Owarimonogatari Part 2 (Episode 8-13) (Cert 12)
1 Disc DVD / Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 141 minutes approx.
Release Date: May 22nd
“I’m a predator of procrastination”
So speaks Ougi Oshino a line which I can’t tell if creator Nisio Isin being ironic or he is simply trolling the audience. Considering every episode in the Monogatari series has been 99% waffle and 1% actual storyline advancement, Isin must be taking the mick. If only Ougi’s predatory nature extended to the script itself…
Ougi makes a brief cameo in the first and last episodes of this concluding volume of Owarimonogatari to bookend another surreal and abstruse tale being related to her by central protagonist Koyomi Araragi. Despite this arc being titled Shinobu Mail, referring to the loli-vampire who turned Koyomi himself into a vampire, Shinobu only appears randomly in these six episodes.
It begins with Koyomi summoning Suruga Kanbaru, possessor of the monkey arm, to an derelict cram school late one night for an undisclosed reason when they attacked by an empty suit of Samurai armour. Prior to being defeated when Yotsugi shows up to help, the armour reveals it is searching for Shinobu, to retrieve the sword it lent her 400 years ago.
The trio then go in search of Izuko Gaen, an expert on the supernatural but are stopped by a strange apparition that is a hybrid of the various apparitions Koyomi has excised across the series (monkey, crab, snake, etc). Eventually they reunite with Shinobu as Izuko explains that the Samurai suit was the first minion of Shinobu and the original apparition killer fifteen years earlier.
Sticking true to the tried and tested Monogatari formula there is a curiously appealing story buried someone beneath the excessive dialogue, which on this occasion takes the art of the info dump to new levels of time consuming obnoxiousness. One chapter is pretty Izuko blathering on about the backstory of Shinobu and her first minion which could have been made more entertaining if they went into a flashback and let it play out.
To quote the legendary Chas and Dave, the format is instead “yup yup rabbit yup yup yup rabbit rabbit bunny jabber rabbit yup rabbit” for 23 minutes. How this can be tolerated I have no idea; it is occasions like this when the Emperor’s New Clothes fable comes to mind when reading reactions of awe and delirium towards it.
Each to their own but surely the lustre of the show’s maverick approach should have eroded by now? The problem is not so much the source material being novels but most anime adaptations tend to, you know, animate the material and not just narrate it verbatim. There is no fun in that at all, and no amount of curious artistic asides and distracting flourishes can make up for the dearth of anything interesting.
Yes, I’m used to it but no, I still don’t like it; if you do, more power to you, but less tell and more show would at least help this show meet the lapsed or wavering fans halfway. For now, we’ll leave this intrinsic gripe to one side and continue to examine the story. The major revelation to come out of this arc is that Shinobu had a minion from 400 year earlier that she believed was dead but he wasn’t, because somehow the adjective “immortal” was too confusing for her.
What this boils down to is a clash between the first and second minions (Koyomi being the second) as the First wants to resume his position by Shinobu’s side, the dual being the only way to settle this issue when Koyomi refuses. Don’t get too excited though, the fight is over in a few seconds as they need the time for some much needed dialogue and abstract inserts that have sod all to do with anything, but you knew that already.
In terms of the obtuse nature of the Monogatari universe, this show again sets a new bar in digression and non-sequiturs from the onset. It takes Koyomi almost ten minutes before he can explain why he summoned Suruga to the cram school as she is more interested in revealing why she is not wearing a bra; or later on when discussing a plan to fight the First, there is a five minute interval to discuss their favourite BL manga!
Quite often I have been scornful towards people who dismiss subtitled films by saying “I want to watch a film not read it”, but it is difficult to defend this with a series like Monogatari. Falling into the latter category with its barrage of verbose dialogue hitting the screen with machine gun ferocity, it makes one wonder why people just don’t read the novels in the first place?
Granted Shaft do their best to make the distractions as eye catching as possible but there are only so many awkward angles, extreme close-ups and kaleidoscope patterns and colour schemes one can take before reaching for the aspirin. Or perhaps my stamina for all things psychedelic is waning in my advanced years because this aesthetic, as artistic and vibrant as it is, has become as tiring as the prolix scripting.
Maybe this is the crux of my inability to get into this series – fatigue. If you can’t connect with someone at first and the same obstacles appear repeatedly, both tangible and intangible, then being effectively bludgeoned by it will engender a negative reaction. I was slightly favourable – if a little bemused – towards the first series Bakemonogatari but since then it has been a case of diminishing returns for me.
So, I apologise to any readers who are fans that I can’t be totally objective towards the Monogatari output, but I do try to find be open minded before pressing play on my Blu-ray player, only to have the slivers of potential in the plots rarely reap rewards to suit my tastes.
Oh and with Owarimonogatari meaning “End Story, there is apparently still more to come from this franchise. Excuse me while I stock up on the aspirin…
Japanese 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animation
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black