story is the same as the King Arthur and in the same vain as Emiya, she devotes her life to her country and refuses to indulge herself. Throughout Fate/Stay Night Emiya constantly reminds Saber of her Gender and tries to convince her to forget the failure of her past and instead live her own life. The same way that Saber is bound to the burden of the leadership of Britain, Emiya is bound to the fire of Fourth Holy Grail War and refuses to forgive his own guilt.
When Kiss-Shot arrived in Japan in Kizumonogatari she was looking for a place to die, yet when she was on the verge of death she begged to live. In a way it reflects Araragi’s idea of wanting to become a plant. He doesn’t want to totally die, but he does not want to do anything.
You see, I want to be a plant, I wouldn’t have to talk, nor walk – Araragi Koyomi
I also want to mention the Shinobu arc in Monogatari Second Season, Onimonogatari (Demon Story). Where they mess with time, and in the timeline they go to Araragi never goes to see Shinobu at that doughnut store when she felt abandoned. She literally threw a tantrum that wiped out humanity just because Araragi didn’t pay attention to her. If that’s not emotional dependence on someone to survive, then I do not know what is. She places all her self worth in Araragi being alive. Sound familiar?
Hypocritical and Selfish
I am fine with dying –But I feel bad when people die. If I think about it, it’s a selfish opinion. – Araragi Koyomi
Often seen as selfless characters Emiya and Araragi are actually hypocritical and narcissistic. They believe in their own ideals with such a passion that they fail to recognize that how they act opposes their own principles from the viewpoint of someone that cares for them. They are selfish because they refuse to empathize with others and realize that their actions have an effect on the people around them.
Throughout the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/Stay Night Archer points out the hypocrisy of Emiya’s ideals. Emiya constantly repeats that he does not want anyone to be hurt in front of him, yet to stop that from happening he hurts himself. Rin, Illya, Sakura, and Saber all care for him and wish for him not be hurt and it pains them when Emiya suffers for them.
Just because one lives thoughtlessly — it doesn’t mean that one can die thoughtlessly. – Araragi Koyomi
Of course since Araragi and Emiya are actually the same person they share this trait too. In Monogatari Second Season, Hanekawa and Senjougahara tiptoe around Araragi and try not to tell him about the issue with the Tiger. They care for Araragi and want to prevent him from taking on an even greater burden.
In the final route of Fate/Stay Night, Heaven’s Feel, Emiya has to confront his hypocrisy and decide whether to uphold his ideals or harm Sakura for the greater good. Of course since it is a visual novel your choices impact whether or not he actually challenges his own naivety. Though the “true” ending to Heaven’s Feel does address Emiya’s problem and resolves it, his answer was to forgo his impossible ideal in order to devote himself to Sakura. Through this devotion, Emiya finds that to protect Sakura he also has to find worth in himself and survive.
The weakness that had accepted death now became the strength of wanting to live. – Emiya Shirou
Though Araragi recognizes his problem in Kizumonogatari, like the rest of the cast he has yet to find a resolution to his problem and I look forward to it being addressed in later iterations of the Monogatari series. Hopefully Senjougahara will knock some sense into him and Araragi will consider the feelings of others around him, but until then I will enjoy the comedic banter between Araragi and the rest of the harem.
Alright that’s it! If you read it all, Thank you, and if you have any questions or concerns leave a comment or message me. Writing this got me really hyped up for Hanamonogatari that was released today, which I probably will be doing my first episodics on!