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Out now on DVD and Blu-ray is the six episode arc of the anime series Monogatari, Koimonogatari, following on from the events of Otorimonogatari.
Koimonogatari picks up a few months after the events of Otorimonogatari. The fourteen year-old girl Nadeko Sengoku has become a snake god and promised not to kill her unrequited love Araragi and his girlfriend Hitagi Sejogahara until graduation. Desperate Sejogahara turns to a man she hates, the brooding con-artist Kaiki to deceive Nadeko into thinking Araragi and Sejogahara have died. Kaiki reluctantly agrees and starts to plan the long game at deceiving the child god.
Otorimonogatari was my introduction into the Monogatari anime series and it was an unhappy experience. It was a very confusing affair, too deep into its own backstory to allow newcomers to access the series, was overly edited, cutting too quickly, and the only saving grace was its animation and a likable protagonist. Koimonogatari was a vast improvement over the previous arc. Some of the same problem still persist, the editing is overdone at times, the subtitles and text sometimes goes by so fast that it is impossible to read, and the arc is overly talky.
Now that I am more accustomed to the series the storyline of Koimonogatari was much easier to follow. There are still characters who appear where you would need prior knowledge and references to events beyond the Otorimonogatrai/Koimonogatari arc. The worst offender is the blue haired Yotsugi who speaks about events in a previous story arc. Despite this most of the story is easy to enough to follow in compared to Otorimonogatari and has a clearer goal in mind.
Kaiki is a typical anti-hero, being much like a film noir detective. He is a character who takes the job of deceiving Nadeko for a promise of ¥3,000,000 despite his reservations. During Kaiki’s mission he acts like an investigator, investigating Nadeko’s life before she changed, receiving messages warning him to stay away from Nadeko and having other characters from the series come to him regarding his mission. As well as the investigation and deception, much of the act focuses on the relationship between Kaiki and Sejogahara, looking at the animosity the young woman has towards the man who is meant to be her survivor: it’s a relationship of necessity for her. Kaiki himself even has the look of a film noir character, dressed in dark suits, has gray tint to his skin and spends much of the arc alone.
The animation for Koimonogatari continues to be of a high standard and has a very surreal, trippy quality to it. While many of the characters are drawn in the traditional anime style it is juxtaposed with a digital art style for the backgrounds or showing Kaiki’s inner-turmoil. Many different art styles are used throughout, using watercolor paintings for the snowy winter screens in Japan and the aforementioned digital look when Kaiki is alone and on sunny Okinawa. Some of the environments are empty, void of people but it could easily be put down to the setting being in the dead of winter. The scenes are still over edited, cutting too quickly and it is during the dialogue scenes where the animation is allowed to shine.
Episode 6 was the highlight arc and it also served as the season finale for the second series. It is what you would want from a season finale, being dramatic as everything that it has been building towards comes to a head, working well as a climax. All the plotlines are resolved and the episode works as an animation spectacle and a character piece.
Koimonagatari is not an arc that newcomers to the Monogatari series will find accessible but it is much more accessible then Otorimonogatari. Newcomers can still be interested in the story and follow the broad brushstrokes even if do get a bit lost with some of the specifics.