“I had believed that not taking care of myself was the act of loving others. The days of kind deception, filled with thin, weak euphoria have now come to an end.”
-Koyomi Araragi, Owarimonogatari Season 2, Episode 7
The Monogatari franchise is often incorrectly labeled as another harem where the male lead (Koyomi Araragi) saves a bevy of cute girls. Bakemonogatari starts this way, Nisemonogatari meanders, and it’s not until Monogatari Second Season that the series really begins unravel preconceived notions of the audience and in-universe characters. At the end of the long, emotionally-exhausting, and verbose journey, the series lays everything bare. Monogatari is not about saving others. It’s about saving yourself.
For high school me, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit was a revelation. It still has a firm place in my heart — The Little Prince was the first book I learned to read in French, but No Exit marked when I really felt that I could actually read the language with any amount of competency — and every subsequent reading has been an experience. It makes me think, even if it also makes me wonder just how much of my own young pretentiousness I’ve dragged along behind me as I’ve grown older.
I’ve often thought about why I return to No Exit. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but certainly a reflection of my own personal preferences. Then again, Mayoi Hell is specifically about hell, so perhaps this framework fits Owarimonogatari better than most series.
The moment Koyomi Araragi begun wailing to Mayoi Hachikuji about being in hell, I couldn’t help but recall Joseph Garcin’s arrival and introduction to hell in No Exit. There are no torture devices, only a room furnished in the style of the French Second Empire.
The Monogatari anime adaptation has always paid close attention to color. Although SHAFT can — and has been, rightfully so in my opinion — criticized for their lack of animation at times while drawing the Monogatari series into its animated form, there’s no denying its purposeful style or cinematography, which changes from narrative arc to narrative arc
Along with other stylish visual choices that set the adaptation firmly apart from its source material, color creates an ancillary emotional narrative, or helps direct the viewer’s attention to a specific character, even if that character is offscreen.
“At our three-year high school with two hundred students in each grade, you end up sharing a living space with about a thousand people in all during your stay if you include the graduating and incoming classes and the faculty. Start wondering how many of those people mean anything to you, and the answer is going to be bleak for just about anyone.”
-Koyomi Araragi, Bakemonogatari vol. 1
The Monogatari series — both in the light novels and the anime — is known for its verbosity. This is why the Kizumonogatari movies were so novel to me. Nearly all of their storytelling was done visually, removing the Koyomi Araragi monologues and narration that define the Monogatari series. Hiroshi Kamiya’s voice permeates the series, and even later installments of Monogatari Series: Second Season feature monologues from the series’ beloved heroines.
Part of me wishes that I could erase my memory of the Monogatari series completely, and watch Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu with fresh eyes.
I wonder what I would see. How I would interpret the visual feast that the film provides. If I would have fallen in love with the film as I did with the series in 2009 when I watched Hitagi Senjougahara fall into Koyomi Araragi’s arms, his inner monologue a constant accompaniment.