While publisher Kodansha may have stopped releasing Monogatari light novels in the West for now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty more in the franchise to enjoy. Today I’m here to take a look at the Koyomimonogatari anime adaptation from MVM Entertainment, which kicks off their return to the series.
Koyomimonogatari is a collection of short stories, all narrated by protagonist Araragi. Across these 12 episodes, he finds himself wrapped up in a variety of cases, ranging from a stone enshrined on school grounds, a mysterious tree no one has noticed before, to the rumour of a ghost in Tsukihi’s clubroom.
These stories take place across a year, slotting in-between the other adventures we’ve seen in the universe. Each one has a different heroine at the centre of the case (although Shinobu, Kanbaru, Hanekawa and Senjogahara are reoccurring throughout each story as Araragi comes to them for help or advice.
Perhaps the most important thing in this series is the fact none of the strange things happening is because of aberrations. Instead, these strange events are things that just naturally occur with realistic reasoning behind them. This is a big change to the normal for Araragi who spends his days knee-deep in cases caused by aberrations with no simple solution.
While some of these stories can be a little mundane (like Araragi and Shinobu playing hide-and-seek with some doughnuts), the good news is that they’re never full-length episodes. Each story ranges from 12-14 minutes in length and that includes an opening and ending theme, so sometimes there isn’t that much time spent on any individual tale (which works to their benefit).
If you don’t like the idea of a short story collection, then these are largely skippable since a glance at the wiki will tell you anything small and important you may have missed. However, I do think this is a better way to experience them compared to the original book since these episodes are far easier to consume, given their short runtime.
These episodes are also fairly rewarding for longtime Monogatari fans as they’re filled to the brim with easter eggs and small nods to the previous entries in the series. One of my favourite aspects is the fact each episode has a different opening, choosing to reuse those used for the previous seasons of the show. It’s clever and a nice way to show how far the series has come since it started.
As always animation for the show is handled by studio SHAFT. The animation is fairly crazy in normal SHAFT fashion but, constrained by the runtimes, it never ends up being too outlandish, which I appreciate.
Music for Koyomimonogatari is handled by Satoru Kosaki (Bestars, Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s) and, like the animation, doesn’t get a real chance to shine, given the short nature of this series but what is here certainly sounds good. Quite a lot of the tracks seem to be reused from previous instalments of the show, but again this is a nice nod to what has come so far, so I don’t particularly mind that decision.
Like the music and animation, none of the voice actors have the chance to provide a standout performance, but they all do a great job nonetheless. As usual for a Monogatari release, there is no English dub on offer, but the Japanese cast do fine in their roles and if you’ve come this far with the franchise, you’ll no doubt be quite attached to them already.
As always with Monogatari, Koyomimonogatari comes to the UK thanks to MVM Entertainment and is available as one Blu-ray collection. The set contains all 12 episodes across two discs and extras include some adverts and trailers for the series. Next up for release is Owarimonogatari Part 3 on the 5th of July, swiftly followed up by Zoku Owarimonogatari in August.
Overall, Koyomimonogatari is by no means the best the franchise has to offer but it is an entertaining set of stories. Your mileage will vary depending on how much you care about each character, but there is something for everyone here and the short runtime means you’ll never be left stuck on the less enjoyable episodes for long.