OP Sequence

OP: 「perfect slumbers」 by 堀江由衣 (Horie Yui)

「つばさファミリー 其ノ壹 – 肆」 (Tsubasa Famirii Sono Ichi – Yon)
“Tsubasa Family Part One – Four”

Much of the appeal to the Bakemonogatari series comes from its heroines, and rightly so. From Senjougahara to Hanekawa, these girls are some of the most interesting and compelling characters to ever grace anime, with dedicated story arcs that memorably chronicled the journey of their personality growth and development. We learned about the scars of their pasts, watched them exorcise their demons (both literally and figuratively), and briefly enjoyed the company of their newfound, unburdened personalities. Nevertheless, even with two shows in the franchise so far, not all of the characters have been fleshed out to the same level as others. It’s something Nekomonogatari (Kuro) goes a long ways towards addressing, going as far as rewriting events that had already been shown in Bakemonogatari.

More specifically, two important characters whose backstories were never fully detailed finally receive the spotlight that they deserve in this latest installment in the series. From the title, it’s obvious one of the characters is none other than Hanekawa Tsubasa (Horie Yui). With her wholesome and kind personality (somewhat of a rarity amongst the series’ heroines), she has long been my favorite heroine. As such, this retelling of Hanekawa’s first brush with the sawarineko (触り猫, meddlesome cat) during Golden Week – originally shown during several scenes in Bakemonogatari’s episode 11 – was eagerly anticipated.

  Hanekawa Tsubasa

While all the other heroines of Bakemonogatari underwent fairly substantial personality changes over the course of the series, any changes Hanekawa went through were quite subtle to say the least. She started that series as a nice girl and ended as… a nice girl. Nekomonogatari (Kuro) doesn’t attempt to alter the personality we already know and love, but rather does a wonderful job of filling in the many gaps.

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  Araragi Koyomi

Nekomonogatari (Kuro) is more than simply the story of Araragi Koyomi’s (Kamiya Hiroshi) adventures before the events of Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari. It’s about how he “fell out of love for the first time, even though he wasn’t in love.” Above all, it’s about how through Hanekawa, he learned to feel for others, becoming someone who would stop at nothing to help out a person in need, even at the cost of his own life.

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~-~

Once again, Shaft and Shinbou Akiyuki come together to produce another entry in the Bakemonogatari series that meets the high standard set by previous installments. The crisp art style, artistically gorgeous backgrounds, detailed facial close-ups, and interspersed frames of text on a solid colored backdrop all can be found in Nekomonogatari (Kuro), making it a feast for the eyes. The scene transitions and pacing are also done quite well. It never felt there as if there were any sudden or abrupt changes from scene to scene, nor did it ever feel like scenes dragged on too long or were rushed.

Although it is the prequel to Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari, this series was made afterward the two, which is why influences from both earlier works can be seen. Most obviously, there is the unadulterated and overt fanservice in the style of latter, and less obviously, the narrative style that is more like the former. The return to a plot structure with a greater focus on the main heroine along with a smart and heavy dialogue that is lighter on wit and wordplay works well for Nekomonogatari (Kuro), which is a series that has a more serious mood than the more light-hearted, comedic, and fanservice filled affair that was Nisemonogatari.

It all comes together for a thoroughly entertaining series that brings NisiOisiN’s unique wit to bear on clichéd but timeless issues of love and friendship, along with developing an additional depth both Hanekawa’s and Araragi’s characters. Like Hanekawa Tsubasa, I don’t know everything; I just know what I know. And what I know is that Nekomonogatari (Kuro) is another tale greater than the sum of its parts.

Full-length images: 047, 108, 109, 110, 141, 144, 174, 196, 199.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「消えるdaydream」 (Kieru Daydream) by 河野マリナ (Kawano Marina)

Preview

End Card

80 Comments

  1. I fail to notice any retroactive changes you mentioned (“rewriting events that had already been shown in Bakemonogatari”) other than the loli vamp shinobu talking when she isn’t supposed to talk until Nisem, but I am sure there are some. I am just a casual watcher as far as this series is concerned, so I don’t care too much in the same way I don’t lose any sleep over the constant retroactive rewrites in the Simpsons. But do tell me if anyone has a deep knowledge of these little changes and I may read them. As for the Shinobu talking here, unless the anime rewrote the plot significantly from the source novel, I don’t see how they could’ve got away without her talking. I submit to you that it’d been impossible.

    Jake
    1. The scene where Araragi confronts Black Hanekawa, the climax, was completely changed. It was first shown in Bakemonogatari, the Tsubasa Cat arc, and, well, it’s completely different.

