Kizumonogatari was released in English as Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale by Vertical Inc. on December 15, 2015. The publisher has been releasing Bakemonogatari in 3 volumes since December 20, 2016 up to April 25, 2017, and Nisemonogatari from June 27, 2017 to August 22, 2017.
If you are here, it means either you are a big fan of Nishio Ishin, or saw the anime Bakemonogatari and fall in love with it. Monogatari series, as expected from Nishio Ishin, is full of Japanese word plays and definition intonation; what I mean is it is hard to understand from just reading it once. From here and now will be a review of the book, not the anime.
Before getting into review and "a bit" of spoilers, here is the timeline of the story
Kizumonogatari -> Nekomonogatari Kuro -> Bakemonogatari -> Nisemonogatari
Now let's start this.
Consist of different girls possessed by different Kai'i(Oddity or strangeness). Senjogahara
Hitagi possessed by a Crab, Kanbaru Suruga possessed by a Monkey, Hachikuji Mayoi possessed by a Snail, Sengoku Nadeko possessed by a Snake, and Hanekawa Tsubasa (re)possessed by a Cat. Each had a reason to why and how they where possessed to these oddities and you can find that out by reading the novel or already know from the anime. Araragi Koyomi basically helps these young ladies to remove these oddities from them, and the point is he only "helps", not actually "saves" them. Bakemonogatari, as it's name is a collection of stories(monogatari) of monsters, or oddities(Bakemono).
Koyomi Vamp. Yes, why wouldn't have our dear main male character not be possessed by a oddity? Araragi Koyomi, one day, meets a Vampire, Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade, on the way back to his home. Kiss-Shot was heavily injured, and Koyomi gives up all his blood to her to save her, and from this, Kiss-Shot turns Koyomi into a Vampire. Kizumonogatari is the "Beginning" of the all the monogatari series. The point to pay attention to this story is not only thrilling battle scenes or the beauty of Kiss-Shot, but more of our dear almighty class-representative, Hanekawa Tsubasa. Kizumonogatari is a story where one and others hurt each other creating scars (Kizu) to each other.
There is a real and there is a fake imposter of that real. Now, which one has the more value?
Nisemonogatari features the story of Araragi Koyomi's cute little sisters, Araragi Karen and Tsukihi, the Fire Sisters. "Fire" is one feature to keep in mind for Nisemonogatari and Nekomongatari Shiro, but for Nisemonogatari, fire comes from the name of Karen and Tsukihi (Ren = fire, hi = fire). Karen is self-proclaimed "Moreu Onna" (Burning women), which she meant to explain her extraordinary passion towards everything. Tsukihi, is not passionate, but has a personality of that of a fire, hysteric. Main point of the story to pay a close attention is the Kaiki Deishu's logic towards fake and false. We can even say that Kaiki is the main character of the story, rather than Karen and Tsukihi. Nisemonogatari is a story where what can be called fake/imposter (Nise) and the true value of the world.
The talk of there being no such thing as right, is right.
Nekomonogatari Kuro is, yes a story of a cat(neko), but it's not that cute at all, or rather, a bit gruesome; Nekomonogatari Kuro and even go par with the Suruga Monkey from Bakemonogatari. The story takes place in between the Kizu and Bake, and is about Hanekawa Tsubasa and her meeting with a Cat, and more about the family of Hanekawa. Beginning starts with Koyomi's confession to Tsukihi that he can't stop thinking about Hanekawa's breasts, comedy, and then rapidly turns into serious story. Nekomonogatari Kuro, in another way to say it, Tsubasa Family, is about Hanekawa Tsubasa and her life in her family. The reason why Kuro (black) is added to it, you can find it out by yourself. Main point to pay attention to this story is the family issue, and the Oshino Meme's logic and Araragi Koyomi's logic towards people, or more about Hanekawa Tsubasa.
Nishio Ishin thank you for publishing books in out of time line for sakes. But still, I loved it, especially Nisemono and Nekomono Kuro. For people who are not a great fan of reading too much words, or not interested in beauty of Kanji and their true meanings, I really do not recommend any of Nishio Ishin's novel, but for the rest, Monogatari series is the best to know Nishio Ishin's writing style.
ps. All of them are available as anime so if you are confused or auditory learner, then go watch it after/before. It will make more sense.
