Koyomimonogatari (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 153 minutes approx.
Release Date: June 14th
Somebody up there must hate me. Regular readers will know I have never been able to connect with the Monogatari franchise therefore whenever a new title was sent to me for review it filled me with dread. It’s been almost two years since the last release, the last in the Kizumonogatari film trilogy, and I truly thought we were done with it – apparently not…
Koyomimonogatari is a curious beast (more so than the others in this series) being an ONA, broadcast originally on the Interwebz and not on TV. It is comprised of 12 short episodes (10 minutes excluding credits) but without an overarching plot to hold it all together, instead focusing on male protagonist Koyomi Araragi and a different girl from his extensive harem of weird women.
This also means each episode has a different opening song and animation to reflect the change in female companion, since things are starting anew. Another important factor to consider is the randomness of the timeline, since these mini-adjuncts purportedly slot in somewhere in the original adventures, but where is anyone’s guess. Well, maybe not the slavishly devoted to the franchise, but to people like me who aren’t, this is random.
Newcomers are therefore not advised to make this their introduction to the Monogatari since no quarter is given to anyone not already familiar with the minutiae, and if, like me, you can’t even remember what you did yesterday, recalling something vague from a baffling series like this from a decade ago will be like trying to find a soul inside a Tory MP – i.e. impossible.
But there are some out there for whom Nisio Isin is a creative genius and have devoured his works with fervour, studying every word like it was manna from heaven, and even when taken out of context, will find this collection easy to follow. One way to look at it is this is a sort of greatest hits package for the female cast since they all feature (I think), or maybe it is a simple last hurrah for them all, should this be the actual end of the road for the series.
Another way to describe this release for the rest of us is you could say it is akin to watching the deleted scenes in the DVD extras of a film, where it is not always obvious from which part in the film they were cut and seem incongruent as a result. Not that the stories of Monogatari ever really followed a straight narrative, with single episodes often having little to no relevance to the main storyline, but since they are all buried under a ton of dialogue who can tell?
Whilst there is no connecting plot, the format is the same – one of the girls asks Koyomi to explain something to them and he does his best to oblige them. These queries range from the incidental to the profound but never seem substantial, at least to me, but I’m not a hardcore devotee so even if they were I wouldn’t care. For example, in the first episode, Koyomi is quizzed by Tsubasa Hanekawa about a stone she found inside a tiny shrine.
Further misadventures include a demonic sandpit, a mysterious tree, and a ghostly extra member of the school tea club, but be warned, this is all chat with seldom any action to be found at all. One episode I must admit was mildly amusing involves Shinobu and a pack of donuts she is convinced are poisoned by way of getting to eat them all herself. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the chapter with Koyomi’s sister Karen is rather creepy, as she spends the whole time rubbing her chest in his face then accuses him of being a pervert for looking at her boobs!
Unlike the previous instalments there is no nudity, the fan service has been toned down to near zero, and the above scenario is as skeevy as it gets, thankfully. Violence is also non-existent until the final episode, but considering there is little time to build to anything inside 10 minutes with such typically garrulous scripting. Regardless of how long or short his chapters are, Isin isn’t going to compromise his style one iota, so not even this redacted form is going to mean a change of business, so fans can rejoice on that front.
Remarkably, it seems the switch to online hasn’t diminished the efforts of Monogatari animation studio Shaft, the quality of their unmistakable presentation remaining as high as ever, the only real saving grace for this series in this writer’s opinion. The quirky camera angles, quick cut text panels, angular drawings, Escher-esque architecture, and of course, the Shaft head tilt are present and correct.
Deciding whether this is a recommended release for the loyal fans of this series is harder than it seems and this is not me being negative. It contains all new material which is an obvious lure, but it isn’t necessarily relative to any long-term story making it an odds and sods collection, which could be perceived and inessential. However, having all the women of the Monogatari universe in one set, all given time to shine rather than being limited to a cameo in someone else’s story, will clearly appeal too.
Personally, the most infuriating thing is that I just don’t get it, and I doubt I ever will, making every 5 star review and effusive praise for its genius lost on me, but it is a fight I can no longer be bothered to put up. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I say or feel, there is a loyal army of followers waiting for more Monogatari, so if this is your thing, more power to you.
If Koyomimonogatari is the end, it is a slight way to bow out but this franchise is built on playing by its own rules, so this maybe it is apposite after all, but what do I know?
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 Only:
Rating – ** ½
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