Review/discussion about: Owarimonogatari 2nd Season
I’m not much of a driver myself.
I have a license, and I know how to drive, but I much prefer using my own two legs for some nice exercise or Uber for a new-age taxi. As such, whether my destination is the grocery store or the nearby local mall, a car rarely enters the equation for me.
Sooner or later, self-driving cars will take over the road, and I will not have to even think about driving whatsoever (since the vehicle will do everything anyway). Owarimonogatari 2nd Season also drives itself, too. Neither towards groceries nor knickknacks but rather towards storied anime success.
The first Owarimonogatari season stands as one of the best entries in the entire series, what with its higher emphasis on a spooky new character, its symmetrical leanings, and its strong themes. So, with the sequel now upon the masses, how does the continuation carry the torch?
To get everything aflame, the anime moves forward with its usual approach of distinct arcs within a single run. Three in total create this sprint: Mayoi Hell (two episodes), Hitagi Rendezvous (two episodes), and Ougi Dark (three episodes). Mayoi Hell finds Araragi literally dead and alongside Hachikuji once again. Hitagi Rendezvous is less formal than the wording suggests insofar as Araragi meets up with Senjougahara for a much-needed date. Ougi Dark brings Gaen and the gang together to talk about the mysterious Ougi Oshino herself.
Where the latest-released installment before this one (Koyomimonogatari) took a brief pitstop for an extra dosage of fun, these next few arcs get back on the plot track. Not to say that they ditch the silliness outright, though. For example, Mayoi Hell serves the narrative purpose of stripping Araragi of a key feature of his but also gives the audience one of the best Hachikuji “I fwubbed!” performances ever. Hitagi Rendezvous progresses the relationship between the crab and the pervert one more step while also providing the saucy quips from Senjougahara that have been absent for far too long. And Ougi Dark reveals the actual identity of Ougi and makes Ononoki succumb to the lighthearted-yet-unfortunate end of Tsukihi’s and Shinobu’s handling.
In other words, Owarimonogatari 2nd Season remains just as similar to the rest of its family in its structure and direction. The same applies for its thematic roots, too. This time, the anime discusses what it means to do the right thing versus the right thing.
It pops up in each arc with Araragi in some manner. He helps Hachikuji when he possibly shouldn’t. He competes with Senjougahara in a romantic rivalry. He goes above and beyond for Ougi. Moreover, the show challenges the concept of “right” itself, forcing Araragi to think about this word given who he is, what he is doing, and why he is worrying about it in the first place. While not the most profound setup imaginable, this theme still allows for that thoughtful edge that the series keeps tucked away behind the mystery and the comedy it regularly touts.
Not everything goes right, though. Truth be told, the actual events and plot in general do not have as much weight or as much engagement when compared to the past. A particularly built-up moment involving a certain someone comes to mind when it comes and goes without a whole lot of fanfare befitting the moment.
Nevertheless, Owarimonogatari 2nd Season remains a solid “conclusion” to this series. Witty wordplay, cultural knowledge, cool ideologies, interesting twists. That is to say, it’s tough to hate on such a robust story.
ART & ANIMATION
Not much else can be said about the visuals within Owarimonogatari 2nd Season that hasn’t been said already.
This far into the series, the show has its visual direction and signature flair basically down to a science. Tons of different styles, colors, shapes, perspectives, and cuts. Fun and personality-filled character designs of both an old and new nature. Quick scenes of high-quality animation. Head tilts. It’s all there once again to stare at and appreciate in all its splendor.
Some shout-outs are still in order, though. The callbacks to the “scraggly” style of the opening and ending tracks as Araragi traverses the underworld with Hachikuji were a nice touch.
Plus, the fact that Ougi delivers a bunch of metaphors within Araragi’s dream by using the known constellations as a replacement for the planetarium he and Senjougahara slept through made for a neat moment, too.
And showcasing a game of cricket (with cake and tea time to boot) to keep stimuli high during a long-winded explanation also deserves recognition for, as always, refusing to let the conversations stagnate on a cinematic level.
In short, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
This series has almost always been home to a wide range of characters. Some seasons will contain a large handful to choose from, and some seasons will instead keep the focus on just one person in particular. For Owarimonogatari 2nd Season, it goes mostly with the latter, giving nearly all the attention to Araragi.
Not to dismiss them outright, the supporting cast do have their opportunities throughout this specific season, too. Hachikuji earns herself a much more fitting, much more deified position despite her stature and her snail-driven background. Senjougahara gets “put in her place” per se as she learns to lose like a champ. And Ougi becomes humanized after his ending goes down a different route than even he could have predicted (and, in the process, revealing his official gender if the previous pronouns have not done so already).
Yet Owarimonogatari 2nd Season, much like the first season which predates it, puts Araragi in that limelight. For a show which prioritizes (for the most part) everybody else but him, this infrequent look into the main protagonist turns into a special occasion of sorts.
Araragi has pretty much been a man of questionable morals yet an honorable guy who cares deeply for the people close to him. However, he brings up several of the significant events which have affected him over the course of this myriad set of tales, signaling how he understands that this bizarre journey of his has impacted his life in ways unforeseen. The audience thinks about his progress in turn. What has improved for him, how his failures have shaped his course.
He’s clearly been through a lot, and this season adds to this fact. His conversations with Hachikuji have him reflect on the choices he has made up to this point and whether he would perform the same ones again if given the chance. His date with Senjougahara has him growing closer to her with “vows” the two share together. And his final talk with Ougi has him looking inwards at himself about who he really happens to be.
