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Otorimonogatari is now out on DVD and Blu-ray, telling the four episode arc “Nadeko Mendusa” from the Anime series Monogatari.
Nadeko Sengoku is a 14-year-old Junior High School student. She is a very quiet, shy and reserved girl who just wants to carry on with school. But she suffers from seeing imagines of a white snake, a deity known as Kuchinawa, who demands she atones for killing a snake creature.
Confession time, I went into this four episode without seeing any episodes of Monogatari: going in blind and being without context of the characters and story. This leads to a very confusing experience – going in without background knowledge as to what is happening.
Despite going into this anime series at a random interval, Otorimonogatari is still a problematic series/story arc. The series does not engage new viewers, telling the audience nothing about past events that could let newcomers in. The first episode of this arc is the worst, starting with a bookend for it all and when the story starts proper, it talks about events with presumed knowledge, like Nadeko’s previous experience with the snakes and a scam involving magical charms.
Otorimonogatari also suffers from some bizarre stylistic choices. The animation is overeditted, cutting from different angles every few seconds, being very distracting. It seemed like the animators and director wanted to showcase as much animation as possible, but instead end up working to the animation’s detriment – not allowing us to soak in the beauty and detail. Otorimonogatari also uses quick moments of text to show the thoughts in Nadeko’s head, but there is a large amount of text in both Japanese and English and it only flashes on the screen for half a second, so there is no chance to read it, especially when Nadeko is narrating.
Otoimonogatari is a problematic arc as a story and stylistically, but one positive is the character of Nadeko herself. She was a well drawn-out, relatable character as the meek, awkward teenage girl. Despite the fantasy setting she felt very believable as she suffers real issues of depression and self-esteem about her looks.
The other major positive of the series is the animation itself. When you are given a chance to behold it the animation it is absolutely beautiful, especially with the use of white for Kuchinawa and other snakes and in the background as Nadeko suffers from her angst. The use of white is striking as Nadeko suffers physically and mentally. The action too is solid, it is believable yet very gory for fans of that sort of thing: it is very visceral. There are also some eye-catching use of silhouettes of a snake appearing of a colored background.
Otorimonogatari does have some strengths due to its main protagonist and the excellent animation when we are given a chance to see it. But due to its narrative issues and over stylization, this arc can only be recommended to fans and not newcomers to Anime or the series as a whole.