To start with the good news, Owarimonogatari is a breath of fresh air in this rather stale year in animes. The bad news? While its second half provides hints of what was the aftermath of Kizumonogatari film to be aired next year, it is one of the worse arcs in the Monogatari universe.
Story and Character: 6/10
The Sodachi Lost Arc is an oddball even by Monogatari standards. It started with solving the supernatural right away then proceeded with detailed explanation behind the titular character in the arc. The pacing is slower than normal albeit more even which gave enough time to layout the foundation of this fantastic case and the characters to develop well. For the plot, it is straightforward this time and avoided some irritating Monogatari quirks that marred the show.
Every character was utilized to the extent that removing one of them leads to the series’ failure. Sodachi, in particular, stood out given her neurotic nature and her background which justifies why she hates Araragi. Ougi, on the other hand, is still an enigma to the viewer but is not as abrasive during her presence in Shinobu Time so she gets a pass. The arc also gets a big plus because Araragi is not portrayed as your typical loli-loving pedophile but as a person who is trying to resolve some issues in the past and is trying to find the missing part of him which he repressed in his memories. Moreover, the Sodachi Lost Arc explained as to why Araragi was like what we saw through the course of Monogatari series.
In that sense, the first half of Owarimonogatari could be viewed as a coming of age story because Araragi and Sodachi managed to settle everything between them. As for Araragi, he finally reconciled with Sodachi. As for the latter, she is now able to move on because she found what she hoped to look for. (Spoiler: It’s not romantic in nature)
The end product is a compelling and emotional piece that is reminiscent of what Monogatari can offer in its prime.
The second half? Not so much. The disappointment could be from the unrealistic expectation Owarimonogatari brought but it is no doubt that this arc is one of the subpar ones in the series. The majority of Shinobu Mail did what your typical bad Monogatari episode does: there was too much talking that did not move the plot.
The bad omen began when this particular arc opened with Araragi and Kanbaru had their banter which was seen too many times in the series that the jokes grew old. Gaen talks too much to the extent that her ramble took half of an episode with much of the details flying to the viewer’s heads. The comedy in Shinobu Time didn’t help either. This is because we already saw those jokes and there are certain points in the series where you have to really know Japanese to appreciate some of their gags.
Which was a shame, because the premise of this arc could be the more nuanced than the first arc. We have Shinobu and her first minion showed again after being supposedly dead for 400 years. How cool was that? Instead, we get an unnecessary slow arc with Gaen side trips and loli-tripping that took four episodes to be good. The output is just as emotional as in Sodachi Lost Arc but the way this arc was executed was really questionable.
Again, Shaft is still excellent in providing the right music for a Monogatari show. It knows how to employ OSTs with fast beats when the characters try to come up with something and strings when things go dramatic. The soundtrack helped both arcs in reaching the emotional impact the studio wants. The OPs and the EDs are also strong in this one which is typical for the Monogatari series.
Now that’s where this series excelled. While it may not be able to beat One Punch Man visually, it succeeded in entertaining its audience by its visual quirks. Keeping an audience awake over the span of 24 minutes is a tall task if the characters are just talking for most of the time. Shaft pulled every trick from its sleeve that ranged from visually fun (Araragi and Kanbaru’s BL-centric banters) to entirely neurotic (Araragi’s class search for the culprit).
Enjoyment: 6/10 (8/10 for Sodachi Lost Case and 4/10 for Shinobu Mail)
Owarimonogatari still stands as one of the best shows in 2015 due to the lack of competition. However, if the second arc is the indication of what will happen in Kizumonogatari, it’s getting real hard to be excited for the next Monogatari series.
The Monogatari franchise has been a creative narrative with some of the most intriguing dialogues found in the light novel medium. Owarimonogatari isn’t so far different either as the series takes on three separate arcs that is molded into 1-cour adaptation of 12 episodes. Adapted by studio Shaft, which is well known for an avant-gante style of artwork, the series makes it bold return. And any fan of the Monogatari franchise should be excited because this latest work will leave some classic memories.
For storytelling, Owarimonogatari is divided into three parts. They are known as “Ougi Formula”, “Sodaichi Riddle”, and “Sodachi Lost”. All three parts draws connections with each other that interconnects the story as a whole. Araragi is once again a centerpiece for the story. But that’s not all, there’s also the mysterious Ougi who plays a sort of lead character to guide others. The most pivotal moments of the season involves Ougi’s relationship and conversation with Araragi. Their interactions brings about a battle of emotions and bizarre mystery from two years ago. Ougi Formula covers Araragi’s growth as a character and how he uses his experiences to solve problems. What I also find interesting for the episodes of this arc is the clever geometric usage of the artwork style. Add a bit of mathematics and you’ll feel like it’s back to school.
