tsubasa tiger

“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

hanekawa tsubasa hands free cell phone koyomimonogatari, koyomi sand koyomimonogatari hanekawa tsubasa, tsubasa hanekawa talks to koyomi araragi on the phone koyomimonogatari koyomi sand

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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Shinobu Mail and Suruga Kanbaru’s Turn

suruga kanbaru trapped by shinobu owarimonogatari, kanbaru convinces shinobu to talk to her first minion, kanbaru suruga sweating monogatari, monogatari kanbaru and shinobu, owarimonogatari shinobu mail kanbaru

Previously, on Owarimonogatari, the Sodachi Lost narrative arc provided Tsubasa Hanekawa with a perfect opportunity – the opportunity to show just how much she’s changed both over the course of the series and her most chronologically-recent appearance in Tsubasa Tiger. She delivers a crucial line of dialogue at exactly the right time in such a forceful way that it immediately unifies her with the despairing Sodachi Oikura. They travel the same path, but are at dramatically different points on that path, and Hanekawa’s words help guide Oikura out of her powerful self-loathing spiral.

This week, in Shinobu Mail, it was Suruga Kanbaru’s turn to shine.
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Knowing What She Knows: Tsubasa Hanekawa

hanekawa tsubasa owarimonogatari sodachi, you're not trying to be happy hanekawa to sodachi oikura, hanekawa and oikura owarimonogatari, sodachi lost, tsubasa hanekawa talks to sodachi oikura

“You’re not happy because you’re not trying to be happy. Nobody can make someone who isn’t trying to be happy into someone that’s happy.”

-Tsubasa Hanekawa to Sodachi Oikura, Owarimonogatari, Episode 5

Had this line been spoken by anyone but Tsubasa Hanekawa, it would have rightfully been dismissed as a treacly platitude, meant to prod the recipient into action. Instead, it acts as a powerful summation of all that Hanekawa has gone through in search of her own happiness and self-acceptance. Hanekawa was in Sodachi Oikura’s figurative shoes not long ago, and remembers all too well how she blocked out vital parts of herself in pursuit of perfection rather than addressing her innermost desires and seeking out personal contentment.

Owarimonogatari‘s Sodachi Oikura offers not only a reminder of the Hanekawa of Nekomonogataris past, but additionally provides a mystery on which the new, self-assured Hanekawa can cut her teeth.

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