I'm assuming that the one who reads this is already familiar with Bakemonogatari. Review is still pretty much spoiler free.
Kizumonogatari is another light novel to Nisio Isin's monogatari series. Published after Bakemonogatari while chronologically taking place to time before Bakemono's story and therefore being its prequel. Characters are about same age as in Bakemonogatari so chronologically these two are really close to each others.
Story answers questions like how did Araragi and Tsubasa Hanekawa met, why did Araragi became vampire, who actually are Shinobu and Meme Oshino and how did things end up to the situation like those were in Bakemono. Actual plot is all about
Oshino Shinobu (the young blond girl sitting in the corner in Bakemono) and her "relationship" to Araragi.
I have always respected Nisio Isin as a story writer, that guy has balls and Kizumo is yet another one where he really shows them. No other writer makes whole chapter about breast massage between serious moments, and just to quote Araragi: "Possibly she possesses a bust that cannot even be compared to. Moreover the shape was also splendid." While story is beautiful and emotional, making that could be stupid, that could ruin the story, but NO. Nisio Isin really knows what he is doing, he makes it all work (if that is enough of a word to describe it). All in all, everything in Kizumo is completely brilliant.
Have you ever heard of a main character who is mad at story writer because he makes story to weird to be adapted into an anime? Well Kizumogatari has that. Araragi stopping Meme doing certain things because they can't have anime adaption otherwise. Actually, he says it like "You can't adapt this into an anime, you just can't!" SHAFT is making the anime adaption btw. Because Kizumonogatari is so high quality light novel, the anime has every potential to be great. By great, I really mean great. I'm really strict when it comes to rating, atm less than 4% of the manga I've read has gotten rating over an 8 from me. Kizumono is a 9 all the way.
I didn't write to much about the actual story since I don't want to spoil anything. Imagine that all I said are just nice adds and the actual story is the one that makes this great. The point is; you don't want to miss this. The level of brilliantness and uniqueness is to high to be ignored since Kizumonogatari really is outstanding. The mean score is currently 8.70/10 on MAL, to me, this is one of the really rare ones which actually deserves it. Feels like I couldn't give this all the praising it deserves, I still hope I actually convinced someone to read this.
How much is your life worth it? Would you sacrifice yourself in order to save a stranger? What if you knew that the stranger had a much greater place in the world than you? Would it make a difference if she was actually a beautiful blonde vampire?...
Kizumonogatari is the introduction to the supernatural world of the Monogatari Series. It tells the story of Araragi Koyomi, an ordinary high schooler who lacks social skills and has no friends, but is by no means unhappy. He meets Hanekawa Tsubasa in a very convenient situation explained with lots of details in one of the first chapters; she is
an honors student from the same school as Araragi, she is friendly, easygoing and very kind, so very kind it makes you wonder if her kindness is real. Somehow they both become involved in a chain of events regarding the presence of vampires in town. Being aware of the existence of superior beings such as vampires, as expected, changes the reality for Araragi. But this novel is not just about Araragi's new perspective but mainly about the relationship between him and Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, between human and vampire, after all this is their story.
Kizumonogatari manages keep the story interesting. Action sequences are great, each one builds up for the next and they are very well described. Dialogues are very entertaining, even though the discussions of a few topics seem out of place and irrelevant, these are still amusing. There are seven characters in this novel. Main characters are more likeable the more you know of them and supporting ones are very relevant for the development of the story. Additionally, what I also liked about this novel is that it shows the difficulty of understanding between humans and vampires. While they both have justice, satisfaction and common sense, these differ according to point of view; in order for a person to understand a supernatural being, you need to put your humanity aside and think outside the box.
Overall, Kizumonogatari is engaging and fun to read. Action settings are amazing, characters are interesting and so are their developments throughout the story, and finally even random dialogues and sequences are funny but they don't decrease the tension of the story in any way. For those who know Bakemonogatari, you already know most of the characters of this novel but you haven't seen them the way they are presented here, and also, if you're missing out on Kiss-shot you're missing out a lot.
One might point out that light novel as a medium, as well as the whole japanese animated industry, are going through a long period in which competent authors and writers are snobbed, producing rather more of the same so that the public is satisfied without risking money on anything new or unfamiliar. Of course, this can't be totally blamed on the buyers since even competent authors apparently become so engrossed in their own fame they think fans will forgive any missteps, once it's clear your work will sell no matter how you wrote yourself into a corner and ran out of ideas years
ago: Tanigawa's Haruhi Suzumiya series is a much woeful but clear example of this, and Nisio Isin apparently did not much better with its Monogatari series, suffering in this Kizumonogatari the exact same problems of condescension we have witnessed for years.
