OP Sequence

OP: 「花痕 -shirushi-」 (Hanaato -shirushi-) by 河野マリナ (Kawano Marina)

「するがデビル 其ノ壹 – 伍」 (Suruga Debiru Sono Ichi – Go)
“Suruga Devil Parts One – Five”

When we last parted with Nisio Isin’s Monogatari series we were left with a sense of conclusion but not necessarily of finality. Sure, our protagonists finally graduate from high school and the cast in general moved on, but while problems have been solved they haven’t been resolved. What happened to Oshino? What’s the deal with Ougi? How is Kaiki going to cheat out of that cranial trauma? Questions and more. For a cast so clever and diverse there’s always the potential for more story; there’s still a lot of depth to be plumbed.

So, it was a good place for a break but not for an end. Needless to say, I was highly anticipative of Hanamonogatari. I wanted all my questions answered but I also wanted more of Kanbaru Suruga (Sawashiro Miyuki), the last heroine who still has significant loose ends dangling in the wind. I was also somewhat wary, though, because with so much of the cast being indisposed or disposed of, I wasn’t sure if Monogatari would ever be the same. Sure enough, Hanamonogatari starts almost like an epilogue, with the seniors already going on to tertiary education. There is a sense of melancholy and a feeling that we have been left behind–just as Oshino left Araragi so many seasons ago. Only Kanbaru remains, the last veteran holding the old fort. As the protagonist and main voice for five episodes she has a lot of weight on her shoulders. Action, reactions, Shaft head-tilts–she needs to do it all. It’s a good thing that Kanbaru is a veritable fanservice machine, extremely comfortable with going the extra mile to engage audience attention. She readily subjects herself to various states of distress and dis-dress for the greater good of balancing out a very dialogue heavy show. She’s not entirely alone: the Fire Sisters arrive as last minute reinforcements and even Shinobu (with no speaking role) makes a surprise cameo appearance.

Of course, the point of Hanamonogatari is not (only) cheesecake. Hanamonogatari follows the usual formula of using supernatural apparitions as metaphors for mundane, but complex, human issues, and as expected of the Suruga Devil arc our subject is devils. While vampires are considered the top of the apparition heap in the Monogatari mythology, in the West the traditional bogeyman of choice comes from the underworld. With such a long history in Judaic religions and elsewhere devils–or, rather, the Devil–comes in many forms and Hanamonogatari spends its five episodes looking at the Devil in all its aspects. Almost all characters (save perhaps pure supports like Araragi Karen (Kitamuri Emi) and classmate Higasa (Hikasa Youko) play to that theme.

The Devil as the dark side

Remember back to Suruga Monkey where the Rainy Devil served as the evil genie that granted your most malicious wishes. It was a manifestation of one’s dark impulses, an id. In Hanamonogatari Kanbaru treats it as something that must be suppressed. In tying down her left arm, though, she’s not only suppressing the Devil but also her own desires. There is nobody without wants, says Hanamonogatari; being a bit selfish about them is a natural thing. That’s how we find direction.

The Devil as the voice on your shoulder

Two characters play this part. First we have the inscrutable Ougi (Mizuhashi Kaori), he of many shapes. Yes, Ougi is a ‘he’ now; it’s obvious at this point that there’s more to him than meets the eye. We still don’t get to learn much about him but he continues doing what he does: giving out choice bits of information at opportune times to nudge characters in specific directions.

On the other hand we have Kaiki Deishuu (Miki Shinichiro), our very own exorcist pretending to be a con artist pretending to be an exorcist. He’s back from the apparent dead and fully bearded, all without explanation. Not that I mind; I can go on and on about what an awesome character he is. Not much has changed for him; he’s still serves as the resident ‘adult’, still enjoying his lectures and still always one better than the kids. He also plays an interesting contrast to Ougi. Kaiki also tries to nudge Kanbaru in certain directions, but unlike Ougi he seems to, ultimately, mean well. Curiously, Ougi, by pretending to be Oshino’s niece/nephew/whatever is a trusted character, whereas Kaiki is not. Ougi does not lie, whereas Kaiki is lies all the way through, to the point where he goes full circle. Yes, Kaiki lies about being a liar. Which devil do you trust?

