Shinobu Time – Review

It’s time for more Monogatari! It’s time for… well, probably the weakest arc of season two, and also one of the weakest arcs of the entire series. When Monogatari focuses on Araragi and Mayoi, bad things tend to happen, and this arc is no exception – fortunately, the arc’s stellar conclusion and beautiful visuals do at least some work to lessen the sting. And hey, at least this gives me the opportunity to take some acid shots at Monogatari’s “witty sense of humor.” No, I’m not petty.

My full ANN review is here. Copious episodic notes on nice shots and character work below!


Episode One

The lighting is as sharp and distinctive as ever, casting Monogatari’s stories as heightened stage plays while never diminishing their emotional power

This arc chronicles the beginning of Shinobu and end of Mayoi, in contrast to Mayoi Jiangshi, which chronicled the beginning of Mayoi as she is and one possible end of Shinobu

The artificial, “presented” nature of the narrative is clear from the very beginning here, as Araragi introduces our object of study Shinobu and talks about what we’ll be covering

Ah, it opens with the scene it ends at – Araragi calling whatsherface to the classroom to discuss Mayoi

In contrast to most of the Monogatari openings, this one’s its own beautiful, largely instrumental, choral thing, complemented by art from ENDING ANIMATION GUY

And this directly follows Mayoi Jiangshi, making this essentially a two-arc ministory to accompany the three-arc major story of Tiger, Medusa, End

Araragi summarizing the story as “we went to the past. The end.” A nice meta-joke regarding how this season plays with chronology versus how the characters experience it, framed by Monogatari’s always self-aware storytelling. Yeah, sure, Monogatari has “too much dialogue”

“You did something completely useless, Mr. Araragi-san.” Story of his life

Starting off with this rambling, silly conversation about slugs and snails. A very Mayoi-Araragi moment

The shadows are used to create interesting visual compositions even for simple conversations. No conversation is allowed to be simple

They basically alternate playing the straight man to each other. And you have to find their sense of humor pretty damn funny to enjoy their scenes, since their relationship was solidly established from their first arc

The inversion of the colors, and sharp, clinical sound effects for the appearance of the apparition. A great effect

The slow, slow build of Araragi’s rambling conversation, followed by the sudden burst of Araragi spinning his bike and Mayoi screaming “get us out of here.” Monogatari has very slow pacing, but it has control over that pacing, for sure

Hurray, pedophile jokes

Some very nice animation for this bike ride

More pedophile jokes, great

This town that’s constantly under construction, full of irrational twists, not yet fully formed. A mirror of its characters

Pedophile joke number three awesome

Constantly shifting color schemes mirror the emotional shifts of the narrative while also providing an array of beautiful compositions

And of course this arc also has Araragiservice

“Good muscles. Yup.”

The palette changes accompany all sorts of shifts – mood, character, conversation topic

“I’m nothing more than a commonplace quasi-vampire that goes to high school.”

“It wasn’t necessarily targeting you. Storms and typhoons don’t target humans.”

When the conversation moves to the darkness, the color fades. When it shifts away, color returns. The ultimate resolution of this arc approaches in its colors

For the standard conversations, the music is simple, repetitive chimes and boops. Works fine

“Shinobu will eat it, and I’ll ask Hanekawa to explain what it was sometime later.”

“I don’t know if it’s good for you to rely on someone else all the time.” To Araragi? Jeez

Right, Araragi kisses all THREE of them in this arc

“Do your best and survive. In this game that you don’t know the rules of.” “This isn’t a game.” “Then what is it?” Such a great episode end

“Back when I made my first minion.”

Episode 2

Many shots make great use of Shinobu’s stark red, yellow, and white color scheme. Also works well with shadow/spotlight motif

This episode is essentially peak Monogatari – a simple but roundabout story narrated to beautiful backdrops. And the backdrops are beautiful – this is Shaft’s go-to alt-style illustrator at his best

“Stories of apparitions don’t stand without witness.” Apparitions need humans to exist

“The recoil from my jump almost destroyed Antarctica.” She basically speaks like Coyote telling tales

“I fell into a lake and obliterated it”

“The water that raised up from my landing fell like rain, and stopped a drought, saving many lives.” More tale-telling – she creates her own miracles and legends

And now she’s telling it into a radio, a radio drama

The show uses many divergent angles to draw the eye to the overall composition of scenes

“I made a shrine and gathered rain clouds for them.”

