It’s time for this monster to bow out.
|Oh weekend, why can’t you be three days long? So that for a change I can actually finish the stuff I have planned? >.> Anyways, I’ve been really looking forward to the finale of Nisemonogatari and I’m glad to tag this again with lvlln. This series sure started with a BANG and I can only hope for it to ends in a similar fashion.|
|So time to wrap this series up. Nisemonogatari was the 3rd novel in the Monogatari series by Nisio Isin, and from what I understand, he meant to end the series there. So, even though we’ve yet to see Kizumonogatari in anime form, what we’ve got up ahead could be considered the finale of the entire series.|
My sister the bird.
The episode opens with narration by Shinobu explaining Tsukihi’s oddity. That is, like in the case of Mayoi Snail, she herself is the oddity, a Phoenix-like bird that is immortal that has survived to today by injecting itself into human families and being born as their child. That is, it’s the Araragi mother who was struck by this oddity, not Tsukihi.
Koyomi has taken the still unconscious Tsukihi up to her room and into her bed and is watching guard over the destroyed front door to their house. Karen soon returns, freeing him up to go check up on the younger little sister. After looking at her sleeping face for a bit, he suddenly gives the her a kiss which wakes her, who is naturally furious at having her first kiss stolen. Koyomi just laughs it off and says that he’s glad, because he didn’t feel anything, proving that she’s still his real sister. And even though he wasn’t always her older brother, she always has been and always will be his little sister, no matter what. He tells her to sleep before going back down and making his way to the Eiko cram school. Screw waiting until tomorrow, he’s going to settle things with Kagenui right now. On the way, Shinobu comes out and offers her help, noting that she’s taken a liking to Tsukihi for the Moon “Tsuki” in her name.
“The Sun is my enemy, but the Moon is my friend.”
Koyomi finds Kagenui and Ononogi on the 4th floor, where the desks are still set up as Oshino left them. They’re ready for him… and his vampiric master/servant, Oshino Shinobu, now in teenage form! Seems she took some style cues from Karen, because she’s got her hair in a sideways ponytail and is donning a (donut emblazoned) tracksuit. This pair is now the most powerful we’ve seen them yet (not counting the Kizumonogatari flashbacks). Time to pair up, monster against monster, human against human. Shinobu takes Ononogi down to the 2nd floor where Koyomi fought Suruga in the Suruga Monkey arc of Bakemonogatari, ready to give her a thrashing after hearing the younger demon make some unkind remarks about her age, while Koyomi and Kagenui decide to duke it out right there.
Oshino Shinobu, teenage version! No longer the iron-blooded, hot-blooded, cold-blooded killer of demons and king of demons, but don’t dare underestimate her! Most importantly, get ready for the flood of teenage Shinobu fanart!
The fight doesn’t start immediately, and Kagenui makes conversation, revealing that she learned of Tsukihi through Kaiki and that she, Oshino, and Kaiki are actually old college buddies from the same occult studies circle. Kaiki was always the fake, she always focused on the immortal, but Oshino was always focused on balance and also the most talented.
Once the fighting begins, there’s simply no contest. It’s a good thing that Koyomi can heal, because he is completely overmatched, being thrown and flung around with ease by this demon-like human. Kagenui eventually gets Koyomi on the ground and decides to check up on her familiar who is down 2 floors, with Koyomi in between. Punching the floor right through him, she rides him like an elevator to Shinobu and Ononogi, where the results of the fight are very much the opposite. Shinobu is untouched, while Ononogi is clearly in distress, in tears even.
Shinobu is holding up her end of the bargain, but Koyomi is getting trounced…
…despite all that, he can still stand!
Kagenui opts to take over for Ononogi here, but Shinobu refuses, saying that Koyomi hasn’t lost yet. Indeed, he may need to grab her shoulder just to stand, but he’s still there, ready to take more. Kagenui asks once again how Koyomi could let Tsukihi live on as a fake. Isn’t it unfair to his parents who know nothing of the occult, to his real sister who doesn’t know that she has a fake little sister, and to the fake sister who doesn’t know it herself? Koyomi simply replies that this is allowed, that this secret is something he will bear because it’s his family. This seems to cause something to click in Kagenui; she speaks a bit of a couple old Chinese philosophers and their views on the fundamentally good or evil nature of humans and comments that she just understood the point Kaiki was making about the value of a fake being greater than that of the real thing. She says she will leave managing Tsukihi up to Koyomi and leaves, but not before saying goodbye.
