It's getting increasingly hard to care about Shaft as an animation studio. Ever since Madoka Magica, they've done nothing but play it safe, churning out sequels to their popular stuff again and again until they became the anime studio version of Nintendo, whilst all their new IP have been so mediocre that with the exception of Nisekoi, nobody remembers them anymore. Not helping is the fact that after so many years, they STILL haven't ditched that outdated Shinbou-animation style that quite frankly looks about as exciting to watch as the same tech demo done on Unreal Engine. Sure it's pretty to look at, but it gets old when you see the same exact thing fifty fucking times. And in Monogatari's case, you're just seeing the exact same story told to the audience, only with slight variations in details and inconsistent levels of of quality animation.
Let's be honest, anybody who says they still like Shaft at this point in time really means they just like Monogatari. And the studio knows it because at this point, they've churned out more sequels to that thing than they have new anime. Except in Kizumonogatari's case, it's actually a prequel. Or to be more precise, "the" prequel, because this thing has been delayed so long that people were afraid it was going to become the anime equivalent to The Thief and the Cobbler. Can't imagine why people wanted it to be adapted so badly, considering it's just the story of how Hanekawa and Shinobu first met Arararagi and I don't know why you'd need to see that. Or why it needed to be a movie to begin with. And what exactly is so important about getting the quality right that you needed it to be split into three parts? Does Shaft think Kizumonogatari is their 5 Centimeters Per Second or something?
I paid money to go see Kizumonogatari in theatres because I was almost certain I would hate it, and I needed more reasons to ignore the -gatari fans I hang out with when they keep trying to reassure me that "this segment is the best one yet" like a Jojo fan going through rehab (which incidentally, they are too, minus the rehab part). Every single Monogatari thing that I've personally seen has been nothing but every inexplicably popular light novel adaptation ever. Always full of unfunny conversations that do nothing but build character for the sake of building character, or move plot points along without attaching any sort of story to it whilst having all the female characters get their panties in a bunch for that one lone male who ends up saving them from a terrible fate as a bonus. So with all the hype built towards this film, I was kinda looking forward to see if it was worth the long wait, and whether it would actually differ from the other adaptations or if it was just the fans praising shit that has less differences from the previous iterations than a Ubisoft sequel.
Well it turns out that the reason for the long wait is so they could properly animate Arararagi getting set on the best-looking fire you'll ever see. No, I'm not kidding. Get close to the screen and when the scene occurs, you'll actually be in danger of getting your eyebrows burnt to a crisp. Hope you consider the flames worth the price of admission, because everything else about this movie is so bad - so fucking NOT worth the fifteen bucks - that I was glad Boy and the Beast was also airing on the same day, because I needed to watch another movie after that and it helped that it was only $7.50 for a ticket. HALF of what I spent on Kizu in order to watch a movie that's TWICE AS LONG. That is bullshit!
I actually kind of wished I waited until it got subbed online, because then I could mute the video player, turn off the subtitles, and just watch some pretty visuals for an hour. Sure they're not exactly on the level of the works produced by my favorite anime directors, and I can't work around the stupid "title card segues" and the cheesecake shots - but if I can sit through an animated Adam Sandler film with those conditions, I can live with that. Because whilst the incredibly large audience at my theatre were having a big laugh at stuff I didn't get the joke of several times throughout the movie, I initially sat down pondering how they were going to impress the fans, and by the end I was slumped all over my seat wondering how much longer I had to sit through this pig shit. At least up until the ending credits, where I literally woke up from my seat and started shouting obscenities for reasons I'll get into later, before leaving the theater whilst everyone around me spoke about how much they enjoyed themselves.
So we all know the basic outline of the thing, but what exactly happens in the first part of Kizumonogatari you may ask? Well it's pretty much a poor man's combination of Mind Game and the vampire arc from the latest season of Adventure Time, two much better cartoons. Arararagi meets Hanekawa one day and the two have that usual Nisio Isin inexplicably long conversation before the dude walks off into a random subway in order to meet a busty vampire. He lets the vampire drink his blood after another long conversation and gets turned into one himself. Then he finds himself hunted by three other vampires who mostly like to jump around alot rather than throw a punch or a bite and meets Oshino through them. That's literally all that happens in this film: meeting and talking, meeting and talking, an explanation for Agakawi's (yes I'm misspelling this on purpose) vampire powers and how they work, and then more meeting and talking while I try to figure out where the fucking story is.
It doesn't even have the same level of standalone-ness with each installment as previous anime-told-through-movies like Break Blade or Kara no Kyoukai has. After Hanekawa's introduction, she never shows up again for the rest of the film. And the three vampires that are hunting Arararagi? They don't even have a line, let alone are given any names or personality whatsoever, thus causing them to have zero chemistry with the dude. Why? Because we had to devote the necessary screen time to making it clear that our lead character is a pervert who likes his busty ladies. This is script-work I'd expect to see from the writers of Mortal Kombat Annihilation. With screwdrivers lodged into their eyeballs so they can't even see what they're typing!
They even use those outdated shitty sound effects whenever a "comical" scene that adds nothing to the movie happens because we needed some way to get the audience to know you're supposed to laugh at Hanekawa's bouncing overly large boobs shy of a laugh track. And just to hammer the "nail of suck" in, after sitting through all that meet and greet, the film ends on a cliffhanger. A cliffhanger that literally made me do all the obscenity shouting I mentioned earlier because it just happens out of nowhere, right when Oshino puts an end to his conversation with Arararagi! I don't care if there are two more movies coming out later. You wouldn't say that about Shyamalan's The Last Airbender film - not that sequels will ever be made - and even with the 3D glasses, it wasn't as expensive as the ticket price attached to this crap!
Intriguing cliffhangers along with a slick (outdated) style and sharp dialogue that isn't nearly as funny as it thinks it is are the only reason Monogatari (and Durarara for that matter given there's still people saying it's good with a straight face despite Japan all but giving up on it entirely) still gets a free ride, despite the fact that the core of the show has absolutely no thrust or tension to its themes whatsoever. Last I checked, story-focused shows require that shit to be intriguing. But then again, anime fans have proven for more than a decade that they'll forgive lack of forward momentum as long as what lies on the horizon looks intriguing, and given that poll I did a while ago, that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon. Seriously guys, "Bad Story #2" is in last place?
I just hope you fans realize that Shaft can't rely on Monogatari to keep them afloat forever. Eventually they're going to finish the thing, and what's going to happen then? Personally, I'm all in favor of them getting help. The same kind that Manglobe got, preferably.