As of this instalment, we’ve hit 15 volumes of Monogatari in the West. 15! With this in mind, what better time than now for a short story collection? Enter Part 1 of Koyomimonogatari, a collection of short tales featuring all our favourite characters. Does it deliver an entertaining read? Let’s find out!
In Koyomimonogatari, the role of narrator is passed back to Araragi as he and his friends investigate rumours and mysteries that occur in their everyday lives. From a crack in a sandbox that looks like a demon, to a stone being enshrined on school grounds, to a tree no one ever noticed before – there’s plenty going on here. Are these aberrations drawn to Araragi and those around him or simply everyday happenings?
The answer to the above question is ‘no’, these aren’t aberrations. It’s simply that weird things can happen in life regardless of any mystical power being behind it. What this means is that each short story is fairly relaxed with nothing much at stake. Each entry focuses around Araragi and one of the people he’s helped, such as Hanekawa, Nadeko, Senjougahara and beyond. It’s a good opportunity to bring everyone back before delving further into the third and final season of Monogatari, and I think that works well for the book.
However, Koyomimonogatari is somewhat of a double-edged sword. The book’s English release has been split into two parts (Part 2 out in August) as opposed to the single volume it was in Japanese – and that hurts it for me. I’m all for a series having a volume of laid-back short stories that focus on the everyday but two collections of them back-to-back is almost certainly too much for me.
While it’s true that Koyomimonogatari proves a refreshing change, it also feels dull in places. As with any collection of short stories, some of them are more interesting than others – and that’s especially true when you’re changing characters from story to story. I have my favourites, and the stories in which they weren’t present just weren’t as good. By the time I got to the end of this book I was satisfied and happy with the break, but now I want to get back into things rather than have even more of this.
Having said that, nothing of consequence has happened in the first part of Koyomimonogatari and if that continues into Part 2, you could feasibly skip these entries and not lose anything. If you’re not keen on short story collections in general then it might be worth taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach to first find out what Part 2 has to offer.
This volume comes to the West thanks to Vertical once more and has been translated by Daniel Joseph. The translation reads well and Joseph has done a good job to capture the voices of all the various characters, especially those who haven’t been in the books he’s translated before. The front cover illustration (by VOFAN) is also a real treat, depicting many of the heroines Araragi has helped.
Overall, Koyomimonogatari is a refreshing change from the adventures we’ve embarked on thus far, although its English release may prove to be its downfall for some. Those of you more open to back-to-back short stories will get more out of it than I did, but it’s still nice to see a more chilled side to our heroes. Hopefully Part 2 can change my feelings.