Category Archives: Nekomonogatari: Black
And so it seems, at least to me, that four episodes of this show can in fact be much more entertaining and effective than twelve episodes of Nisemonogatari. The tone is a lot more consistent overall, and it felt a lot more focused, though obviously that’s probably just due to the length of the series. Although it could be argued that the pacing issues with Nisemonogatari are due to the novel, they could have easily put another one in and trimmed the fat off so it wouldn’t drag on so much. I mean, hell, they’re already doing that with the next series, so surely they could have done it the first time around. Also, this time around they did a much better job with some of the exposition, because before, it’s been a little hard to follow exactly what they’re talking about in some of the faster dialogue-driven scenes. It could be the director and screenwriters are learning how to fit everything in better, or maybe people are just getting better at subbing this crazy-ass show, who knows?
I think that one of the main reasons this series worked so well for me is because when everything is said and done, Hanekawa is just a much more important and interesting character than most of the other girls. While the other arcs with Sengoku, Kanbaru, etc., are entertaining and all, in the end they don’t really have too much effect on the overall storyline or Araragi himself. Even in Nisemonogatari Hachikuji, Kanbaru, and Sengoku served very little purpose other than plot devices. Hanekawa, on the other hand, has been involved with Araragi from the very beggining of the series, and has a much larger influence on him and the story as a whole.
The scene about the moral ambiguity of Hanekawa’s situation at home was certainly rather different, because usually, you’re supposed to assume that any harm done to a supposedly kind character is completely wrong and unjustified. Oshino did a fairly good job at explaining how even things that would be considered horrible are never really black and white, and that there are always different perspectives to see the situation from. But obviously Araragi, didn’t even consider that Hanekawa could be in the wrong, which while may seem closed minded, I see it as more of him saying that to him it doesn’t really mater is she deserved anything that happened to her – that he would automatically side with her no matter what.
While I was kind of expecting some big fight (what, with the eight foot tall katana and everything) on par with the one at the end of Nisemonogatari or the fight with Kanbaru, I wasn’t too disappointed about how it actually played out. I also really liked the somewhat bittersweet ending here. Even though Araragi (well, actually Shinobu) exorcised the Cat from Hanekawa, like Araragi said, everything that’s wrong with Hanekawa’s life will continue to go on, and there isn’t really anything she can do about it. And obviously, she knew it too, due to her willingness to take the Cat back even after dealing with her parents. The entire conversation during this sequence was really interesting, if only for the fact that there is no cut and dry “good ending” to arrive at after it’s all over. Hanekawa will still have to deal with her parents and Araragi’s feelings for her are still a little shaky and unclear. Given that most of the other segments in the Monogatari series end fairly smoothly with everything solved, it was really nice to see something kind of different.
Probably the thing I liked most about this entire series was the expansion on Hanekawa’s and Araragi’s relationship. Considering that they’re technically the two main human characters for the most part, there hasn’t been a whole lot of interaction between them as of yet. It’s very obvious that they both have somewhat of a mutual need for each other, seeing as how at this point, there isn’t really another human they can connect with about the things that have happened to them or their personal problems. Hanekawa, as Oshino said, likely wanted Araragi’s help all along, but wouldn’t ask it do to her nature and personality. In the same way, it took Araragi a while to work out his actual feelings for her and why he had such a strong desire to help her in the first place.
Now, why couldn’t all of Nisemonogatari have been like this, why couldn’t it have been this serious and focused? I know it’s probably due to the source material being like that – after all, none of the major conflicts are really resolved in any way – but still, I felt that a lot of Nisemonogatari was just a little too lighthearted in some parts and didn’t really have as many dark moments as the original series had. Apparently, the director heard my complaints, because this is exactly what I had envisioned the series to be like for the most part. Thankfully the show also kept with a darker tone this episode, and will it’ll probably carry over to the last one as well.
This episode (and this entire series) did a lot to help develop the character of Hanekawa, surprisingly enough, with her even actually being in it. The explanation about her home life was kind of vague and abstract, but it did a good enough job at explaining that it obviously isn’t very good. Although last episode I complained about the show hardly ever actually explaining what the hell the Oddities actually are, what they do, and how they come to exist, this episode actually gave a surprising amount of backstory and depth to what the Curse Cat actually is, how it works, and all that. Also, the “Duality of Man” aspect that it incorporated was actually pretty interesting, as you wouldn’t normally expect someone with the personality of Hanekawa to be a candidate for exploration of that theme. Under most circumstances, she should be to very obvious and noticeable example of the good that exists in people, but as Oshino said, there is no human who is only good. In addition, it makes Hanekawa seem like a much more interesting character now that she isn’t the unshakeable pillar of morality that Araragi clings to most of the time.
Like I said, the scene with Oshino explaining exactly what the Cat is was very well done, and for the first time helped me to fully understand one of the monsters in this series. Also, coming from Kizumonogatari and Bakemonogatari, you kind of picture Oshino as this all-knowing unstoppable force that can pretty much bail Araragi and his friends out of any bad situation, but that obviously isn’t the case here. I think knowing that Oshino can’t really do anything more than Araragi can makes this series feel a lot more serious and pressing, because with pretty much every other problem he’s faced, Araragi has either had him or Shinobu to kind of be a deus ex machina and save the day when he can’t quite pull it off. Now that he can’t do that, the show seems much more interesting.
