Nadeko is safe but the shrine is still a potential breeding ground for apparitions. Araragi feels obligated to clean up the mess before he leaves for college, but something strange is affecting his powers. With no options left, he tries to contact Yotsugi for help.
If the dour and joyless Hanamonogatari had you wondering if Monogatari was heading in a different direction, Tsukimonogatari answers that question with a definitive “no”. The latest mini-series delivers the same double-edged blade of artistically fascinating storytelling and excessive, off-putting sexuality that we’ve been enjoying/frustrated with for years. It’s like they had to get their pent up lasciviousness immediately out of the way, kicking things off with a 20+ minute bath scene involving Araragi and Tsukihi and dashing in flat out stupid moments like Araragi walking around with Yotsugi’s skirt lifted. It’s not the most egregious of the Monogatari story arcs but after seeing how cool the series can be with that element toned down in the last arc, it was even more annoying than usual to see it return. On the flip side, it was at least nice to see the show having a little fun, particularly with Araragi randomly doing the “Platinum Disco” dance and Shinobu and Yotsugi’s high stakes snowball fight. I’m all for more of that kind of humor as it helps break up the lengthy dialogue and was sorely missed last time.
Once you get past all that, Tsukimono turns out to be a pretty decent story and a solid introduction to the “final season” of the series. The consequences of power is a theme probably more common in Western super hero stories, but it works well here with writer NisioIsin’s swirling wordplay and roundabout logic. I particularly enjoy the fact that there’s no easy solution for Araragi this time. His decision to remain human or vampire truly has negatives and positives for different people important to him, and that’s even before factoring in Kagenui’s promise to kill him. I have to wonder if that will be the ultimate message the series goes for, essentially equating his Vampire powers to adulthood and that if he is going to truly grow up he needs to be himself. Of course this being Monogatari they can turn their own dialogue against themselves at any time, perhaps stating that Araragi true self is BOTH human and vampire. For now though, examining just this arc, it’s interesting to think about. Adding in Yotsugi’s plight was a nice addition that complimented Araragi’s story well, as defining humanity is an important part of his decision. I really like how her character can be eccentric and goofy but not annoying at all. She’s been a surprisingly solid addition to the cast.
Speaking of turning your own dialogue against yourself, the biggest thing I took away from Tsukimono is how elaborately Gaen is or isn’t controlling everyone. Is she as omniscient as she claims and has EVERYTHING, good or bad, gone according to her plan? Did she really want Tadatsuru to kill Araragi or was his death (assuming he’s even really dead) her actual goal? I really don’t know, nor would I be surprised either way. Keeping that element of unpredictability alive is what’s also keeping my interest in Monogatari alive and while the end of this story is long overdue, Tsukimonogatari has at least re-ignited my interest in seeing it. On a final note I was really glad to see Senjougahara appear, even just for a brief cameo. It was cool to see how their relationship has evolved and that Araragi is comfortable talking about his problems without hiding them and trying to solve them by himself. Hopefully we’ll get more of them together before this is all over. Now, bring on Season 3 and let’s get this thing over with!
It’s back to status quo for the Monogatari series, for better and for worse. With more naked teens than you would get arrested for shaking a stick at, it makes for another awkward chapter in the ongoing saga of Monogatari’s battle with anime’s worst tendencies. Thankfully, nothing of substance happens here, so it can be quickly forgotten as the actual plot begins. I find the concept of Araragi’s reliance on his powers being a bane to finally bring some conflict home. Araragi’s powers seem to always make him nigh invincible, no matter what oddity he runs into. Finally having a situation he can’t just vampire heal out of also effortlessly flows into the ever popular fantasy discussion, what constitutes a human? Yotsugi was technically a human at one time, but after her death and conscription as a shikigami, she has had much of her humanity stripped from her. Despite this, she has her own will and personality. Just like the discussions of fakes in Nisemonogatari, can one ever act so much like something that their attempt makes them as genuine as what they are mimicking? After all these questions, it’s in the final scenes of the show that we see what truly qualifies Yotsugi’s inhumanity, her supernatural power.
I did like the message Yotsugi was sending, regardless of whether or not her actions were being manipulated. With power comes consequences, and with the amount of strength Araragi has shown as a vampire, he could kill a normal man as easily as she did. Even outside of any actual philosophical pondering nisiOisin is doing, that fact has been made patently clear. Once he becomes an adult, can he truly say he can prevent himself from using those powers to protect those he cares about and not go too far? Still, part of me wonders if becoming an adult and maintaining any sense of the supernatural is even possible. With every one of the specialists we have met so far, each one of them has shown to have traits that specifically put them at odds with normal adult behavior. Oshino lived like a hobo, Kaiki . Now with both Kagenui and Tadatsuru we see they have a “curse” that prevents them from walking on the ground, quickly pointed out as a very childish behavior. In the modern day, the supernatural has always been the realm of children. Moves made for children about children will often have supernatural beings and elements taken from ghost stories or fairy tales. Is it, then, necessary for someone to remain childish in order to remain perceptive of the supernatural elements that pervade this series? Part of me wonders if I am simply looking too far into it, but for a story that so often tries to tie its tales to the reality of human psychology, I’m not counting anything out yet.