Dec 31, 2014
Stark700 (All reviews)
What a way to cap off the year of 2014. Tsukimonogatari may be only 4 episodes but these captures the point of the series quite well. In retrospect, we get Araragi with his presence in this show that is well felt in the beginning. To top things off, these four episodes captures the very essence of what the Monogatari franchise should be. Produced with Shaft at the steering wheel and a mission to adapt the novel, Tsukimonogatari is quite something that ought to be remembered.

Of course, any fan familiar with the Monogatari franchise should know its unorthodox style. Tsukimonogatari is no different despite being just four episodes; or to be more precisely called ‘Yotsugi Doll’. Why? Well a particular character going by the name Yotsugi Ononoki with no real personality could be described as such. A doll is after all without any real feelings although they can be a symbolism for innocence, playfulness, and youth. Taking a few steps back though, the first episode of Tsukimonogatari introduces Araragi who is in his college years. However, he is more busy with his sisters especially Tsukihi who he has a rather peculiar “battle” in the baths. All seems silly at first until Araragi discovers something wrong at the glance of himself in the mirror. By no doubt, the first episode sets the stage for the remainder of this series and in a fashionable way at that.

What follows is the ingenious dialogues of what Monogatari is all about as well as the overall tone of the story. It’s both well directed and a pleasure to relieve another chance at the stages of the final season. Here, we are also introduced to Shinobu once again. For those who don’t remember her, she is the vampire girl that sucks on his blood daily. The reason for this is explained and also creates the theory of Araragi’s newfound problem in the second episode. It gets to the point where characters such as Kagenui Yozuru is involved along with her familiar. While they seem like characters (and even described by Kagenui as actors on the stage), it’s their stellar performance that makes them worthwhile to remember. It helps bring to life the story that crafts the style of Monogatari. Through word plays and clever dialogues along with effective comedy timing, the series becomes fine calibrated entertainment. Not only does it create appealing entrances and exits but the character interactions are first class with their expressions. There’s not a dull moment with timing and precision being part of the formula of success. This is even emphasized with the soundtrack and OST that specifically markets its creativity. At the same time, there’s clear intelligence to the writing with every dialogue that fits to the story’s purpose.

Another aspect of the series is its ability to command attention. One event leads to another that creates a thrilling feel for the audience to anticipate what’s to come next. It’s through the appealing setup that makes the series stands out with dangerous adversaries with their motives. While it seems stereotypical at first, there’s still no doubt about complex performance of the characters. Not only does it shine through their roles, but the show also explains the story fairly well through unique ways. Like I mentioned before, Tsukimonogatari is about storytelling and no story is complete without a background. In this series, that background is not just thrown into the audience face like an auto-pilot info dump. Instead, it mixes unique word plays and engrossing scenarios to tell the story. And true to its style, the series also delivers its conclusion through with everything it has set up. The finale of the series sparks the climax but not before we get even more nicely textured dialogues. Some of these evokes various feelings such as fear, angry, and hatred. At the same time, there’s a moving experience that can be felt through these episodes and in particular with the finale. Everything comes together and even Araragi realizes what has happened that leaves him a bit stunned. Indeed, the series tells the anti-thesis of a doll and what it’s truly like for someone without a real personality; perhaps something as Ononoki is far from a human.

Despite with all the events going on in these four episodes, I still find it interesting how it’s able to squeeze in comedy. While this may be a mixed bag for is some, I have no doubt about the way the series is handled in an attempt to exaggerate Araragi’s relationship with his sister. There’s honesty there too with how Araragi’s emotions becomes evident after realizing the danger they are in. Furthermore, these episodes also has bits of lighthearted moments at the end to give the audience a bit of ease.

Anyone familiar with Daiki Konno would also easily recognize his artistic talents which is clearly shown in the first episode. The surrealistic backgrounds along with Shaft’s zany and idiosyncratic style is also hard to miss. Along with the background symbolism, this series’ artwork is a testament of what unorthodox is all about; and I do say that in a good way. Character designs also gives off a feeling of fresh air especially with Ononoki’s doll-like appearance and behavior. Similarly, Araragi returns in full force with not 1, 3, 6, but an 8-pack! It’s hard to miss any of the fan service since they are all over the screen to be quite honest. Half of the first episode takes place in the bathroom with Araragi and his sister being nearly fully naked. Not to mention the rest, we also have other suggestive camera angles that will raise some eyebrows. Still, this shouldn’t be new or a surprise at all given the way Shaft handles this adaptation.

What may surprise you though is the powerful soundtrack. Each scene in every episode has a bit of it to keep up the momentum. Somehow, the soundtrack is also able to carry through this whole series wherever it goes. Regardless where the setting is or what event takes place, it tells of a cinematic grace with a pensive style to convey the story. It’s also hard to not let yourself be indulged by the dialogues of this series as the words spoken are wild, perspective to the point, yet able to remain intact all the way through. Finally, the OP and ED songs are cleverly decorated. The opening song “Orange Mint” has a catchy tone and in all respects decently coordinated by its illustrative tones. Similarly, ClariS returns with their performance that although isn’t groundbreaking still has an attractive appeal.

Looking back at these four episodes, I have no shadow of a doubt that the Final Season will be an upcoming saga of the coming ages. These four episodes tells more than just a story. It’s the kind of uncompromising adaptation that we don’t see too often these days. Tsukimonogatari may be only four episodes but is richly imaginative with brilliant characters and a well-developed story. Director Shinbou Akiyuki once again shows the world his talent with this adaptation and the future is looking brighter than ever.