“I continued to be witnessed as a god, and thus was becoming one.” As always, in Monogatari, appearance creates truth. But pretending to be what you’re not also has consequences

Shinobu’s first minion was a demon-hunter. Fighter of apparitions

Beautiful colors, rich, detailed compositions, an entirely different visual style. These scrolls are something else

Painted smoke wafting off a sword in a slowly unveiling tapestry. Beautiful stuff

All the villages that had come to know her disappeared. Reflecting Mayoi’s future

The characters cut through by the white beams of the construction building, with golden sunlight gleaming through clouded skies. So many beautiful shots. Monogatari is “needlessly beautiful,” but it makes an aesthetic out of that. Every moment is worth highlighting

Glimmering, color-changing darkness contrasted against Kiss-Shot, like a cut paper mural

More artificial spotlight

“With this bad ending, the curtain falls.”

Really just an episode strongly establishing Shinobu’s fundamental loneliness

Episode 3

A nice shot of Meme’s jacket flapping away, implying how Araragi is now the town’s only protector

Alright, let’s get all the pedo stuff out, Araragi

“Who do you like the most among the three of us?” Goddamnit, Monogatari

Hachikuji leading the loli squad

Araragi asking Yotsugi to stop calling Shinobu an old hag

The darkness isn’t an apparition

The nighttime scenes in the forest are gorgeous. Love the shadow and color, the little fireflies

The reflections in the lake are great

They have to talk to Gaen

The scene immediately goes grayscale when Yotsugi mentions Shinobu, leading Araragi to realize she’s gone

The shot of Shinobu’s private dimension is pretty classy

The visual expressions of the darkness are pretty great. This shot with the color characters in the greyscale classroom

Their bond makes both of them stronger. The Shinobu-Araragi story is all about loneliness

That standard, jazzy piano track

The interpretation of a sunrise as a light purple-brown palette. Interpretations of color that don’t physically match the world, but seem to make an emotional sense

Discussing the link between the apparition hunter senpais

And then the colors turn to rainbow when Gaen appears

Even the ED speaks of memories and nostalgia. Relevant for this arc and Monogatari in general. “Still wanting to be taken in by a comforting lie.”

Episode 4

A maze of foreground chairs and balconies framing our characters in a visual prison as they discuss Mayoi in Shinobu’s lake

Gaen loves her role

The show frames her as all kinds of intimidating. All the adults are like that

Asking for the introduction to Kanbaru. Gesturing at the larger forces moving in this world

Gaen loves posing

Araragi losing his cool over helping Shinobu as soon as possible. Nice to see

Wonderful shots of Gaen as she explains Mayoi’s perile

Apparitions that stray from their path or forget who they are get swallowed up

“What wasn’t good wasn’t that she became a god, but that she fooled others.”

Mayoi should be in the afterlife. Her being here at all is a lie. She is the “ghost of a ghost”

“I’ve never gotten lost walking with Hachikuji.”

“The person she lied to was herself.”

Araragi denies it

“Thanks to you, Mr. Araragi, I don’t have to get people lost anymore. I would never do that. I decided to lie and say I’d never do that.”

The darkness is “a materialization of the rules.” Sometimes you can’t beat the house.

Araragi demands she be specific. Demands she say what Araragi refuses to admit

“Don’t make me go through what Shinobu went through. Let go of this hand.” “That’s an unfair way to put things.”

“I’ll think of something right now. There has to be a way past this.” “The world was very nice to me, wasn’t it?” Cutting stuff

“It’s okay for you to fight, but no one else? That’s not fair, Araragi.”

“I won’t be here anymore. But that won’t mean I wasn’t here to begin with.” “That’s just a play on words.” So much of this is

“If that’s what’s going to happen, I’d stay lost with you forever!”

He’s so selfish

“You’re going to use twenty years of your life just for me?”

“You can’t choose everyone.”

Both their performances here are great

The pink and gold of the sky

The final song is great

Man. This scene really wrings every good thing out of both of these characters. It’s a staggering little piece

“My job is a job that punishes the liars.” Man, that girl

“I feel like I’m being left behind.” Oh Araragi

Using Mayoi’s story to test Ougi

One thought on “Shinobu Time – Review

  1. The amazing artistry of the scroll episode is part of what makes the Monogatari series so special. Having sad that, the story in this one is a bit meh to be honest. A bit of fanservice for the loli brigade.

    My Monogatari experience is that the older the girl the arc is centered on, the better it is. The Hanekawa and Senjougahara heavy episodes are consistently better than those of the younger girls. The big exception is Otorimonogatari, where Nadeko is a revelation and the story really takes a dark turn.

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