      Nitro
    2. I want to see an arc that tells the story of how he met the vampire girl and Oshino and how that all played out (similar to how Fate/Stay Night was fleshed out so amazingly in Fate Zero).

      Karmafan
      1. Kizumonogatari is all about that xD… that arc/volume has been played at the beginning of episode 1 of Bake, and at the beginning of this… plus I believe the LN volume is translated in English on Baka-tsuki

        having said that, I secretly believe that Shinbo has something against that arc… since the movie is delayed so many times by now… Adult Kiss shot (full version Shinobu) FTW!!!

        jrj
      2. Yeah, I spent last year waiting in anticipation for the Kizumonogatari adaptation, but it never showed… T_T

        Fortunately, I read the novel translation prior to Nisemonogatari, but even so, I’d love to see them animate it for the hilarious fights.

  2. Could it be? The day where screencaps are longer than the text has finally arrived?

    So I heard verdant likes boobies and does enhance them cleavages in photoshop, seems like a legit claim now.

    Random thoughts:

    Pic 54 – Random powerpuff girl!
    Pic 105 – Gahara spotted.

    Headtilts and people talking in odd poses – SHAFT style. Oh and THAT is how Shinobu got her helmet, and her love for donuts, neat stuff.

    Dat prelude leading into Bakemonogatari and the preview..Damn SHAFT why u do this to me?

  3. I was wondering when a review of Neko would show up here. 🙂

    Seriously, you can write a behavioral thesis on each and every character in the ‘Monogatari’ series. I do like Hanekawa more than the others (well, with the exception that is Suguru since she is just so funny/interesting too), and to this day and probably for the rest of the series, I’ll forever be boggled at Araragi’s choice of going with the Crab rather than the Cat.

    The choices in lingerie don’t hurt either… Although the thought of Hanekawa walking around her house in those outfits squicks me slightly. Any other house/household, fine, but when you have no privacy and as Oshino complained, “A girl like her running around in lingerie like that is too distracting,” it doesn’t seem like it would be a healthy choice for all parties involved.

    Arakan7
  4. Okay, I was all good until the conversation with Black Hanekawa and Koyomi, then I got a bit lost. Had she taken control from the Cat before she ripped off Koyomi’s arm? I get that she was doing some major venting, and that she more-or-less ripped Koyomi in half because he provoked her, but everything else went a bit over my head. Gotta say I agree with Oshino though, Tsubasa is a bit more messed up then we’ve seen before. Still love her character, just never would’ve guessed she was so “normalized” and “logical” it was basically unnatural. I blame most of it on her “parents”, and it’s pretty interesting she didn’t really change after all that, regardless if she forgot about it or not.

    Aex
    1. This past 4 episode mini-arc of Kokoro Connect more or less covered the same material with 1 of the girls (Iori) so fustrated because she had to be the “good friendly girl” that everyone expects her to be when inside she was crying and boiling up waiting to explode in fustration.

      Karmafan
  5. I was happy to see the series focus on Hanekawa for a bit since back in Bakemonogatari she ended tied as my favorite girl with Nadeko. It was nice to see them expand on her character even though some of her background was depressing. On the other hand I was a bit disappointing in the return of Mute!Shinobu after how much I liked her in Nisemonogatari, but at least she showed her awesomeness at the end.

    xephx
  6. I don’t know where Araragi gets his confidence from that he will solve problems. He gets his ass seriously kicked almost all the time and its his female companions that save his butt. It happens with the vampire girl in this series and the last one.

    Karmafan
  7. Wow I was torn with Hanekawa she climbed a couple of spot in my favorite heroine list of Monogatari series. Her dark past is really sad and scary. What made the show for me was Shinobou just like in Nise. She is just great and want more of her in all her formats. Now the sword swallowing was intense. I never thought Koyomi was so resistand. Even after Kanbaru attack in Bake. Being split in half had me shocking and trembling.

    Nest season NOW !!!!!!

    GiNoKo
  8. first of all, thanks for all that awesome caps and coverage, Verdant!