The story is nothing more nothing less than your average rewrite of Campbell's monomyth, where one plain (read 'boring' or 'made just for self-insert') character is thrown into the world of fantasy and mysteries by a series of not-so-coincidences, he has to fight the villains to retrieve the magical item, there is the old sage aiding him at every turn so he doesn't get himself killed, the damsel in distress, the final boss, the moral and a few predictable twists.
I often heard Nisio being revered as an unusual author, who plays a lot with puns, wording and crush stereotypes, and admittedly he does this in the Zaregoto series sometimes, whereas Kizumonogatari shows the understanding of its own genre just as much Snyder's Superman shows an understanding of what made Nolan's Batman so fresh and innovative for superhero movies.
Being mostly a character-driven novel it's hard to talk about the plot without considering the cast, but in this case it only furtherly proves how little thought was put into the story to begin with.
Our protagonist is presented as apathetic, isolated, cynical but, in truth, deeply scared of human interactions, which would have been for a much interesting albeit hardly orginal characterization, if explored well. Instead Nisio is only able to copy your everyday Ikari Shinji #13k from Neon Genesis Evangelion, which isn't really a hard feat in itself considering how many authors already stole the character before him, yet while mimicking what young readers could relate better to, he failed to reproduce the insightful background that made Shinji a complex human character to begin with.
So what we are left with is Ararargi Koyomi, whose main feature is behaving in a completely random fashion and contradicting himself, being at the same time a cowardly self-deluding prick and a masterful warrior of the streets whose strategies only come second to Sun Tzu, despite never knowing anything about his enemies and acting on pure recklessness. This lack of character is often times presented as deliberate but it doesn't make it any less ridiculous.
From the beginning of the book we have our protagonist's encounter with the unknown, the dark not-so-secret world of vampires and oddities, in the form of a 500 years old lady-vampire mutilated and on the verge of death, who requires the hero's blood to survive. And he, while contemplating how she's a monster, a killer, a beast from the beyond, decides, in spite of his aloof and 'average' personality, to sacrifice himself to save her. Are you beginning to feel the Jesus Christ vibe here?
Of course, whoever was lucky enough to read or study about the Christian religion knows that Jesus was that much of a selfless character because his father led him to redeem humanity, to cancel the original sin and grant us our return to the garden of Eden (someday) whilst Araragi is just a guy. Do we ever get to know why does he act that way, what are his motivations or who is he deep down? Nope, not once not ever, and considering this book is narrated in first-person from his viewpoint, it's amazing how little we get to know about him.
It is at some point explained that he love breasts, big breasts, while it's also implied he as an underwear fetish, and all of these are major plot points, believe me.
Our side character, Hanekawa Tsubasa, doesn't give much more credit to the credibility of the story: she's presented as a remarkable woman, a genius, the top student, a witty character and her main feature through the whole novel is having big breasts. She's also the damsel in distress, which means her purpose might be summed up as being kidnapped, taken as a hostage and undressing for the protagonist (I wish I was joking).
Surprise of the surprises, she's also devoid of character but who would have guessed that a female protagonist labeled by her breasts size and the pattern on her undies is actually nothing more than misogynistic pandering. What a shock!
Although, I have to admit at a certain point the author tried to give her some depth by having the character herself remarks how she's not that good of a person and has a hidden side which is, in fact, pretty awful. And do we ever get to see why she affirms this or witness some events which prove such statements? Yet again, no, we don't. I guess this would be an excellent timing for the old Linkin Park's Crawling joke. Supposedly you get to know her better in another installment of the Monogatari series and if so why are you bothering telling us now, wasting precious time, instead of waiting the right moment (and book) to introduce new conflicts?
And then there's every other character, which compose such a superficial and poorly explored cast I don't even have anything to say about them. Mostly their purpose is to fit into the story so that the main characters have something to do, but they are not interesting characters. With little to none explanations about the villains how are we supposed to care about the fights or feel any tension? Some insight is given once the battle is over, but by then there are not much moral issues to debate since we are already left only with the winner. He's right by default.
