Edit: Just changed some bits after having watched Zoku for a second time
Note: Watched this in Japanese cinemas. Japanese is not my native language and the monogatari series is quite complex to say the least. Therefore I might not have understood everything to the fullest extent. Luckily the BD release is just around the corner! Anyhow, this is still one of the best parts of the monogatari series in my opinion though.
So how you do you make a sequel to the end? Well, Nishio Ishin managed to it again! In my opinion, Zoku Owarimonogatari was not really needed to wrap up the main story. However,
it is a neat little extra storyline for those who wanted to know what happened with Araragi after his graduation.
As I hinted at before, this story is about Araragi. Even though the main story line is practically finished, Araragi's mind and thoughts has not reached the conclusion he wants. Araragi is kind of stuck in one place, he just finished high school but has yet to start college nor got any job, he became a nobody despite all the adventures he has experienced so far. Suddenly, a little bathroom mirror incident quite literally turns his reality backwards or "inverts" it if you'd like. The story is just as bizarre as one would expect from Ishin-sensei by now. All I will say is that as for someone who has been in the same shoes as Araragi regarding regrets in life and anxiety for the future, I can really appreciate this story. I really hope you will as well!
I won't say more story-wise for those who are really looking forward to watch this, but I really want to talk a little about how Shaft's anime adaptation of the novel is so splendid. Apart from the excellent story and the great characters we have come to love from the monogatari series (albeit a bit different this time), I really must talk about the animation and the effects in this movie. The animation and effects happen to be one of the best parts of this film, since they are in a sense so well adapted from the novel (Which makes no sense because novels do not have animation and effects). But hear me out! For those who has read the novel know the setting of this story, and the way shaft uses reflections to enhance the visuals and make the setting more trustworthy really blew my mind because it is something, I have never personally seen myself before in an anime. The amount of detail shaft has put into the "inverted/mirrored" reality, environment and characters really makes you further respect the love and effort Shaft has put into the monogatari series. I can’t wait to inspect the environment when I watch the film again.
The only thing that I think could have been slightly better is the background music, it is a slight step-down from earlier entries. It is worth to note that the music is still very good, but I expected much more depth from something like monogatari.
Overall, I really love this film, it is definitely one of the best monogatari entries but it's kind of sad that the main story has come to an end. The monogatari series will remain one of the best series I have ever watched, and I am glad it has gone on for this long. Now, we just have to wait and see which monogatari novel is the next to get an anime adaptation.
¡ᴉɹɐʇɐƃouoɯᴉɹɐʍO-nʞoZ ʎoɾuǝ ǝsɐǝld
PS: Sodachi is great freaking waifu material in this one.
“I feel thin… stretched. Like butter spread over too much bread.” - Bilbo Baggins, Lord of the Rings
Every good thing must come to an end, or at least that’s how the saying goes. Not that it’s too good to continue on forever, but because it should end while it’s still doing well. If not, however, it is doomed to milk its already-explored ideas until it drenches all the quality from its previous work. Thus is the fate of the once beloved Monogatari series.
Promise of the Premise:
Zoku Owarimonogatari, captures the events that took place after the Second Season of Owarimonogatari, and before the epilogue to the
series, Hanamonogatari. We are, yet again, tossed into another strange story that begins with a seemingly unfortunate series of supernatural events; Arraragi Koyomi, who is dealing with an identity crisis upon graduating high school, and is now having problems with moving on with his life, somehow finds himself trapped inside what he refers to as “the mirror world.” In this inside-out version of reality, he encounters all the people important to him, who are now fundamentally changed. We soon learn that the nature of the characters in “the mirror world” is to serve as the polar opposites of the ones in the “our” reality; they reflect all the characteristics that the characters in our reality tried to shut in.
For the most part of the show, we are left to explore the mirrored reality through Araragi’s lenses, as he spends most of the runtime interacting with altered characters as he tries to figure out the nature of the world he is stuck in. He quickly realizes that not only are the characters changed, but their very position in the world is off. And as the story moves on, there seems to be a bigger mystery hiding behind the scenes.