The Devil as the imposer of trials

God subjecting mankind to ordeals is an old trope, but traditionally the Devil is in the business as well. In that sense, Kanbaru considers her mother not God but the Devil and frankly if Kanbaru Tooe (Neya Michiko) is anything like her sister (apparently: yes) then she must have been insufferable. But while it’s true that Kanbaru’s mother never made her life easy, Kanbaru does it to herself too. She treats her monstrous left arm as her albatross, the literal and figurative weight of her sins. She has a conflicted relationship with it; she wants it gone but she’s also loathe to just give it away. If she procrastinates long enough maybe…she’ll just get used to it?

The Devil does not exist

Our main narrative, though, revolves around a brand new character: Kanbaru’s former basketball rival Numachi Rouka (Asumi Kana). She serves as Kanbaru’s foil, her opposite not just on the basketball court. Numachi–the confident, self-centred and amoral Devil–is both who Kanbaru could have been and what she doesn’t want to be. It’s like something out of Jungian psychology; Kanbaru sees her suppressed negativity projected onto Numachi and must come to terms with her inner demons, so to speak. Numachi the Devil is a confabulation. Yet there is a bit of the Devil–dark impulses, whispering voices, self-flagellation–within all of us. But we don’t need to define every motive in terms of either altruism or malice. As Kanbaru learns, we mostly act simply for self-satisfaction. As always, even as deep in the supernatural as it is Hanamonogatari stresses the importance of the mundane.

Full-length images: 094, 108.


ED Sequence

ED: 「the last day of my adolescence」 by 沢城みゆき (Sawashiro Miyuki)


The Devil is in the details – some thoughts

I didn’t mean to spend so much time trying to inadequately dissect the themes of Hanamonogatari but it just goes to show: even just skimming the surface gives you a lot to think about. Not that it’s just all ruminations on the human condition; Hanamonogatari also gives us the supernatural mystery and nuanced character interactions that we’ve grown accustomed to receiving from the Monogatari series. Of special interest is how the cast continues to be developed over time. Kanbaru seems to have grown to fill the shoes of Araragi, who in turn has grown to become an alien Jesus a surrogate Oshino. And it’s growth in more ways than one; while the Monogatari series would not be the first to use hair length as a metaphor for development it’s certainly one of the most enthusiastic users in my memory. We’re not quite at Mullet Araragi but we’re close enough to be terrifying.

On the production side of things, it’s heartening to see how far things have come since Bakemonogatari. It’s not just a matter of budget–which, thankfully, is still high enough to give us crisp animation and artistic backgrounds when needed–but also the distinct style, which Shaft and directors Shinbou and Itamura seem to have refined over the years. There’s less of the purely filler or purely distracting shots that were once a staple reliance of Shaft and more willingness to engage their abstractions for direct symbolism–even if sometimes they try a bit too hard to spell things out. They seem to be now comfortable making relevant visuals for a show of almost entirely dialogue. And, of course, we must also give praise to their continued dedication to their special brand of fanservice, not just a parade of flesh and but also of voyeur. Sophistication can substitute in parts for class. And it doesn’t hurt that Kanbaru looks mighty fine in a pony-tail.

The thing with the Monogatari series having such a distinct style is that one is tempted to wonder how it would have turned out if adapted by a different hand. More focus on the screen and less on the words would be more orthodox, sure, but still good. Just look at the ED, for example; maximum drama for minimum dialogue (Numachi as Kanbaru’s tragic first love? I’m suddenly sold). But the choice to stick with the original novel’s strength and only use the animation as support is a completely defensible one and has certainly produced results. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. At this point I’ve enjoyed enough of the Monogatari series–and want more of it enough–to want to preserve the status quo of excellence. Better the devil I know than the devil I don’t.

Yes, I did have great trouble refraining from just writing 1500 words about Kaiki.


End Card


  1. Show Spoiler ▼

    Horse Mask Joker
  2. I am going to come out and say it; I am extremely well read and literate, and having said that Kaiki is one of the greatest characters I have ever come across. Though I miss Oshino.

