Tsukimonogatari: Yotsugi Doll


All things must come to an end.

lvlln avatarShaft really seems to be digging this arc-at-a-time release format, releasing all 4 episodes of Tsukimonogatari in a row on New Year’s Eve, much like they did with Nekomonogatari Black exactly 2 years prior, following them releasing all 5 episodes of Hanamonogatari in a row earlier this year. Which of course raises the question, why not eschew the episodic format for just releasing it as a movie? The way the minds in charge of Shaft work may forever remain a mystery.

Karakuri avatarSo now that Mayoi has passed on, it’s time for another loli character to fill in space in Monogatari. Yotsugi even happens to have twintails too, so it’s perfect.

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Yes, Koyomi’s comment that they would make good figures were in the novel, followed by him saying they should make an alarm clock using “Kitamura‘s and Iguchi‘s voices.” (Click for stitches)

Karakuri// I wasn’t that big of a fan of Hanamonogatari in comparison to S2, since it seemed uneventful (especially since it came after all of that Nadeko Medusa stuff), but the lack of anything immediately important happening was alright here, since Monogatari seems to be heading towards some kind of conclusion. Teori mentioned something about “casting”, and the rest of Tsuki also mentioned something similar, since Koyomi’s vampire-ness manifesting with this timing seemed a little too perfect. Yotsugi also said something about Ougi being the final boss of sorts too, so things seem to be ending. Or if not ending, then at least something important iss going to occur. To be fair to Hanamonogatari, not a lot actually really happened in Tsukimonogatari. As a stand alone story, it definitely isn’t my favourite. However, it seems like a good set up to Owarimonogatari or whatever SHAFT decides to call it when they inevitably animate that part of the story, so I can see the necessity of it in the plot overall. The narrative also seemed a bit less exciting than S2 was. Koyomi is still alright as a character, but after hearing things from the point of view of Hanekawa, Kaiki, or even Kanbaru, this was less exciting. Or maybe I’m just (*gasp!*) losing my fondness of Kamiyan’s voice. No, wait. That can’t possibly be it.

Though despite not a lot happening, Tsukimono had some interesting points too. Aside from the set up towards the end that I’ve already talked about, the series went more into Yotsugi’s character. I wasn’t expecting them to add more harem-ish characters this late in the game. The first season already established the group of girls that surround Koyomi and there weren’t really any new additions past Nisemonogatari (and in that case, Karen and Tsukihi were shown/mentioned previously). Of course, Senjou is the ultimate “winner” of the harem (on a side note, that little “yay!’ she did at the end here was the cutest thing ever), but after having Mayoi, Nadeko and Kanbaru kind of conclusively leave the supernatural side of things, I thought they were kind of getting rid of girls as opposed to adding more. So having Yotsugi stick around was kind of a surprise. …Or maybe that’s the point, since she’s sticking around to try and deviate from the script.

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Our first proper look at full deredere mode Senjougahara since her “introduction” in Nisemonogatari, isn’t it?

lvlln// One thing I enjoy doing with the Monogatari series is looking at the choices Shaft made when adapting the source novels. It’s been clear to me since I read the original Bakemonogatari that the success of the shows has always been based on Shaft’s own contributions in transforming the text into anime rather than the inconsistent and sometimes dull source text itself. Certainly, some novels were great and translated to great anime arcs, which was the case in, say, Kabukimonogatari, but there were just as many that were chores to read but turned into exciting and engaging shows, which was best exemplified by Otorimonogatari.

So now we have Tsukimonogatari “Yotsugi Doll,” the sequel to Koimonogatari “Hitagi End” and putatively the first entry in the 3rd and final “season” of this light novel series (let’s take that “final” with a grain of salt, as the series was said to be done at at least 2 separate points in the past, following Nisemonogatari and Koimonogatari). It was a book that I found a little on the dull side, with inane conversations that dragged on far too long. But the writing had its good parts too, particularly once the plot got going following Koyomi’s discovery in the mirror. It’s just unfortunate that it had to end with such a cryptic cop-out, with Tadatsuru essentially giving up and forfeiting his life only in order to fight his fate.

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Easily one of the most colorful and creative installments in the series yet.

And was Shaft’s performance in converting this book to anime form? In a word, fantastic. I’m not sure where this one would rank among all the arcs in this series, but from purely a production standpoint, this would be #1, easily surpassing Nisemonogatari for that claim. This was a simply gorgeous anime, filled with all the usual cinematographic flair and psychedelic architecture we would expect from this series. More than that, it largely avoided the budget-saving tricks that Shaft usually relies on – the faraway shots, the long static pans – in favor of animating background events or playing with the scenery. You can’t tell me you didn’t crack a smile when you saw Koyomi dancing like Tsukihi in Platinum Disco or didn’t find Shinobu and Yotsugi playing in the snow amusing.