The final scene in which Araragi talks with the Cat was fine enough, but it seemed like a lot of it went back over what Oshino had already told Araragi before. I feel that this scene in particular, as well as the entirety of the series, if focused a lot more on Araragi’s relationship and attitude towards Hanekawa. Obviously, considering the events of Kizumonogatari and this series, it should normally be fairly obvious that they would be love interests, but the Monogatari series is very odd about the way it goes back and forth on this. The fact that Senjougahara is introduced into the series later doesn’t simplify things, but it would seem at this point that Araragi has much stronger romantic feelings for Hanekawa at this point than he does later on in the series. Also, to it seems that throughout the series Araragi justifies his fondness of Hanekawa to the fact that he feels indebted to her for pretty much saving his life, but I still don’t really know if that’s how he really feels, or if he’s just using that as a way to cover up something deeper.
Well, that didn’t take too long, but after all, it’s probably only going to be another day at the most until the last two episodes are subbed and all that, so expect these rather quickly I guess. Also, just a PSA, if you haven’t read Kizumonogatari, you really probably should do that in order to help you understand some of the stuff that’s going to happen in this series.
With this episode, we actually get into the main story of the show and get to see Hanekawa in all of her catgirl hotness. As I’m sure I’ve said before, the story for this series feels a lot more like Kizumonogatari due to the lack of the other main characters, such as Senjougahara, Kanbaru, etc., and it’s focus on mainly Hanekawa and Araragi (and to an extent Shinobu). This episode also had a decidedly different feel and atmosphere to it than the previous one. This episode was much darker in tone and felt a lot like some of the darker episodes of Bakemonogatari.
Beyond getting to see a small scene explaining Shinobu’s affection for doughnuts, there’s also a bit of explanation about his attitude towards her at the current time. It’s only been a few weeks since everything that happened in Kizumonogatari took place, so this would have obviously been when Shinobu was still not talking to Araragi. But regardless of that (and seeing that she’s one of the only actual characters in the show) they do make an attempt to still let her show some emotion and characterization in this episode and hopefully the rest of the series as well. In my opinion, Shinobu is definitely the best character in the whole Monogatari series, so I’m always up for seeing her get to do some more stuff besides sit around moping the whole time.
The scene with the Cat version of Hanekawa was also done very well, and was obviously very reminiscent of the last few episodes of Bakemonogatari. However, one of the things that kind of irritated me about it (and I guess the whole collective series itself) is that there’s never much of an explanation to exactly what the hell is wrong with Hanekawa. I suppose it could be because of the insane Japaneseness of this show, and these creatures are perfectly normal in the folklore there, but still not really having much of an explanation for some of these things other than “They’re monsters, they do this” is kind of annoying at some times. It’s not as if all things in the series are a complete mystery, as I thought that Kanbaru’s arm and Sengoku’s curse were explained relatively well, but some of the others really leave me scratching my head.
Anyway, I thought the dark nature and tension of the scene worked very well and just got me even more excited for Kizumonogatari as that’s pretty much all that movie could have in it. I do however think that “censoring”, I guess you could call it, of the bodies of Hanekawa’s parents was kind of odd, and took away from the violent nature of the rest of the scene. But I guess never showing a person who isn’t a main character or villian is kind of a staple of the series, so I probably shouldn’t be too surprised by it. It’s also been a long time since I saw some actual gore in anime, so that was definitely and entertaining scene to me.
I guess this is really the first anime series of the new year, so happy 2013 to all. While this technically isn’t really a series, the other three episodes haven’t been subbed yet, so I suppose I’ll just go ahead and do a normal episodic review of the series. But, before too much more, let me attempt to explain this shit show of a chronology this entire series has in an attempt to help those who may not know too much about it, understand exactly what’s going on with all this.
Okay, well the main problem with this is that, if you’re just watching the anime, you still don’t know what the fuck happened in Kizumonogatari, all because Shaft just had to make those Madoka Magica movies first. The way the novels were released makes perfect sense, because you really need to know what happened in Kizumonogatari to completely understand what’s going on in Nise and Neko, or at least actually know who Shinobu and Hanekawa are, respectively. But the anime just really fucked all that up, especially since there still is no definite release date for Kizu.
Anyway, this series takes place between Kizumonogatari and Bakemonogatari, and deals with Hanekawa’s whole cat-demon-spirit thing. Along with Kizumonogatari this is one of the only ones in the series that has a regular linear plot, which is the reason I think that Kizu is the best in the series. There wasn’t a whole lot of that in this episode, but it was a lot better than Nisemonogatari since they don’t have twelve episodes to screw around with this time. Also I guess it’s to be expected, considering that this series was directed by the guy that directed Nisemonogatari (but not Bakemonogatari), but there’s probably going to be a lot of fan-service stuff put in to chew up time and sell more DVD’s.
The first conversation with Tsukihi was all fine and good, considering that most of it actually dealt with the plot of the series instead of just rambling on about nothing and was fairly entertaining for the most part. Also the only fan-servicy part was played up more for humor than to be sexual. The scene with Karen was a lot more…. eh. It obviously had little purpose other than to have some more boobs and ass thrown on the screen for a little while, and the idea of a 15 year old girl coming home and getting naked in the kitchen in front of her brother was pretty unrealistic to say the least (though not a whole lot in this series is realistic, so whatever). The last part of episode, dealing with Hanekawa and her family situation, also deals with the main plot of the series, and if you’ve seen Bakemonogatari, you probably know how that relates to what’s going to happen. However, the seriousness of that part was cut short in a fairly humorous way, which I suppose is to be expected of the Monogatari series.
As you would expect, it’s absurdly obvious that this show was made by Shaft, and at this point you’ll either love that or want to stay as far away from it as possible. Because this is a much shorter series, and in a way is more like a movie, the plot has (hopefully) been streamlined and is so far focusing much more on the main story of the series which is definitely a good thing. There really isn’t a whole lot to say about this show, because by now, you know if you like Monogatari shows or not, and you pretty much know what to expect from most of it.