Review/discussion about: Koyomimonogatari
The inexplicable parts of life have plagued the minds of people for a millennium. Otherwise known as oddities, strange phenomena have a certain allure to their presence. They invite imagination; they drum up curiosity.
From the logically possible to the truly bizarre, odd occurrences will not disappear anytime soon – so long as there are those willing to question the world around them.
Koyomimonogatari tackles this subject in the span of less than three hours. Simultaneously, it also promises a ton of content that fans of the overall series will most likely approve and appreciate.
The Monogatari series. Beloved by many, it has come a long way since its original (anime) debut back in 2010. During this time, it has created for itself a flair and a uniqueness that has defined it as a signature part of the medium and a must-try show within the anime community at large. What better way to tribute this juggernaut than to create a bunch of smaller, singular stories for the audience to reminisce on as it prepares for the final leg of its historic journey?
That’s what Koyomimonogatari is (mostly) about. It’s an anime which encompasses basically everything that people have come to like about Araragi and the craziness he has experienced for so long now. Indeed, this anime is designed for those that have been through it all as well: the starry nights, the toothbrushes, the bathroom monologues, the spooks. In some sense, it is a reward for having supported the many seasons, episodes, and minutes of content up to this point.
As such, this mini-season takes the Monogatari formula and dilutes it down its purest essence. Then it condenses this glob into a pink, oval-shaped piece of Dubble-Bubble Gum to chew on, bringing with it a savory sweetness and a rush of sugar as soon as it enters the mouth. Right before it starts to lose its flavor, the anime spits out the current piece, reaches into its pocket, pulls out the next piece, and starts chewing once again. A cycle that continues eleven separate times (equating to twelve pieces of gum) until its pockets empty.
Of course, these episodes aren’t pieces of gum but rather events in an anime, but the metaphor works regardless. With each new episode, Koyomimonogatari treats the audience to the same style of jokes, dialogue, and presentation this series has embraced since the beginning. Better yet, while some crossover exists, they also feature nearly every favorite character from before for their own individual aside once again.
But it also serves another purpose: granting the audience the chance at one last “lookback” on all that has happened. Like revisiting old friends, each important girl from this massive tale takes center stage (sometimes with other cameos) while interspersing the episodes with the events and the timelines of every other season up to this point. As if the series looked at itself and said, “Let’s have a bunch of fun with one last hurrah.”
This season does not reach the same level of complexity or intrigue on an event or interpersonal basis that Monogatari has always touted. Again, it essentially fills some of the gaps between the previous seasons, acting as a celebration of the series of sorts. Nevertheless, the anime contains new content and even focuses on a concept, the concept that has (more or less) carried it all this time: oddities.
The episodes structure themselves in the same way: an oddity of some kind is introduced, Araragi discusses it with a character or two, and the aftermath is revealed. Each oddity relates to a nature-related subject – stone, sand, water, tree, mountain – and so, by extension, they also explore the very nature of oddities at every turn. From their existence to their purpose, Koyomimonogatari at the very least doesn’t forget about its deeper roots insofar as it has some thematic semblance per usual.
The tail end of the eleventh episode and the majority of the twelfth episode (even if the circumstances within that finale are designed to be an oddity in and of themselves) constitute the primer for its sequel season. Meaning, those scenes don’t technically adhere to this season’s structure. Instead, they act as a reminder for the audience. That they’ve had their fun for a little while – and now it’s time to get back to the core of this series.
ART & ANIMATION
True to form, and indeed not needing to deviate from its signature artistry, Koyomimonogatari incorporates much of the same artistic decisions that have driven the series up to this point.
For instance, the camera loves to take really close-up views of the characters’ eyes to the point that the audience can see their emotions or thoughts reflected in their pupils. Fast in-betweens and one-off art styles likewise make a welcome return. Overly expressive mouth and lip movements emphasize certain words and lines for an added bit of engagement. And those neck-breaking head tilts are in full effect when and where appropriate (which realistically means at any given moment).
Scene direction and shot composition remain consistent, too. They often take on weird yet fun traits that engage the audience, complementing the heavier use of dialogue with dynamic cinematography. One example includes Araragi conversing over the phone with Hanekawa as he rock-climbs in his room, and Hanekawa in turn speaks directly into the camera and towards the audience as a sort of intimate moment between both parties.
Stage plays and film watching, both in the middle of everyday life, also push the dynamism along. Not to mention that the anime includes several references to previous locations such as Kaiki’s conman room and the pivotal shrine atop the winding-staircase mountain. These location callbacks bolster the sense of remembrance that goes on within this season even more.
The anime also grants the audience the chance to see some of the characters back in their original designs before the ensuing events morphed them (for better or for worse). Senjougahara with long hair. Shinobu sulking in the corner with a leather helmet on. Nadeko not being a mind-controlled snake devil. Seeing these characters as they were and thinking about how they look now makes reminiscing about them that much easier. An important facet given the nostalgia trip Koyomimonogatari delivers.