    From a LN reader’s perspective, Neko Black is a welcoming addition to the story 🙂 It definitely made Basa-Nee (nickname for Hanekawa Tsubasa in the hidden track by the fire sisters) a more well-rounded character, but also shows the relationship between her and Araragi. Though I have to say there are some minor inconsistencies between Neko Black and the story told back in Bake… (though it probably doesn’t matter)

    the best part of this is the fact that the next 6 volumes (monogatari season 2) will all be aired in July 2013!!! if only Kizu comes out as well… though fans for certain heroines will have harder times than others… Nisio is in full trolling mode both in timeline and in content in the so called season 2 of the story…

    jrj
  9. The different characters of the monogatari series has always astounded me.
    The reason why I love this show is that it can be liked for many different things, because it excels at those things.
    You might like it for the;

    -I call it, “classy Fanservice”, which is not just limited to the camera angles of “half naked girls”, but also knowing how to appeal to the different watchers that are watching it. Eg, (final fantasy save point from nisemonogatari), (Fun puns for pun addicts), (Senjougahara Hitagi for masochistic boyfriends and sadistic girlfriends), (Toothbrush scene, for wincest lovers) and (Catgirl Fetishes)

    -The ever so clever rapid fire dialogue, which to some people, is the genius of the show.

    -The beautiful and colorful experimental art of Shinbo

    -The Seiyu (forgive me if I spelled that wrong) who always do such a great job at being
    their characters.

    -There are even some people who love specific characters to the show. Ahem (Hitagi), and sometimes is the only reason why people love watching these series.

    -Personally as much as I originally loved this series for its unique style of presentation, I’m starting to lean more in just getting to know the, still mysterious, set of really creative and actually really complex characters that this series has to offer. I also love that it is a feel-good show, that even though it has tragic aspects, it somehow fixes everything in the end, in such a manner that, it is not cliche, but just masterfully crafted. Thank you Nisio for being a great writer. And ofcourse, I love how the series knows its cliches, and plays around with it, the show teases it in its own cynical and extremely funny way.

    Random comments.
    As this series start to evolve into something new, people will either start love it more or hate it more or both. Some people would hate it because they prefer the much toned down, Bakemonogatari. Or perhaps, they love the new cinematographic direction the newer shows. Or perhaps start to get epilepsy from Shinbo and his co-directors and producer’s crazy art style.

    In the end, what this series does is that it creates such a community that is full of discussions.

    The series has brought us yet another layer of understanding with this show, and I think that it was an awesome addition. Though originally wasn’t a big fan of Hanekawa from the original series, I started to become alot more interested in her character, and actually start to analyze why she is the way she is.

    end3rr
  10. Nyahahaha! I was waiting for this post!

    Hanekawa is definitely the best female lead. She’s just too integral since the beginning in Kizumonogatari. If that LN was animated first, I’m sure most people would sway to the Hanekawa side. However, the end of Nekomonogatari Kuro definitely hammers in that Hanekawa is only Koyomi’s first love and he has moved on to Hitagi. I can’t wait for the future animations!!

    1. HITAGI SENJOUGAHARA HIME-SAMA!!!!!!

      The representation of my perfect girlfriend…. One that may not exist in this world… Though I’d be dead if she ever finds out that I like Dereban as well

      c2710
  11. We already have the anime of the year right here…
    This really was amazing….
    Looking forward to the next season that will be covering different volume of the light novels…

    waqasj
  12. 2012 was a good year for Shaft, starting off with Nisemonogatari and that toothbrush scene with Karen, they then milked their success with Madoka Magica with two movies, a new Hidamari Sketch season for the Slice-of-Life fans, and finally capping off the year with this 2-hour animation tour-de-force New Year’s Eve special.

    I have nothing left to add what Verdant has already eloquently written.

    Once again, as in Bakemonogatari, the various flashback montages at the beginning of this OVA hints at how awesome Kisshot’s story in Kizumonogatari would be. However, with the announcement that Shaft would be animating the rest of the Monogatari series in 2013, it also means the planned Kizumonotagari movie gets pushed back further, as they’re already busy with Sasami-san and the third Madoka movie.

    Guess we’ll have to wait a little longer to see Shinobu-chan in her former glory.

    Kinny Riddle
  13. This prequel is all in my expectation, great work, and the visual part which Araragi found out that Hanekawa didn’t have a room in her own so called home, mind fucked me the second time, (first time on its light novel), and thank you SHAFT, for keeping its almost original scene/arc from its LN =D
    two words: Awesomely Gruesome XD

    Sho
  14. Didn’t expect this installment to have so much depth and character development in it. That incredibly short piano phrase from Staple Stable all the way at the end alluding to and foreshadowing Bakemonogatari really hit home for me too. Can’t wait for the coming sequels.

    Cleaningagent
  15. This was so much better than Nisemonogatari. Nisemonogatari, while enjoyable, had bad pacing and only the scenes with Kaiki had any sort of meat to them.

    This was all meat. No surprise, with Oshino being present. This really reminded me of how much I missed him in Nisemonogatari.

