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Monogatari Final Season: Owarimonogatari Part 3 Review: In Which Doctorkev Embraces His Havoc-inciting Alter-ego

Ougi tries to get her claws/loose blouse sleeves on youngest Araragi sibling Tsukihi.

Finally, we’ve reached the end of Monogatari Final Season’s twenty-episode Owarimonogatari (End Tale), with the seven-episode volume three, confusingly also referred to as Owarimonogatari season two. Of course NisiOisin never met a story he couldn’t extend endlessly, so after this follows Zoku Owarimonogatari (End Tale — continued), though today’s set of episodes functions extremely well as a conclusion both thematically and in plot terms.

For most of Monogatari’s second and final seasons, my repeated question has been: “Who or what the hell is Ougi Oshino”, and finally we get some answers. Weird, semi-bullshit answers, but we don’t watch Monogatari for its grounded, down-to-Earth kitchen-sink drama, do we? Some degree of supernatural hand-waving was always going to be expected, and by this point I am absolutely fine with it. NisiOisin twists his plots around until they buckle and scream, forcing them into the shape he needs for them to demonstrate whatever character-related or philosophical point he wants to make.

SIGNIFICANT MONOGATARI FINAL SEASON SPOILERS AHEAD

Gaen doesn’t do things by half. Got a problem? Murder it.

Owarimonogatari volume 3 comprises three closely-linked stories over its seven episodes and finds us back at the far extreme of continuity, at the end of Koyomi Araragi’s third year of High School, almost exactly a year after he became a vampire. As Araragi is about to sit his College entrance exams, he’s unceremoniously murdered/chopped into itty bits with the reconstituted “oddity slayer” sword by frightening know-it-all and supernatural specialist Izuko Gaen who professes to “know everything”. This initial two-part story (Mayoi Hell) continues from the cliffhanger ending of the otherwise ephemeral Koyomimonogatari, with Araragi now in Avici, the deepest level of Naraka (Buddhist hell), and faced with someone he thought he’d lost forever… little wandering ghost Mayoi Hachikuji.

And after all those tears we shed, Mayoi is back, only to be abused once more!

Back in the second season’s Shinobu Time, in order to save Mayoi from total annihilation by the supernatural force of “the Darkness”, she was obliged to accept her fate and move on to the afterlife. Since then, she’s been in limbo, the place children go when they die before their parents, where they spend eternity pulling rocks from a river to build a wall… The Japanese afterlife sounds kind of unfair and terrifying. Mayoi doesn’t seem overly upset with her lot, and it seems to be ok for her to take the day off and descend to Hell’s lower levels to await Araragi’s arrival. Yes, she’d somehow been warned to expect him. Turns out that saving the life of a demon (Shinobu, the former vampire Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade) warrants everlasting torment?

Uhhh… WTF, man? Perhaps Araragi really does belong in Hell.
I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly screaming right now.

Araragi is overjoyed to see his friend, and immediately starts to sexually harass her as usual, and she violently objects. Monogatari seems hell-bent on ending as unrepentantly as it began. Sigh. Anyway, no-one seems to stop Mayoi from leading Araragi out of his little corner of Hell and through a vivid landscape where he relives parts of his previous life. It becomes clear that he’d still make the same self-sacrificing decisions now as he did then. He rushes towards a hallucination of the dismembered Kiss-shot, ready once more to lay down his life for a monster.

Hajime Ueda’s art is usually relegated to the ending sequences only, but here his unique style is showcased as Araragi and Mayoi traverse Hell.
Mayoi shows Araragi select scenes from his past, taking care to call him out for his misdeeds.

Mayoi takes Araragi to meet Tadatsuru Teori, the deceased soul of former specialist and colleague of Izuko Gaen, Meme Oshino, Deishu Kaiki and Yozuru Kagenui. We last met Teori at the beginning of the Final Season in the less-than-interesting Tsukimonogatari, which does hold additional relevance now. In that story, Teori abducted both Araragi sisters and Suruga Kanbaru, before being killed by resurrected corpse/doll-girl Yotsugi Ononoki. The guilt of doing so ate away at Ononoki, as it transpires she was created by the combined efforts of all five specialists, each of whom received a curse as a result of meddling with death. Teori and Kagenui are unable to touch the ground (even in Hell, Teori is seen sitting above the ground, on a temple offertory box), presumably Gaen’s unnatural knowledge also has something to do with the curse. I’m unsure what Oshino’s and Kaiki’s curses were.

It’s Teori time! I don’t find him a particularly compelling character. Thankfully he’s not around for long.

Anyway, it turns out Teori actually died years ago, but is still able to influence the living world by inhabiting one of his army of identical Teori dolls. Ononoki only killed one of those. Although Teori’s soul is in hell, he remains essentially immortal as long as he has a supply of dolls. Araragi and Shinobu are Teori’s natural enemies, as like Kagenui, his chosen role is the annihilation of immortal oddities like vampires. However, Teori explains that Gaen killing Araragi with the Oddity Slayer sword removed his vampiric nature, he’s now a human again, and he can be resurrected without his vampire abilities, as Gaen had planned all along.