    1. Yep, his false/fake (nisemono) act is really something else.

      Show Spoiler ▼

      Horse Mask Joker
    2. Kaiki’s job title, as shown on his business card, is(was) “ghost buster”.

      He’s been fighting ghosts and demons, and he noticed how those problems are usually related to or caused by people that have troubled childhood.

      Perhaps as a pre-emptive measure, he is helping kids to overcome troubled childhood and move on into functioning adulthood. (If there are less kids that are fucked up, then there will be less ghosts and demons to deal with.)

      Horse Mask Joker
  3. Sure enough, Hanamonogatari starts almost like an epilogue, with the seniors already going on to tertiary education.

    Technically so far in terms of LN chronology, it is the last arc.
    The only thing that can change that is if the final LN Zokuowomonogatari is set after Hana,
    and it’ll only be published around mid-September.

    What happened to Oshino? What’s the deal with Ougi? How is Kaiki going to cheat out of that cranial trauma? Questions and more.

    The first two questions have been finitely answered in the LNs set between Koi and Hana;
    namely Tsukimonogatari, Koyomimonogatari, Owarimonogatari Vol 1,2,3.
    Translated summaries of those LNs can be found on a certain wiki if anybody cares to spoiler themselves…
    (I did but I won’t mention them here)
    My speculation for the third question is that
    Show Spoiler ▼

    (I don’t really know this for sure, just guessing based on Kaiki’s appearance in Hana)

    1. It’s all perspective with this show anyway. If you don’t agree, fine.

      But get off your high horse and leave comments like this to yourself or at least bother to say something like “I don’t feel the same way.”

    2. @Roger: I used to really hate Bakemonogatari so I can respect your disappointment towards monogatari series.
      Just out of curiosity, what are the shows that you do enjoy?

      Horse Mask Joker
    3. I agree, but this show caters to the pretentious “oh I’m so deep” crowd. Usually once people get tired of stories like that, seeing stuff like this is like “ugh again?” But people like that kind of stuff. . .

      Too bad the anime community is pretty much a huge circlejerk. and if someone doesn’t want to grab (metaphorical) cock of the guy next to him they get junmped on. This is why you can’t really take any anime community seriously. . .its also why when you see the bloggers give their true opinions on a series thats actually bad, they get Shat on in comments.

      @ the person who asked: “well what shows do you like?”

      that’s irrelevant, Roger and I think this show is bad. Period. passive agressive argument bait like that is pretty easy to see.

      1. dudes you sound like jocks harassing nerds at a star trek convention.
        we know you have the right to say ANYTHING but is it necessary?

        do you like Attack on Titan or Ghost in the Shell SAC? How about Ghibli movies?

        Calorie Mate
      2. most people here just want to enjoy this shit quietly with a sense of satisfaction,
        instead of hearing some shit that sounds like, “fuck you nerds, you are fucked up for enjoying retarded anime.”

        “what anime do you like?”

        does this sound like you’re being attacked/baited?
        the average person here don’t feel that way.

        i dunno what it is, perhaps your normal way of talking is argumentative.
        maybe your manner of speech was honed with the purpose of making others feel like shit.

        you are right. there are people that honestly feel that Hanamonogatari is a bad show,
        and we honestly feel that you get a kick out of verbally abusing nerds.

        Calorie Mate
      3. Cool story bro, I could literally swap “anime” in your sentence with any medium/hobby, and your statement works just as well. You don’t like it, that’s your business. If you don’t want a “huge circlejerk”, the least you could do is provide some analysis beyond, “this show sucks, and I don’t like it.” Also, writers on this site has always been willing to point out the negatives of shows if they feel the show deserves it. If you think this series is so bad that everyone needs to bash it, go write your own blog.

        If you don’t like a show, why bother commenting on a review of it? It’s like you’re one of those pretentious snobs who say “Wow, your tastes aren’t the same as mine, so they suck.” Must you flaunt your more “mature” (AKA I grew outta this pretentious garbage) tastes? Were you really expecting a different reaction from people here? I wouldn’t go to a Brony/Game of Thrones/Harry Potter blog and say, “MLP/GoT/HP is bad. Period.” and not expect a negative reaction.

