tsubasa hanekawa

“I know everything. There’s nothing I don’t know” — more on color theory in the Monogatari series and Izuko Gaen

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. 

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Color Theory in Shinobu Mail and the Monogatari Series

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.

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[Nine] Tsubasa Hanekawa’s Vacation — Koyomimonogatari

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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.

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The Consequence of Sound — Kizumonogatari

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2:24.

This is the exact amount of time that the opening moments of the first episode of Bakemonogatari goes without lead Koyomi Araragi speaking a word.

“A better decision than dodging, wasn’t it?”

The first words out of Hiroshi Kamiya’s mouth as Araragi form this question, followed by an immediate and unsure retraction that devolves into a constant stream of Araragi’s innermost thoughts.

Upon revisiting the first episode of the series — going by initial airdate, not chronology or any other measurement — I was shocked to find that he went this long without speaking. Araragi’s voice is synonymous with the Monogatari franchise at this point. His monologues long-winded, his conversations unnaturally verbose — Kamiya’s specific Araragi tone is etched in every viewer’s mind who has watched Bakemonogatari or other parts of the series. When I picked up the Kizumonogatari novel, I somehow heard Kamiya’s voice in my head, despite reading it in English, not Japanese.

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Monogatari Collection: Koyomimonogatari

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One of the Monogatari series favorite tricks is playing with chronology. Adapting from the original Nisio Isin light novels which are also technically out of order chronologically, the anime series similarly scrambles the chronological order of its narrative arcs. This refocuses the series on the emotional development of specific characters that would otherwise be lost if the story was told in chronological order.

Airing immediately after Nekomonogatari: Kuro, Nekomonogatari: Shiro is the shining example of the Monogatari series’ success. Placing the two side-by-side thoroughly explores Tsubasa Hanekawa’s character growth from a time before the first Bakemonogatari series — and immediately after Kizumonogatari, the first arc in the chronological timeline — to nearly four months later.

Koyomimonogatari is a series of short stories collected into one light novel that span a large amount of time across what viewers are already familiar with, including the recent Owarimonogatari arcs of Ougi Formula, Sodachi Riddle, Sodachi Lost, and Shinobu Mail along with the theatrical release of Kizumonogatari‘s first film.

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