Mayoi gets royally pissed at Araragi’s pathological self-deprecation.
His thought process is understandable, though.

Gaen provides Araragi with an escape route from Hell, a long thin snake/rope that dangles from above. Araragi torments himself that he doesn’t “deserve” to return to life, that others are more deserving than him, so on his way out of Hell he grabs onto Mayoi and yanks her back into the land of the living. Teori’s parting words are that the person who contracted him to kill Araragi and Shinobu in Tsukimonogatari was a certain Ougi Oshino…

Mayoi says goodbye… again.
But Araragi’s having none of it and grapples her with his legs, possibly one of the clumsiest escapes from Hell ever recorded.

Upon awakening back in the living world, Araragi finds Gaen waiting for him, with the now fully re-powered Kiss-shot threatening to kill her in retribution for killing her beloved master. Gaen explains that all of her pieces are now in play, and that her counterattack can begin. Araragi will be working for her from now on… though hasn’t he been kind of doing that already? We don’t get any more explanations for now, because the next story is about to begin — Araragi and Senjogahara have a date!

Shinobu/Kiss-shot’s rage is also fully understandable. There’s something so infuriating about know-it-alls, right?

As one of the supposedly central characters, Araragi’s girlfriend Hitagi Senjogahara has been only sparingly used during the second and final seasons. It seems either that Araragi prefers to keep her at arms’ length and out of harms way, or that she deliberately steps back from her boyfriend’s supernatural antics in order to lead as normal a life as possible. We don’t commonly see her interact with other characters at all, and sometimes it feels as if Araragi’s life is totally split between oddities and Senjogahara. This second two-episode arc does something to make up for her relative absence by examining the relationship between Araragi and his purple-haired lover.

She’s often so very serious, though she has a truly wicked sense of humour hiding under there somewhere.
I don’t know if Tsukihi’s just dense, or if Ononoki is perhaps particularly adept at pretending to be a soft toy.

Senjogahara announces that Araragi will be taking her out to make up for the last six months without any official dates. Oh, and Ononoki announces that if Kagenui never returns to her, then she’ll live with Araragi forever, even if he gets married and moves house. Strangely enough, he doesn’t appear to bring this subject up with his beloved (terrifying) girlfriend. I can’t imagine Senjogahara will be as blind and as accepting of a human-sized “plushie doll” inhabiting their house.

Happy date picture from the planetarium.
She’s essentially asking to have his babies at this point.

Senjogahara challenges Araragi to a variety of competitions with the proviso that the loser gives the winner “absolute obedience”. It turns out that due to her relative physical frailty, even mildly active pursuits like ten-pin-bowling exhausts her, so she can’t beat him. Eventually succeeding in her plan via a confusingly circular conversation filled with semantics, she finally gets him to agree to… call her by her first name, without honorifics, for the rest of her life, a major signifier of intimacy in Japanese relationships. She also strongly hints that should he ask for her hand in marriage, she’d have no hesitation in giving her consent.

Perhaps Ougi isn’t the most trustworthy of teachers.
Does that sound like a veiled threat?

These episodes make an interesting change of pace, and remind us that Araragi’s life, although full of weirdness, does have some aspects of normality that give him something to fight for, to value. He has a family and girlfriend that love him, who have hopes for his future, even if he’s unable to visualise it for himself. During their date at the planetarium, Araragi and Senjogahara both fall asleep, and in his dreams, the aberration that is Ougi Oshino comes to Araragi in his dreams to warn him not to fall for Gaen’s “slick talk”, but also to ask for his help…

Awww, look, Shinobu and Ononoki are buddies now! Sort of.
Uh-oh. Gaen’s gone all murdery again.

Onto the third (three-part) story, Ougi Dark, and most of our questions regarding Ougi Oshino are finally answered, by Gaen. Apparently, everything is Araragi’s fault, as usual. First of all I should mention that this story’s opening track Dark Cherry Mystery is probably my all-time favourite Monogatari opener. Its stylish, mirror-filled imagery and catchy tune mixed with self-referential lyrics never get old to me, no matter how many times I listen to it. Shaft really outdid themselves with the deep story references and thematic resonance in the accompanying animation, hinting tantalisingly at Ougi’s true nature.

Best Monogatari opener, the second best is probably Platinum Disco.

In particular I like the lyric:

Unknown by everyone else,
Known only by you,
Our story
About the you that you don’t know

Where the (romanised) Japanese “Bokura no monogatari” meaning “our story” also namedrops the title of the franchise, Monogatari, meaning a certain type of (usually lengthy) narrative or epic novel. It’s also relevant, because the identity of Araragi’s main opponent, the “enemy” that Gaen has taken such pains to prepare for combat… is Araragi himself. Through a convoluted series of steps involving several of the aberrations Araragi had been exposed to (Kanbaru’s rainy devil/monkey, Seishiro the original oddity-slayer, the Darkness, and Shinobu herself devouring aspects of each of these and by their shared link passing their abilities/natures onto Araragi), he unwittingly manifested an apparition of his own self-loathing, his subconscious desire to be punished for the things in his life he deemed “unfair”, a consequence of his inferiority complex and inability to accept good consequences. It also explains Ougi’s oft-repeated mantra “I don’t know anything, Araragi-senpai. You’re the one that knows,” plus her seemingly impossible inside information, all presumably sourced from Araragi’s memories. It’s also likely that Meme Oshino, Deishu Kaiki and Yozuru Kagenui have fled and become unreachable because of Ougi’s abilities.