  4. I’ll say, that start really hammered in how we’re at point where Araragi’s graduated and a vast majority of the cast are essentially doing their own things now. Given all the episodes we’ve gotten in this series, this is really the point where you realize how far they (and we’ve) come, and I dunno, I find myself oddly teary eyed early on for one reason or another.

    That said, wholeheartedly agree there’s a lot to talk about here just by skimming the surface. I’d say you touched on a lot of the key ones though, so that works. Either way, it’s amazing how much time you could spend chatting about schadenfreude


    alone, let alone things like knowing yourself, the concepts of teamwork, the grey area between things, and the other stuff bought up here. The darker elements of Kanbaru’s story really show up here and it ends up being arguably one of my favorite “arcs” of the whole franchise.

    Though of course, it only helps that Kaiki’s actually still around, even if neither you or I seem to be able to make heads or tails of whether or not his MEAT, MEAT, EAT MORE MEAT had any added significance behind it, haha.

    1. I’m starting to think Kaiki made Kanbaru eat all that meat to provide stamina for the battle.
      Can’t fight on empty stomach.

      Of course it couldn’t have affected the outcome very much, but it’s one of the things Kaiki could have done to help Kanbaru do her best.

      Horse Mask Joker
      1. Well, yeah, but we were wondering if there was anything more to it cause it felt like there might’ve been, haha. You don’t say meat like 40 times in 5 minutes just to emphasize that she should buff up and eat some would you?

        … though that’s the thing with this show. It could very well be only that. Can’t ever tell for sure. Lol.

      2. That’s the thing about Kaiki; since he only ever says half of what he knows (and half of that could be lies) he always invites you to read more into what he’s saying. At the same time, though, when he tells truths it’s always very mundane, obvious truths. His meat obsession could be cryptic directions. He may just like barbecue. It’s this kind of mystique that keeps Kaiki chugging as a character.

    2. Schadenfreude is kind of similar to sadism, isn’t it?

      Schadenfreude = pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others
      Sadism = pleasure as a result of inflicting pain, cruelty, degradation, humiliation, or watching such behaviors inflicted on others

      Basically someone who enjoys the misery of others?

      1. Well, it certainly sounds similiar the way you describe it but Schadenfreude is a much more toned down version. I’d say sadism is about you yourself inflicting some sort of pain etc. but schadenfreude is laughing because of someones misfortune.
        Schadenfreude is about situations like you laughing when you watch youtube clips of people falling of skateboards or you see someone dropping the milk at the supermarket. You couldn’t really call that sadism.

        also btt: I paused the ova to read the word ‘schadenfreude’ but I didn’t really get why it’s there. How does it relate to the story?

      2. It’s one of those German words that has no direct translation like Weltschmertz and Gemuchlikeit. More like satisfaction in the misery/unhappiness of others. Again, that’s not exactly right either. Sadism is more active either by participation or viewing the application of pain. Schadenfreude could relate to just someone losing their phone.

      3. @xerocs, generally I’ll confirm what Bear said above.

        It fits in because that’s essentially what Rouka is the embodiment of.

        She’s not a sadist in that she’s not intentionally inflicting harm on others and taking pleasure in it. Rather, she still has the morals to know that would be wrong. That doesn’t stop her from doing what she’s doing though (the whole acting as the Devil thing), because she derives pleasure from speaking with those who have fallen into some kind of misfortune, which is the general definition of schadenfreude.

        There’s more along this angle, but that’s the basic gist.

      4. Echoing those above me, schadenfreude is a somewhat nuanced concept. Laughing at slapstick is schadenfreude, but so is every time you think, ‘glad that wasn’t me’. Hanamonogatari posits that, like Numachi, a lot of the time we extend charity to the less fortunate simply because it makes us feel a bit better about ourselves. But in the end, as Oshino might say, fake altruism is no less important than genuine altruism.

  5. I might have been really observant,
    but seems like the Shaft team had an overexcited side-goal when animating Hanamonogatari..
    Give every character who shows up at least one head tilt, even if its a flashback of that person.
    Even the imouto(s), Shinobu and Koyomi…not too sure about Ougi though…
    On average, that’s much more head-tilts than all their other animes combined, isn’t it?