The setting seems to offer a lot of insight, both regarding the characters and regarding the story of the franchise looking from the grand scheme of things, now that the franchise has reached its conclusion in the previous entry. However, the show does none of that.
Toll of Redundancy:
The main problem of every milked continuation is its inability to cohesively add new ideas without contradicting itself in the process. Zoku Owarimonogatari, however, dodges this problem by having no new ideas whatsoever.
To observe the characters from the inside-out perspective would generally be a great move, and a useful tool when it comes to character development. The problem is, however, that every information about the characters that this introspection gained us was something we already knew and were aware of. Throughout the franchise we followed the characters as they all went through a similar path of development: they were introduced along with their demonic apparition, representing their negative sides and the parts of themselves they want to reject and deny, and then we see them as they overcome their flaws, or simply accept them and move along. Having that transformation inverted inside-out is nothing more but going back to the stage of development the characters were in when they were first introduced. Nothing new was gained in the process.
So to cover-up for such lack of progression, the show goes for a solution that I like to refer to as “madlibs storytelling.” Instead of actually providing progress in character dynamics, the characters are given a bunch of random traits that are supposed to fit in with the setting, but add nothing of substance aside from gimmick. And instead of using that to explore characters on any deeper level, now that we are given the opportunity to see the mutual interactions of their inverted personas, we are provided with nothing but a charade of randomized Monogatari characters, self-referencing series’ previous works. It’s filled to the brim with beating-‘round-the-bush philosophy, horribly timed comedy and general lack of direction.
What we are left with is a thin idea that tries to present itself as a gigantic one by hopelessly connecting to everything that the series previously built. A story that pays more attention to browsing its own catalogue of characters than it does trying to write or develop itself.
Through-out the runtime of 6 episodes, or a 2-hour long movie depending on which version you’ve seen, Zoku Owarimonogatari has constant trouble keeping up the pace, and balancing out it’s weak story and its unspeakable urge to fill in with as many redundant characters that were most likely put into the story for a mere self-reference. However, the worst part about this redundancy, as I said, is the fact that after those 6 episodes (or one movie) we are at the exact same place as we were before watching the show. Not only is all the information provided one we already know, but all the progress done in the mean time turns out to be inconsequential, if there ever was one. Zoku Owarimonogatari feels more like an alternative spin-off of a sort, with value of an average Christmas special: it serves no purpose except for you to indulge yourself in the known universe once again. And the worst part about it is that it doesn’t use said universe as a platform for exploring ideas, but rather as a playground for already-explored ones.
I won’t dive too deep into the spoiler section on this one, even though I don’t think this is an entry that deserves to be watched. However, I have to mention that the “explanation” of the story-wise elements might be the most disappointing thing that the franchise ever did. It all boils down to “everything that pointed to a bigger story underneath was a cover-up by a mastermind X,” which itself isn’t too far from the madlibs storytelling I mentioned before. The problem with this Aizen-like ass-pull is that it not only makes a fool out of you, the audience, for trying to figure out the answers, but it also makes all the build-up up until this point just a bunch of cool tension-building ideas that were put for the sake of it. The show forcefully asks of you to follow its plot, and then punishes you for doing so.
It doesn’t happen very often that a continuation shows no understanding of its predecessors aside from the surface-level analysis. Zoku Owarimonogatari is not only failing to understand the main motif of the series, “people save themselves. No one could ever save anyone else,” but it straight-up contradicts it. What was once a self-centered story about overcoming your own flaws and accepting yourself, is now a one-man Messiah story. And this severe contradiction is not only subtly implied throughout the show, but is presented as the very conclusion, slapped across our screens through an overly-sentimental closing montage.
There seems to be an ongoing misconception where people think adding another ending to the ending is what makes the conclusion stronger. However, not only is that not the case, but doing so actually takes value away from the ending. After all, if the ending isn’t complete, it’s not an ending at all. If a character needs five “moving on” stages to actually move on, it makes all the previous 4 stages completely redundant and stripped off of value. This matter is discussed in the final sequence of the show, where Araragi states that he is always unsure whether he should step onto the road with his left or right foot, and is advised by Senjougahara to instead carelessly jump ahead instead of thinking about the next move. Not only a very flawed idea with barely any thematic weight, but also a hilariously cheesy, out-of-place symbol. A fitting conclusion for the messy, incoherent story that this apparition of a show rightfully deserved.
