Now that Koyomi Araragi and Hitagi Senjougahara have graduated, very few familiar faces remain at Naoetsu Private High School, one of them being Kanbaru Suruga, holder of the Monkey's Paw. When she begins to hear talk of a mysterious being known as the "Devil," who will magically solve any problem, she immediately thinks these rumors are about her and decides to investigate.
She discovers the Devil is actually Rouka Numachi, a former rival from junior high who is providing free advice to those who seek her out now that she is no longer able to play basketball due to a leg injury. Acting as a collector of misfortune, she enjoys relieving the stress of her clients by providing them with the false hope of having their problems solved. Although Kanbaru sees no real harm being done, she reprimands Rouka for lying and heads home, relieved she is not the cause of the rumors. But when she finds that her left hand has reverted back to its human form, she may have a reason to worry after all...
Watching Hanamonogatari is like reading your favorite book on a weekend afternoon. And essentially, it is adapted from a novel written by NisiOisin. But rather than adapting it as a full TV series, Hanamonogatari debuts as a 5-episode show that offers more than just a sensational appeal to its fans. Hanamongatari (literally translated as Flower Story) is like a flower – beautiful, elegant, and has the pedals that shine like no other. For its creativity and cleverly thought out written story, we witness the story of Suruga Kanbaru and what her life is like after Koyomi Araragi graduates from high school.
Similar to the style of
the previous Monogatari series, Hanamonogatari quickly takes command and lures viewers in with its cleverly constructed dialogues. The on-screen text serves as both a practice and testament to get a viewer’s attention because viewers wants to know their meaning. They also want to know their purpose, idea, and in general the message of the show is about. Directed by Tomoyuki Itamura with Akiyuki Shinbo serving as the chief director, Hanamonogatari is aimed at fans who wants to see the continuation of this franchise. It’s rather important to get yourself familiarized with the previous seasons such as Monogatari Second Series so that the experience will be that much better when venturing into this show.
It’s probably also said often that the show might not be for everyone. The style of Hanamonogatari has that avant- garde feeling with its style. But without jumping on the shark too hard, we also get a thrilling narration with referencing to the devil. Taglines such as “that person is a devilish one” and “the devil just might be me” drills a thrilling thought into a viewer’s mind. It becomes like a puzzle with pieces that fit together. And in Hanamonogatari, those pieces come together with its cleverly crafted story. For starters, the show advertises itself with Suruga Kanbaru as the main event. Sporting an athletic set of clothes and matching personality, viewers will quickly find that she has fragile part of her essence. Perhaps this could be the arm that is bandaged with a story to tell. And this is where exactly Monogatari series shine – the ability to articulate its story and tell it to the viewers with cleverness.
The show has a narrative-like tone and depicts Kanbaru’s side of the story. Despite taking place after Araragi’s graduation, several key characters make their presence well-known. A tragic example would be Rouka Numachi. Not only do we learn more about her past but also witness her influence in the present. Numachi’s rivalry with Kanbaru is perhaps a highlight in this show as it consists a variety of emotions; fear, anxiety, fiery, just to name a few. On the other hand, Numachi herself experiences pain but tries to ease it away through her own methods by delivering misfortunes. It justifies her own beliefs to make herself feel better despite her injury. After several events that intertwines the story collectively, the show highlights a climatic moments as Kanbaru fights against Numachi in a game of competitive sport. The show takes risks during this by introducing characters in sequence leading up to the moment with the anticipation and built-up. And thanks to Shaft’s extravagant style, the game lives up to its promise with innovative creativity.
Character dynamics is a key success with this series’ presentation. Despite the fictional story with Kanbaru, her past is very realistic. From minute one, the show commands attention with Kanbaru’s mother and the cruel words she strikes upon her daughter. The imagery it creates has a spellbound moment as it illustrates the essence of Kanbaru’s life. Not only do we find out about herself as a character but also what she is capable of as a person. This is what exactly makes the show so appealing and attractive. Luckily, there are also characters returning to this series that fans may find most welcoming. Their roles also play both humorous and important parts to enhance the story’s overall direction. It’s also refreshing seeing them like a breath of fresh air. Engineered by the clever writing and dialogues, it’s easy to say that most if not all the characters are thought provoking.