Sodaichi Riddle takes on a different approach, one that’s more based on personal problems and also pits Araragi with his former classmate, Oikura. The interesting parts about these episodes is the amount of emotional expression. Oikura’s hatred for Araragi is explained based on her past background story that has connections with him. Tsubasa Hanekawa also gets involved that pits her in a unique angle between herself, Araragi, and Ougi. Speaking of which, Ougi’s presence in the show is still the most mysterious. It’s hard to trust or know what her true intentions are. However, her role in the arc is meaningful as she guides Araragi to the truth. Yet at the same time, Ougi’s actions seems to also suggest that she is attacking Araragi’s insecurities. Hanekawa’s role in this arc seems to stand for as an antithesis of Oikura’s character, especially in family values. What the arc ultimately brings is an iconic buildup and execution in Monogatari fashion at its finest.
Sodachi Lost, the final part of the season, brings together the reunion of some of the characters from the Monogatari franchise that fans are well aware of. These include Shinobu, Gaen, Kanbaru, and even Ononoki will feel like a refreshing sight. The arc also introduces some other mysterious supernatural beings that while seems gimmicky can also be unique. Their role in the arc is also very important that makes the story compelling. For fans who are familiar with Bakemonogatari, it will even feel somewhat nostalgic with the strange apparitions that makes their appearances. Do be aware that the timeline and info dumping of this arc can feel confusing at times so it’s better to rewatch some scenes carefully. However, the reward is the distinctive amount of word plays with Shaft’s clever adaptation. Furthermore, there’s some attractive references and facial expressions coming from Araragi. Kanbaru’s role as a comic foil is also fun to watch especially with some of her suggestive innuendo jokes.
That being said, Owarimonogatari is a unique show but definitely not something everyone can get used to. For any new fans, watching this show will feel confusing even with knowledge of the previous seasons. The most enjoyable way I find to watch this season is getting a feeling of attachment with the characters. In particular, Ougi is the most mysterious of the cast and it’s intriguing just to anticipate what she will do next. Her unpredictable behavior will often get viewers thinking what her true intentions are. Araragi’s interactions with the others will show more of his character on a more personal level. Add a bit of comedy and this will feel quite like an unorthodox adventure in Monogatari style. On the other hand, the season does omit some parts of the novel. Not every adaptation can be focus on a panel-by-panel level after all.
As with most Monogatari series, Shaft once again proves that it’s capable of delivering its clever artwork. There are many word plays that works well in conjunction with the dialogues. There is also three different OP theme songs for each of the different arcs that is quite artistic with the style it delivers. Most often, I find a lot of the scenes for this season to be fun to look at whether they are for plot development, comedy, and references. The show appears to be self-aware of its own traits and have fun with itself. Just be aware that there is an abundance amount of sex jokes and suggestive references as some fans may find it uncomfortable to watch at times. In addition, character designs are also fairly unique. Ougi’s black hollow eyes and ambiguous gender is one of the most bizarre character designs I’ve seen. Not to mention, her pendulum-like body movements reinforces her mysterious presence and role overall for the season. Swinging back, swinging forth…
Soundtrack is also a unique feature that I think not too many people notice often. But when examining it more carefully, it’s iconic. The eerie mood of the season in all three arcs can only work with the dynamics of the OST. And to be quite honest, it fits very well. Furthermore, the character voices matches in credibility with the personalities of everyone this season. Again, I have to emphasize that Ougi’s voice is the most mysterious. Kaori Mizuhashi’s performance with her character is to be praised as she is able to step into the shoes of such a character. Finally, the ED theme song has a nice eerie rhythm with its thrilling cinematics.
Owarimonogatari is a fairly unique show for its ability to convince viewers to watch and read at the same time to appreciate the story. By reading, I mean it more like trying to understand what the characters’ roles, dialogues, and word plays mean. It may feel like a brain fart at times but also fairly entertaining to comprehend the story’s intentions. The emotional expressions and character interactions will be what seasoned fans will expect – dynamic and one that continues with a thrilling resurgence with its trend. It’s twisty that’s filled with mysteries and moments that will tear the house down.