The final entry in Monogatari’s second season is here! When we left our heroes in Otorimonogatari they were in grave danger, but will they be able to turn it around with the help of a former foe? One thing’s for sure: to overcome the power of a god they’re going to need a lot of luck and stubbornness to succeed.
At the end of Otorimonogatari, Hitagi Senjougahara bargains with Nadeko Sengoku to leave her and Araragi alive for six months, long enough for the two to graduate. Now a god, Nadeko has time on her side and reluctantly agrees to Senjougahara’s demands. As we reunite with our cast in Koimonogatari the end is near and with no sign of resident saviour Oshino in sight, Senjougahara turns to her archenemy for help – Deishu Kaiki.
Responsible for Senjougahara’s family falling apart as well as playing a part in one of the schemes seen in Nisemonogatari, and being partly responsible for Nadeko’s terrifying snake curse in Bakemonogatari, Deishu certainly doesn’t have a good reputation. To say he’s a villain is perhaps an overstatement, as really Deishu just wants to make money. He’ll do anything for it, hurt anyone – but that also makes him perfect for this case. Nadeko may be a god, but she’s still a middle-schooler, so surely she should be easy to trick for the perfect conman? That’s what Senjougahara is staking her life on and we as readers have to hope for – or watch our beloved protagonist and girlfriend perish.
Given how important a story this is for both Senjougahara and Araragi, I honestly expected the story to be told from the perspective of one of them. However, in a surprising turn of events this book is narrated by Deishu Kaiki himself, which is a novel idea. Deishu is so detached from the situation that his thoughts and feelings are fairly neutral. He’s taking the case for the money Senjougahara is giving him and not because he cares for her or, in fact, anyone involved. It also gives us the opportunity to learn more about the con artist behind so many of the cases in the first season of Monogatari stories.
The other nice thing about having Deishu narrate is that the story moves. All too often nothing happens in a Monogatari volume until the end and I’ve always been okay with that, but this is a refreshing move which breathes new life into the story. Deishu can’t hold a candle to Araragi’s comedy-driven stories, but he doesn’t need to – because Koimonogatari is instead driven by its mystery. Will Deishu save the cast or won’t he? Questions and answers fly right up until the final page.
This entry showcases how well NISIOISIN can drop in and out of writing styles from book to book and still weave a compelling tale. I’ve commented before that I enjoy Araragi’s stories the most, but the whole of this second season has proved to me the worth in having others take the spotlight too. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but most of the time it does and keeps the series fresh. It also speaks well of the various translators involved with bringing the series to English because they do a great job of giving everyone distinct voices and making sure everything flows well for the reader.
Koimonogatari has been brought to the West thanks to publisher Vertical and has translated by Daniel Joseph, who returns after Ko Ransom translated Otorimonogatari and Onimonogatari. Joseph’s translations are just as good as Ransom’s, so I hope these two continue their work into the third season of Monogatari. The front cover and insert illustration for the book have been handled once again by VOFAN and depict Senjougahara. They’re, as always, wonderful images.
Overall Koimonogatari is a compelling and satisfying end to the second season of Monogatari. With a fresh face narrating and so much at stake, this volume is a real page turner that you’ll be unable to put down. With a couple of months before Vertical bring out the first entry in Monogatari’s final season, this is the perfect time to jump on board the franchise.