Nisemonogatari 1 : 001

To begin with, I don’t believe in the existence of any demographic which would desire to know the story concerning Araragi Karen and Araragi Tsukihi — in other words, my little sisters — but even if for argument’s sake such a unique demand for this existed, I don’t believe I would ever want to talk about those two in a proactive way. Anyone would be able to grasp the reason behind this were it made clear, but for the most part, and most of the time, people have an inclination of not wishing to openly and publicly disclose all sorts of domestic affairs, and I certainly am not an exception. However, even if we were to deduct this generalization, those two — Karen and Tsukihi are special. If they were not my sisters I’m sure I would never have become involved with them for my entire life, and even for argument’s sake I was, they were the type of people who I would ignore, 100%. With the unique and peculiar experiences of these few months, I came to possess eccentric acquaintances in no small numbers — for example, Senjougahara Hitagi; for example, Hachikuji Mayoi; for example, Kanbaru Suruga; for example, Sengoku Nadeko — but if I have any talent at all, however imperfect, to face each of these individuals on even terms, the source of said talent can only be because of the fact that I was raised under the same roof as those sisters.

Well, be that as it may, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t make it clear that my inferiority complex, jealousy and prejudice are likely somewhat involved in this way of thinking. Unlike someone like me, coming to ruin at the end of an indolent high school life, Karen and Tsukihi do well — no, even I had done well when I was still a middle school student, so there’s no particular need for me to feel inferior to them when they’re still in middle school themselves, but even so, the time has now come when I’m forced to recognize just how good they are. Whenever there is a family gathering, someone would definitely say, “These are sisters you can be proud of, Koyomi-kun,” as though it were a stock phrase — that’s the kind of sisters they are. By the way, I’ve never heard anyone say, “This is a brother you can be proud of,” to my sisters — then again, I’m a helpless and incompetent brother, so as it stands this should be of no surprise to anyone.

However, I want to say this with a loud voice.

While they are not failures, they are problems, and while they are persons of character they are also failures of character.

A bad habit of mine as their brother is to unintentionally talk of them as a single set, but of course they each have their own individuality, so at this point, I will give an exposition on each of them, one at a time, in order.

The older little sister.

Araragi Karen. [1]

Middle school third-year, who welcomed her fifteenth birthday at the end of June — she’s caught up to me after a three-year gap. Ever since her days as a primary school student, her hairstyle has largely always been a ponytail. In fact, there was one time — it was around when she just entered middle school if I remember correctly — when she apparently dyed her hair — she was like some anime character, maybe I should express it that way — but in any case, it apparently ended up as a dizzyingly shocking pink color. It’s still not clear what her intentions were, but anyway, as an obvious result, she got punched in the face by my mother (I’ll say this for the sake of my mother’s honor, but that was the first and last time our gentle mother has raised her hand against her daughter) and her hair was turned back to black that night (and with ink, too). Karen’s hair was in essence only shocking pink during the few hours between her dyeing her hair in her room and my mother’s return, and unfortunately I was staying behind at school (I was a high school first-year then on the brink of failing but still working hard to hang on) and missed this. On the flip side of regret, if I were the one to see her first it would probably have been me to punch her in the face, so I can’t speak either way. However, that Karen would attempt such an excessive middle school debut in this outskirt rural town, where brown is more-or-less not an actual hair color, and the mere act of unhooking your school uniform can cause you to be treated as a delinquent, should make the question of what kind of personality she has a non-question.

In terms of form, she is frankly just not cute.

Instead, she’s cool.

Speaking about this in too much detail will reveal my own height, which I’m using as a standard in the first place, which is why this will always be recorded ambiguously, but Karen is subtly taller than me. Leaving the actual range of “subtly” to your imagination, compared to me who stopped growing in my second year of middle school, Karen started growing steadily from her second year of middle school. This is a mutual and helpless complex. To be honest, it’s the worst. I look up to my little sister. Is there a greater disgrace in the world that this? As Karen had rashly gotten involved with combat sports, she has really good posture. That’s why she feels about five centimeters taller than normal. It’s also for this reason that she will never wear skirts. Saying that they “make her legs look long”, she always goes to school wearing a loose tracksuit. Actually, the smartness of the tracksuit again just makes her look even cooler.

By the way, the combat sport she’s involved in is Karate. She’s always been an active kid and good at sports, but it seems that her talents are truly suited to acts of combat, and she got the black belt in the blink of an eye. Our living room is decorated with a photo of her with a decisive V-sign, black belt fastened to her uniform, but she’s gotten too involved, and it doesn’t feel very girlish. I wouldn’t go all the way to say she’s mannish, but with the help of her aggressive and slanted eyes, she just feels boyish somehow. In terms of people I know, she might be the closest to Kanbaru. If you extract the respect Kanbaru Suruga has for me, she might become Karen — but no, that example isn’t too appealing.

Continuing on, the younger little sister.

