I am always welcome for a -monogatari fix. I can never get enough of SHAFT’s most famous work (or at least, second to Madoka), and any announcement of a new adaptation of Nisio Isin’s light novels makes me jump for joy. Come to think of it, season two of Bakemonogatari (my personal favorite from all the anime adaptations so far) called Monogatari Series Second Season will be released in July. Guess who’s going to be covering it? But today, we’ll be focusing on Nekomonogatari Kuro - it’s been considered to be like a movie, but I’ve resorted to spending my nights watching it in chunks. I’ll cover the first half of it in this post, and the next will be right around the corner. Hopefully, it’ll rest your mind from extensive reading.
Episode One, which is the first quarter of the “movie,” is mostly just dialogue. Araragi spends about three-quarters of the episode with his sister, discussing his apparent love/lust for a girl in his class. Assuming that you’re familiar with Bakemonogatari, which you should be if you’ve managed to get your hands on Nekomonogatari, then it’s not too difficult to know that the “H-san” he’s talking about is Hanekawa Tsubasa, the main focus of this installment. This is where things lapse into true Nisio Isin fashion, with rapid-fire puns and oddly deep discussions. If you get bored, the camera angles and flashing scenery will entertain for sure, but what’s a -monogatari adaptation without it’s handful of fan service? No installment is safe from Araragi’s boob-grabbing or panty-shots, and though it’s honestly disturbing to see his sisters acting so promiscuously, I hope you fanboys are happy.
Araragi’s meeting with Hanekawa is a different story. It starts out tentative, then Araragi goes ahead and flips her skirt. Smooth move, dude. Though I never really did like Hanekawa as a character (Senjougahara will forever be my favorite), I was surprised to see how likable and pleasant she was in Nekomonogatari. Then again, this was before whatever happened in Golden Week, so she might have changed since then. The way she talks about her parent’s abuse of her is so realistic that I almost believed her cover story – that piece of dialogue was likely the most poignant in the whole episode, because after that, things relapse back into Araragi’s teenage boy humor and the rest of the episode is spent with him trying to think of something for her to do. Honestly, I thought he wanted to grope her, so I was rather delightfully surprised when he decided to heal her instead.
I enjoyed the second episode more, partially because of the return of our little sweetheart, Shinobu, and partially because there was a lot more action in general. Surely, you must have remembered that moment in Nisemonogatari where Araragi takes Shinobu out for doughnuts, no? Apparently, this is where it all stems from – it’s kind of strange to start understanding past actions from earlier seasons in a current season. In fact, it’s just incredibly strange to have the prequel as the sequel, but I guess that’s where Nisio Isin’s genius plays in. Even so, having Shinobu revert back to a silent, brooding character after having her being so talkative in Nisemonogatari is a different feeling. I’m looking forward to hearing her voice again, that’s for sure.
I remember watching Bakemonogatari and having a passionate hatred for Black Hanekawa (though she isn’t called that in Nekomonogatari), most because I didn’t particularly enjoy her arc, and second of all, because there was a love rival for Senjougahara. Yes, everything revolves back to Senjougahara. However, I found Black Hanekawa, much like original Hanekawa herself, to be much more enjoyable to watch this time around. I think it’s because knowing what happens in Bakemonogatari, one has a certain set of expectations, or perhaps, dreaded outcomes, and when you find these expectations to not be fulfilled, you become pleasantly surprised. I think watching Araragi’s arm get torn off was much more interesting than it was supposed to be – it brings back memories of the fight scene against Suruga’s demon monkey.