After surviving a vampire attack, Koyomi Araragi notices that his friend and savior, Tsubasa Hanekawa, has been acting strange. When he happens to cross paths with her on his way to a bookstore and sees she has a bandage on her face, he knows something must definitely be wrong. Araragi wants to help her, but Hanekawa assures him that her wound is just something she received at home and that he should not concern himself with it. But when a white cat with no tail is hit and killed by a car, the pair bury the creature and the real trouble begins.
When Araragi later pays a visit to his friend Meme Oshino and recounts the day's events, he is informed what they have buried is actually an apparition, one perfect for Hanekawa in her current state. Tasked with finding his friend to confirm her safety, he discovers that she has attacked her parents, possessed by the "Sawari Neko." Now, it is up to Araragi to help Hanekawa as she once helped him.
Nekomonogatari: Kuro is the third adapted installment of the Monogatari series, an array of light novels written by Nisio Isin. It serves as a precursor to Bakemonogatari and features Tsubasa Hanekawa during the events of Golden Week, in which she becomes possessed by a neko (translated as "cat") and indiscriminately attacks people on the street to relieve her built-up stress. Viewers of Bakemonogatari may recall references and flashbacks to this incident particularly in the Tsubasa Cat arc, and here we finally see it divulged in detail.
Now coming from the markedly huge success of both Bakemonogatari and the controversial Nisemonogatari, fans may likely enter this third
installment with a few qualms. After all, Nisemonogatari occasionally acted like a completely different series than its predecessor Bake, with the most divisive issue being its more prolific fanservice. And now viewers are left wondering whether Nekomonogatari will continue the footsteps of Nise or tread back towards the more "conventional" success from Bake (well, at least more conventional than Nise). The result?
A mixed oddity.
Structurally, Nekomonogatari is like a bizarre child born from a vile yet oddly alluring incest between Bake and Nisemonogatari. It takes the most successful aspects of both series and tries to mash them into its own masterful direction. But the end result is less a full-on masterpiece than an overall great but not perfect special: Neko thrives and yet occasionally suffers from the very compiled aspects it relies on.
On a holistic level, the story follows Bakemonogatari's arc formula quite closely. It starts off—much like a visual novel or eroge—with several cameos of the "see girl then talk to girl" type. Here, it stays light-hearted in its comedy while tossing in some witty dialogue between our sexually frustrated Araragi and one of Nekomonogatari's several supporting characters. The overarching mystery is then introduced, some character development and macrabre-like drama ensues, a solution is finally realized, and the status quo is achieved again.
While this formula is nothing new coming from the five alike arcs in Bakemonogatari, it is nonetheless executed in a well-woven and highly enjoyable manner. Really, this alikeness to Bakemonogatari is actually one of Neko's strengths, as it keeps the plot structure fresh and interesting coming from the slower and more casual pace of its predecessor Nisemonogatari. Even the sudden, fast-paced action scenes involving some form of an Araragi massacre continue to be outlandishly eye-gripping and exciting, not only in its sudden change of pace coming from the heavy dialogue, but also in its vivid detail and fluid animation. It is no exaggeration that these extremely gory scenes keep viewers on their toes and high on the suspense, even if these scenes are just part of the arc formula to reach the end conclusion. After all, being the subject of mutilation is Ararararagi-kun's modus operandi, a lose to win scenario, and he certainly doesn't disappoint in being the best loser there is (I'm bad at puns).
Now aside from the story structure, what the Monogatari series truly shines in is its engaging, witty dialogue. Nekomonogatari is certainly no sloucher, as it touts some of the best soliloquys in the series and continues to make great use of its art direction in keeping the dialogue-heavy script truly captivating. Regarding the subject of much of the dialogue itself, Nekomonogatari acts more like Nise in employing a raunchier perversion and boning up the sexual tension to the largest tip. This isn't to say in contrast that Bakemonogatari is the Virgin Mary of anime, but the sexual undertones and fanservice in Bake is arguably done in a more playful and "intellectual" manner, though it still has its fair share of ecchi(-ish?) slapstick comedy and deadpan humor.
