What They Say:
On January 1st, Hitagi Senjyogahara calls her nemesis, the con-artist Deishu Kaiki, to request his services, saying, “There is someone I’d like you to deceive.” The request is a bitter choice for her to make, but one that would save her and her dear Koyomi Araragi from a “death sentence.”
Kaiki starts to research his target, Nadeko Sengoku, the junior high school girl who became a god of North Shirahebi Shrine. As Kaiki investigates her background, he finds her secret that she has never told anyone before, including her beloved Koyomi Araragi. Can Kaiki save Hitagi and Koyomi before time is up?!
Fifth arc to the Monogatari series’ second season.
The audio presentation for this release is quite good for a stereo mix as it presents the original Japanese language using the PCM encoding. The dialogue here is what dominates the show to be sure as it comes hard and fast quite often with a lot of placement throughout. There’s some very minor action but the way the mix works is to handle the quick cuts, placement along the forward soundstage and to immerse you in it as best as it can. And it does it very, very well. The nature of the show is one where it has its quiet moments, but when it gets running with the fast paced dialogue and the way it shifts scenes so much, it’s impressive and comes across cleanly and beautifully here.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With six episodes to this arc of the season, it’s spread across two discs with three episodes per disc. Shows animated by Shaft really require high definition transfers in order to shine and it does just that here, keeping the bit rate steady in the high thirties throughout, the stills and the strong, vibrant colors it chooses to employ. With a range of styles to be had, the transfer brings it all home in a really strong way with no loss of detail, solid colors and very fluid looking animation that stands out all the more because of the encoding. With so many detailed and interesting backgrounds, being able to soak them up when paused or enjoying them in motion is just all the better with what’s done here.
The packaging for this single case release is pretty nicely done with a slipcase for the Blu-ray case that has a few extras inside that fans will like. The packaging has a red design to it to it across the board though the spine for it goes purple this time around. The front cover of the slipcover is nicely done with Senjyogahara in her schoolgirl form where she’s along the bridge and we got the little snowman there as well. With the snow falling and the general tone of it, it’s definitely one that sets the atmosphere quite well. The reverse side goes in a very different direction as we get her in a summer scene with palm trees and Kaiki inside a convertible from the opening sequence while she’s got a great little sun dress that sets a different but really good tone as well. Inside the slipcover we get a great package of postcards with the characters from this arc that are beautifully designed and we also get great twenty page booklet that goes into the show lightly with a lot of character artwork, images from the show and the preview panels in an easier to see form with translated text. It’s not full of really detailed information, but it’s got a great feeling to it and definitely adds some value here. Sadly, we don’t get a poster with this release. The Blu-ray case basically replicates the front cover artwork with a clean look to it and a white side panel instead of the purple which helps to tie it all together nicely. There aren’t any inserts in here but we do get a nice piece of background artwork on the reverse side of the restaurant where Senjyogahara and Kaiki meet and talk.
The menu design for the series is pretty good overall with the character artwork along the left having a vibrant feeling, the logo along the right brings some balance. The first disc uses the Shinobu artwork from the front cover while the second disc uses the group artwork from the back cover, giving each its own feeling and tone. The navigation is kept along the bottom where it tiers upwards as you make selections, though they’re all just a little too small and thin. The text is white on varied color backgrounds depending on the disc and it’s easy enough to read overall but could have used a little more definition. The navigation is easy to move though and the disc defaults to the Japanese language with dialogue only subtitles. It also has the option for dialogue+signs as well as the commentary track subtitles.
The extras are fairly standard fare here in that we get the new ending sequence in clean form as well as a look at the various promotional spots and TV commercials for the release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This six episode release of Monogatari Second Season actually brings the second season to a close, though there’s more material out there in the various specials that are produced. Bringing a series like this to a close, or at least with some closure, is something that definitely feels weird overall. With the kind of sprawling nature of the series so far, there’s a certain sense that in some ways it feels like it’s never going to end, or that there is no true ending point. Thankfully, there is at least a certain pivotal aspect to the show that’s being dealt with here that helps to give things a sense of finality, though open enough for plenty more events to flow and follow from there. I’m still feeling kind of weird about the release of this season overall simply because I still can’t really decide whether it works better consumption of story wise in the individual arcs or taking it in as a whole.
After spending the time we have in the various recent arcs that set everything up for Nadeko and how she’s become a god now, that has brought us to the complicated point where Senjyogahara and Araragi now know they have just a few months left to live. Nadeko’s feeling slighted to say the least about what happened with Araragi has the two of them being told she’ll kill them once they graduate from school, thanks to some quick thinking that at least got them a little bit of a reprieve in order to try and figure out how to get out of it. Nadeko’s arc was certainly interesting for what it presented in trying to tie a lot of things together and also her own evolution into being what she is, so seeing her as the background threat here for the first half of it works well, and she really gets to go big in the second half as the plans themselves are really put into motion.
As most of these arcs have worked in a half and half split, the first half is certainly intriguing as we have Senjoygahara going after Kaiki, who has stayed out of this town for a long time after the events of two years prior that he was involved in with her. With his special ability to deceive, it certainly makes sense that she’d go after him to try and help with the situation in order to try and push back against Nadeko so that she gives up on her plan. The bulk of the first half is really an interesting mix of the two talking about it as she tries to convince him to do it, using some interesting means along the way, but mostly because they have very different approaches to talking with each other considering their history. He’s being wary to be sure, but curious, since that history is something that he respects. Senyjogahara for her part is doing her best to win him over to helping her, but she also knows just how difficult it is to really accomplish this but also just how critical it is. She’s not showing a sense of desperation, but there is that feeling coming from her.
The second half largely plays with execution and resolution, which puts most of its focus on that of Kaiki and Nadeko. We got a good handle on Kaiki in the first half and he really does feel out of place in a lot of this since he’s not a young man and is dealing with a sixteen year old Nadeko, at least pre-god status. Kaiki’s view of things with his alignment along deception makes for some curious scenes as you can’t be quite sure what direction he’s going to go, but he has such a straightforward and almost expositionary way of talking to himself that it makes it easier to really grasp what he is, but still be uncertain as to just how truthful he’s being. His time with Nadeko has him playing a long game with her at first as he makes the offerings at her shrine and the dialogue between the two can feel a little strained after awhile, but when we see him make his bigger play to deceive her and she goes very big with her abilities all while talking about the truth that she’s hiding, it certainly feels like a season finale storyline to bring a lot of things together. It works, but it also doesn’t in a lot of ways because it ejects the main characters for so much as Araragi has only a few minutes here at the end and even Senjyogahara is minimal overall in the scheme of things. As much as I like what Kaiki and Nadeko bring to it, it wasn’t the characters I wanted to see bring it all to resolution.
Koimonogatari brings the main series to a close by working through the problem of the main characters being slotted for death by a god upon their school graduation. The story is heavily focused on Kaiki and Nadeko, which works well enough but made me long for the other characters to be a real part of solving the problem of what’s facing them. It all makes sense with what Senjyogahara is doing to try and fix it all, and Kaiki makes a lot of sense, but I wanted a more hands on approach after everything else that had happened in the last few arcs and with Nadeko in particular. It’s definitely an appealing looking arc throughout and with what we get from Nadeko as she really starts to unleash her powers on Kaiki in the second half, you have to be wowed by the detail and design of it all. It’s an interesting closer, but one that makes me enjoy the journey more than the ending.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Ending, Promotional Video & Commercial Collections
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: February 24th, 2015
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.