Our triumphant heroes. Notice that, like Hitagi and Karen, teenage Shinobu is taller than Koyomi. Koyomi actually has a bit of a complex about his small height.
Koyomi returns home and goes back to see Tsukihi who is busy pretending to be asleep. He tells her that he was out fighting for her, and she says she’s thankful. He casually mentions to her that he’ll introduce her to his girlfriend (Hitagi, who is shown with her shorter cut and walking in a white dress at a beach) when summer vacation ends (when she returns from vacation in the country with her father), which Tsukihi finds shocking. The series ends as Koyomi leaves to go to his room, commenting that “it’s time for this monster to go to bow out.” But before the credits, we see one “to be continued” card…
After the credits, we are treated to a quick shot of Koyomi walking up to Hitagi on the beach.
The one scene in which Hitagi appears in the Tsukihi Phoenix arc and the only scene of the entire series showing her shorter cut. Koyomi discussed Hitagi extensively in the novel, but as she had no part in the main plot, all that was cut. Even though the TV series is now over, I won’t spoil Hitagi’s character transformations for those who haven’t read it.
Awnn, so less Senjougahara! I wanted moar… I sound like a tsundere-con but after the teasers in the Karen Bee arc, I didn’t expect we would only be seeing a glimpse of her in the Tsukihi arc; however, I do understand that spotlight was not on her but the sisters in Nise. Now, I know that Nisemonogatari was pretty erratic and wordy to say the least. It doesn’t have the polish of Bakemonogatari because NisiOisin just wrote whatever the hell he liked to please his perversion. Of course, the novel was edited and during adaptation a lot of wordiness was taken out but this last episode just seemed to rush by. It’s not that I didn’t like it but SHAFT, you could have done better with balanced pacing because looking at Shinbo’s amazing experiments with Nise, the last episode was pretty anticlimactic. Still, I’m thankful there was no wait-for-a-few-more-weeks-and-we’ll-think-about-releasing-the-last-episode.
Complaints aside, Tsukihi arc conclusion was not so bad. Her room designed as a bird cage was perfect. I’m sure there’s a special design guy in the staff for Nise just as there’s a puzzle guy in Phi Brain; the backgrounds and room decor has been really top notch this season. Tsukihi’s identity was well explained without much holes and I loved her reaction on being kissed with her delirious rage. The Fire Sisters do share lots of rage and even if Koyomi got his butt kicked many a time by his sisters, everything built up nicely to him not much caring even if his Tsukihi was a fake because whatever the facts are, she is still family. That is what you do (I’m a strong believer of this point), and I never expected any less from him. However big a pervert he is, when it’s time to do the right thing, he will go ahead and do it, even if he’s running low on strength. And that is the reason I don’t feel ashamed of actually liking Koyomi even when he’s the biggest hentai of current times. Onizuka might give him a run for his money but still, this half-vampire-human has some interesting values and spunk.
Same sentiments are shared by Shinobu, whose bloodlusty, teenage version of Kiss-Shot was a treat. Isn’t her full name (Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade) too much for your tongue? Really, try saying it and copy back. I’m sure her arrival really makes the fans want Kizumonogatari even more; next year release for us I guess? Look forward to it. Coming to the action, except for Koyomi getting zombified repeatedly by Kagenui (so much glorious blood), I really wanted to see what the hell Shinobu did to Yotsugi “in a posed look.” Aaah, I wish there’s some BD extra with that footage because her posed look sure pissed me off when she called Shinobu oba-san. What surprised me is Oshino Meme’s history with Kagenui and that bastard Kaiki. Imagining them in school together is an assignment in itself but Kaiki being the ring-leader? Facepalm. Overall, I would love it if a Special or OVA was announced but lvlln would know more at least in terms of story if anything’s left for adaptation or not. For the fans, this is not the end and all 10 NisiOisin works will be seeing the light of day. You can follow the news here. I thoroughly enjoyed this series and even with it’s quirks there will always be those borderline erotic moments that pushed the boundaries of what’s right and amazing visual experience that titillated all the senses.
So the much anticipated sequel to Bakemonogatari has come to an end, with a bang followed by a whimper. What did you think of the finale? I was equal parts impressed and disappointed by the way the ending was handled.