An important feature of the novel is its humour, heavily relying on hyperboles and breaking the fourth wall, which works in theory for a story that wants to make fun of standard tropes such vampires, fan service, selfless heroes and of light novels in general. Unfortunately, as previously stated, the understanding of what the story is supposed to mock is remarkably lacking of an eye intelligent enough to separate the deliberate from the flawed, at worst recycling its own jokes far too much: the first time you say it would be difficult to animate what's being narrated might be clever, the second time forgiven if in context but from the third onward it's clear that someone is lacking ideas. Metafiction is not an easy way out to enthrall your readers into the action for cheap laughs when everything else failed; Arthur Dent never once stopped to ponder how it would be difficult to make a tv series or a movie about a two-headed character, the author always had better jokes to serve.
There are also several instances of attempted sex comedy, such as a breasts massage to boost the fighter concentration before the last battle, which again might even be a funny idea (to some) for how it is introduced, if it wasn't dragged for so long. And that's it I guess, five years after having discussed the concept of genius and the idiosyncrasies of humans' purposes, the same author relies on cheap vulgar gags a middle school boy would find funny to entertain its readers.
Which brings us to the next point, the writing itself.
Now the prose is just painful. Whatever was of the author of The Kubishime Romanticist, which showed cleverness, irony, gruesome and managed to follow the stream of consciousness of a completely deranged and unreliable narrator, is sadly forgotten in this book. Instead, we get a four pages long description of a high school girl's underwear flashing thanks to a lucky gust of wind, with a rebuke on the fifth page about how four pages where wasted. Granted that breaking the fourth wall is the main source of humour in the book, how should the audience react to this? It serves for parody, maybe, but one can't help but notice that four pages were wasted on a single joke, while giving nothing more to the plot or the characterization.
It's fast paced, sure, but how much does that mean when the writing is redundant, unnecessarily lengthy and falls into the same problems it tries to mock? It loses itself in descriptions we couldn't possibly care about, gives meticulous details while forgetting to even give character to its own protagonists and worst of all an unforgivable amount of pandering to the base.
Where the seasoned author should write 'development' Nisio only manages to answer with conveniences. After all, why bother giving a character any kind of hardship he or she is required to overcome with its wit and abilities when the magic of being oneself is plenty enough to solve any problem? The act of self-inserting would fail if the audience wasn't able to think of the protagonist as a blank canvas on which depicts themselves. Then, since your average reader still has dreams of grandeur and escapism, let's throw some magic jargon in it. Kawahara Reki and Christopher Paolini are masters at this game. So, when the protagonist gains his power, not only he's given super sharp senses, super strenght, super speed, instant regeneration and immortality, but the body itself adjusts for “better perfomances”, which translates into a six-pack magically appearing, with no effort at all. Gosh, now I wish I was the main character, don't you?
You can also tell how Nisio thinks of himself as a smart guy with an eccentric writing, when the better he can perform are lame puns and repeating again and again the same concepts in different ways to empathize how much dumb you think your readers are. There's stream of consciousness and there's redundant, it's been decades since this much was worldwide acknowledged. Yet he builds its own philosophy and views on everyday topics, ultimately failing to deliver any punchline, either because what he's writing is not as clever or original as he think he is or because someone else already explored it better.
So, what are we left with? Obviously this novel wasn't supposed to take itself seriously but it failed at the basics of self-irony and meta-jokes, it tried to make fun of the industry and the clichés while being at fault of pandering to the same exact fanbase. It wasn't much original as a fantasy, it lacked the mystery and tension of a thriller, the action was ruled by plot armor and conveniences, it lacked character development and the few funny remarks were dumbed-down by an overall feeling of attempting to give wits when there's not even awareness.
I'm sorry for the author, and I'm even sorrier for myself, but most of all I'm disappointed by the fact this novel has no redeeming feature whatsoever. Still, it was one of the most anticipated books of its year, it couldn't deliver half of its promises and its success will however mean that more of these dreadful excuses of literature are going to be licensed in English. Meanwhile, there's still no translation in sight for Murasakiiro no Qualia or the Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita series, now that really does encourage one to support the industry.
This article lists the characters from Nisemonogatari as well as the supernatural oddities that affect them. In addition, this article will address how each of the characters affects the plot line of Nisemonogatari.