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed it (though it make me lament that my Japanese isn’t better). I enjoy the stead evolution of the characters from stupid, helpless kids to intelligent, capable adults. Now the wait begins anew for the next chapter.

    Also: stop cutting girls hair Araragi. Sugura was so very cute and mature looking with the long hair.

  7. Kaiki is the consummate liar. He lies to everyone including himself. Of course we don’t know if he’s even alive. He could be a ghost pretending to be alive or maybe he’s even lied to himself and thinks he’s alive.

    1. I’m of the opinion Kaiki did survive.

      1. Ghosts don’t pay for such an expensive meal.
      2. If it was Kanbaru that’s actually paying for it and then hallucinated to think it was Kaiki that paid for it, she wouldn’t order that many meat without getting priced out.

  8. (sorry for posting the same thing 4 times.
    Dear mod, please delete the 3 preceding comments. Thank you.)

    Some may complain that the following image is a spoiler, but I think it’s ambiguous enough to not indicate anything specific.


    So what will Rouka’s bottoms look like in fan-made drawings or doujins?

    If you think this is a spoiler, leave a complaint and I’ll ask the mods to delete this.

    Horse Mask Joker
  9. Wonderful to have another part of the Monogatari series. It’s pretty impressive when almost two hours of essentially nothing but dialog leaves you wanting more. And I do. I definitely missed this show, and very much enjoyed watching Hanamonogatari in its entirety. Shaft simply has this series down right. I have no doubt that should the mythical Kizumonogatari movie be discovered, it will also turn out to be great. Sadly, at this point, I’m betting on Atlantis being found first. Seriously Shaft, it’s been how many years since the movie was announced?

    TBH, I wasn’t all that surprised with Kaiki’s return. There was quite a bit of speculation at the end of Monogatari Second Season about whether he “really” died. With a master lies such as Kaiki, evidence of his death needs to be clear and convincing, beyond any doubt (reasonable or otherwise). That being said, the fact he’s still around is pure win for Monogatari fans IMO. A great character indeed.

    I like Kanbaru so this was a satisfying, happy ending for me. Well, other than Kanbaru losing her pony tail. Liked that. :/ Still, I agree with others that the lack of Araragi-kun and other characters we’ve come to associate with the series was noticeable. Having Karen involved, even if in a small role, helped to fill the void a bit I thought. Speaking of Karen… what the hell is Araragi doing to her!? [Karen to Kanbaru] “The other day he said, ‘I got some time, let’s have fun’, when he came to my room half-naked, and, like, he had these nail clippers, and my bare skin…” (Commie subs). At the least, Araragai’s gone full-blown siscon. Wonder what Senjougahara thinks of that?

    Thankfully there’s still a little left in the Monogatari series. Watching Hanamonogatari was a lot of fun, and reminded me that I’m not quite ready for the series to be over yet.

  10. ——The struggle of Hanamonogatari——
    Originally announced as part of Second Season in second half of 2013.
    Got removed before 2nd Season started, reannounced for May 2014.
    Got delayed for some reason, reannounced for Aug 16…
    That’s roughly over a year since it was first announced..
    But still turned out to be quite decent.

    ——The struggle of Kizumonogatari——
    First hint of an adaptation was announced in July 2010..
    ……….Well looks like its been swept under the carpet and quietly forgotten.

    1. IIRC there was a mention of Kizumonogatari where they confirmed they were still working on it, but it would come after Hanamonogatari. So it’ll come, just we don’t know how long we’ll be waiting, as SHAFT’ll probably focus on the Hanamonogatari BD’s during the Fall.

      1. It’s Tsukihi that changes her hairdo all the time, not Karen.

        Karen started off with a ponytail, which she cut off in Tsukihi Phoenix, which took place about 8 months before Suruga Devil, and then she simply let her hair grow out again over time.

  11. Once again Shaft delivers yet another animation extravaganza. In a good way, I think my eyes were strained just watching all the whole thing from start to finish as there’s just lots of movement between the frames.

