Confession time: I came across something that actually makes The Garden of Sinners and Monogatari less convoluted and a little more sophisticated/artistic. I know, I know, my neck’s looking a little hairy but let me at least present it. It has to do with Carl Jung’s school of analytical psychology and his theory of the collective unconscious (cue snoring, drooling, and checking your phone with the occasional “mmhmm” to reassure me you’re listening). Here’s the Wikipedia article if you want more but I’ma give you my Cliff’s Notes of the Wikipedia article version.
Basically, it teaches that every man has what is called the “anima” which makes up the totality of his unconscious feminine psychological qualities, and the animus is the masculine ones possessed by a woman. These are believed to be a different subconscious psyche entirely, but have influence in interactions with the opposite sex, and we can gain greater mastery of ourselves by recognizing and discerning when they manifest to more accurately perceive our own reality, and not the distorted view the anima or animus is telling us exists. They also have four stages of development, and humanity attains their full potential if the anima/animus gets fully developed while the conscious psyche maintains control or something.
The warning, however, is that every personification of the unconscious has both a light and a dark aspect. “They can bring life-giving development and creativeness to the personality, or they can cause petrification and physical death.” As such, it is important that the anima/animus remain a medium between the ego and the unconscious and not invade the conscious.
*BIG TIME SPOILERS FOR GARDEN OF SINNERS AND MONOGATARI*
So, what does this have to do with anything? Well it makes you feel like you did the required textbook reading for the lecture that is Episode 8 of Garden of Sinners, which explains how there’s the female Shiki, the male SHIKI, her animus, and then the genderless collective unconscious Shiki and so you can at least follow what they’re talking about, despite the fact that I think it’s hogwash. It at least means there was reference for Shiki having a differently gendered personality that was repressed and only wants to live out its repressed desires (murder, in his case).
As for Monogatari, it explains dear old Ougi Oshino the same way. Ougi is a manifestation of Araragi’s subconscious, adolescent obsession with justice and things being proper, regardless of the cost or emotional toll. While Ougi doesn’t specifically follow the traits of one of the anima’s development stages, it is at least a nod to the Jungian idea that the subconscious psyche is the conscious psyche’s gender opposite.
*SPOILER TIME IS OVER, YOU MAY CONTINUE*
Knowing this at least is a helpful little plaque on the side of the post-modern art piece in the museum. It gives a bit of context to say “Oh, that’s what they were going for. Okay.” In my case it wasn’t an eye opening “Oh wow! They really put a whole ton of thought and artistic expression into it; this is actually great!” scenario so much as an “Alright, well at least you’re not completely talking out of your butt, just someone else’s.” Much like when your weird cousin keeps making obscure references to things in general conversation. You at least know he’s not completely crazy, he just can’t read the room to know that people won’t get that reference, and that even if they could, it wasn’t that clever of a connection.