"I think it's about time I talked about Kiss-Shot-Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade. I believe it's something I have to do. I met her in the spring break between my second and third years of high school. That meeting had such impact and was also quite devastating."
As perfect as they were, I almost regret giving the other two movies tens, for now I have no numerical way of showing that this one is far superior to even them. Spoilers for those movies, obviously.
Anyone who's seen the main Monogatari series can tell you that the difference between pre-Kizu Araragi and post-Kizu Araragi is like night and day. The question, though, is this: what happened in Kizu to change him so dramatically? There were two catalysts: Hanekawa and Kissshot. In Nekketsu, we saw him learn the joy of true friendship when Hanekawa obstinately stuck by him where any sane human wouldn't have. In Reiketsu, we see the effect Kissshot had on him. This relied on buildup from the previous two movies - through them, the viewer and Araragi had to come to like Kissshot. But this is a review for Reiketsu, so I'll quickly move on to why that's important here and now. You know how Kizu has been devoid of the signature Araragi narration that pervades the main series? It comes back after a certain scene in this movie. My belief is that it's intended as a delineator between pre- and post-Kizu Araragi. "This scene is where the transition was complete." I don't want to go into further detail because I don't want to force my interpretation on you, but the takeaway from this paragraph is this: Araragi's character arc in Kizu is very cleverly done, making use of both female leads, who themselves have character arcs.
Readers of the book know that there's a very long talk scene in this movie (after the one I was just alluding to), meaning that Shaft has to pull out all their Monogatari tricks to keep the viewer's eyes open. And they do it well. The tone shifts at a moment's notice, with the OST and the animation style as its indicators, keeping it from becoming monotonous. The comedic timing was brilliant, enhancing jokes to be even more funny. The symbolism is cheesy and heavy-handed - to comedic effect. It was clear that Shaft knew they were being ridiculous with the symbolism in this scene.
This has nothing to do with Shaft, but the juxtaposition of the two talk scenes (both of which I talked about, believe it or not) really is brilliant. It's like a modified Hero's Journey template that has two Audience with the Father sections. It raises the stakes for the Ultimate Boon section.
Speaking of which, let's talk about that, shall we? The fight scene in this movie was a lot longer and more action-packed than I remember it being in the novel. Frankly, it was amazing. Several parts of it were somehow silly and badass at the same time. The best part, though, was that we knew our characters. They were both unique, well-developed, and interesting. Think about - REALLY think about the climactic showdowns you've seen and name one that fits all three of those criteria. Ain't easy, is it?
But as any reader of the novel knows, the real climax of this story is the very, very end. Remember that legendary narration from the last few paragraphs of the novel? They kept it. Every last word. A huge number of factors make it so that the end of the fight scene isn't also the end of the movie's tension. Your socks will be blown off.
After writing so much about this movie, it made me realize why I consider it so much better than the first two, though they were perfect too: out of the three Kizu installments, this is the one that feels most like a standalone movie. Its tone shifts multiple times, its pacing is extremely varied, and it feels like it has a proper climax. What was Tekketsu's climax? "Pleasure doin' business with you." It was hard to say that that movie was anything more than set-up (albeit very good set-up) for the next two. What was Nekketsu's climax? "I'm not a human anymore." The story was quite obviously nowhere near any satisfying endpoint, and we had two character arcs very openly unresolved. It was, again, hard to argue that it had merit as a standalone movie. These problems were borne of Aniplex's decision to cut Kizu into three, which is why they didn't affect my scores for the movies themselves, but it's worth noting why Reiketsu is so much better than Tekketsu and Nekketsu.
Now that I've talked at you for five friggin' hours, I'd like to end my review with this. Out of all the anime movies I've seen here in Japan so far (Kimi no Na wa, KnK, Nekketsu, Planetarian, Kagerou Daze, AC...), this is the only one where I've walked out of the theater and thought to myself, "I want to see this again, right now."
Oh, and there's no post-credits scene. Sorry! No "Owari S2 soon" or "Musubi in stores now" or anything.read more