The reason for provoking thoughts lies in Monogatari’s ability to discuss and break the boundary of supernatural mystery. Like its previous predecessors, the series doesn’t rely on cheap shounen antics but instead on fighting against one’s inner demons. Highlighted in perhaps the basketball game, the show clearly details and provides purpose leading up to the match. There’s a lot on stake but at the same time, the game becomes something of a battle – to not only for the win but also against themselves. Similarly to other installations of the Monogatari series, expect word plays and extensive dialogues. Thanks to the clever writing, you won’t get massive amount of mind indulging info dumps. Instead, what you will expect and receive is stylized dialogues with attractive interactions. The characters react with precision while also detailing their emotional appeal. At the same time, the dialogues themselves have deeper meaning and motifs that breaks the boundary of literature. NisiOisin’s explicit chattiness isn’t something to just take granted but also by the way it tells a story in its unique fashion.
On the artistic front, Hanamonogatari has a similar feeling as its previous seasons. By that, I mean it as fantastic. Characters are designed artistically with distinctive features. Kanbaru in particular has a tasteful design and reflects her character visually with attentiveness. Fan service also returns of course with high class style. Unlike most ecchi shows that draws their appeal from cliché values, Monogatari applies exactly what’s needed to command attention. If you’re a fan of Kanbaru, this is a must-see for its eye candy. Even if you’re not, that’s okay because the return of two other characters are bound to make you jump from your seat. Ultimately, Shaft gets the job done not only just with its head-tilts but ability to describe and tell what the story is with the characters.
Soundtrack is put up with more of as a supplement appeal. The OST hits home base with its purpose by anticipating certain scenarios while climatic scenes weaves a mystical aura. However, where Monogatari truly shines is the dialogues that are played out. Thankfully, characters portray them well. As an abstract narrative, Hanamonogatari exceeds expectations with conversations by fusing together humor, mystery, and creativity all the same time. Voice mannerism is crucial to make these come to life and I have to say, it does just that. While it does feel occasionally forced or out of space, the way characters deliver their lines and performance is ecstatic and dosed with a level of energy that is hard to forget. Similarly, the OP song ‘Shirushi’ by Marina Kawano achieves its purpose with its symbolism.
Hanamonogatari is more or less for fans who have appreciated the series at its core. Familiarization with some of franchise is crucial to gain a full appreciable experience. Otherwise, you may be left stranded and wondering if it’s worth the time. But trust me, Hanamonogatari uses its time wisely. Even though it’s only 5 episodes, each of them play out the story artistically with its characters, themes, and setup that leaves you with memories you won’t forget. The technical aspects can be a hit or miss but for loyal fans, it hits home base again thanks to its style. Still, Hanamonogatari is more than just about style or storytelling. It’s about drawing attention and fantastically delivers what it tries to achieve. It might seem over-the-top-ridiculous but let’s face it, Monogatari is the epitome of that. Why? Because it said so.
When one series produce multiple releases, it gets easier to compare them with their related products through time. That is especially the case when some series clearly drift apart from the majority in uniqueness and style. One of such cases are the Monogatari series. After an explosively successful release of Bakemonogatari, the animated franchise was followed with the release of Nisemonogatari, which was quickly backed up by Nekomonogatari: Kuro and then the entire Second Season. It did not take long for the horizon to expand even further onto five more episodes of Hanamonogatari, which consist of the story Suruga Devil. As we have all of
those titles set on the plate, we put the latest one released under the microscope. Hanamonogatari. In other words, flower story. Truth be told, I was disappointed.
Some like in-depth explanations while some don't. To be blunt, the product at hand cannot and does not match its related releases. Perhaps the story itself does not hold the potential other stories do. That might be the case, but what's for certain is that the execution is far from excellent. There are many factors present that act as poison rather than boost. What tends to make Monogatari series special and especially enjoyable fails to ignite, resulting in the presentation overall ending as something bland and dry for the most part. Although the original vibe is still present, there are just too many minor mistakes active through the entire time that leech the sensation away, slowly but surely. Dare I say so, Hanamonogatari is a case where the core is strong, but pretty much every single layer around it is shaped weakly.
I've said it's five episodes. The database here says it's five episodes. What it actually is is a bit less than a two hour long movie split into five parts that directly connect to each other. That's quite nice in a way, since the whole arc can be experienced fully in one sitting. Then there's the cast. It's a bit small in quantity. We've seen arcs consisting of five episodes in length with more characters having the screentime, but that would be a minority. It would be, if those few characters would do the trick. What we get, however, is a two-character lead. One is excellent, while the other is someone completely new. It's someone that appears purely and only in Suruga Devil. Since such a character assumes the role of the main lead, one would assume that she would come in with a bang. Well, she really doesn't. She's just there, and is a part of the dialogue that's special for the Monogatari series in general.