That’s some pathological self-deprecation right there.
Aww, who could refuse a request from such a creepy, pallid, serial-lying abomination?

Gaen’s plan is for Araragi to expose Ougi’s true nature to the world, not as Meme Oshino’s niece (a lie), but as Araragi’s own subconscious (the truth), therefore alerting the true “Darkness” to the impostor that had been usurping its corrective role in the world, causing it to devour and annihilate Ougi. Ougi is surprisingly accepting of her fate, even as she “begs” Araragi, her progenitor, for her life. All Araragi has to do this time is allow a monster to die, and everything will apparently return to normal. It is “the end of adolescence”, where he must put away childish things, accept the responsibility for his actions, and make reparations. Gaen pushes Araragi, and Araragi alone, to kill that part of himself that’s inconvenient and dangerous… Hang on, that can’t be right, can it?

Murdering yourself? That’s not a normal part of growing up! The Darkness of eternal annihilation looms before Ougi. This also reminds me of a certain bagel from a certain recent multiversal movie.
Ougi and her meta-commentary…

Ending another’s life isn’t Araragi’s style, not even when it’s his own alter ego. Of course Araragi can’t bring himself to do it. He couldn’t leave Kiss-shot, a vampire he’d never met, to die alone in the subway. He can’t bring himself to let Ougi, his “friend” of six months, die, so hurls himself towards her and allows the Darkness to swallow his arm instead, leaving him spewing blood everywhere, with no chance of healing himself. Ougi appears to have inherited some vampiric skills from him, so manages to staunch the blood.

It’s been a while since Araragi last exploded.
Considering his little girl and sister fetishes, Ougi has a point.

Ougi continues to complain that there’s something wrong with him, and perhaps she’s right, but as he explains, by saving her, he’s really saving himself. Just in time, Hanekawa arrives, along with Meme Oshino for whom she’s been abroad searching for months. Oshino dispels the Darkness by naming Ougi his niece, thereby proving her existence. Hanekawa collapses with exhaustion, announcing “I win”, in belated answer to Ougi’s challenge to her from months previous. Meme Oshino commends Araragi for finally “helping himself out on his own”, and Araragi realises that he was mistaken in his previous philosophy that “not taking care of myself was the act of loving others”. Self-care and care for others are not mutually exclusive, but in fact complementary.

Behold your new god! Hmmm. Perhaps she’ll grow into the role?
Araragi, I’m not sure your girlfiend will approve of these sentiments.

The Ougi situation resolved, Mayoi Hachikuji becomes the new god and protector of the shrine (instead of Shinobu, as Gaen had originally planned) and Shinobu and Araragi reform their previous agreement, with Shinobu reverting to a child body and Araragi regaining his semi-vampiric healing powers. With the story of each of his friends’ associated aberrations now essentially concluded, he attends school for the final time with both Hanekawa and (a slightly jealous) Senjogahara. Ougi seems to have taken up residence in the nonexistent classroom she led Araragi to when they first met.

Although there’s another 10 or more light novel volumes that follow this, so perhaps that statement is a little premature, Shinobu dear.

And there ends the main story of Monogatari Final Season, and the Monogatari anime as a whole. Yes, there’s a six-episode epilogue (Zoku Owarimonogatari) to follow, but this is where most of the themes and plotlines meet a very satisfying conclusion. Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Owarimonogatari. It’s probably been the most consistently entertaining and meaningful section of the entire anime franchise up until now. For once, Araragi undergoes significant character growth, rather than that being the provenance of only the female characters. As it is about his final days at school, there’s a kind of potent nostalgia underlying the whole production. All of us once upon a time grew up and left school behind, transitioning into the relative unknowns of adulthood. Araragi leaves his adolescence without the self-deprecating baggage he had accumulated, and with the ongoing support of his friends and lover, hopefully he’ll become a well-adjusted adult. The final montage is of Araragi and most of his female acquaintances as they pose for a graduation photograph. That’s pretty much the perfect place to end it.

Random Ononoki picture! Mainly because I thought it was cool, not because it’s remotely relevant or anything.

Owarimonogatari Volume 3
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:
August 12th — August 13th 2017
UK Blu-ray Release Date:
July 5th 2021
Runtime:
175 minutes

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DoctorKev

DoctorKev

Physician. Obsessed with anime, manga, comic-books. Husband and father. Christian. Fascinated by tensions between modern culture and traditional faith. Bit odd.

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