This brings us to the most controversial topic in the series—fanservice.
Whether you may be in the "too much" or "too little" category, there is no doubt that the Monogatari series lives by its unique art direction, strong characters, and witty, often sexually charged dialogue. All of these elements, including fanservice, are just as frequent in Neko as they were in Nise, and whether it's discussing porn and fondling breasts with your sister or licking desks and gaping at a scantily clad Hanekawa-nyan, Nekomonogatari does not hold back on its fanservice—for better or worse.
However, there is a lot to be said about the source material here. This four-episode series stays pretty true to the light novel it adapts to, and does quite a good job at condensing the entire novel into only 96 minutes. That said, the fanservice could have been a lot more prevalent given the elaborate detail and flamboyant panache of the novel (where's our 2-page rant on Tsukihi's pantsu??). Personally, I find the occasional subtle fanservice more enjoyable than the crude masturbatory imagery done in most fanservice-inducing series or specials; and in this respect, I think Neko does a decent job at providing enough fanservice to stay true to the novel and pander to fans, but not so much that it completely bars one from enjoying the story or characters.
Character development-wise, the story explores Araragi's love for Hanekawa in great detail, as he questions whether his newfound love is one based on romance or one based on lust. There is certainly a plethora of great analysis here given Neko's connection to Bake and Nisemonogatari. For one, we have a clear juxtaposition between Araragi's relationship with Hanekawa and his relationship with Senjougahara. In Neko, for instance, Araragi discusses Hanekawa's cat problem with Oshino, and Araragi promptly asserts, "Only she can save herself." And yet in early Bake, Araragi discusses Senjougahara's crab problem with Oshino, and it is not Araragi but Oshino who spouts the very same line. Is Araragi perhaps more willing to save Senjougahara than Hanekawa? More interestingly enough, this becomes ironically subverted: Senjougahara essentially overcomes her crab problem by her conviction alone, while Hanekawa overcomes her cat problem not by her own will, but by direct intervention from Araragi himself (well, technically it was Shinobu but you get the point).
Hanekawa's development alone is also quite strong, though little can be said without spoilers. In a very early scene where Hanekawa explains to Araragi why her step-father hit her, she undermines herself in her step-father's defense, saying that she was a "seventeen-year old that speaks like she knows everything," a subversion of her very well-known catchphrase, "I don't know everything, I just know what I know." Ah, what a woman.
Other supporting characters get a fair amount of detail as well. While Nekomonogatari features a smaller supporting cast (for continuity's sake), this is actually quite convenient given the limited 96 minutes, as Neko doesn't have to deal with adding short fanservice cameos to every single character in existence. This isn't to say that Nekomonogatari doesn't suffer from this problem however, as Karen makes an awfully short cameo with a small role in the story and a big role in the fanservice.
At the very least, however, the rest of the supporting cast get their just deserts. We get some much needed interaction with Tsukihi, who was largely lacking in Nisemonogatari as her sister Karen took up almost all the spotlight—even in Tsukihi's own arc! Oshino also makes a few great cameos in Neko, and it's interesting to see his character again considering the discussion surrounding his philosophy from Nise's finale. And perhaps an even more vital character, Shinobu gets a good deal of much needed air time as well. With her intimidating yet all the more cute capriciousness, she continues to be the looming lolicon vampire guardian that we've all come to love from the past two seasons, possibly the most fleshed-out character of the supporting cast. While she still hasn't gotten the attention she deserves as a prospective main lead, it will certainly be interesting how her role will play out in the events of Kizumonogatari.
