Tsukimonogatari – Review

New Mononagatari arc! And this one… well, it sure is an Araragi arc. This was definitely one of the weakest arcs of the show so far – it did attempt to push Araragi’s narrative forward, but accomplished very little within its four episodes, and mainly spent time explaining a story that just didn’t have that much resonance to it. Araragi is far from my favorite Monogatari character, but he can still work well when he’s given the right companions to riff off of. Here, where most of his conversations were either with the straight-laced Kagenui or blank Yotsugi, that really wasn’t possible. The best part of this arc was the final confrontation with Tadatsuru, but that was a small consolation for an arc with little else to recommend it. Hopefully this fall’s arcs are more rewarding!

You can check out my full review over at ANN, or my crazy pile of notes below! These notes actually start with notes from when I was first planning to watch this arc, but held off because I knew I’d do it for review, so the first episode has a mix of timestamp writeups from a while back and current notes!


Episode 1

0:30 – Yotsugi’s a doll. An apparition

0:41 – “She’s an apparition. Hopelessly incompatible with human society.”

Lovely backgrounds for both the Shinobu and Yotsugi segments – the lighting and colors each reflect their own fundamental aesthetic and personality

0:58 – “In her structure, she resembles that of a human. She pretends to be a human.” Liars

1:16 – “The fact that she pretends to be a human is proof she isn’t trying to be one.”

1:43 – It’s not about becoming human. It’s about interacting with them, being together with them

2:17 – “The apparition exists because humans exist.” This seems like an extension of the prior “apparitions need humans to give them form” into the further “apparitions base themselves on human nature.” Both in appearance and actions?

2:22 – “This doesn’t mean they’re dependent on humans. It just means that if there is nobody to observe, nobody is being observed. Even I, who was dubbed a legendary vampire… without that legend, I would not be a vampire.” Thus she speaks in myth-making when she describes her own history

“A ghost story must be mysterious”

2:54 – When you dig down, an apparition is just a devotion

What a great line

3:26 – “Sympathy for something other than humans exists all over the world. That is why ghost stories are told.”

Cute Yotsugi costumes. And that shot of her underwater is gorgeous

4:30 – If ghost stories are spoken of too much, they become mere chitchat. The feeling disappears

4:45 – I wonder how much longer things like this will continue. I am slightly fed up with it.

4:56 – “The luxury that it will exist forever… such a thing does not exist in this world.”

5:21 – “That is why this is the beginning of the end.”

“A story about how I, Koyomi Araragi, am going to end and begin. That’s this story.” Because one Araragi must end for another to begin, for him to grow up

Really great, classic Monogatari-style OP this time

I like these cut-paper title images

Nice animation for the fire sisters waking up Araragi again

Hatred of alarm clocks

Araragi distracting himself from thinking about college entrance exams by silly banter

Again, the color scheme of the bedroom compliments Karen’s outfit

Goddamnit, Araragi’s doing the Tsukihi OP dance

“Don’t you think it’s a waste to see that talent of Karen’s get squandered away?”

Karen will quit the fire sisters, but stay in her dojo. Time passes, we change in some ways, but not in others

11:54 – Talking about Karen “retiring from the fire sisters.” The sister scenes are generally pretty pointless, but they do reflect on whatever the arc’s actually about. Like a fanservice version of the shadow girls from Utena

12:10 – Some things change, some things stay the same

12:15 – “I don’t know how my college entrance exams will go.” Focusing on the clock. This episode opens with Araragi obsessing over an alarm clock, and now we see why – he feels that time is working against him, that an era is ending, and he’s not sure he’s ready

The Araragi household’s ridiculous bathroom

Big ol’ fanservice scene

Solid animation, at least

This bathroom sure is beautiful

They can’t avoid being aware of each other’s physicality. A classic Monogatari moment

The camera gets more neutral when they stay in neutral conversation space

This is actually a pretty cute argument

A new kinda low-key song – sounds like a recorder, harmonica, and xylophone

Tsukihi’s hair is incredibly long – she’s stayed in one stage for a long time, but she’s comfortable with it

The character art is looking more expressive and beautiful than ever

18:33 – “All I could say in response to Nadeko being released from the hospital was ‘I see.’ I had no qualifications to say anything else.”

Also talking about hair cutting – if you do it poorly, it gets in your eyes and hurts. Hair cutting obviously has its own specific meaning in Monogatari, and Araragi’s on the verge of one

19:20 – Tsukihi chastising Araragi for carrying too much weight

19:55 – Apparently Nadeko’s shenanigans have once again made the town unstable. Like with Shinobu in the past, I assume – having a god in town has attracted other apparitions

“I’ll regret leaving town without solving that issue.” Changes in life stages don’t come with a convenient “level clear” marker for what you were previously going through

20:11 – “Even if everything doesn’t turn out fine, I have to make sure there is good balance here.”

20:32 – “It’s not like you can solve anything and everything, big brother.”