Nothing much to say here, as the audio and visual style remained the same as the rest of the franchise, which is ironically enough, the only coherent part about it. However, I do have a few complaints.
While the animation quality sure is great, the visual narrative was oddly off. Framing is rather more concerned about looking goofy and looking somewhat visually appealing than it does trying to actually say something, which is not common for a Monogatari show. What bothered me the most about it is the downright awkward use of certain visual tools, such as using the frame dividers to capture character’s breasts in the main plan of the shot. It is vaguely pointed out that the shot may be constructed like that for a reason, since that would exactly be the thing that would occupy Araragi’s attention, but it’s still a very dull way of using it.
The audio was hardly even noticeable, and featured no iconic tracks of the franchise, not even the character themes which would be the most fitting considering the direction of the story.
Zoku Owarimonogatari is a painful exercise in redundancy, that serves as a great example of “stop while you’re still worth something.” It tries its hardest to keep the series alive by cramping as much memory of it as possible, but with little to no idea what is to be done with them.
From a long-loving fan, a somber goodbye to the franchise.
Let me say this from the start that I like the opening and ending of this movie so much. Studio Shaft has done a phenomenal job once again , specially now because it was theatrical release, our man Akiyuki Shinbo has done a great job, I will say even that overall its an improvement on the previous seasons. I liked those numbers that showed that how many cuts have been shown from the movie but this time the cuts were reversed because that right Araragi was in the mirror world (by the way this not a spoiler, its right there in the description). It was
also delight to see characters acting different in the mirror world, I liked this take on the characters. When its comes to animation on this movie, well how could I describe it in a one sentences because it pays homage to many different animation styles and characters that its hard to keep up, but I will say that animation is darn good and pure eye candy. This is the kind of animation I will take screenshot of and hang it on the wall of my house as art-piece, because look at those colors my man and tell me that its not art, yes you can not. Background art is something that so many studio's not give much thought to it and in many anime's it lacks the polish it truly deserves but Shafts is the exception because by the trickery of CGI it makes them look so beautiful. I wish series will get a new season in the future because I like this anime so much, if you are going to watch this, just watch it because you will not regret watching this movie.
Perplexing has been the word to describe the world of the Monogatari series, and perplexing is how this final story of the series is gonna be.
After a quick review of the different adventures our main protagonist have been through in his high-school life, he now finds himself graduated and in that crucial crossroad of life's waiting room of a doctors clinic. Waking up one day, Araragi ponders about this when he suddenly notices his reflection in the bathroom mirror to be somewhat disjointed to his person. Touching the mirror pulls him in inexplicably into it. He wokes up naturally in a world like his own
where everything is inverted, even the other characters are different to their real world counterparts.
Now, before we go "Through the looking glass" kind of thing of a simple total inversion of this world to the other, there's more to it than just a simple reflection of our workd. Anyway, Araragi must work his way around this delimma.
I like the look of movie in the openning part. It mimics the style of the book illustration of the series. Sadly it reverted back it's default look throughout the rest of it. The Monogatari series is well known for it's nonsensical exercise of visual display and shifting shots, Zuko is no different. It's like the Airplane movie of visuals "Don't like that graphics?! Dont worry we have 100 different more."
Watching the movie with a limited Japanese is a trial of forbearance, especially it running at 2 and a half so running time. Most of the film are static talking heads, so I do suggest to those language impaired to wait for a good translation of the film to come out. There are a lot of delightful moments to be sure, but not enough throughout the film to keep out the monotony of the long languid moments.
In the end I find it an intriguing film. The looking glass aspect is sure present, but not in a superficial sense, more of a personal and introspective one to Araragi. We never get to see our true selves when we look at a mirror, only a skewed and dim version of what others can see. At the very end, the reflection Araragi see is right in front of him in the beginning.
Intriguing, yes. Fun, somewhat. Perplexing, most definitely, .... as it should be.