WARNING: The following review may contain spoilers involving seasons 1 – 5 (all of the seasons before Tsukimonogatari) of the Monogatari series. Do not read if you’re yet to entirely catch up with the series.
In life there are several moments in which we’re forced to make difficult decisions. Some decisions that we don’t always want to make and others that we don’t have any option other than to go along with a choice we don’t want to make if we want to keep what we hold dear to us. While these decisions may be rare, we commonly turn to others for help if the decision is harder for us to cope with; harder for us to make. It should be no surprise that we see this theme very often through anime. Light and warm tones are commonly aided by this theme and it usually helps drive the more uplifting tone home. However, an instance where the theme isn’t used to bring a more joyful tone to the show and is used as a plot device that would clearly push to become a large point of conflict is rare in comparison; is even more rare in the instance when it’s used six seasons into a show about to end. This sounds like something a shonen would build up to in order to attempt last minute suspense, but unlike the stereotypical shonen, the show that pulled this off has been known for it’s intricacies and by doing this, the series lost one of it’s best long-running Deus Ex Mahcinas. In this post I’m going to review the latest instalment in the soon to conclude Monogatari series, Tsukimonogatari.
Six seasons into a show widely considered to be one of the best anime out there and finally the over 60 episode legacy has shown signs of an end. For anyone unfamiliar with the the show at hand, Tsukimonogatari is the latest instalment of the boy Koyomi Araragi’s life as a half-vampire as he attempts to deal with (and occasionally cure) anomalies he’s faced with. As the order of the light novels which the series is based off of goes, this is the second to last season of the show before it’s grand finale, however one of the most important qualities about our main character is taken from him from the very start. Araragi has been faced with several brutal tasks throughout the entire Monogatari series but the vampire part of him would give him the regenerative abilities to survive whatever massive injuries he obtained, but this time around he learned that if he continued to use his vampire powers he would soon turn completely into a vampire. As per usual with the Monogatari series, SHAFT does an amazing job with telling the story through the massive amounts of dialogue and even goes as far as to tease everyone’s favourite mysterious girl (boy?) as has become a practice as of the later seasons of the series.
As usual for the series, we get no explanation as to who this character is or what their importance to the story is but we do get more teasing towards the point that Ougi is an important character. For some reason, Ougi was expecting Araragi to not only arrive at the spot before the finale of the season, but they were expecting Araragi to arrive earlier than when he showed up. Ougi also notes on the fact that Shinobu wasn’t by Araragi’s side when he landed with Ononoki. This felt like a major tease into the possible final season of the series as we now see that Ougi is closing in on Araragi as they have been for the entirety of the series so far. However, as sad as I am to say it, this is the highlight of the story. In the span of four episodes, Tsukimonogatari seemed to draw out one of the weakest arcs in the Monogatari series. The rest of the story wasn’t special aside from Araragi loosing his vampire powers and a final scene that teased the final season more than SHAFT has ever teased anything in their entire lives. This season was obviously just a bridge in the series, much like how Nekomonogatari was used, but it felt rather poor for the series. Little story parts were exceptionally memorable and the anime felt much weaker because of that due to the nature of the show. As opposed to Nekomonogatari, Tsukimonogatari failed to approach a bigger question in the huge mystery of the Monogatari series (much like how Nekomonogatari explained the origins of Black Henekawa) and rather created a weaker temporary problem to fit in an admittedly well placed teaser for a potential final season. It was mildly disappointing to see the series lack in the usual strength it displayed but the show more than makes up with it in other departments.
One of the best things about Tsukimonogatari as a whole was the amazing art. It was beyond clear that SHAFT went all out for the series and did so in a stunningly beautiful way. The first majorly noticeable aspect involving art is that SHAFT completely re-did the usual scenes of text quoting the novels. This is a change I’m still having trouble accepting as I’ve grown rather attached to the old black text on a solid colour but this is just me being stuck up as I can’t deny that the new change looks a thousand times better than the old, simplistic scenes.
Another aspect that shows how much sheer effort SHAFT put into the visual appearance of the show is how gorgeous some of the empty scenes look. Visually, everything looks better than it ever has, outshining that of even Monogatari Second Season. When I initially watched Tsukimonogatari I watched it at 480p on a 2nd generation iPod touch and even then I was on awe of how amazing everything looked. SHAFT uses the winter season in the show to their fullest advantage, making every scene give off a clear winter vibe and making the scenes with elements like snow or ice look beyond amazing. Throw this in with outstandingly good looking sidetrack scenes with references to other SHAFT productions and even Vocaloid, and you have a show that upholds the Monogatari standard of an extremely addicting experience to watch through visual appearance alone.
As we continue down the usual anime reviewer check-list, our next topic is character and sound. The musical composition isn’t anything special and is hardly noticeable aside from the opening and ending songs (“Orange Mint” by Mito as our opening theme and “border” by ClariS for our ending theme). However, in a show as extremely dialogue heavy as Monogatari, the more important aspect to focus on when suspecting the show’s sound is the voice acting and the use of vocal editing depending on the scenes. Monogatari has always had a perfect cast of voice actors for each and every spot they have to offer, with Hiroshi Kamiya doing his usual above average and nearly perfect voice acting for Araragi, and continues the usual way of editing the character voices to have a sound that fits whichever scene is on the screen at the time to the point of even editing a voice to be slightly muffled and echoed in an underwater sidetrack scene. It should be no surprise that SHAFT did this, as they’ve done it in perfection in every season of Monogatari prior to this one. However, how are the characters in the unusually below average season of this series? Surprisingly, good. Not better than usual by any means at all, but for as lacking of a story it has to hold to it’s name, the show does a good job of presenting each and every character well and even gives much needed development to our darling star of the show, Ononoki Yotsugi. This is somewhat of a relief as the well done character presentation absorbs some of the shame the show has coming for it with the lacking story.
With this said, I can say I personally enjoyed Tsukimonogatari. It wasn’t the show I was expecting, even if my expectations were a bit much, but the show overall was amusing and entertaining to watch; that is the reason we watch these shows to begin with. There were parts where lacking elements got to me and it pushed my enjoyment, while I hate to admit it, and there were times where I was a little disappointed considering the massive hype I had for this show. Even with this, the show wasn’t bad and actually far from it. It’s still a proper season in the Monogatari series and with that fact alone it’s worth watching. I give Tsukimonogatari an 8.2 out of 10, and recommend it to anyone just as much as I recommend the rest of the series.