If the entrance doesn't receive much of an emphasis, the story can still take the progression route and increase in intensity though time, or so I though. Such thinking was false. If anything, it's the first half that makes the movie shine as much as it can, even though that is nothing overly impressive when we look at what the Monogatari series have already done in the past. Still, the first half is somehow enjoyable and we get into the groove. But then comes the second half. The interesting thing is that there is no sudden turn for the better or worse. Quite the opposite. It continues. Everything simply continues, but with a slower pace and even less intensity. It reaches the level of almost pure blandness. The main spotlight when such presentation is active is on the new character. The dialogue is heavily controlled by her, which turns out for the worse. The story she tells is nice. It has a point. But it's boring. There is no excitement to it, nor could I call it a calm piece of art. It just is, but it is not beautiful. It is grey and tasteless. A dried out rubber. It holds no juice to enjoy.
Without a doubt, in comparison to the other Monogatari series releases, Hanamonogatari is the least special and wonder-like. While Shaft does not weaken, the storyline falls in complexity through the right presentation. Besides the matter of the movie's empty spiciness, there is also the matter of the characters being used and displayed in a displeasing way. Excluding the matter of Kaiki getting an interesting beard style, everything goes wrong. Araragi leaves his hair to grow so long it's distracting. What's more, that white jacket is a disaster. He is supposed to be the main advice giver in the story, but one hardly focuses on his words when he is just plain ugly. The image doesn't want to disappear from my memory, but that's not something positive. Ougi, on the other hand, is finally given some more screen and dialogue time. I would want to praise that, but every direction (s)he gives is not directly connected to the actions made while they were in the previous series. That makes the character's existence quite weird as the ending result. Thankfully, at least our master scammer does not get degraded. He owns with a style.
However, with everything bad comes at least something good. By the cast being mainly so horrible, Suruga does shine in the light she deserves. Even though it might seem only natural to some due to her being the main character of the story, she emphasizes the power of her position uncommonly well. The righteous time where she stood at the peak of the story was well executed, so that is one major plus, even though surrounded by many minor minuses. It's rather amusing how different the two only main characters can be. I'm not referring to the sides they take and points of view they have in the story, but the way they stand for them and deliver them in an interesting way. Suruga succeeds, Rouka fails. Unfortunately, the dialogue is in favour of the latter, which results in the majority of the story being bland and uninteresting. Still, it is an overall whole. It is a story that has a head and a tail, and even though it does not completely enter the wonderland and lets itself go with the flow, it is a part of the Monogatari series. It has the essence they all have.
I've criticized that the deuteragonist of the story, Rouka, doesn't come in with a bang but rather just stickies in between the rest of the cast somehow. Well, the ending is fortunately a different story. While some characters just get forgotten, Rouka is a single-time stander that leaves in a fulfilling way. With that also being the case, Hanamonogatari can be seen as a mess. It is chaotic, so to speak. So many things go wrong in a bit less than two hours that a Monogatari series enthusiast could not believe. Yet, there are those two factors that make up for it all. Those are Suruga's well-deserved and excellently executed spotlight, as well as the ending fade of the movie and Rouka's closure. Unfortunately, there are simply too many mistakes made overall for me to equal the product with the rest of the Monogatari series franchise. As a whole, it cannot be set on the same ground and level as the others. Yet, it can clearly be seen as a part of them. The essence stays and so does the attraction level. Even if it's for the pure sake of giving one character the time she deserves, it is very well appropriate. With another splendid release, the stories continue to bloom on.
Over and over again Shaft stands and delivers, this time is no exception. Being a fan of the Monogatari Series, you (and I) were probably excited to hear about the adaption of Hanamonogatari. While its release was delayed a bit I have to say that the wait was well worth it.
Hanamonogatari is kinda the odd ball in the Monogatari Series Second Season. Released in the middle between Kabukimonogatari and Otorimonogatari, Hanamonogatari is set after all events of the Second Season and is told through the narrative of Suruga Kanbaru. While we are use to most arcs being told through the eyes of Araragi, Hanamonogatari a
different look and deeper insight into one of the Monogatari Series overlooked characters.
