Full title: Kizumonogatari
Author: Nishio Ishin
Illustrator: VOFAN
Label: Kodansha Box
Year of publication: 2008
Pages: 357

After taking a little break from the Bakemonogatari series, reading a few books by other authors, I finally dug into Kizumonogatari, which is the third novel about Araragi Koyomi. It took no more than two sentences to get back into the groove.

While Kizumonogatari was published 18 months after the first two volumes, it’s actually a prequel taking place over the spring break, about a month before Koyomi meets Hitagi in the first arc of Bakemonogatari. As a consequence, most of the girls introduced in the previous books are completely absent from this one. Knowing this I was a bit apprehensive, thinking it would lead to less opportunities for the dialogues that make Nishio’s writing so great. In my previous review I also voiced complaints about how battle scenes left me cold, and it was clear at the outset that this volume would contain more action than the other arcs.

Surprisingly however, Nishio seems to have levelled up his writing skills between books. Rather than being tedious, the fight sequences in Kizumonogatari turn out to be the highlights this time around. They’re genuinely exciting and suspenseful, thanks to being more roughly described, allowing me to paint the scenes vividly in my head, instead of stumbling over every single fixed movement. It’s remarkable how he manages to keep readers on their toes, regardless of the fact that we know the precise outcome from Bakemonogatari. It’s easy to believe the story this time will feel repetitive because so much was hinted already, but this is no mere recap.

In Kizumonogatari we find out all the details about Koyomi’s dark encounter with the supernatural that changed his life. It starts out telling us how he becomes friends with Tsubasa, and how she mentions a rumour that you might run into a vampire if you’re out at night. Koyomi finds out just how truthful it is when he’s on his way back from the bookshop past midnight and sees a beautiful blonde woman under a streetlamp. She has no limbs — both arms and legs have been torn off — and cries out to him for help. Her name is Kisshot Acerola Orion Heart-Under-Blade, and her predicament leads to Koyomi duelling three vampire hunters to get the extremities back, meeting Oshino along the way.

Shedding off the other characters actually results in a greater focus for this arc, raising the quality even higher than before. Tsubasa gets a lot more space, fleshing her character out to become my favourite girl in Koyomi’s “harem”, and it’s fascinating to see what kind of person Shinobu was before she turned into an empty husk. Compared to Bakemonogatari, the balance is a lot better here, with plenty of time for the plot to develop, making it a more cohesive story overall. I would confidently state that Kizumonogatari is the best part (so far), but blemishes still remain to be polished.

Some 275 pages into the book there’s a turning point, and Koyomi suddenly becomes an irritatingly whiny emo. It doesn’t last very long, but it feels like an eternity to wade through. Up until the finale I had also been happy about the absence of tiresome explanations from Oshino, but this hope too was smashed, as the last battle is interspersed with helpful elucidation on details the reader might have missed, had they not already been noted so many times before. I believe dropping this obsession with hammering the point would improve Nishio’s authorship immensely.

In the afterword, Nishio says it is possible to start the series by reading Kizumonogatari, since it’s the proper chronological order. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. The first books felt deeper for the mystery added through not knowing anything about the vampire incident, and this one is all the more thrilling for finally exposing a hidden mystery. No matter what order you choose, the Bakemonogatari series is a fantastic experience by a magnificent author. Some people have the gift of knowing how to paint a complete character with a few deft strokes, but I think it’s equally impressive to see how Nishio manages to create genuine, real characters by using every last stroke of his brush. It’s so damned intricate, yet never feels contrived.

Amazon link: Japanese


  1. I read it about a month before the anime started, but I pretty much forgot everything in the first 2 vol so I had to skim over them just to remember what the series was about. It kinda ruined the anime for me since I had no idea it was coming out at the time.

  2. Its really a shame that there are so many great light novels out there and I cannot read even one for my lack of Japanese skills…*Sigh*

    I feel like I’m really missing out on a whole sub-genre of the anime fandom, since most anime recently are all based off of light novels…*Cries*

  3. actually if you check baka-tsuki.net there are a few novels translated there… I believe even this is… possibly… some of the novels aren’t all the way translated but still if you interested in seeing whats behind some popular anime and manga its a good place to start looking…

  4. geez…when a year ago i started japanese learning i skipped all the writing stuff, taking only audio lessons…now reading your comment i ‘m regretting to not be able to read a single kanji…

  5. hey.. do you guys know where I can find the english translated novels of the said author(bakemonogatari, kizumonogatari, etc.)? Baka-Tsuki haven’t translated them yet..

    the story you don't know
  6. Kizumono: 傷物; 疵物; 傷もの 【きずもの】 (n,adj-no) (1) defective article; damaged goods; (2) deflowered girl; unvirtuous girl [from jim breen’s dic]

    I’m also reading these books currently. I’m with you on the intricacy, and I think it makes me connect more to these characters than with anything else out there at the moment. I’m in a funk where everything seems pale, uninteresting, or unoriginal in comparison, which is actually true at least a great deal of the time. Nishio is refreshing for me.

  7. solaris > 100% agree! shaft overwhelm the anime adaptions of the original source by puttting all their shaftness over it. Despair sensei was cool for it but not every other anime they do. Ark is now booking his tickets to the world cup 2010 not to watch the games, but to escape the sahft fanboys.

    ark noir
  8. Nishio is so good at this, so why he sucks completely with Medaka Box… I just cannot understand how such good author of light novels could write such crappy plot for a manga… A total mistery.


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