On top of that was a soundtrack that was much improved from Hanamonogatari which had one that was at best forgettable. This one had some overbearing tunes at the beginning, but most of the music was up to the series’s high standards, including a very nice instrumental version of the opening theme during the denouement. I was worried about the music since series composer Satoru Kosaki was replaced with Kei Haneoka starting with Hanamonogatari, and Tsukimonogatari has put my mind at ease. The opening and ending themes were a step up from Hanamonogatari as well, with Yotsugi’s voice actor Saori Hayami singing the adorably catchy “Orange Mint” that fit right in with previous openings (again, despite the lack of Kosaki’s involvement), and ClariS performing the suitably energetic and emotional “Border,” returning to the series after they performed the Nisemonogatari ending theme “Naisho no Hanashi.”

Series opening theme lyricist meg rock returning for this, unlike the composer.

Of course, good production values don’t automatically create a good adaptation. It’s not just about making it beautiful, it’s about exploiting that beauty to tell the story in a beautiful way. To talk about that, let’s start with what the story was all about. The main message here seems to be what Koyomi states outright at the cold open, that this is the beginning of the end of his story. Koyomi’s overuse of the powers he gained after meeting Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade last Spring break has shifted his body far too close to that of a vampire. The consequence being that he can no longer freely step in and out of the world of oddities while maintaining his life as a human. And that’s where Yotsugi comes in as an oddity that is based on a human. But as mentioned in the conversation between Shinobu and Koyomi in the cold open, she’s not able to or trying to become human, she is merely taking the form of a human for the purposes of interacting with them. No matter how human an oddity may look, it exists in a world that is fundamentally apart from the world of humans. That distinction is what Koyomi has come to understand by the end of this arc, and that is what Shaft played on so well with this anime adaptation.

I speak of all the depictions of Yotsugi doing various activities throughout the anime (none of which was in the original novel, of course). From the nearly 7 consecutive minutes (including the opening sequence) of Yotsugi playing and dancing in different settings to start the arc to her making snowmen with Shinobu or by herself, the arc was riddled with such background animations. Through it all, we could see her utterly expressionless face that betrayed not an ounce of emotion as she frolicked on the beach or dodged snowballs. This dissonance consistently drove home the point: she may be doing human-like activities, but she isn’t human. By making use of various conversations to show these images, Shaft delivered the message of the arc’s subtitle “Yotsugi Doll” better than the novel ever did.

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Some fantastically unsettling close ups of Yotsugi.

Which is great, because overall the novel was kind of weak, with the subtitle feeling a bit out of place. Frankly, the overtly meta direction the series is going in is starting to lose me. There’s certainly some potentially interesting stuff here. Ougi made another appearance, accompanied with Yotsugi’s speculation that s/he’s the “final boss” who’s behind the events of season 2 and this arc. And Tadatsuru’s request to Koyomi hinted that for Koyomi to return from the world of oddities back to that of humans, he must restore the “balancer,” i.e. Meme Oshino who’s been gone since the end of Bakemonogatari. But having the villain go “I’m too perfect for this role, so I refuse to partake, so kill me” is as boring as it is baffling.

There’s not much Shaft could have done about that ending without radically changing the story, which isn’t something they’ve shown the penchant for doing with this series. But I think they did as good a job as as one could hope for. The bath scene (which just dragged on and on and on and on in the novel) was absolutely wonderful, reminiscent of one of another unforgettable scene from the series showing the close relationship Koyomi has with his sisters. And even beyond the already mentioned background bits with Yotsugi, the anime was animated very well with some of the most breathtaking and colorful architecture seen in the series yet. I’m also happy with Tsukimonogatari bucking series trends by using the all new ripped paper effect for the flashing text, as well as completely skipping the flashing RED or BLACK frames that used to be so prevalent in the series. Simply put, this is one of Shaft’s best pieces of work in the Monogatari series.

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Tokyo Metropolitan Ordinance!” I just about died laughing here. Not quite as arousingfunny in the novel, for some reason.

Looking ahead, it seems Shaft will be adapting the rest of the novel series, though no dates have been announced yet. Up next is Koyomimonogatari, which contains 12 episodes each with a different subtitle consisting of “Koyomi” followed by some word. I haven’t gotten around to reading that one yet, but I’ll probably see if I can get through it before the anime airs, whenever that may be.

Some more fun:

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One of the best end cards in the series to boot!


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13 Responses to “Tsukimonogatari: Yotsugi Doll”

  1. bobob101 says:

    Honestly, everything in the first episode after the opening song and before the vampire reveal felt completely pointless to me. I sure was fanserviced (those pecs) but I honestly don’t watch Monogatari for the fan service.

