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Monogatari Final Season: Koyomimonogatari Review: In Which Doctorkev Finds That Good Things Don’t Always Come in Small Packages

A year in the life of Koyomi Araragi

We’re now halfway into Monogatari’s final season, following Tsukimonogatari and the first thirteen episodes of Owarimonogatari. Before we move onto the real endgame, comes this odd collection of half-length episodes. Originally released weekly via a mobile app in 2016, the twelve Koyomimonogatari shorts are mostly inconsequential side stories, well, until they aren’t. As will become clear, parts of Koyomimonogatari are essential to the final season’s ongoing plot.

In typical NisiOisin tradition, the title Koyomimonogatari is a pun on the main character Koyomi Araragi’s name, while also meaning “Calendar tale”. That’s fitting, as each episode takes place in chronological succession during a different month of Araragi’s final year at high school, weaving in and out of apparent gaps in continuity. Beginning with April, following prequel story Kizumonogatari, and ending in March the following year after Tsukimonogatari, the final episode brings us further forward in Monogatari’s tangled continuity than any other story apart from the second season’s aberrant Hanamonogatari.

NisiOisin wrote Koyomimonogatari and its cruel cliffhanger before embarking upon any of the three Owarimonogatari novel volumes, justifying this choice in his afterword by arguing the importance of foreshadowing. Plot threads from Koyomimonogatari are followed up only in the third volume of Owarimonogatari, the animated version of which I will review next time. I can see why Studio Shaft decided to animate the show in this order, though. Each episode focuses on one of Araragi’s female acquaintances, and every episode uses a different opening song, whichever is linked with the featured female at that point in continuity. Every episode ends with the same song, however — TrySail’s Whiz, an upbeat and breezy track with lyrics that mix whimsy about passing seasons and new adolescent acquaintances with an acceptance that adulthood soon beckons.

THERE WILL FOLLOW SOME GENERAL SPOILERS FOR THE MONOGATARI FRANCHISE UP UNTIL THE ENDING OF KOYOMIMONOGATARI

Shinobu is still in Sulk Mode
Hanekawa still has her long, non-tiger-striped hair at this point

Koyomi Stone: Featuring Tsubasa Hanekawa: April. Occurs following Koyomi Vamp (Kizumonogatari).

An incredibly slight tale, Araragi and Hanekawa investigate the appearance of a small wooden structure in one of the school flowerbeds, that appears to enshrine an ordinary rock. Is there some supernatural significance? They even ask Meme Oshino for advice. It’s kind of cute but pointless. It starts the trend of each episode featuring an explanatory epilogue.

Shinobu: more sulk with added goggles
A newly de-crabbed Senjogahara.

Koyomi Flower: Featuring Hitagi Senjogahara: May. Occurs following Hitagi Crab (Bakemonogatari).

Possibly pre-relationship Araragi and Senjogahara investigate the mystery of bunches of flowers left behind in various odd places, like rooftops and roadsides. Araragi inadvertently causes his school massive expense in upgrading roof safety. This one is again pretty much disposable, but it has a cute punchline.

Mayoi Hachikuji and her running joke mispronunciations.
That does look creepy, right enough.

Koyomi Sand: Featuring Mayoi Hachikuji: June. Occurs following Tsubasa Cat (Bakemonogatari).

Back when Mayoi Hachikuji was still on this plane of existence, Araragi and Hanekawa investigate a creepy playground sandpit. I was not convinced by the explanation for this phenomenon. Pointless.

Kanbaru clearly views herself as a Shojo manga prince-like hero. Exept perverse.
Image captured before disaster.

Koyomi Water: Featuring Suruga Kanbaru: July. Occurs following Koyomi Sand (Koyomimonogatari).

Araragi investigates Kanbaru’s bath because of a rumour that you will see your destined love in your reflection. Mainly notable because this bath will feature in a later plotline, and also for Kanbaru’s hilariously frustrated attempt to bathe with/sexually molest an exasperated Araragi who wants nothing to do with it.

No longer sulk. Shinobu has donut now.
Alone in the house with Nadeko on his bed… Araragi’s in danger.

Koyomi Wind: Featuring Nadeko Sengoku: August. Occurs following Karen Bee (Nisemonogatari).

Probably against his better judgement (perhaps Araragi has no better judgement?) he allows underage girl in heat Nadeko into his bedroom (in a house empty of his parents or sisters) for a party involving mountains of overflowing popcorn. That Araragi manages to leave his room without becoming a middle-school-child-molester (or middle-school-child-molested?) is a blessing. Also — Kaiki appears! He looks as miserable and untrustworthy as usual.

Not the incest! Please, anything but that!
Nooooo! Stoooooop iiiiiit!!

Koyomi Tree: Featuring Karen Araragi: September. Occurs following Shinobu Mail. (Owarimonogatari)

For those viewers who enjoy hints of incest in their anime, we return to the tone of the more difficult-to-justify episodes of Nisemonogatari with Araragi’s sister Karen and her boobs. I don’t really understand why she keeps acting like this with her brother, it creeps me out. Anyway, this is another fairly pointless tale involving a training ground tree that no-one previously noticed.

Tsukihi can be… intense sometimes.
Araragi toiling as a slave in Kanbaru’s BL novel mines

Koyomi Tea: Featuring Tsukihi Araragi: October. Occurs following Koyomi Tree (Koyomimonogatari).

Youngest Araragi sibling and reincarnated phoenix Tsukihi gets the focus here in this vague story about truth and perception in the context of a school tea club. Honestly, who cares?