Araragi Tsukihi. [2]

Middle school second-year, whose birthday is at the beginning of April, meaning she is now fourteen years old — unlike her older sister Karen, Tsukihi’s hairstyle changes based on her mood and the season. That she would not stay with the same hairstyle for three months conversely makes it unclear whether she’s picky about it or not. She had straight long hair until just a while ago, but now it’s a shaggy dutch bob. Not that I asked in detail as I wasn’t interested, but apparently she has a preferred salon. It’s not that I don’t think she’s conceited for a middle-schooler, but in this day and age, that might just be how it is. However, in Tsukihi’s case, the problem is not so much external as it is indeed internal. No matter what Karen may say, she is the same inside as she is outside, but Tsukihi’s appearance betrays her character — it’s key that her character isn’t betraying her appearance. In contrast with her sister, Tsukihi has docile drooping eyes, a short build that is the absolute opposite of Karen, and a slow tone of voice that was truly like that of a girl’s, but on the inside, she is more offensive than Karen, and worse, she is hot-tempered. It hasn’t only been one or two cases where I had heard the circumstances behind the violent troubles caused by Karen and found that it had originated from Tsukihi in the first place. She was so hot-tempered that it may well be called hysteria. People around her are always bewildered by her gentle appearance and this gap — well, if she has one saving grace, it is that she consistently only gets angry for the sake of someone else.

To refer to a particular episode, this was back when Tsukihi was a second-year in primary school. A soccer ball that some upperclassmen were playing with came flying into the garden where her class was growing sunflowers during recess. The classmate in charge of watering the plants found fault with the upperclassmen who came to retrieve the ball, but their high-handed talk back made her cry — well, it’s not something unusual in a primary school, but hearing this, Tsukihi acted swiftly, located in an instant the class those upperclassmen belonged to, and charged into their classroom (Karen was with her, by the way). The turmoil, subsequently commemorated as the Ikedaya Incident (there was a Shinsengumi boom at the time, but otherwise the naming is meaningless), caused one upperclassman to be hospitalized, and the furnishings of the classroom were so close to being completely destroyed that they couldn’t be sorted out again. Not satisfied, they went at length, sending sunflowers as a get-well gift to the hospitalized upperclassman.

Or I should just say that they went and overdid it.

It was a horrible episode where it’s said that the crying classmate actually stopped crying out of terror.

Liking Japanese clothes so much that she wears a yukata as pajamas, she joined the school Tea Ceremony Club simply for the sake of “wanting to wear the kimono”, and though she is supposed to be learning the spirit of tea there, to my regret, I couldn’t see any inclination on her part on amending this personality. Well, considering this is a teaching where bigot monks so short-tempered they go berserk when you sprinkle sugar on watermelons get to throw their weight around, it might have instead strengthened her hysteria.

And like so, with a sister that is already completely out of hand by herself, and two of them, of all things — they are not just out of my hands, but beyond the reach of any part of my body. As their brother, someone of utter mundanity in terms of personality, all I can do is determinedly think of how I should behave myself when they cause another socially dangerous problem. The trouble might be that those two sisters compliment each other well in every way.

The bigger little sister who likes to act violently, and the younger little sister who find a reason for violence in everything — that is the reason they are called the Fire Sisters of Tsuganoki.

According to what I hear from Sengoku, my sisters are quite famous among the middle school girls — Tsuganoki, which is to say, Tsuganoki No.2 Middle School is a private school, meaning it should be at least a bus change away, so it’s not a trivial matter that rumors have reached even Sengoku, who attends the neighborhood public school (my old school).

I haven’t confirmed this with the person herself so its credibility is questionable, but as I hear it, on the first day of admission, Karen went one-on-one with the gang leader in charge of all the middle schools in the city, won, and from then on became quite famous among middle-schoolers — no, that’s definitely a lie. Were phrases utterly impossible for the twenty-first century made commonplace in just two lines of text? No way, it’s definitely a lie, but the fact that such a lie can be let pass should tell you how famous Karen and Tsukihi are.

The Fire Sisters of Tsuganoki.

Araragi Karen is the Fire Sisters’ fighter, and Araragi Tsukihi is the Fire Sisters’ planner. And so, like some sort of relief force or world reformation group, they play as allies of justice, everyday, repetitively. Of course, when I say this to them, first,

“We’re not playing, Nii-chan.”

that is what Karen would say.

And continuing on,

“We’re not allies of justice. We’re justice itself, Onii-chan.”

that’s definitely how Tsukihi would go on.

I know pretty much all the things they are likely to say.

However, as their relative, I can assert that what they do isn’t something so nice, but just something to release excess energy. If you keep doing things like this you’ll get in trouble for it one day — that’s what I keep saying to them, but seeing as I was the one who have gotten in trouble successively over these months, it didn’t really ring true. And because it didn’t ring true, I probably wasn’t very convincing — well, it’s also because of this that I could speak with ease, knowing that they’ll ignore me anyway — but I can say this with a loud voice.

Araragi Karen and Araragi Tsukihi —

That their deeds as the Fire Sisters are still nothing more than playing as allies of justice.

The sisters I’m so proud of —

That you are just helpless impostors.


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The title

nise means ‘fake’ ‘imitation’
偽者 nisemono (for persons) means ‘impostor’, ‘liar’
偽物 nisemono (for objects) means ‘counterfeit’, ‘forgery’

物語 monogatari means ‘story’, ‘tale’

001

[1] : 火憐 (Karen)

ka means ‘fire’
ren is the character 粦 rin with a ‘heart’ radical. Rin means ‘a great gathering of’ – ‘a great gathering of hearts’, thus ’emotions’, ‘pathos’.

可憐 karen means ‘lovely’, ‘pitiful’, ‘pure and sweet’

ren (note the ‘fire’ radical) means ‘phosphorous’ (the element)

[2] : 月火 (Tsukihi)

tsuki means ‘moon’
ka means ‘fire’

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