What They Say:
With help from Meme Oshino, the apparition specialist, Koyomi defeats the three powerful vampire hunters: Dramaturgy, Episode and Guillotinecutter. Koyomi takes back all the limbs of Kiss-Shot-Acerola-Orion-Heart-Underblade in order to become a human again. But, when he returns to Kiss-Shot, she reveals to him the cold truth of what it means to be a vampire—a creature of the night. Unable to take back what he has done, Koyomi feels nothing but regret and can only deny his dreadful fate. While Koyomi is struggling to face reality, his “friend” Tsubasa Hanekawa comes to him with a certain plan…
The audio presentation for this release is a bit of a change as we get the Japanese language track only but encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec instead of the usual PCM. We also get it in stereo and a 5.1 mix since it was a theatrical release, which expands things just a bit here while adhering to the usual sound design of the TV series. 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. This installment has more action to it and works it very well, 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, is still the main draw for me. 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 in theaters in 2017, the transfer for this feature is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Works 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 third installment of Kizumonogatari largely replicates the previous editions as the soft slipcase for it is done in all blue with some shiny white embossing to really highlight the cold nature of it. With the logo done simple through the middle it’s understated but has some real impact to it overall. The back of the case proper extends that without any text to it but we do get a sheet over it as well that provides the usual goodness. This has a lot of very good sized shots from the show along the top half while the bottom breaks out the features, bonus materials, as well as the cast and staff. The technical grid along the bottom is kept simple but effective. There’s no summary of the premise since Aniplex figures if you’re looking at it you’ve already bought it since it’s largely online retail distribution for the most part.
Within the box we get a clear Blu-ray case that uses the appealing key visual from the third film with Kiss-shot looking impressive in her full form with the sword out. The back cover also uses the other main key visual from the school setting from the outside amid the battle in the rain. The set comes with a fantastic square bound booklet that’s in full color as it breaks down the characters, settings, lots of visuals and conceptual pieces, and a very good if brief interview segment with the original creator and the chief director of the project. And, like other releases, we get a really beautiful pack of postcards with the great key visual imagery.
The set also comes with the original soundtrack for this installment, which is once again a very welcome inclusion for those that dig into the instrumental score.
The menu design for the series is pretty good overall with some appealing clips from the feature playing out after initially loading a white background that has the logo design on it with the black text and blue shadowing 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 red background 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 for this release are fairly straightforward as we get a good collection of the commercials and promos that came out before it premiered. The set also comes with the original soundtrack packed in which is definitely worth checking out as hearing the pieces isolated from the show makes you realize just how much of an impact the score has.
The third and final installment of the Kizumonogatari series is one that delivers as needed to bring things full circle and set up for the previous projects that follow it. Part of me still hopes that someday, somehow, the whole anime project can be put out in chronological order so that I can just sit back and absorb the whole thing. I thoroughly enjoy each piece for a range of reasons but it’s been produced in such a back and forth order that I’ve lost track of when is where and who is what at times that I just try to focus on the individual moment rather than on the larger whole. And I know that reduces the effectiveness of it but it’s something that happens with the gaps between releases and when you cover so many different things. I can imagine quite the impressive set and experience if they could release it all that way.
The Reiketsu feature is one that has some powerful moments to it after spending the previous installment largely working through the action. Araragi’s talk with Oshino at the start sets the stage for the finale and for what comes in regards to Araragi’s future as there’s an enigmatic element to it all. But the simple truth is that what really becomes the focus here is what Araragi has to do in order to become human again. He’s struggling with everything that just happened in those fights with Guillotinecutter and the like because he’s either far more powerful than he realized or those opponents were so weak that it doesn’t make sense that Kiss-shot would be susceptible to them. There’s more to it, which is where Oshino comes back in later, but in the immediate it’s an interesting piece where Araragi has to realize his position and connection with Kiss-shot and why things unfolded as they did.
This in turn has her discussing her past a bit in regard to her previous minion but I thought it was more interesting how she’s forgotten much if not all of her human life. While science fiction comes up with creative things about long-lived people and memory, placing it in a present context and how someone like Kiss-shot would just let it all fade is intriguing. With our memories so tied to who we are, it gives you an interesting view of who Kiss-shot is and why she’s found herself so bored for so long even with the whole world at her fingertips. At some point you forget much of what you’ve done but perhaps in the back of your mind you remember doing it before and become bored when rediscovering it. For Araragi, it colors his view of her a bit but it also reinforces why he doesn’t want to remain a vampire minion of hers as he wants a life, and he obviously wants something more from Tsubasa. When we get a side moment as Tsubasa appears and tries to convince him to do the right thing it ends up devolving into the lurid side of the series that it dabbles in far too regularly. It’s something that makes me dislike Araragi, and Tsubasa to a degree, but I have to admit once again that it’s one of the most beautifully animated sequences out there.
While the previous installment was heavy on action this one doesn’t disappoint either. When we get Araragi confronting Kiss-shot head-on with a fight, well, it’s just nuts. Really nuts. The two go at it without holding back but also have the element in how their bodies are not human and can recover. This means we get heads being ripped off and regrowing, limbs sliced away, and even a sequence with Araragi’s upper half running on its hands and clawing at Kiss-shot. It’s a surreal kind of piece but it’s so lushly animated with high fluidity to the movements and expressions that it’s utterly absorbing in how it plays out. There’s a lot of heart that comes from it at the end as the choices are made that takes us back to where the Bakemonogatari series started off so many years ago but having the weight of this final fight between the two with what Araragi understands as being at stake really delivers.
While I struggle with this property as a whole because of the way it’s been produced over the years the individual parts are strong. The Kizumonogatari series has been a real delight and I wish it was something that I could have seen on the big screen. It’s beautifully animated and filled with the right kind of heart and emotion to give it the weight it needs. I really like these characters and what they struggle with and filling in this particular part of Araragi’s story definitely helps to mold perceptions of what comes thereafter. There are a few spots that make me cringe a bit but they are admittedly part and parcel for this franchise as a whole. Aniplex’s release of it is pretty strong as it has a very good package put together and the actual show itself is beautiful in how it plays out on screen. Very recommended.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, PV & CM Collections, Original Soundtrack CD, Deluxe booklet, Pin-up postcard set
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: November 21st, 2017
Running Time: 82 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.