Animation-wise, SHAFT artwork in general has always been controversial. Some consider it a beautifully original direction while others consider it an expensive slide show. Nekomonogatari is certainly no different than its predecessors in its production quality. As such, we get a fair share of one-liner screen slides, SHAFT head tilts, eye-cropped shots, and outrageously comical blown-up views to make the current situation more over the top than it already is. The series can immediately shift from cheaply made 5-second-long stills to the most beautifully hand-animated artworks in existence, taking the "sudden shift in art style" trope to the utter extreme. Nekomonogatari's attention to detail here is excellent, with a vibrant array of colors and overall strong use in appropriating the lighting and physical setting to suit the current atmosphere. Really, if you've watched the previous installments or any modern SHAFT work, then you know exactly what to expect, and at the very least, it's undisputedly better than two talking heads in a fixed panned-out shot. Whether you're a fan of SHAFT's eccentricities or not, animation style is all about complementing and enhancing the story, and a dialogue-heavy series—however good the script may be—just wouldn't be all too compelling without fresh ways to keep viewers piqued.
Suitably in that regard, it is even more vital that the seiyuus do an excellent job at conveying proper emotion and keeping viewers entertained. And Nekomongatari certainly doesn't disappoint, employing the same brilliant cast. The soundtrack is pretty decent, and as with Bakemonogatari arcs and their respective OPs, Nekomonogatari's OP "perfect slumbers" is composed by Satoru Kosaki, lyrics by meg rock, and vocals by Hanekawa's seiyuu Yui Horie. It's a nice mellow tune featuring the beautiful Hanekawa, with a soothing yet melancholic mood revolved around loneliness. Dire fans (and/or the masochist-equivalent) may recognize that SHAFT certainly loves its train tracks and vibrant geometric imagery, and "perfect slumbers" is no slouch on either account.
All in all, Nekomonogatari doesn't do much different from its two predecessors, combining a Bakemonogatari-like storyline with a more sexually charged dialogue and more rampant fanservice suitable to Nisemonogatari. And for a four-episode prequel, Neko does a great job at handling a focused cast and molding their characterization and relationships to fit its congruity with the rest of the series.
What does those two words reminds you of? A cat perhaps? Well, neko (in Japanese) does translate to cat, an ordinary theme in many anime series we see today. Oh but Nekomonogatari is anything but ordinary. In fact, for Shaft fans and those who have experience already with the monogatarai series, you will know the way these type of works go. Once again, the franchise brings forth the latest installation from the monogatari series. So, if you're curious just like a cat/neko, then this series is definitely worth some time to invest on.
Nekomonogatari: Kuro is the prequel of Bakemonogatari, an anime series adapted
from the light novels written by Nisio Isin. Nekomonogatari: Kuro actually translates to Nekomonogatari: Black which is adapted from the sixth light novel written during the summers of 2010. The series details of the Tsubasa Family Arc with cameos from other characters and of course features our beloved main protagonist, Koyomi Araragi.
For anyone new to the monogatari franchaise, there are a few things that you should first familiarize yourself. It's hard to exactly describe what Nekomonogatari is because it's quite an unique series. In fact, many words can describe the monogatari series like strange, bizarre, otherworldly, sexy, clever, enthusiastic, humorous, entertaining, amusing, and maybe...just something like you might never ever forget.
To me, Nekomonogatari and most of the other monogatari series is like a reading a textbook with pictures. Only difference is that there seems to be no limits on how many pictures are on each page, or at least ones that convey to the words written. The series Nekomonogatari and like many of its other titles is an actual portmanteau or combination of two words. In this case, the words “neko” and “monogatari” is used. Neko means “cat” when translated in Japanese while “monogatari” means story. At this point, one might assume that this series may be about the story of a cat.
Like its other works, the animation studio Shaft (Maria Holic, PMMM, Bakemonogatari) handles this prequel. They are known for its unique gags and references that are used for their ways of conveying their storytelling to the viewers, often with the usage of word plays. The word plays themselves are heavily incorporated into this series as well because a lot of the scenes often comes up heavy dialogue, references, and parody. In fact, the visuals themselves represents a way of presenting to scenes of showing rather than telling. Most of the times, they are humorous, bizarre, amusing, and a way of expressing a particular word or dialogue.