Beautiful shots from above

The overt fanservice shots have stopped, unsurprisingly

“Is this really the time to be washing your sister in the bath?” Lol, drawing direct attention to how Araragi’s perversion represents his youth

22:45 – Araragi’s not showing up in the mirror

25:14 – Araragi’s fear is that he’s turned into a vampire. That he’s grown into something he didn’t want to be, something he’s been dancing around being

“If you pretend to be something, that becomes the truth” is key in Monogatari, and that interacts awkwardly with Araragi’s desire to put his spirit-hunting days behind him. He can’t just want to grow up – he has to already act the part he wants to be

Relevant ED again: “Even if we can never go back to those days again…”

Episode 2

Very sharp contrasts in the colors – in comparison to Hana’s beautifully painted compositions, these are more stark and modern-styled

Aaand a kiss setup. Wonderful

Nice stained-glass image

Usual old Araragi slapstick

“Shinobu, wake up!”

Shinobu confirms Araragi has turned into a vampire. Again, worrying about what he’s becoming, fretting about the specifics

More lighting, color schemes

“Well, it’s for certain that there’s some change going on in your body right now”

When Shinobu suggests he consult Yotsugi, the color scheme changes from Shinobu’s deep reds and shadows to Yotsugi’s bright, childlike daytime colors

Araragi overacting like usual

Araragi goes to call Gaen in order to get in contact with Yotsugi, and sees she’s already texted him arranging the meeting

Dang, a crazy spinning sepia shot as Araragi tells Tsukihi to stay with Kanbaru to protect her from Yotsugi’s master

Yotsugi as a prize in a crane game. Candy-colored backgrounds

This Yotsugi crane sequence is part cute, part very sad

“Is there anything more important than getting a little girl?”

She’s doing “Yay” right now

Aw shit, Kagenui Ononoki’s there too

“Then, Araragi, while Yotsugi is analyzing the taste of your foot…” The jokes can work! This is definitely a joke-heavy arc, though

Fortunately a lot of the jokes are immediate, and not indulgent referential humor

Kagenui breaks his fingers to test his healing factor

“Believe you can heal those fingers”

Healing his fingers with the power of Hanekawa’s breasts

“Just how entrenched in adolescence are you?”

Looking at them through a blue forest of wreckage from the old burned building

Shinobu comes out his shadow dressed like a disney princess in a castle

Kagenui provoking Shinobu

Shinobu’s fragile pride. Her and Araragi are pretty important to each other

Meta self-awareness, as usual

His body is slowly turning into that of a vampire

“I think you’ve racked up stupidity, not experience”

Araragi turned into a vampire too many times – getting himself involved in too many incidents has caused this situation. Finally consequences for his actions

“You got too accustomed to turning into a vampire”

The Nadeko case was the worst. And that was the case where Araragi felt the most responsible

“How do I turn back into a human?” “Impossible. There’s no way to fix this.”

Episode 3

A couple more CG images – a glass falling, etc

Once he heard the answer, it was easy to accept. He just wanted an answer

“I should have to pay compensation for what I’ve done”

They can stop it from progressing any further

“There is a method to keep the status quo” Which seems thematically opposed to this arc

He has to stop using his powers

Jeez, some gorgeous background shots with a black moon

If he turns into a vampire anymore, Kagenui says she’ll have to kill him. And Shinobu makes a counter-threat

Yotsugi, instead of threats, asks him to promise as a friend that he’ll never become a vampire again. She knows him better – she knows he can’t let a friend now

More great compositions with the black moon and white powerlines

He promises. “That’s a pretty shallow oath”

This episode is making nice use of consistent stained-glass style tapestries

And a nice alternate artstyle for explaining what his sisters are doing

Asking Kagenui about her reasons for hunting immortal apparitions

Tadatsuru Teori, another specialist, also hunts immortal apparitions

His sisters are in trouble, stolen by Tadatsuru

This arc is a bit too plot-heavy, and doesn’t star characters who have the most interesting chemistry. Spoiled by Kanbaru and Kaiki

Now they’re talking in a decaying castle

Araragi talking about how he deserves this punishment – like before, he’s taking everything upon himself

Kagenui says the timing is too suspicious. This was all set up

Tadatsuru thinks he’s an artist – he thinks apparitions are beautiful

Shinobu and Yotsugi having a random snowball fight with some actual animation

Kagenui and Araragi talking in an ice castle

Episode 4

Ougi’s waiting for them when they arrive, of course

Ougi’s been waiting there since the morning, since obviously she knew that’s where he’d end up

“Where’s Shinobu? I thought you couldn’t do anything without her.” “It didn’t used to be that way, but I guess it is now. And I’m comfortable with that. It’s good to be able to rely on others”

Ougi mocking him with Oshino’s line – “People can’t save people. I won’t save you. All you can do is save yourself on your own, Araragi.”

“It’s your uncle’s signature line. Not mine.”