    It’s good to see Kaiki has survived and has grown a badass goatee. In Koimonogatari, he justified helping Senjougahara as Kanbaru loves her and that was enough. This arc pretty much explains why he’s so kind to Kanbaru. I even entertained the possibility that Kanbaru could actually be Kaiki’s illegitimate daughter.

    What’s with Ougi’s genderbending? And what’s in it for her/him to indirectly help Kanbaru exorcise Numachi?

    The way Kanbaru and Araragi see Shinobu as some abberration disposal seems to suggest Shinobu has taken on the role of Snake God vacated by Nadeko, the local deity in charge of overseeing all abberration activity.

    PS LOLWUT at Araragi still being a lolicon and actively stripping his sisters naked. (Not to mention his hilarious attempt to imitate Kirito at growing his hair. XD )

    1. As far as I could tell, in Koimonogatari Kaiki didn’t even know what relationship Kanbaru had with Senjougahara; he merely induced that they could be connected in some way, and that was enough for him. It’s a really flimsy excuse but I think that’s the point; deep down he probably did want to help Senjougahara but he also takes great pains to stay consistent with his own egocentric character. He needed to find a reason–any reason, no matter how tenuous–to help.


    Seriously, there’s just too many cute legacy of Gaen moments in this miniseries but the top ones would be these….

    That hair. That pony tail.

    Once again, SHAFT may have delayed it but they certainly delivered it.

    Most of the things that I want to say have pretty much being said by you guys. Though allow me to add a few more. When I first met Kanbaru in Suruga Monkey, I never really liked her for some inexplicable reason. But some how or rather, I start to like her and in Hana….. It truly shows how she’s matured all this time.

    One more thing, no one mentioned about Numachi. Yes initially I thought she was that all evil character who seeks destruction after collecting all the devil artefacts but apparently she’s not. What’s even more surprising was that the Numachi we see in the miniseries is her ghost, having the same fate of another wondering-loli-girl-ghost that we all know. Anyway, I find her reason for not crossing over to the light to be rather compelling and heart warming.

    Another reason that made me squeal like a girl is the RETURN OF THE MASTER CONMAN (SUPPOSED CONMAN???) KAIKI!

    Frankly speaking, I was expecting Kaiki to say this line during this scene…

    “I am, your father.”

  13. Thanks for the post. I love Kanbaru and a big part of why is Sawashiro, Miyuki. So much stuff to write but you said most of it. Also I cant get the BGM from when Kanbaru starts clipping her nails out of my head.

    1. Part of it seems like she didn’t know she died and the Devil kept her around to collect misfortune and its parts. The other part seems like she suspected she had died already, but wasn’t sure. She says “I’m not sure what I lost to in life.” So that latter portion seemed to have made her want to search for something tangible to lose to. Just ended up that Kanbaru was the only one who could deliver that to her.

  14. I know I’m late in commenting and this question will probably never get answered, but are we ever going to find out what happened in August and how Koyomi got his clothes all torn up at the end of Tsubasa Tiger? I thought that was what Hanamonogatari was going to be. It involves Kanbaru and Gaen right?

    1. @sealouse: Regarding the Monogatari timeline –

      According to the Monogatari Timeline I have:

      Tsubasa Tiger and Shinobu Time run concurrently. Both start Aug. 21 with Shinobu Time effectively ending Aug. 23 (Araragi’s conversation with Ougi about what happened comes much later – late Dec.) and Tsubasa Tiger ending Aug. 24.
      Nadeko Medusa starts Oct. 31 and ends Nov. 2 when Nadeko becomes a goddess.
      Hitagi End starts January 1 and ends Feb. 1.
      Hanamonogatari (Suruga Devil) starts April 9 and ends April 21.

      If you start with Kizumonogatari (Koyomi Vamp) everything occurs over a period of about 13 months (March 25th of “year 1” to April 21st of “year 2”).

      Hope this helps.

      1. I thought Koyomi was going to help Gaen with something after Shinobu Time. I wanted to know what that was. It sounded dangerous and exciting. His clothes got torn up after all. Are they really not going to tell us what happened?


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