Shaft once again creates something that only Shaft can create. Anyone who has seen any of Shaft's titles know what I am talking about. I found Hanamonogatari to be an overall entertaining and enjoyable. The story is above all captivating and compelling and will leave you wanting more. The lack of characters nor non traditional episode setting can take away from it.
All I can say is it is a must watch for fans of the Monogatari Series and to those who aren't or haven't seen any of the series, I urge you to. A brilliantly beautiful story adapted into a brilliantly beautiful anime adaption.
There are numerous characters and their characteristics that exist in anime community, starting from the most common and arguably the most famous, tsundere, to kuudere, darudere, megadere, yandere, dandere and many more. However, those who have either read or seen any of nisioisin's--the writer of monogatari series and katanagatari above others--work would know that the characters he make are quite something else. They are obviously not normal, thus letting the story progress without boring the viewers/readers, but they are complex. They get angry like a normal person would, they get happy like a normal person would, they cry like a normal person would, and most
importantly, they think like a normal person would.
Of course, people may argue that some of the characters of monogatari series and nisioisin's characters in general do NOT think like a normal person should, and I agree. However, letting aside the abnormality and the comical setting nisioisin's characters convey, they are the most human characters in perhaps the entire anime world.
Then, without further adieu, let's begin the review to the ninth part of anime adaptation of the monogatari series, hanamonogatari.
An anime must not bore the viewers.
This is not just for anime. Movies, TV shows, music, etc. The entire purpose of any entertainment is to entertain the viewers.
The light novel, hanamonogatari, was actually published before the third arc of the monogatari series: second season, otorimonogatari. By Shaft's airing hanamonogatari after the end of monogatari second season, the viewers' attention was captured before it faded away in the dull and peaceful mood hanamonogatari inevitably created. By putting hanamonogatari after koimonogatari, the last arc of monogatari second season, a not-too-surprising factor became a ground-breaking factor for the hanamonogatari to capture the viewers' attention. (For those who do not understand and have seen the show, scroll to the bottom)
Hanamonogatari also successfully captures the attention of the viewers by doing what all stories of monogatari series did: eroticism. Although it is a very controversial issue, eroticism is a powerful tool to draw in viewers. It might give certain age or gender groups displeasure, but as long as the severity of sexual content is not too high, it serves as a strong hook to the readers.
But most of all, the beauty of hanamonogatari is in its ability to surprise the viewers and prove it can do something in the last 16 minutes.
Plot twist at the last second is something that is not recommended, and naturally not done well, by many anime of all genres. They can give the viewers displeasure by its quickened pace of story and unsatisfying resolution. Hanamonogatari, however, uses this wonderfully. Although the story gave a sense of melancholy and resolution a minute earlier, hanamonogatari managed to quickly, in literally matter of minutes, completely change the mood of the story and resolute it beautifully.
The reason I gave 8 instead of 10 despite saying all these is the same reason I did not give 10 in any of the monogatari series franchise.
The talk can be boring.
Hanamonogatari contains quite a huge amount of dialogues and monologues rather than action and facial expressions. Because of this, the viewer/reader can get easily bored. Sometimes, by Shaft's bizarre adaptation from the book, and by revealing an important plot point, this is resolved, but a conversational anime definitely is not enjoyed by everyone. It certainly gives boredom to some viewers, and for those who have trouble reading subtitles, it can make the readers miss important details.
Despite the heavy influence of conversation/monologue, however, hanamonogatari manages to re-spice the height of the story by continuously surprising the viewers or by the use of bizarre anime production, this is mostly not noticed or unnoticed, but hanamonogatari's method of story-telling definitely is not for everyone. Plus, because of the eroticism, it adds up to the reason hanamonogatari is not for everyone.
For that, I gave story eight out of ten.
As mentioned in story, Shaft does a great job of animating.
It is not that it has remarkably high-quality battle scenes like Bones or ufotable, or that it has an unbelievably fluent movements like Production IG or Kyoto Animation. Shaft covered up the flaws of the original hanamonogatari it was based on. By the use of colors and random shots, shaft again proved that it was able to deliver the message of the anime viewers.
The only misgivings of Shaft is that there are limits to the number of people the bizarre adaptation can influence. Some people might get distracted by these bizarre adaptations and some people might be confused on what the anime is trying to say. Above all else, the flashing texts that are used to manage air time and also deliver messages are quite distracting and might get the viewers confused.
