Jul 4, 2022
4 arcs have been fan translated as of writing this, Shinobu Mustard, Mayoi Snail, Mayoi Snake, and Yotsugi Buddy. I plan to read Yotsugi Shadow and Ougimonogatari someday, since there are fan translations in Chinese, but this review shall only cover till Yotsugi Buddy.
Let's cut to the case; how does Monster Season compare with the other Monogatari seasons?
if I had to rank all of them, it would be like: 2nd>Off>1st>Final>Monster.
Now granted I have not read all of Monster Season, and who knows, Monster season might somehow rise up the ranks and become the 2nd best season or something (2nd season is untouchable), however I'm
feeling pretty confident on where Monster season is heading, or at least the sort of setting and tone of it. (Of course, knowing NisiOisin he might just flip the board and shatter all my expectations)
Monster Season takes place after Off season, in which Koyomi Araragi is now a college student. Yes, Mr Muraragi has finally graduated from high school, and is now somewhat of a grown up. The overarching theme of Monster season lies in the concept of Adulthood, and what it means to Araragi. It's certainly a very different shift of themes compared to the prior seasons' focus on Adolescence, but it's interesting to see Araragi continue his lifelong struggle of saving girls with issues with his status as an adult.
And yes, Monster season does feel like Bakemonogatari once again. Whereas Second season went off the rails and focused on the Araragi harem, and the final season focused on Oshino Ougi shinnenigans, Monster season feels like a return to the form of the original premise of this series. Shinobumonogatari has obvious parallels with Kizumonogatari even beyond surface level examination, Yoimonogatari has elements of Tsubasa Family etc, it's once again back to Araragi solving girls issues.
This time, the focus is on other girls. Yes, it sounds incredible, but Monster season decides to introduce new characters to its already pretty big roster of girls. However, it's obvious that NisiOisin doesn't want to allocate too much time on fleshing out these characters, which sounds like a bad thing but honestly isn't so in my eyes, since stealing screentime from preexisting characters to promote a new wave of girls would obviously backfire on Nisio this late into the series. They're more of plot devices than actual characters, but that's not too bad of a thing itself.
Let's talk more about these girls shall we, since Monogatari is ultimately a harem, or a harem-bait. Whatever.
There's a codebreaker college classmate Araragi befriends, though I'll be real she doesn't do jackshit other than a MacGuffin for Araragi to find clues. Kanbaru's friend who appeared in Hanamonogatari is also a recurring character throughout the season. I find her too similar to Kanbaru, and hope that Nisio branches her out from her pervy kouhai shtick.
The new main characters, basically the girls Araragi saves in the season, are all one-shot. They don't appear after their arcs, since Monster season is an Araragi-centric season.
As I said, there isn't much to talk about these new characters. They're necessary so that readers will feel that Araragi is finally stepping out of his comfort zone and meeting new people, but not important enough to justify long page lengths of random banter to flesh them out.
Our lovely original harem also has their time to shine too. Shinobumonogatari, obviously has quite a lot of fun Shinobu moments in it, Yoimonogatari has Hachikuji doing God things, and Amarimonogatari has Ononoki tagging along. They aren't necessarily the main stars of their arcs, but they do have their scenes. We also get more of Gaen Izuko, and it's always fun to know more about the specialists.
However by far the most important character after Araragi HAS to be Nadeko.
Nadeko fans who are anime onlys, I beseech you, read Off season and Monster season. Nadeko feels like the deuteragonist of Monogatari, with her development and growth being such a joy to watch. Whereas Second season completely destroys and deconstructs Nadeko as a character, Off and Monster season builds her back up. It is extremely satisfying to read, and her personality is far more appealing now than ever before. She also works really well with other characters like Ononoki, Tsukihi and Hachikuji, which is funny because I've always cited Nadeko as the weakest link all the way back in first season. I'm glad NisiOisin proved me wrong. Monster season continues Nadeko's journey, and from the glimpses of Shinomonogatari it seems like she'll meet best grill Kaiki once again, which is extremely welcome.
On to the plot. Monster Season is very much mystery centred. The three books, Shinobumonogatari, Yoimonogatari and Amarimonogatari are of...varying quality. I'll start with the worst: Amarimonogatari.
Now I haven't finished the un(English)translated Yotsugi Shadow, and who knows maybe it's so good it changes my opinion, but as of now, Amarimonogatari is probably the weakest after Koyomimonogatari. It's not bad by any means, just bland. Ononoki is fun, however she honestly can't carry the arc with her banter with Araragi. The Ononoki-Araragi pairing is fun in small bites, but stretched to one entire arc it's a bit stale. The mystery is interesting, however the themes are rather similar to the previous two books and it's not that entertaining either. I would probably adore this book if we actually got Sodachi somehow roped into this, but nope. Overall, an alright arc. It's far from the highs of Monogatari, but it's not offensive or a waste of time either.
Shinobumonogatari is pretty good. It's the first of the season, laying down a lot of the grounding for the tone of the season, and it does it quite well. It's nice seeing callbacks to Kizu, entertaining with its assortments of appearances from the likes of Suicidemaster, Gaen Izuko etc. Also, seeing Araragi solve issues not by charging headfirst recklessly like in the first 3 seasons but by actually considering and judging his actions makes me extremely proud of him. Overall, it's fun, with a nice message and character development of our protagonist.
Yoimonogatari is amazing. This is one of the best books in this series easily, and this is the same series with installments like Koimonogatari and Otorimonogatari. The mystery is very compelling, the narrative paced well, the message is refined and clear, seeing Araragi make up of sorts for his quite terrible handling of Hanekawa's situation is interesting, and the emotional moments are very touching. There are a lot of genuinely gripping and beautiful moments in this book, making it one of my absolute favourites. There's twists and turns, fun banter, a great mystery, and a very important message, what more could you want from Monogatari?
In conclusion, Monogatari Monster Season is very solid. As a monogatari fan, it gave me quite a lot of enjoyment. If you like the mystery aspect of monogatari, you would love this season. The score might increase once I finish this season, but as of now, it is an 8/10. It's a sort of End Story Sequel, except an entire season, for the grand narrative of Monogatari. I highly recommend it to any Monogatari fans.
What did you think of this review?