    I did like how tadatsuru basically offed himself, which was his own way of not being used. I don’t get why he couldn’t just walk away if he was being used though. Since I can’t read any of the novel, I just wish we at least knew when there would be more up dates to the story. I wouldn’t call this the strongest monogatari story, but it certainly was a joy to watch be animated.

    I dream of the day there is a $100 dollar option to just buy the entire series. As if aniplex would ever allow that to happen

    • lvlln says:

      Honestly, everything in the first episode after the opening song and before the vampire reveal felt completely pointless to me.

      This is how I felt when reading the novel. One thing the anime managed to minimize in this part was Koyomi’s rant about alarm clocks, which went on for pages and pages. I wasn’t too impressed with what Shaft did for that scene, with the overbearing music and the strange overlapping voices, but it was thankfully a lot shorter.

      In anime form, though, I’ll say everything in episode 1 was excellent.

  2. Di Gi Kazune says:


  3. Highway says:

    Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, or at the least ex post facto justification, but I just don’t enjoy much of this series without Hitagi or Tsubasa. Yotsugi might be the 3rd best character, because she was actually a bit interesting to me, but the appearance of every other character in this ranged from meh (Tsukihi) to screen poison (Ougi). It just feels like it devolves into patter that is trying to be more clever than it actually is.

    It’s probably that I just don’t care Nisio’s writing. This one didn’t seem nearly as ‘Shaft-y’, although it’s possible that I just didn’t have time to notice because I spent all my attention trying to read the copious amount of words on the screen at all times. And that’s always been one of my biggest annoyances with this series (for people reading subtitles): If you want to have any clue what’s going on, you have to basically keep your eyes glued to the bottom of the screen, while the rest of the image is fairly shouting for your attention. Maybe people with more interest in it can watch it twice to pick more up, but for me, it’s just annoying.

    • lvlln says:

      It just feels like it devolves into patter that is trying to be more clever than it actually is.

      Nisio seems to like getting into this kind of mode. Katanagatari had a number of moments where he was trying to be too clever for his own good, such as the infamous episode 4, or the backwards talking dude from episode 2. The original was even worse in this regard, with many scenes going on and on, such as the alarm clock monologue or grabbing Yotsugi from the crane game.

      You know, I watch almost every show I blog twice, once to get a general feel, and once to take notes and screenshots. Yes, this means I watched Campione, Familiar of Zero Final, and Madan no Ou to Vanadis 2x each.

      • Highway says:

        Yeah, I do the same, usually three times. And there were some shows like Glasslip, I think episode 11, where I actually watched it the second time the same way I watched it the first time. Most of the time, the second time is while writing, and the third is to take screenshots.

      • JPNIgor says:

        omg… that’s a lot of anime watching…

  4. JPNIgor says:

    I can’t help but like all the artsy stuff that Shaft does with this. And I have to agree, all of it was beautifully done and there was hardly any static shots for the sake of conversation.

    Story-wise, I though it was funny that Yotsugi didn’t make an appearance until half of the episode. I was thinking to myself, why is it called Yotsugi Doll if the focus is mainly on Koyomi, until it came the end.

    I was like, wow. And she emphasized that even though Koyomi said not to do it, she did. She is no doll, dammit.

    And I was weirded out about how they emphasized Koyomi’s relationship with Tsukihi. Is it because she is an oddity? Or is it some kind of foreshadowing?

    Oh, talk about Tsukihi, she was awesome this episode. Her long hair down is much much better than those weird braids (Karen is still weird with short hair). And their bath, the hair-chan and the foam-chan covering for her, and the “it’s not like I’m fondling you part”. Oh, fanservice.

    And poor Tadatsuru. I guess he had the shortest screentime among all characters in this series. And I hyped him so much… My expectations were a little betrayed, kind of like the hard troll that Katanagatari did with Sabi Hakuhei, but smaller.

    Overall, it was not remarkable as a story, since it’s just the beginning of something much bigger. It was remarkable as a standard bar for future Shaft works, because it had so many beautiful moments, I just want to see more of it in their next works.

    And then there’s Kizumonogatari, the movie that will never come…

  5. skylion says:

    I’m somewhat ashamed that I haven’t made a comment before this post went off first page. But, you guys covered this so very well, I cannot add additional.

    But, I do love the beginning of the end. All stories with great value have an end to them, and I’ve always thought this franchise was telling a great story.

    So, is this a metaphor for growing into adulthood?

    • Di Gi Kazune says:

      skylion says:
      January 7, 2015 at 11:00 pm
      POWUH: Meta Team and LOLi Defender with 6730 commentsI’ve looked it up, and that is not a title of any of the LNs….

      Nope, you already did.

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