    Great entry. It’s also interesting how Koyomi failed to save Hanekawa as he was so desperate to be a hero, just as he failed to completely save Nadeko, Hachikuji and Suruga. Funnily enough, the one girl he saved completely to fulfill his wish is Senjougahara and that’s who he ends up dating, as someone pointed out to me.

    EmD
  16. The fanservice in this show is off the charts. I’m glad Monogatari came back. And I’m very happy that SHAFT hasn’t drop their production values either. Bravo. Keep them coming. The Monogatari series is very long indeed.

    Solara
    1. If anything the production values were much higher than they were. The original airing of bakemonogatari was very much a budget title. They fixed PARTS when they released the blu-ray but that still didn’t cover up how little budget it actually got.

      The simple fact is that bakemonogatari was a surprise success. So surprising and so hugely successful that they’ve been desperately trying to get more material out there. This, at least, has luckily meant a huge budget increase even as they’ve been quickly turning the entire series into a multimedia gold mine (how many games based off the series are there now?). Not that it’s not well earned… Just the fact that the series has been willing to push things you wouldn’t expect has been great.

      Koji
  17. I have to say that my favorite part of this already fantastic adaption would have to be the ending. Just showing that glimpse of the stairs really gave me chills. I am an AMV editor and I like working with the Monogatari series, and I have seen that scene so many times that I find it one of the most memorable of the entire franchise. It was really that moment of realization that this was only just the prologue and that the story had just begun gave me chills.

    One more thing to note, for me, was the talk of Oshino saying something about Araragi marrying Hanekawa. I remember something in Nise (correct me if i’m wrong) that he is in love with Senjougahara but he will marry Hanekawa? It may be the other way around but I thought it stood out.

    Overall, I cannot wait for summer. The two-cour alone is exciting to me.

    Nikku
  18. A series that can hit you with a deeply profound and painfully in-depth exegesis of typical everyday human emotion and thought, communicated through simple yet highly perverted and often highly exaggerated anecdotes and visual media. That is the Monogatari series in a nutshell and it is quite a beautiful thing if I do say so myself.

    Yasuri
  19. Koyomi refuses to be confined to the meaning of words. At times he says one thing and then says the reverse (or what appears to be the reverse) about his feelings. Love has many different meanings so saying that he loves Hanekawa might lead someone to misunderstand his real meaning. I think he knows exactly how he feels about her (at this point in time) but it’s too complicated to express. For example, he says he hates Mayoi but his actions are anything but hateful towards her nor towards his sisters. If anything he cares about all the girls so much that he really can’t care for one. Even his relationship with Senjougahara is strange not to mention Shinobu.

    bear
  20. I was expecting something like a rushed job, a pathetic attempt to bank on a popular franchise but in the end it turned out to be the strongest entry in the monogatari serie.

    Now I’m expecting a rushed job out of their next two cour adaptation.

    Ananas
  21. Not really a fan of Hanekawa but after watching Neko Black (and reading Verdant’s write-up and some comments here) I’m starting to have doubts. Uuuu~ Y U DO THIS TO ME???

    But really, the best girl stole the show with her 3-second cameo. 😀

    nagi
  22. Great thing about the Monogatari series is that it never let’s you down. For me, hot neko-chan in lingerie pretty much = win, but in Nekomonogatari, even good fan service takes a back seat to the story. There’s so much depth to this series that I find myself having to concentrate noticeably more when viewing compared to most anime.

    Despite her certain, err, charms, Hanekawa was never very high on my list of Monogatari “heroines”. JMO, but while likeable, she seems a bit dull or flat (obviously personality-wise, not physically LOL) when compared to others. After watching Neko, although I still prefer some of the others heroines, I have a lot more respect and sympathy for Hanekawa. After living in such a horrid home environment for so long(!), the fact she can even function as a person, let alone consistently show kindness to others is indeed an aberration in its own right.

    Was I the only only one a little shocked when Karen started stripping in front of Koyomi? No wonder Koyomi has no reservations about fondling Tsukihi. Ecchi-ness aside, I think Tsukihi’s & Koyomi’s “What is love?” discussion showcased another of the series hallmarks – the ability to seamlessly move back and forth between, serious discussion and humor (visual and/or dialog). Usually, interjecting humor, especially more than once, during such dialog tends to undermine the serious tone of the discussion. Not so with Nekomonogatari.