What lies behind those dark, empty eyes?
Smirking Ougi gets up and personal with a flustered Araragi.

Koyomi Mountain: Featuring Ougi Oshino: November. Occurs during Nadeko Medusa (Otorimonogatari)

Here comes creepy Ougi to terrorise, manipulate and make Araragi feel uncomfortable. The main purpose of this short seems to be to drop hints about the true nature of the snake shrine that will become important later. Once more, Ougi seems to know far too much, and of course it was her machinations that led to Nadeko ascending to snake-godhood and installing her at the shrine.

Super Shinobu! Rescuing (and devouring) donuts the world over!
You can see how much donuts have brought joy to her life.

Koyomi Torus: Featuring Shinobu Oshino: December. Occurs following Koyomi Mountain (Koyomimonogatari).

A very sweet (literally) episode focusing on shrunken vampire Shinobu Oshino and her donut fixation. Senjogahara has baked donuts but Shinobu is concerned they might be poisoned and obviously must “protect” Araragi from them. That does not prevent the deaths and devourement of several innocent donuts during the production of this episode. Inconsequential but fun, unless you’re a donut.

Foreshadowing??
They’re multiplying!

Koyomi Seed: Featuring Yotsugi Ononoki: January. Occurs following Hitagi End (Koimonogatari).

Starring everyone’s favourite snappily-dressed emotionless doll/undead monstrosity Yotsugi Ononoki, she and Araragi discuss responsibility, while he gets to experience Yozuru Kagenui’s lifestyle, perched high above the ground while balancing on Ononoki’s bizarrely overpowered index finger. Ononoki’s so weird I enjoy almost anything with her in it (except for Tsukimonogatari, which was rubbish.)

Scary Yozuru. Not even Gaen knows how to handle her.
Araragi and his sister naked in a bath full of puddings. You know, normal things, like normal siblings normally do.

Koyomi Nothing: Featuring Yozuru Kagenui: February. Occurs following Yotsugi Doll (Tsukimonogatari).

The long-awaited return of Ononoki’s human partner, the violent and snarky Kagenui who was cursed forever to be unable to touch the ground. That doesn’t stop her from kicking Araragi’s ass whenever they spar, though. Araragi asks Kagenui to train him so that he doesn’t need to rely on his vampire powers. They arrange to meet for proper face-off, but Kagenui mysteriously disappears. Important to the overall plot, so best not to be missed. Also — no opening song, as Kagenui never got one of her own.

Uh-oh, perhaps she’s overdosed on the donuts now.
Nothing Gaen says reassures me. She’s creepy and never tells the full truth or reveals her true motivations.

Koyomi Dead: Featuring Izuko Gaen: March. Occurs following Koyomi Nothing (Koyomimonogatari).

Does what it says on the tin. Despite that he’s meant to be meeting up with Senjogahara to attend university entrance exams, Araragi meets up with Gaen at the Nadeko-less shrine, where she proceeds to chop him into bits with the original oddity slayer sword, presumably re-forged from the armour of Shinobu’s previous (and now very much properly deceased) thrall Seishiro, as hinted at the end of Owarimonogatari Part 2.

Gaen points out that Ononoki was in his house at her orders, can’t protect him from her, and Shinobu can’t be relied upon to fight his every battle either…

Her justification for this is vague, perhaps she’s just upset that she too, does not get an opening song, but as the other specialists Oshino/Kaiki/Kagenui are gone/missing/unavailable, she feels she must act to fix the source of the city’s troubles, and that means killing Araragi. Araragi plunges into hell, where he meets a familiar face, and a cliffhanger ending… Yeah. Suffice to say this is essential to understand the next arc. What a weird way to structure a story.

Cameo from “best girl” Deisshu Kaiki!

Because Koyomimonogatari was written before Owarimonogatari, you won’t see any episode featuring (or even acknowledging the existence of) Sodachi Oikura, and it’s unfortunate Kaiki doesn’t get a whole episode of his own, but at least he cameos in Koyomi Wind. The same goes for Meme Oshino and his brief cameos in Koyomi Stone and Koyomi Flower. Otherwise, the rest of Monogatari’s large cast of female characters get an episode of their own to shine, sometimes turning up in other episodes too. The vast majority of episodes are insubstantial fluff, however.

Random Hanekawa bikini picture. Just because.

I’m not going to lie, even with the short runtimes (15 minutes each with full-length opening and closing songs), I still found this very dull and a struggle to get through. Although I pre-ordered it and started watching it a year ago when it was finally released on blu-ray in the UK, fittingly for a Calendar Tale, it’s taken me a year to trudge through all 12 entries. It’s certainly not worth the frankly obscene Aniplex USA blu-ray RRP ($90), and even the UK RRP (£30) is a big ask for something so insubstantial. It is streaming on Funimation in the US, though not in the UK. I’d honestly recommend not wasting your money or time on this, and streaming only final last two episodes.

I’ll see you next time, with a look at Owarimonogatari part 3!

Ooh, look who’s back!

Koyomimonogatari
Format:
Region B Blu-ray
Directors:
Tomoyuki Itamura, Akiyuki Shinbou
Writers: Yukito Kizawa and Muneo Nakamoto
Based on the Light Novel by: NisiOisin
Language:
Japanese audio with English subtitles
Classification:
BBFC 15
Distributor:
MVM Entertainment
Original Japanese release:
January 10th — March 27th 2016
UK Blu-ray Release Date:
June 14th 2021
Runtime:
168 minutes

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