Welcome to the best wide cast, character focused series since Durarara!!
Listed as a Harem, Supernatural, Comedy, many of you could be expected to leave this to the Plan To Watch or Dropped lists without much second thought. You’ve seen harems before, not really your cup of tea right? While this may not change your mind by the end, hopefully you’ll be able to see the many enjoyments Monogatari can bring to the table, and why the fan base is so broad.
A Series about Stories
The beauty of Monogatari is in the “ghost stories” of which it’s based, following standard Japanese folk tales and tuning them into modern day. The specific ghost stories of Crabs, Snails, Monkeys, etc., are all part of the different characters growth, but each has it’s unique study of words and meaning, along side very specific dialog.
Monogatari makes liberal use of director edits
that add to the themes, inspection of language use,
and play with meaning on words that all tie into a larger meta discussion.
Sometimes it also shows a change in narrator, making the entire dialog take on another meaning.
Our main narrative travels through small arcs featuring a Vampire, Crab, Snail, Monkey, Cat, Snake, Pheonix, Bee, and many other side points.
This creates a lovely story about a boy growing up, discovering stories involving girls, while discussing how those stories can be interpreted. While each arc features “fan service” to a varying degree, the story usually twists this to meld with both the MC and the various characters in the arc to find meaning and substance.
This makes way for our meta discussion about stories, how they should go, and the battle between whats true. With our “All Knowing Author”
trying to push their will on the story, fighting against the “Viewer Expectation”
of what the story should be, with the ever present characters and their own ideas.
Speaking of, what was our story again?
Stories Focused on Women
Koyomi Araragi acts as our MC, but his journey always is focused on helping and understanding women. Not an exciting boy, he reads manga, rarely goes out, and has one friend that studies with him.
His life is mostly boring, and it sets the tone for a boy caught up in this world of women that he doesn’t understand. Luckily, during the first arc he is helped and taken under the wing of his mentor.
Que pubesent sexual realization
as he suddenly becomes a boy with a monster inside him. He wrestles with this new passenger and this sudden change in the landscape around women, throughout the series. One of the most interesting lies in this sexual manafestation within him, as at first he is scared of it
and tries to ignore it’s existence,
but soon learns to understand and limit it’s power, while also learning to love this new side of himself.
Each interaction with Shinobu is a multi layered language barrage discussing folk tales, morals, sex, women, weight of power within the relationship, and the perception deception of a narrator. It’s a lot of stuff to try and cover in the breif conversations that they have, luckily Shinobu is a pretty easy going gal.
This sets off a chain reaction, starting with a new woman falling into his life.
She might seem a bit intimidating but this brave woman travels through the story with grace, confidence, and a growing trust.
She has plenty of weight on her shoulders, but she’s no character cut out. Each and every conversation swings in a balance between defensive and aggressive, Tsun and Dere change moment to moment.
This may seem like bad characterization, but it all ties together as we the little moments of pain as she begins to open up and really show those moments of weakness.
In 13 short episodes, she transitions from defensive kuudere, to a real person who found happiness.
Not stopping there, the rest of the show just makes her better and better.
At the same time, Araragi’s only friend begins to unravel.
Spured by multiple issues, she takes on a new attitude that begins to wreak havoc.
Reacting to this new girl in Araragi’s life, she finds herself full of jealousy and attacking him. Fueled by passion, Araragi has to make it clear that she holds no power over his sexual identity and puts a bandage on the relationship.
This leads her take a look at life and go on a personal journey. It comes back again, taking a new form,
but now she is able to rely on her friends to keep her clean, and caught up in some of the other girls stories, she eventually finds a better understanding of self.
She’s not done though, understanding that her journey is just beginning.
Each girl has their own story.
Dealing with past issues of trust,
A need for attention,
Lack of self-worth,
Or finding their own identity…
The series uses our MC to walk us through the various difficulties one faces when coming of age and tests our personal fetishism.
Life might seem easy with such a fantastic girlfriend, but relationships are not the only challenge one might face. Constantly trying to make sense of this world full of spirits, Araragi uses his words to battle the situations dropped upon him.
He might be a pervert,
but as the series goes on, he matures into the panty dropper he was meant to be.
Araragi has to re-evaluate the relationships he has with these new desires, and hone them to be socially acceptable. Sometimes it’s learning that you need boundries,
to recognize someone’s youth.
That even a pure girl,
can push herself onto you for the wrong reasons, and find struggles she cant escape.
Ex-boyfriends challenge his standing within the story and relevance as the MC.
Other rivals tempt his desire,
and try to destroy him, while facing their moments of weakness.
He finds new battles with his sisters,
before finding a new balance to the relationship, and a better understanding of how to support them.
The story isn’t over yet with Tsukimonogatari recently coming out,
and the upcoming third season will focus a lot more on Araragi’s quest to grow up. We can see this in the first arc already as Araragi’s sex drive is in a powerful battle with this new type of monster, Maturity.
He seems pretty excited about it.
What does this all mean? Well that’s for you to discover, but there are many different avenue’s to explore. Not everyone will join us on this journey, but I think we can all appreciate the ride…
If you plan on watching the series, the order of viewing is:
Incase that did not confuse you enough, the Timeline of the story is: (italicized means unaired so far)
*Kizumonogatari* – Neko – Bake – Nise – Second Season – Tsuki – *Third Season* – Hana