This new, shorter season does not aim for anything too flashy or too involved, so it does not “Wow!” in its presentation. But, like the other aspects of the show, watching such familiar visuals over and over and over makes for a comfortable watch without a doubt.
While reiterating now, Koyomimonogatari isn’t a typical iteration in the series. It doesn’t focus on multi-episode arcs which then expound on a particular, notable character of the franchise. Rather, they invite everyone into the fold to give them yet another quick chance in the spotlight.
They take advantage of that time, presenting the best of their personalities, staying true to their characterizations, and reveling in the relationships they share with Araragi. Kanbaru excites over the contrast of her body while hoarding her favorite ecchi books in literal mining caves. Senjougahara looks out for her dear boyfriend but isn’t afraid to tell him to die outright. Shinobu pops into existence and still loves her donuts. Both Karen and Tsukihi interact with their brother in strange ways per usual. And, of course, Hachikuji flubs her lines in as cute a manner as possible.
As for Araragi himself, he remains the same helpful, perverted, and likable weirdo as he has always been. He throws a popcorn party for Nadeko to cheer her up. He “lets” Hanekawa do what she wishes with her own boobs. He dukes it out with Kagenui out of a sense of pride and self-understanding. Although he almost never solves the riddles himself, his involvement and his inquisitiveness not only create the correct solutions but also give the audience the necessary lens in which to view these cases from an outside perspective.
And that’s pretty much it. Koyomimonogatari does not include crazy changes or explore potentially deep arcs when it comes to its cast members. Despite beating a dead horse, this season simply gives the audience the buffet of memorable characters it has built over its lifetime. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else needed.
MUSIC & SOUND
Given the series’ track record and track record, Koyomimonogatari shows up to the arena with an almost unfair advantage.
It quickly becomes apparent why, for, upon each new episode, the audience bounces with giddiness at the prospect of hearing one of the many classic tunes the numerous previous seasons have created up to this point. The show also uses a tactic from its own playbook, selecting the individualized OP from a specific lady’s previous arc as the piece for her specific episode in this season. Whether platinum or circulated, the nostalgia and the fun run rampant as Koyomimonotagari provides more of that series goodness in soundbite form.
Perhaps surprisingly, then, the anime does not leverage the ending tracks from previous installments. Instead, the ED represents a brand-new addition to the series’ musical arsenal. While a passable listen and not a deal-breaker by any means, “whiz” doesn’t make one lose his or her head (like Araragi does) upon hearing it. It’s a cute little song with some nice vocal harmonies, but, when this season is basically one big nostalgia trip, foregoing the complementary-ED angle induces some disappointment.
Besides the many-OP-one-ED combo going on, the same talented voice-acting performances return across the board (and with too many to list or shoutout outright). The show goes so far as to bring back old favorites that the audience maybe hasn’t heard from for quite some time.
Likewise, the same interesting musical choices pop up for comical asides and mysterious happenings. The sound-effects are in tip-top shape per usual as well. Photo-shutter blinks, echo-grainy film narration, and alien-spaceship noises fill the gaps between the VA lines and the music like a familiar and useful adhesive.
In short, the audio design and direction earn a solid thumbs-up.
Even with this tiny compilation, the series continues its trend of delivering a positive, worthwhile experience
I lost count of how many times I exclaimed out loud, “Gosh darn it, Monogatari!” Not because I was upset with the show. Far from it. My words were more about the anime simply being itself to a T at nearly every turn within this season. It didn’t get as strange as Nisemonogatari, and it didn’t get as thematically deep as Tsukimonogatari. However, it found that sweet spot between the two, championing its quirkiness and its musings with its head held high.
With its sense of self intact, I thoroughly liked these vignettes. Senjougahara, Hanekawa, and the other ladies of the series are always a blast to watch, so having a constant turnover of these known and beloved anime characters made for a short, simple treat. Neither amazing nor forgettable but rather a strong detour before the following sequel.
Koyomimonotagari isn’t as relevant as its brethren, but that’s quite all right. Instead, this trip down memory lane includes the past elements which made the series so intriguing, so fun all along. Small mysteries, an engaging artistic direction, cool characters, nostalgic music, and a smattering of entertaining content. Not an odd project whatsoever.
Story: Good, like a high-school reunion where quick asides and tiny thematic ideas make up the catered food and the punchbowl respectively
Art & Animation: Good, a familiar visual suite invites the same sense of weirdness and dynamism, and the resurfacing of old designs allow for chances at reminiscing
Characters: Fine, Araragi and the other ladies of the series act out their known personalities and characterizations without doing or needing to do much else
Music & Sound: Good, the return of notable OPs brings excitement, the VA performances and other audio decisions create more nostalgia, but the new ED is passable at best and a disappointment at worst
Enjoyment: Good, itself to a T
Final Score: 7/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3