What They Say:
“About how I, Koyomi Araragi, am going to end… and begin. That’s this story”
Koyomi wakes up to see Mayoi Hachikuji before him, the girl who supposedly had gone to the afterlife. She tells Koyomi that they are currently in Avichi, the lowest levels of hell. Koyomi is dubious of how Mayoi knew about the exact timing of his death and which hell he would drop into, when Mayoi tells him that she was there to pick him up by the request of a certain individual.
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 2015, 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 last seven episodes to this arc, it’s spread across two discs with a four/three split. 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 front cover of the slipcover is nicely done with with Mayoi taking the center stage with all sorts of really cute water element pieces to it that really delights, especially with the rich shades of blue that it uses. The back cover goes in a very different direction as we get a much darker piece with Ougi that fits the tone of the episodes themselves. 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 classroom where a lot of things get underway here.
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 artwork is definitely nicely vibrant with what it does by using the white background with the striking colors, giving each its own feeling and tone that goes a bit lighter. 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 opening and ending sequences in clean form as well as a couple of the “story so far” pieces to provide a big picture view of events.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
About eighteen months after the first series saw release here we get to dig into Owarimonogatari II, which is being released as a third volume here as it continues on the overall journey of the characters. I really struggled with the previous Owarimonogatari sets with what they did, which felt even more so after taking in the films in the past year. I continue to love the look and design of the show like the rest of the Monogatari works but it’s been going on for so long, what, a decade now? – that I’ve lost track of the overall story along the way. With some of the previous works, and the movies, for example, bringing in some solid stories that worked in standalone, Owarimonogatari simply feels like it draws on too many things and with characters that I can’t connect with enough that it doesn’t click for me as much.
This season is made up of seven episodes that delves into three storylines. The first two are two-parters while the third gets three episodes, so the disc structure works nicely to lay them out. The opening piece is the one that works a bit better for me than the others – almost – as it focuses on Mayoi. With Araragi having been killed by Gaen, he’s now descending into hell where Mayoi waits for him as she attempts to give him what he needs to revive. There’s some back and forth over this that brings it all to a decent conclusion in how he deals with what happened with Gaen, but the time spent with Araragi over-fondling Mayoi when they met was hard to shake off. It’s not the sum whole of it by any means and it’s not exactly out of character for Araragi, but it’s one of a couple of points in the franchise that just makes me cringe really hard.
The second storyline has him alive once again – and human – where after all that’s happened something as simple as a date with Hitagi is a pretty good thing. The show works through some familiar things but it spends most of it working through the usual range of heavy dialogue with a lot of seemingly layered meanings that don’t exactly connect as well as they should. I’ve enjoyed the overly philosophical aspects of the series in previous seasons but the Owarimonogatari ones have felt overly forced and more and more like we’re spinning in circles with it. They’re just not resonating as well since we’re in this weird kind of cycle with the story even if we do go through things like Araragi’s actual death and revival.
The final arc over three episodes focuses on Ougi, who had some brief nods earlier in this season, but it’s lacked the kind of threat and weight that it needs. Ougi’s been causing trouble for a while now and having a final confrontation is essentially expected. But if suffers, for me, with the problem of time between works and the whole ten year aspect of watching the Monogatari franchise. Ougi’s really great in terms of actual visuals and design with how she’s presented, and with everything being darkened around her, but the time with Araragi and Shinobu is what worked the best for me here as the two reaffirm their bond more than anything else.
We’re just under a hundred episodes of this series and with as complex as it is it’s left me in a place where I’ve lost track of the object of it all. The back and forth over the run has had its moments but it’s become so convoluted over the years that I’m kind of lost. Which is saying something as I’m still able to largely keep track of 800+ episodes of One Piece. I continue to really enjoy the look of the show and Aniplex USA puts together a great looking release and solid package so fans of the show will love getting into the stories here. It’s left me feeling cool on the show in general with an edge of frustration to it that has me really wanting some form of resolution and finality to it all.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, PV & CM Collection, Textless Opening & Ending, Short Featurette: STORY OF KOYOMI ARARAGI, Short Featurette: STORY THAT I GOING TOWARDS THE END
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: June 26th, 2018
Running Time: 170 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.