    Nice to see Shinobu getting screen time other than just attacking Neko-Hanekawa at the end. She was quite kawaii when demanding her soon to be favorite food (donuts). I hope we see Kizumonogatari animated soon. There’s a lot of missing background to fill on Shinobu and her complex relationship with Koyomi. Plus, I always find conversations between the two enjoyable. I’m not so sure Koyomi is really the “master” in that relationship.

    daikama
  23. HELLLSYA VERDANT + RC staffs pwns again TYTY *FISTBUMPS*! NICEEE PICTURES! good writeup 🙂 my PLEA was not for in VAIn YOU ARE DA HOMESLICED FRIED PATATOES!
    Show Spoiler ▼

    GoodStuffs
  24. The fan service is awesome. I enjoyed this much needed back-story. Many people got some interesting ideas in terms of Hanekawa’s character. The monogatari series always seem to do well in giving details that you can analyze for a long period of time.

  25. The following pictures clearly illustrate my thoughts. I’m thoroughly lost for words. –

    The entire story of Neko-Kuro -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20066.jpg

    My thoughts when I saw Hanekawa’s family story -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20036.jpg

    Kuro “Neko”kawa -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20146.jpg

    The Monogatari series and SHAFT thus far -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20198.jpg

    Hitagi’s falling scene -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20Preview%20006.jpg

    The lack of full length shots of Kuro “Neko”kawa -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20001.jpg

    Enough said.

    That aside,

    When they announced Bake-2 and Powerpuff vampire -> https://randomc.net/image/Nekomonogatari/Nekomonogatari%20(Kuro)%20-%20Large%20013.jpg

    c2710
  26. the next coming movie
    Kizumonogatari – vampire arc (during spring before golden week)

    incoming season 3 (if include nisemonogatari ) arc :
    Nekomonogatari (White): Tsubasa Tiger arc
    Kabukimonogatari :Mayoi Jiangshi arc
    Hanamonogatari :Suruga Devil arc
    Otorimonogatari: Nadeko Medusa arc
    Onimonogatari: Shinobu Time arc and
    Koimonogatari: Hitagi End arc

    and the remaining arc still might be possible in season 4 or movie released :
    Tsukimonogatari: Yotsugi Doll arc
    Owarimonogatari: Ougi Dark arc
    Zokuowarimonogatari: Koyomi Book

    Shinkirou
  27. This OVA is a must to complement the Bakemonogatari TV series, because it nicely “clears” Araraki’s relationship with Hanekawa in order to pave the way for dating Senjougahara (later in the timeline). Having a nonromantic friend of the opposite sex is a dimension of the human relationship that is often amiss in shounen manga. But I think it is actually important to have more stories like this to broaden our perspective.

    Matroid
  28. I’m curious – I have a friend who I really, really want to introduce to the epic awesome world of the Bake/Nise/Nekomonogatari series. One question: Should I let them watch Neko first? Or would that detract the intense impact it has since they haven’t watched Bakemonogatari first? Honestly, having watched Bake and Nise, Nekomonogatari blew me away so much I had to pick my jaw off the ground more than once LOL

    (Now I want a Black Hanekawa figurine so bad…♥)

    It’s official, FullMetal Alchemist has been kicked off my no.1 spot, Bake/Nise/Neko/next to come have become my all-time favorite anime. It’s funny, overwhelmingly clever, heart-pounding edge of the seat and the tragic, dark themes… I love it! Neko, for me, has added so many layers of depth to Hanekawa’s character, it’s chilling but I love it so much.

    I’ve heard news in above comments that a 3rd season is underway and a Kizu movie,… just… YES! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!! 😀

    1. *sob* I don’t think I’ve been offended so much. LOL We were watching Nekomonogatari and my friend got bored and said there’s so much uninteresting dialogue. She’s also picky with what anime she likes to watch. The story/plot has to be completely clear at the beginning otherwises she just isn’t interested. It’s kinda.. ugh, frustrating. If you actually pay attention to the beginning, to everything that’s been spoken. the second half of the episode references it and it all comes together so neatly.

      1. (I know it’s late but…)
        you should watch in the order of the books that are published. Nisio Isin wrote them in an unknown order, but in the end he had to have revisit/edit them in the order of publication. In fact, he mentions the disparity of some scenes between neko and bake in the afterword of nekomongatari black.
        Now, for those who only watch the anime and have seen neko before kizu, it’s unfortunate (as you may have seen the brief flashbacks of kizu in this), but I think the directors are making a great adaptation to fit the series as a sequence of animes (and not just following the books), so that’s great. For example, at the end where araragi walks up the spiral stairs… I do not recall nakomonogatari ending like that (unless i just forgot).
        And nisio isin’s writing is so smart and brilliant, i think you should never watch the series w/ another person. The witty dialogue, puns, and wordplay is something of its own, and especially with shinbou’s direction, the correct way to watch this would be pausing, rewinding, rewatching, etc. until you can taste the delicacy of the scenes to their fullest.

        Whee

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