Let’s start with the good stuff. I’ve made this point before, but the music was excellent. It has gotten progressively better or at least more noticeably better as the episodes have passed, and this episode had the best music yet. From the instrumental/string version of Platinum Disco that played over Tsukihi’s scenes, the ominous yet excited tune that played as Koyomi prepared for and biked to his showdown with the antagonists, to Kagenui’s theme during her own epic beatdown of Koyomi, all the background pieces both were pleasing to the ears and enhanced their scenes properly.
The visual direction, too, was some of the sharpest in the series. Tsukihi’s reaction to being kissed was both adorable and hilarious, the depiction of the trio of Oshino, Kaiki, and Kagenui during their college days was humorous but fitting, and the beatdown – or at least what we were shown of it – was violent in about the way we’ve come to expect from this series. The lighting was used very well at many scenes, such as the large moon during Koyomi’s conversation with Shinobu while biking, or the shots of the sky during the final confrontation on the 2nd floor.
It’s unfortunate, then, that the poor pacing had to rear its ugly head. This final episode felt rushed, without a proper denouement. That final Shawshank Redemption-ish scene with Koyomi meeting up with Hitagi was not in the novel, and that felt like a last ditch effort by Shaft to make up for the lack of a proper ending. The novel didn’t end any better, but, as I always say, it’s the adapting director’s job to make the work fit the new medium, which can often mean making very large and significant changes, or even making scenes up from scratch. A true denouement instead of this rather limp effort would have gone a long way.
Now, Shinbo didn’t play it closely to the original work at times this episode, and unfortunately these were changes I found disappointing. For one, the entire first half of the fight with Kagenui was cut. This was also easily the most violent portion of the fight – Koyomi lost one leg from the knee down, his entire jaw, and one entire arm in this sequence – and I felt that what was left over didn’t adequately convey Kagenui’s sadism. Furthermore, the reliance on RED cards instead of proper animation – reminiscent of the TV version of Nadeko Snake part 2 – took away some more of the impact of the fight. Again, it felt rushed, and it makes me wonder why Shaft went with the unorthodox 11 episode length instead of the standard 12 it could’ve used.
Other parts that were cut were not missed:
- Karen initially didn’t let Koyomi leave the house, because he had ordered her not to let anyone through. When he came home from fighting Kagenui, he found her arguing with their parents, preventing them from entering because of Koyomi’s order.
- Do you think Koyomi just came home in those clothes completely wrecked by Kagenui? Of course not; before Koyomi sucked his blood back from her to return her to her loli size, Shinobu used her vampiric magic to form new clothing for him. She actually had a lot of fun with this, treating him like a doll and forcing him to try on gaudy things.
- Karen mentioned playing basketball with Suruga – a sport that the former star is naturally still quite good at. However, Suruga was not so good at rocks paper scissors, a clear reference to her bad luck while playing Hanafuda in episode 3 and possibly foreshadowing for Hanamonogatari “Suruga Devil.”
- Kagenui mentioned that it was actually Kaiki who gave Ononoki the name “Ononoki” (while Kagenui gave her the “Yotsugi” part), and the “ki” in both Kaiki and Ononoki are the same character.
But what did you think of the actual resolution of the arc? Certainly it must have come as a surprise to many, Kagenui bowing out of the fight after hearing some pretty words from Koyomi, a scene very reminiscent of Koyomi’s fight against Karen in the climax of her arc. I admit to being a little bit befuddled when this came during my reading, because I had been looking forward to a fight between Shinobu and Kagenui to follow up what was definitely the most violent part of any of the first 3 novels of the series. It came down to Kagenui learning the value of selfishness that both Kaiki and Koyomi like to harp on so much. Though she always saw herself as a friend of justice and champion of “real” over “fake,” it took seeing Koyomi’s familial love for his “fake” sister for her to learn the value of fighting for what you want instead of what is right.
A fitting conclusion to this series about cynicism, perhaps, though not awfully climactic. I won’t pretend to know anything about the philosophers she name-dropped, but I’m not at all surprised that Nisio wanted to discuss the ideas of “theory of fundamental good” and “theory of fundamental evil.” Not that the Monogatari series has been known for climactic endings, of course; no arc resolution has come with much fanfare, and a few of them, such as Nadeko Snake and Tsubasa Cat, ended on down notes, the resolution being the acceptance that there can be no (easy) resolution. Kagenui handing over responsibility to Koyomi – who, teamed up with Shinobu, is more and more taking on Oshino Meme’s role – worked well enough. The beauty to Bakemonogatari’s ending, though, was in its denouement, the high schoolers’ exploration of the Eiko cram school followed by Koyomi’s closing lines ending with “our class is doing a haunted house,” and, again, that part of Nisemonogatari was rather lacking. There wasn’t proper context for the scene of Koyomi going to meet Hitagi.
