It is called “flower story,” after all.
When examining the Monogatari series’ usage of color, no other arc exemplifies the franchise’s attention to detail quite like Owarimonogatari‘s Shinobu Mail.
Not only does this particular narrative arc showcase specific color patterns within the first episode, but it also gives Izuko Gaen ample screen time, further demonstrating what color can tell us alongside character dialogue and key plot points. Prepped to pay attention to the series’ use of color thanks to the first episode of Shinobu Mail, Gaen’s near-permanent rainbow-tinged sky speaks volumes.
As an aside, I don’t usually post spoiler warnings, but the final few paragraphs of this piece include major spoilers through Koyomimonogatari.
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.
One of the Monogatari series’ greatest strengths is its inadherence to chronology. It often eschews placing events in chronological order to focus on a particular emotional narrative or relationship. The anime adaptation plays with this visually, revealing tidbits in background details that further inform viewers upon rewatching the series as a whole.
Koyomimonogatari is a series of short, seemingly frivolous episodes tertiary to the main storyline. They’re short diversions that span the length of what Monogatari arcs have aired, plopping the viewer into the center of that specific timeframe before jumping ahead to the middle of the next narrative arc. Chronology is usually discarded by the Monogatari series, but it has a deliberate role in Koyomimonogatari.