OP: 「perfect slumber」 by 堀江由衣 (Horie Yui)
「こよみストーン」 (Koyomi Sutōn)
So, the Monogatari Series is back, and apparently all the way back. As I noted in the preview, Koyomimonogatari is a collection of short stories from throughout the Monogatari continuum and this one, Koyomi Stone, is apparently from before even Bakemonogatari. This means it’s a blast from even beyond the past, making for a very strange sense of nostalgia. Meme is still around (I sure have missed that guy). Shinobu’s still squatting silently in her corner (but where’s her helmet? Has she not acquired it yet?). And Hanekawa Tsubasa is still sporting her frumpy look. And perhaps to drive home the point that everything old is new again, this episode seems to stitch in old scenes as well. Araragi and Hanekawa chatting in the classroom? Perhaps you’re getting the nagging feeling that you’ve seen it before. The OP? I know you’ve seen it before. It’s the exact same one as Nekmonogatari Kuro! Oh, but with one, all important difference. There. That’s better. Now we’re completely original.
I must confess myself oh so slightly offended by SHAFT’s recycling project. The Nekomonogatari Kuro OP was certainly one of my favourites, and I didn’t particularly mind seeing it again, but by trying to pass it off as a Koyomi Stone is insulting to the viewer’s intelligence, is it not? Even if you don’t quite remember this song or opening sequence, you probably at least had the suspicion that the OP did not really fit with the actual episode—which, while featuring Tsubasa certainly did not cast her in a central role. You remember the convention, right? If the episode is about a character, it will have her name on it. Monogatari is straightforward like that. Why would they even bother having an OP, if they’re just going to phone it in with a copy + paste job? It baffles.
So yeah, slightly offended. But then I remembered that Bakemonogatari was not above cutting corners like it was child-proofing furniture, either. Ah right, we were being retro. Just keeping with the spirit, I suppose. Of course.
As for Koyomi Stone itself, it was a very simple mystery, with little of the supernatural in it at all. I remember the Japanese idiom I learnt from Hyouka: ‘the ghost, when examined, was just withered flowers’. The supernatural is just the mundane looked at from a specific direction. That’s always kinda been an undercurrent of Monogatari, what with the oddities always being linked to some real world trouble or flaw in a character. Here, in Koyomi Stone, it’s simply a point of reflection for Araragi. The stone’s potential journey from ordinary rock to object of worship to just a familiar sight on campus is a parallel to Araragi’s journey from just an ordinary kid to vampire to just a student. So easily does normal become normal then back to normal.
Of course, worshipped stone was still just nothing but a slab of concrete. Make of that what you will.
Once again, though, I am reminded that Kizumonogatari is still out there. This would have made a nice epilogue story of sorts to Kizumono-, I’m sure, and perhaps was even intended to be. The timeframe would seem about right. So it’s a shame that we’re sort of experiencing the story out of order. Maybe that’s why it feels like there’s something missing from Koyomi Stone? Or, at least, that it’s a bit compressed? There seems to have been a bit of a leap of logic, at least, to the solution of the mystery. But I suppose we should remember that Koyomimonogatari is still just a series of short episodes packaged as part of a calendar app; as it’s bonus promotional material at best, I don’t think we can expect as much flesh as a TV series. If we get a neat little side story out of it, then that’s perhaps good enough.
ED: 「whiz」 by TrySail