I’ve got a lot of thoughts floating around in my head, and it will take some time to sort everything out. Meanwhile, why not check out this post on Chaostangent (Confession time: I think John Noel is far and away the best writer in any anime blog)? For now, let me write the easiest, most obvious thought that comes to mind: the Monogatari series is a collaboration between very talented people.
I don’t mean Akiyuki Shinbo or Isin Nisio – though I would certainly consider the former to be a top level director despite his inconsistencies – but all the people responsible for the little things.
Let’s start at the beginning, with the opening sequences. Shaft is obviously notorious for these, and they went all out here, preparing 5 (7 counting the variations on Renai Circulation and Sugar Sweet Nightmare) for Bakemonogatari and 3 (4 counting the 2 versions of Hitagi’s) for Nisemonogatari. There was significant talent behind the songs, lyrics written by meg rock (you might know her as the lyricist of Sorairo Days, Happily Ever After, and Namida no Tane, Egao no Hana from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, as well as Be Your Girl from Elfen Lied, among many many other works) and composed by Satoru Kousaki (background music for the Haruhi franchise, Kannagi, OreImo). Kousaki deserves praise for composing 8 different songs using 4 or 5 different styles of music, while also making sure that the songs shared a musical thread and sounded like they came from the same place. The weakest link, in fact, were the singers, who, despite having experience singing professionally, were certainly voice actors first, and I’m sure Autotune had to be used liberally in some cases.
But as voice actors, what talent! Back in 2009 when Bakemonogatari was released, Emiri Katou might have been the smallest name among the heroines, though even she had Lucky Star under her belt by that point. Chiwa Saito, Miyuki Sawashiro, Yui Horie, Hiroshi Kamiya, all were bonafide big names in the industry who could and have supported entire series as leads. And can’t forget Kana Hanazawa who, though not as experienced as those mentioned before, certainly was well on her way to the relative stardom she enjoys now. And Nisemonogatari tacked on Eri Kitamura, Yuka Iguchi, and Ryoko Shiraishi, big names all 3. Oh, and a certain someone named Maaya Sakamoto as well, whom I consider to be the number one talent among anime voice actors.
And to end it, of course, each series had an ending theme composed by ryo/supercell, illustrated by Hajime Ueda, and sung by excellent singers, Yanagi Nagi for Bakemonogatari and ClariS for Nisemonogatari. At this point, supercell needs no introduction, but I can say that it shot up my list of favorite artists pretty quickly after Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari. And though I’m no huge fan of ClariS, Naisho no Hanashi proved to be a good follow up. Hajime Ueda isn’t such a well known name, but he might be most famous as the illustrator of the manga adaptation of FLCL, and his unique aesthetic of sharp angles and thick lines on his characters was consistently pleasing to look at.
Maybe what this Fake Story has to teach us is that, sometimes, when you get a bunch of people who are the real deal working together, you end up with something truly great.
And this also marks the end of the first series I’ve blogged here at Metanorn. Did you enjoy reading these posts as much as I did writing them? What did you think of our 2 non-episodic posts, on the ending sequence and a translation of Nisio’s author’s comments on Karen Bee? I sincerely thank everyone who took the time to read them and doubly to those with whom I’ve interacted in the comments sections. Looking ahead, we’ve got Kizumonogatari “Koyomi Vamp,” the prequel to Bakemonogatari, coming out later this year which means likely we in the Western world will have access to it some time in 2013. That one is most different from the other 2 of the 1st 3 novels. If you ever wondered about Koyomi’s views on friendship or how his views on the relationships between demons and humans was shaped, or if you’re a fan of Hanekawa Tsubasa, Shinobu, or Oshino Meme, there will be plenty for you to like in this one.
If you’re curious about the sequel to Nisemonogatari, Nekomonogatari (Cat Story), you can find canon_rap translating part 2 of that – “Tsubasa Tiger,” though part 1 – “Tsubasa Family” – has yet to be translated. But don’t think that Metanorn’s coverage of the Monogatari series is over for now, because we’ve got some more stuff coming down the pipe!
“Then allow me to say what that man never would: farewell.”