Still, there is no question that Shaft is the best weapon that can send any of nisioisin's bizarre works to its highest heights. Shaft did the best it could do with the choices that were available that, before the first of monogatari series, bakemonogatari aired, was a risky course of action.
Art itself is also a job well done. The characters and the background, via the help of famous animation studio such as PA works, were done in quite a high quality that is not always present in Shaft's animation.
For these, I gave a nine out of ten in art.
The opening and the ending were not too bad, which I would give normally about a seven. They followed the usual catchy and beautiful themes that the past op/ed themes of monogatari series were infamous for. The voice actors were remarkable as well. Sawashiro Miyuki was able to convey Suruga's feelings quite well throughout the anime, which was not easy considering that Suruga's feelings changed from jumpy to serene to serious to so-happy-that-she-could-cry to so-sad-that-she-could-cry. The new character of the series, Numachi Rouka, was also given a well-known voice actor, Asumi Kana, who is famous for method acting--in this case, voicing--that gives her the ability to "be" the character she is voicing. I would give nine for the voicing, minus one for araragi koyomi's a-little-too-nonchalant voicing.
The problem was with the BGM.
The number one job of the BGM is to do its job. When the anime calls for battle themes, the BGM must give a sense of power and rush to the viewers. When the anime calls for a foreshadowing, the BGM must give a sense of mystery. When the anime calls for happy mood, BGM must do so.
However, the music failed to give a sense of foreshadowing.
A huge portion of the anime is based on talking--about 9/10, roughly calculated--and thus, the BGM must do a proper job of keeping the viewers interested while forming a mysterious environment. While the other monogatari series' animations did not require this as much, hanamonogatari did, being that it was a nonstop air from episode 1 to episode 5. The music failed to keep the viewer interested and sharp-minded and in the end made me miss some important details of the storyline.
Normally, this would seem like not a big deal, since it is just factor of BGM's work that was not done well.
However, if it is hanamonogatari's BGM, it is a big deal.
It is almost safe to say that any talk-based animation requires a BGM that does its job wonderfully, and Kousaka Satoru, the composer of most of BGM's of monogatari series animations, does this quite well, but Haneoka Kei, hanamonogatari's BGM's composer, did not reach up to Satoru's works. It is not to say that one is greater than the other, but hanamonogatari, an anime that aired for nearly couple of hours, requires the support of BGM more than others.
For this, I gave hanamonogatari's BGM a three out of ten.
With nine in voice-acting, three in BGM and seven in op/ed, I finally gave 6/10 for the sound portion of the anime.
Kanbaru Suruga was the narrator.
THE KANBARU SURUGA.
The infamous pervert of monogatari series.
One of Nisioisin's finest qualities is his ability to make characters unpredictable. He can make a main character a total pedophile, a villain the final heroine, a heroine a villain, a gag character an important plot character.
Kanbaru Suruga is infamous for her voyeurism, constantly making erotic jokes with Araragi Koyomi, the main character of the monogatari series in general. However, when she was the narrator, as opposed to the expectations, she was quite serious-toned and rarely made a joke. Her being a narrator showed what she "truly" was inside, and not the character setting she kept on building.
This characteristic of any character is not easy. Making a complex character is sometimes harder than writing the story itself. However, Kanbaru Suruga, Araragi Koyomi, Numachi Roka, and pretty much all of the characters in hanamonogatari are complex. Trying to understand them as a certain type of one archetype of character is difficult, if not impossible. They are very human-like, as said, except for the inevitable character settings they show.
What can I do but give a ten for the character?
Despite the music's failure, I quite enjoyed this. It has been a while since I clapped to the end of an anime and smiled in content. It had been more than I could have asked for a story with Kanbaru Suruga as the narrator.
However, this is definitely not for everyone. For those who does not enjoy eroticism and severe verbal story progression, this is not an anime for you.
For this, I gave 9 out of 10 for the enjoyment section.
Great story, great animation, and a perfect character.
For those who have not watched this yet, or any of the monogatari series' animation for that matter, I have only two words for you.
As always, may anime be with you and happy anime-ing.
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Kaiki's alive. Koimonogatari aired after this, we wouldn't have been as surprised.
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Ougi continues digging deeper into Arararagi's past while he is also forced to confront someone from his early school years who isn't that fond of him. Also Owarimonogatari finally reintroduces "best girl"!