Araragi doesn’t have regrets about helping people too much

“I detest things that are twisted around. I just want things to be proper.” Ougi attacks people’s hypocrisies and weaknesses

“You’ve matured, haven’t you.” Ougi so mocking

“Haven’t you grown up by giving up on lots of things?” “I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Beautiful shots in the forest

Yotsugi straight-up announcing Ougi’s the final boss

Great use of minimal colors – the night sky and the river versus the white of snow

Tadatsuru specializes in immortal apparitions that are dead

Discussing the creation of Yotsugi to the background of Yotsugi as an idol, then under the sea

Gorgeous colors here. Again, great use of Yotsugi’s color scheme in the background. Against skies, against flowers

“In the worst case, you can hand me over to save them”

Araragi flips her skirt in response. Playing the immature teen when he hears something he doesn’t want to acknowledge

He’ll distract Tadatsturu while Yotsugi rescues them

“I’ll be fine. I have my secret trump card: the grovel.”

A strategy meeting held entirely while Araragi holds up Yotsugi’s skirt

“You haven’t matured into an adult one bit.” Not willing to sacrifice anything except himself

Beautiful shot of them walking through a labyrinth from above

“You’ll end up murdering someone. If you do that, you really will stop being human.” “Humans are humans even if they kill others.”

Shinobu promises to make him fight and win if it seems like he’ll be killed, turning him into a vampire. It doesn’t matter to her if he’s a vampire

Kagenui and Tadatsuru apparently have a curse that keeps them from ever walking on the ground

“It’s more of a victim complex. According to the one that cast it on us, it’s merely ‘balancing the books’”

Tadatsuru: “Why in the world am I here?”

“I can’t shake the feeling I was cast in this role by someone else”

And the classic spotlight comes down

Tadatsuru is figuring out what’s actually happening, and taking it one concept at a time. Really nice idea

“If I knew where Oshino was, I wouldn’t have to do something this proper.” Echoing Ougi’s obsession

“I don’t want to help out in turning you into a vampire”

In order to avoid being used as a pawn to inadvertently turn Araragi into a vampire, Tadatsuru asks Yotsugi to kill him

“The reason why I killed him is because I’m a monster. Don’t end up like me, Araragi.”

Nice piano version of the OP

This time Araragi couldn’t win. But because of that, he still has the body of a human

And so his friendship with Yotsugi drifts apart

And he spends Valentine’s Day with Senjougahara

“Even if a mirror doesn’t show you, you will still be seen by my eyes.”

“Hanekawa doesn’t say you should be proper as much as before, right?” Okay with a messy life

“I was sitting inside the UFO catcher, and your sisters caught me”

Some things change, some things stay the same

10 thoughts on “Tsukimonogatari – Review

    • Hahaha. I mean, I wish I’d loved it, but I just didn’t see much to love in this one. Araragi arc + thematic retread + undercooked story doesn’t make for the best Monogatari.

  1. I felt like this entire story was a drawn out “we’re spelling out exactly what’s wrong with Araragi, in case you weren’t paying attention before.” It just felt incredibly unnecessary.

  2. I’ve been told this arc is the one most hurt by the fact that Kizu has yet to be adapted. Since it deals heavily with his vampirism that sort of makes sense. Supposedly that resonance this arc was lacking is largely due to not knowing the details of Kizu. If only Kizu would come out we’d be able to actually see if that is the case.

  3. Yeah, despite how much I love Monogatari overall, I feel sad, that something like Hana would spoil part of what I think that will make the next few arcs relevant, we’ve already seen a more mature Araragi, while someone as Hitagi is still a really insecure character, that needs the upcoming story to help herself and grow. Also I think that it didn’t help that this story was delivered as a stand alone.

    • It does seem like this one stands alone even worse than most of the arcs. And yeah, Hitagi could definitely use a more focused arc at this point. She’s only really been introduced so far, and still seems incredibly reliant on Araragi.

  4. I agree that the arc wasn’t as great as many of the others by its own merit (many recent arcs have been really great self contained stories in addition to their role in the greater narrative) but I’d hardly call it much worse in the context of the show as a whole. Kaiki’s words to Araragi at the end of Koimonogatari essentially clarified to Araragi a huge issue in his behavior and this arc showed that he’s actually beginning to take a good look at his own problems, giving us the beginnings of what needs to be Araragi’s main character arc. It’s certainly not nearly as individually rewarding as many previous arcs (that also functioned well as a self contained story/character arc: Nekoshiro, Hanamonogatari, etc.) but that’s not its purpose.

    • Even if you accept that this arc was necessary to set up actual character growth (which I’d personally disagree with), we’ve already spent pretty much every Araragi arc having a front row seat to his issues and had Kaiki literally spell it out for us and him.

      Araragi himself being enough of a screw-up that he needs another arc dedicated to spelling out his issues before anything can even start changing, does not make retreading all of this once again any more interesting for the audience.

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