The series starts off with Araragi doing what he does best and who am I kidding, it's already blasts off with humorous quotes with his beloved sisters. He talks about various subjects although his interest seems to be focused on “love” that he portrays in his peculiar way. From there on though, we later meet the other main character who represents the title: Tsubasa Hanekawa. She is seen as the class president at school and nicknamed “Class Rep-chan”. To me, that title fits her well. I mean, just look at her! Hanekawa's hair is braided, wears glasses, and has a mature personality just like how a class president ought to be. In fact, the way she is has made Aragai call her the “class president of all class presidents”.
Besides that part though, there are other characters who makes their cameos and return to this series. For vampire fans out there, our beloved vampire Shinobu Oshino makes her cameo in her amusing way. Her love of donuts remains strong as ever during her brief reunion with Aragai. Her personality changes somewhat according to Aragai but let's another story. On the other hand, there's also Karen Araragi who also makes her short yet very entertaining cameo. Unlike Shinobu, she is every talkative and hot headed with an equally hot body that she boasts about. Unfortunately, her dialogues are limited in this series but the moments she presented were entertaining. Speaking of moments, there were quite a bit that some of us may never forget...
In fact, despite the many humorous scenes presented in Nekomonogatari, there is also some violence with blood being shed by a vengeful cat. Blood getting spilled is often depicted as violent in anime or real world culture, but in this series, I found it to be near comical. In fact, I found many of the scenes in this series to be comical. Whether it's the various parodies, dialogues, violence, or fan service, Nekomonogatari presents these type of scenes as almost classical. Its abstract and absurdity is so often set up that it becomes a work of art; even the fan service. Oh and speaking of the fan service, there are quite a bunch of them especially involving our neko and those delicious scenes during the classroom. The way she talks, dresses, and uses parody of the “nya” that are incorporated into her speech patterns is absurd yet amusing to watch. She's pretty much nude wearing those skimpy clothing in the way of a cat with those ears and suggestive positions. It's no surprise though especially for fans who got a taste of the original series. In fact, the fan service expands beyond just the bare skin. The violence is also over exaggerated to the point of “gore” and blood. Although it's an overused trope in todays' anime cultures, I found it visually appealing by the way Shaft uses it to present the monogatari series. It's like a work of art rather than to show off.
In the meantime, there is a darker scene of the series as the episodes progresses especially later on. It's hard to tell the exact direction due to the way most of the dialogues are used as well as the visuals presented. Therefore, it's just best if you go with the flow and to follow what you see rather than analyze the series to its finest details. Like I said before, the details in the series is portrayed in that way which is Shaft's way of doing their works. It is artistically unique and presented in a way in which...*gasp* done right with the fan service. Whether you agree or not is up to you but I personally found it quite entertaining.
The artwork of the series remains generally the same as its other works from the franchise. Many of the series' visuals are presented with geometric designs in simple shapes and sizes. It's not complex and easy to watch. If you want some spectacular artwork, go watch some Shinkai Mikoto's films or something. However, the way it approaches its visuals is quite unique. It's like going to an art museum for the first time in a room where you see the walls and walls of abstract works.
The soundtrack, music, and voices of the series is imperative for this to flow well. Because there is a lot of dialogues, the voice actors have to step it up to the plate (unless of course if you're playing a vampire). Luckily, it works quite well and most if not all the mannerisms fits well. In particular, Tsubasa Hanekawa's voice actress Yui Horie (Higurashi, School Rumble, Little Busters!) perfects her skills with her voice by using her speeches similar to a cat during her scenes. In fact, the OP song, "perfect slumbers" by Tsubasa Hanekawa even has her involvement. It is quite a purrfect match that fur her roles well. Similarly, many of the OST played during the word plays scenes are orchestrated in that way of the monogatari style.
All in all, Nekomonogatari was a fun experience for me. It's clever, entertaining, fun, sexy, and an unique watch similar to its other title works. I do admit though that it occasionally tries too much especially in the fan service and dialogue department. In fact, some of the presented word plays are a bit repetitive and hard to adapt. If you're new to the series, you will likely get one of those “what the fuck did I just watch?” moments. But if you're already familiarized yourself with Shaft's works, then this could definitely be an enjoyable experience for you. Whether you enjoy Nekomonogatari: Kuro in the end is up to you however. It's not a purrfect series but definitely one hell of an experience.
