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Koyomimonogatari Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

Small tales across the city.

What They Say:
“You’re looking for a horror story? I wish I got one for you.” Untold stories… one per month for one year… Taking place between other Monogatari stories, a chapter not yet told surrounds Koyomi Araragi and the strange happenings he gets pulled into over the course of a year. With one episode told per month, the story unravels in this 12 episode-long series of shorts.

The Review:
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 2016, the transfer for this TV special is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With this set having the complete twelve episode run, it’s spread across two discs split evenly. 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 soft color palette design to it to it across the board that works even with the darker night sky background to it. The front cover of the slipcover is nicely done with the main cast of girls spread across it with a shooting star in the background. The back cover goes in the same direction with more of the girls spread across it that’s cute, making for a great overall spread. 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. The Blu-ray case basically replicates the front cover artwork with a clean look to it and a white side panel 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 various locations that this set covers.

The menu design for the series is pretty good overall with the character artwork along the right and left respectively for each disc. The essentially take the character artwork from the cover but places it against a white background instead which gives the character designs color a lot more vibrancy, particularly next to the already colorful logo. 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 clean ending 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)
The arrival of the Koyomimonogatari series is an interesting one as it breaks the usual tradition. With it nearly ten years in as of this writing since the start of the anime adaptations for it, the project as a whole is getting a little difficult to keep track of – particularly if you’re not heavily invested in it but just enjoy it. It doesn’t help that the adaptations jump around a bit in time and within the show itself as well. What changes things up here is that while there is a larger arc here, one that isn’t worth overthinking, we get mostly small standalone tales that adds a little color overall to the city and the characters Araragi deals with. But it breaks even more from things by the fact that the episodes run (variably) at about half the length so it’s like “six episodes” overall for the twelve episodes here.

Taking place before Bakemonogatari, we get Araragi as he’s basically looking at a range of different tales within the area over the course of a year, finishing up not long after the events of the Otorimonogatari series. Which, in the grand scheme of things, can be too confusing after all this time. The crux of the matter is that each episode takes Araragi through the various leading ladies of the series so they have their own episode with him and deal with a little tale while building the larger narrative that culminates in his encounter with Gaen at the Snake Shrine. Which I have some confused and jumbled memories of that results in a lackluster finish here because of that. But as is the case with anime more often than not, the journey is what makes it as a lot of shows can’t stick the finish – if they even have an idea of what a finish could be.

Which is why this series does largely work.Spending the opening episode with Tsubasa is definitely fun as the two of them deal with the perception of the shrine that’s in the school garden and how it got there. It’s a “certain point of view” kind of thing to a degree that repeats itself across the season where what they think of isn’t the truth. It’s a bit of wordplay and deductive reasoning, such as an episode that focuses on how a shrine was relocated to someplace new but none of the original materials where moved there with the building. It’s like those short riddles writ large here with the supernatural in the mix and Araragi trying to solve them with whoever he’s with.

Some work better than others, such as the noted Gaen ending episode and sadly some of the time with Araragi’s sisters who still feel like they’re not being utilized well. Araragi’s time with Shinobu is definitely nicely done as it revolves around the way she attempts to keep all the donuts for herself but teaches him a really interesting kind of altruistic lesson. I even liked the episode focusing on Mayoi that delves into a curiosity involving the sandbox in the park that’s not exactly up to snuff and she gets him to investigate and really understand how to do so. Similarly, I liked what we got with him and Hitagi with a mystery of flowers left on the roof of the school and what kind of death may have happened here and why. They’re all rooted in simpler truths that are sussed out over time, almost like morality plays to teach, and factoring that into his eventual role with Gaen and Shinobu as well and it makes a kind of simplistic sense.

In Summary:
Koyomimonogatari is an interesting show in how it tries to break itself away from how most of the seasons have worked so far. It’s very light on fanservice compared to the rest, the shorter running time makes a difference, and the clarity in moving between situations and spreading the tales out gives it a really unusually feeling. At the same time it continues to leave me wishing for a big chronological order release someday so that perhaps it’ll all make some sort of grand sense. Aniplex USA continues to do great work with the releases that are vivid and just beautiful with the visuals, solid audio, and a fantastic package with the booklet included and the postcards that are just gorgeous. Another solid entry in the franchise.

Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Ending, PV & CM 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: December 19th, 2017
MSRP: $89.98
Running Time: 150 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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