Thoughts on the Kizumonogatari Trilogy

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I thought of doing this post with each part individually, but I kind of liked the idea of wrapping it all into one story, seeing as that’s what it is in the end. Doing each part would’ve been too much like episodic thoughts, something I don’t care to add to the overinflated amount of anibloggers already doing so. Of course, splitting them into parts could’ve had me post these thoughts a long time ago, but patience is a virtue and I’ll uphold the standards I would expect from anyone else and more.

Kizumonogatari is the “origin” story surrounding the now vampiric loli, Shinobu, from the parent Monogatari series. It details Araragi’s first encounter with her and Hanekawa, the one who only knows what she knows, in a sort of dual-threat of busty female counterparts. Shinobu has had her limbs stolen from her by vampire hunters, and with the help of Araragi, she wishes to retrieve them to obtain her full power as a vampire. At the same time, Araragi tries to cope with Hanekawa being absurdly considerate of him, seeing as he’s branded himself a friendless loser.

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For fans of the parent Monogatari series: Kizumonogatari is commonplace to the world that author Nisio Isin has already created in past works. The only real strange distinction is that Hanekawa acts far more free-spirited and aloof than she does in other stories. She doesn’t even seem like her own character, really. Aside from so, the story and presentation are the mainstay that make the series fresh and inviting. Beautifully intricate in its detail and creepy imagery, Kizumonogatari is a definitive must-watch for the fans, despite how inconsequential this entire side project sounds in hindsight. In reality, it delves into the character of Shinobu and treats her more like a human being, especially in the third part, as ironic as that sounds. That alone should be enough for a glance.

For non-fans of the parent Monogatari series: there is a little hesitation to recommend this piece if one either hasn’t watched the parent series or didn’t care for it. Lots of dialogue still remains, if one didn’t care for that. Sexually-suggestive situations still arise (and part three has a very aggressive sexual situation present). And while I don’t always agree with the notion, a lot of the fun of these side movies is getting better detail behind the characters than presented in the more broadened counterparts. Within this film, Shinobu gets a lot more attention towards her character than shown in a lot of the Monogatari series, which makes me not want to recommend this first. However, Hanekawa doesn’t even act like her actual character here, which is… also confusing enough to have me not want to recommend it. What I can recommend it for is its kooky nature and semi-serious take on the world of the supernatural, in all of its gory glory.

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What’s more impressive (and noticeably different from the parent series) is the emphasis on the technical aspects of the anime. Animation and sound are very poignant in this three-part piece, more so than I ever remember it being otherwise. Araragi has never belted out screams with his entire god damn body as he does here, which helps to create a tragic(ally whimsical) tone that really suits the series and establishes Araragi’s character. And with animation, well, let’s just say dismemberment during battle sequences have never been more amusing.

But it is also the style of presentation that is somewhat different. Gone are the constant blips of random novel excerpts and scene numbers and transitions. Kizumonogatari is more streamlined in its presentation, not really interrupting the flow of conversation or the visual meat of a scene. The dialogue present is still absurd in its monotonous viewpoint of the supernatural and others’ reactions to it (and other uncomfortable topics), though the presentation of such things are more dedicated to simply that: dialogue. In many cases, the parent story will try to shoehorn in random visuals in an effort to distinguish a scene with… something. Here, it’s rather straightforward, with the more cryptic sequences happening in their own spare time, not in the middle of other scenes. Some may miss that traditional habit, but I really didn’t mind either way.

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Without a doubt the most enjoyable part of this series is that there are very rarely dull moments. What I found to be the least encouraging aspects were the fights Araragi had with the members of the Shinobu-limb-stealing squad—two out of the three being blatantly uninteresting, one-dimensional characters. The fights themselves were somewhat blissful due to their weird comedic aura and animated whimsy, but the context behind the fights made them rather dull. By the end, there really isn’t much to be said about the three antagonists other than that they were in the way. Outside of this, the dialogue between characters, expressive art direction, and symbolic curmudgeon made the experience far more invigorating.

It took me nearly a month to even watch the third part, but the time spent away didn’t dull my excitement even a little. Nisio Isin has a way of making anything sound strangely captivating, even if the events onscreen don’t really match the “epic” atmosphere shuffling in the background. Kizumonogatari is an OVA-style project done in the best way it possibly can: distinguish itself as more than fan fodder and do as much as possible to add appreciation and insight into the characters/story shown in a more major work. I can’t say I know many others that can effectively reciprocate these “guidelines,” but this is a prime example of making the inconsequential seem not so important to a work’s quality.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

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