Being a huge monogatari series fan, I decided to write my first review about it and I chose Nekomonogatari: Kuro. Even before it was subbed, I already watched it out of excitement and it did not disappointment.
The story is great. It is one of the main strength of the series. This part is before the start of the first series and we learned the past of Hanekawa and how she met oddity. The story is great because it made us realize that Hanekawa is not perfect and also susceptible to emotions.
The art is the other main strength. I watched this series because of the way
they show the art. It is not the normal one and it fits perfectly with the settings of the story. It uses the same style of art from bakemonogatari and nisemonogatari.
The sound is awesome. It really gives the viewer the right feel for the scenes that gives a very good viewing experience. The opening and ending themes are also great.
The story is mostly about Hanekawa. Koyomi showing different emotions and reactions to different situation but in the end, he's the same common protagonist that saves the girl in the end.
I watched this during the season that is usually joyful. Even though the story is far from that, i find the episodes enjoyable.
This is a must watch for Bakemonogatari series fan as it gives back story of Hanekawa and I'm sure you will find this enjoyable and worthwhile.
And now for another review about an anime involving cat girls.
Ah, the Monogatari Series. After seeing Bakemonogatari and what a masterpiece it was, Nisemonogatari was a big disapointment. It was still great, but it paled in comparison to Bakemonogatari. Because of this, I can understand why a great many would be unsure of this series, Nekomonogatari. Well, you can put your fears to rest. Nekomonogatari brought the series back to its brilliance. It's just as good as Bakemonogatari, in my opinion.
First, the art:
Being a SHAFT series, and even more being in the Monogatari series, as always one can expect brilliant artwork and extremely smooth animation,
however lacking in the actual amount of animation there is. Nekomonogatari continues the trend having lots of sequences of very little movement and mostly talking, but with animation here and there that is absolutely amazing. One can also tell the animators had a lot of fun with the show, going crazy by adding a few over the top sequences of animation or adding a bunch of different art styles here and there.
The storyline feels more like just a small part of an actual Monogatari series, which is normal since a lot of parts in Monogatari series often involve some particular supernatural event. When the event is solved, the part ends. Being only 4 episodes, this felt less like a series and more like a movie. The story was still entertaining to watch, but in reality it was pretty simple; Something causes a horrible event involving a supernatural entity and the main character, Araragi-Kun, has to go fix it.
Character wise, the show has extremely well written characters, and considering the focus of the Monogatari series seems to be dialogue, the writing is naturally brilliant. Araragi-Kun feels like a fun immature kid, but with a genuine mind and interest in understanding others. He wants to help people for sure, as he is genuinely caring about Hanakawa. He is troubled over the fact that he is unsure as to whether or not he loves Hanakawa or is just lusting over her. Its interesting to see his troubles involving this. Hanakawa herself, in cat form, is a rather entertaining character who loves using a barage of cat puns, so much that it may annoy some people. Nearly every sentence she says involves them. I personally found them to be amusing and a little fun. She's also extremely dangerous, and very much a threat, which is good for those who are tired of shows with less than dangerous bad guys. It's also interesting in that cat Hanakawa, while dangerous, actually has a good cause. She wants to help normal Hanakawa. I won't explain why, or how a form of herself can help her, as that would probably be a spoiler, but just know that.
Many probably had issues with Nisemonogatari's change in the music to something less interesting and lackluster. Fans of Bakemonogatari should be happy to know that Nekomonogatari reuses some of Bakemonogatari's music and consequently is a whole lot better, and the music is used really well to fit the scenes and set the mood.
Overall, this show is brilliant and great to watch, especially for fans of Bakemonogatari, however, because its so similar to Bakemonogatari, it definitely is not for some people. The lack of animation and large amount of dialogue may bore people. Though it may be worth mentioning that there seems to be more animation in this than Bakemonogatari, probably because it was so short.