Time travel is far too fickle of a subject for just ‘anyone’ to be writing about. Few have written a story involving speeding through the fabric of our time and pulled it off perfectly. I, as a ‘wannabee writer’, would never go near such a story topic but I look to those who’ve done it with a level of deep respect, that is…if they do it right. The ‘Monogatari’ series, both the Anime and the light novels, revolves around supernatural occurrences in a town full of crazy characters. The series up until this point has been strictly about paranormal apparitions but has stayed true to its fantasy-type routes. ‘Kabukimonogatari’, the four episode section of what was originally called ‘Monogatari Series: Second Season’, takes somewhat of a turn to instead deal with the more science fiction issue of time traveling and the ways it can all go wrong.
Much like the rest of the series, it is much more beneficial to have watched ‘Bakemonogatari’ before heading into ‘Kabukimonogatari’. Having watched the entirety of the series would help you to understand each and every little facet of ‘Kabukimonogatari’ but I feel as though most can go into it with just the basic background of the characters and the series outlined in ‘Bakemonogatari’.
Every action has a consequence. It’s August 20th and the last day of the summer holidays for Koyomi Araragi. After the realization that he hasn’t started any of his holiday assignments, with the first day of school tomorrow looming over him, he decides to cheat the system by calling the help of Shinobu to travel back in time. Except it seems they’ve traveled back too far, so far back that it’s 11 years in the past and the date is May 13th. By sheer luck the date is the day before Mother’s Day when Mayoi was killed in a car accident. Deciding to alter the past, Koyomi must face the effects it has on the future. – Hanabee
When I first read about ‘Kabukimonogatari’ I found myself in a state of pure excitement. “The series is doing something different!” I exclaimed as Kane Bugeja handed me my review copy which had come straight from the Hanabee warehouse. Unable to contain my joy, I rushed to watch the series and soon came to realize how much I truly love this series. Still containing some of the terrible and typical ‘Monogatari’ series elements like underage fanservice sprinkled with some unnecessary dialogue pieces, ‘Kabukimonogatari’ didn’t have as much of it as its predecessors.
It was still there but it wasn’t in focus so it was easy to ignore or easy to forget from one scene to the next. What it did feature, however, was an interesting story unlike what the series has shown before. I’m talking about the time travel. What ‘Kabuki’ did well was address just how weird time travel is and just how unfathomable the intricacies of warping through time. They dance around it beautifully with everything that cannot be explained just chalked up to Shinobu not really understander her own power. Though this seems like something of a ‘cop out’, the way it was handled was perfect.
They didn’t spend a great deal of time on discussing it and they kept it short so not to reach a state of convoluted nonsense. Though its classification describes “MA 15+: Strong Animated Violence”, ‘Kabukimonogatari’ didn’t feature any actual violence. There was some blood and some hair-raising enemies but no actual fighting. This is not a complaint, however. I, as a fan of action, would have loved to have seen a supernatural brawl or two but ‘Kabuki’ didn’t necessarily need it. It featured an interesting story with a fairly well-rounded ending and proved that sometimes a conversation can save the day rather than barbaric bloodshed.
‘Kabukimonogatari’ continues on the path of its predecessors by delivering a brilliantly composed soundtrack and some fantastic high quality animation. Since 2009 when ‘Bakemonogatari’ was first released, this series has continued to prove time and time again that it is unparalleled in terms of its visuals. Spearheaded by Studio Shaft, the recent years have only done good for the series. With upgraded technologies comes a level of animation that has yet to have been mastered by the majority of studios out there who are making week-to-week Anime series’. ‘Kabukimonogatari’ has a wonderful, apocalyptic setting that is somehow both desolate and full of life. I’m certain it has something to do with the way that the Studio utilities base, booming colours to accentuate the message of a scene.
With some of the greatest environmental shots, ‘Kabukimonogatari’ has a real sense of ‘place’. ‘Kabuki’ plays host to a myriad of scenes where colour is the most predominant element. By using thick reds and blacks, ‘Kabuki’ can instantly make the audience feel as though they’re in imminent danger despite what the characters in that scene are saying, for example. What makes it so much better is that the staff behind the shows visuals clearly understand how to directly compare two colours without directly comparing two colours. It’s subtle but it’s not. It’s there but it isn’t. It causes one huge mental contradiction but it works brilliantly! Shaft know what they’re doing and it almost seems as though they’re using the ‘Monogatari’ series as a way to, once again, prove to the world that they’re at the top of their game.
Much of the same can be said about the ‘Kabukimonogatari’ soundtrack. With only small additions made to the overarching soundtrack of the ‘Monogatari’ series, ‘Kabuki’ continues the trend and impresses me auditorally with each and every single episode. Not only are the Japanese voice actors masters of their craft but the contemporary music tracks do the scenes wonders.
For the most part, the ‘Monogatari’ soundtrack has not changed since the first episode which is perfectly fine seeing as it is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the greatest Anime soundtracks my ears have ever had the privileged to enjoy. It’s not even a matter of wanting to have these tracks on my own music device so I can listen to it whenever and wherever, it’s the fact that the music fits in perfectly with the vibe of the series that makes it perfect. As mentioned, ‘Kabuki’ features slight changes to the usual soundtrack. These tracks fit just as well as the others proving that it wasn’t just a fluke the first time around that they’ll continue to ride all the way until the end.
I’ve previously described my relationship with ‘Monogatari’ as one that is all about the constant battle between love and hate. I hate the superfluous dialogue pieces. I hate the constant fanservice, especially the underage stuff. I hate the way some of the characters interact. Hell! Sometimes I even hat the main character…BUT there’s a lot that I love about the series: Its attention to detail. It’s interesting and compelling storyline. The quality of animation. The wonderful soundtrack. I could go on all day if I allowed myself to.
What I’m saying is that this is a series that has its ups and its down which, I believe, actually makes it all the more enjoyable. ‘Kabukimonogatari’ was absolutely one of the ‘ups’ of the series. It featured a new and interesting storyline that was somehow compelling despite the fact that it really only revolved around two characters. It fused the typical supernatural with the more new-age science fiction of a time travel story. It showed two of the more likable characters as their older selves; the type of fanservice I like the most. It did everything right. There were little bumps along the way but, for the most part, they were necessary and they helped me to enjoy it even more.