These moments, combined with his imminent graduation from high school into college and therefore pre-adulthood, find Araragi overcoming his adolescence. He had naturally been moving towards maturity as he became studious once again in school and thought about others before himself these past several months. But, here in Owarimonogatari 2nd Season, a last solid push pushes him onto that side with nary a trouble.
This season has also reaffirms an idea arguably much more important and much more intriguing: that not everything about Araragi (or anyone for that matter) must be fixed or changed or redone.
In real life, mundane issues or traumatic happenings can drastically morph people, but this situation is not always the case. Just because someone comes upon a new perspective does not mean that his or her entire personality flips or that he or she undergoes a physical transformation. Often, they remain mostly the same yet gain a newfound idea, outlook, or lesson that will be carried with them indefinitely.
The same applies for characters in anime, and Araragi here in this season of the franchise represents a prime example. His maturity does not equate to him ditching his old self. Rather, he realizes that he can still be who he has always been – a vampire who cannot help but help others – while simultaneously increasing his position in life by absorbing the experiences he faces.
So, yes, Araragi does not “develop” writing-wise to any grand extent. But, because of his dedication to maintain both his past and his future, he finishes up this season as a strong contender for the fact that a character does not need to necessarily change to have a meaningful purpose in the story told.
MUSIC & SOUND
(Note: The second OP for Owarimonogatari 2nd Season, “dreamy date drive”, did not air as part of the televised broadcast. Because this review analyzes that version and not the BD version, said song will not be included in this deliberation. However, personally speaking, I do like the dreamy vibe and the POV visuals of the track. It’s a fitting piece for the romantic bond between Senjougahara and Araragi.)
Much like its artistic brethren, the audio decisions within Owarimonogatari 2nd Season can speak and play for themselves. Impressive voice-acting performances which make the characters feel alive. The same strong, ambient original soundtrack. A multitude of sound-design elements for added flair. What’s tried-and-true remains so in this season without a doubt.
The only major differences are (perhaps obviously) the new opening tracks and the new ending track.
The first OP, titled “terminal terminal”, channels Hachikuji’s cuteness in song form. It blends together many instruments – piano keys, castanets, bells, trumpets, acoustic guitar, chimes – for a happy, fun foundation, and her vocals throughout (especially on the timing of the distinct triplet of notes at certain points) give it the adorable charm which follows the lovable snail around. Its tone somewhat contrasts with the story arc which it precedes, but that provides it even more staying power when watching the show.
The second OP, titled “dark cherry mystery”, combines hip-hop beats and string segments to get at a mellow-yet-charged track to helm the way for the finale of the season. The snapping and clapping in the background give the song a smoother feel, and the perceived repetition in the vocal delivery has a hypnotizing effect to it while listening. Both sides complement the harsher sounds of the record scratching, the drowned-out instruments, and the fluttering sound-effects. It isn’t as nuanced of a song as the other OP, and it isn’t as interesting either, but it still has a nice place within Owarimonogatari 2nd Season.
As for the ED, titled “SHIORI”, its piano melodies, grander sound, and multiple vocalists create an airy, heartfelt closing for this iteration of the anime. It’s a pretty song, so it has a feelgood vibe, but it doesn’t quite leave as much of an impression as its counterparts.
Altogether, this season hardly falters in terms of its audio, and its OP-ED offerings, while not the most memorable, still stand as strong additions to the already huge number of specialized tracks available from this long-standing franchise.
Once again, this project reels me in and has me liking most of what it dishes out.
It was extremely nice to have Senjougahara back into the fold, and so her whole arc ended up being the most fun for me. The teasing. The reactions. The silliness. The kindness. The romance. It was a pure treat to hear her and see her have some deserved focus once again.
Hachikuji, Tsukihi, and Ononoki were hilarious per usual as well, and seeing Shinobu in her adult form made for quite the spectacle. Ougi’s asides kept me captivated, too, which is often the point. And I even appreciated Hanekawa’s small appearance near the last several minutes since she is one of my favorites from the anime overall.
Compared to the first season, key differences stir up my personal attachment. The lack of any new characters was unfortunate, but Ougi finally losing per se provided some satisfying comeuppance. Gaen still gets on my nerves, but she wasn’t as annoying this time around. And each arc did not reach the same level of critical analysis to indulge in, but they came off as consistently entertaining rather than rising and falling throughout. So, like last time, while I cannot say I adore this sequel, it has its merits for sure.
I will have a bone to pick with the series sooner rather than later, should it choose not to conclusively end (after all, this season is translated literally as “End Story”). But that’ll be a discussion for another day. For now, the series stamps in yet another positive experience in its record books.
Owarimonogatari 2nd Season makes for a super-swell follow-up within this famous franchise. The artistry and the music keep the same signature structure (and rightfully so), leading to refined production values. The story content also remains familiar and thematic even if the plot itself is not quite as engaging as usual. And the returned focus on Araragi, with the smattering of supporting cast members here and there, leads to a neat finish for his arc. The total package isn’t the best that the series has to offer, but it certainly drives home the fact that its juggernaut status is just as deserved as always.
Story: Good, despite the passable narrative moments, themes on doing the right thing take hold as the mystery, the comedy, and the dialogue within each worthwhile arc keep a similar stance as others in the family
Art & Animation: Great, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
Characters: Good, Araragi demonstrates that a character does not require “development” to be meaningful
Music & Sound: Good, the same impressive audio design is welcomed back, and the new OP-ED offerings, while not too memorable, have their place
Enjoyment: Good, consistently entertaining even if not the most stellar entry in the series
Final Score: 8/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3