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Otorimonogatari – Review (DVD/Blu-Ray Combo)

Otorimonogatari-Cover-Image-01We, as simple humans, go through life fulfilling our own prophecies. Ones that, whether or not we like, we’re destined to reach. They may not even be that existential, in fact they’re most likely trivial but that doesn’t make it any less real than the ground you walk on. We’re all products of our own environments meaning that, depending on when and how we were raised, we all turn out different. This is basic self knowledge, I know, just bare with me because I’m getting to a greater point. Some of us have grown up tormented by the negatives of life. Hardship and adversity are very real and they mold people in a limitless number of ways.

Some of us grown with a need to be loved, others grown in solitude. Some of us play the part of the victim almost too well, whereas others consider themselves somewhat of a hero. These are the prophecies I speak of, these are the parts of the puzzle we as pieces fit into perfectly. Nadeko Sengoku, she’s always considered herself the victim though life for her, up until the point of meeting Mr. Kuchinawa, was actually pretty good, bar one or two supernatural incidents. Young, in love and far too naive for her own good, Nadeko Sengoku makes a deal with a semi-God in the hopes that things might begin to change for her…which they do, just not in the way that she wants. Whether or not it’s justified, we cannot always play the victim. There are times when we’re forced to stand up and make a decision, let’s just hope it’s for the better and not for the irreversible worse.

This is a lie told to you, to hide herself. Nadeko Sengoku’s past with snakes is coming back to haunt her. Kuchinawa, the snake God of the shrine, is asking for penance after her violent sacrifices in order to lift a curse. But the path of redemption is hazy at best, when tasked with the duty of recovering Kuchinawa’s body with little to no clues to go on. As Nadeko blindly searches for the body, she starts on a path of self-discovery. Hidden emotions come to the forefront and Nadeko is forced to confront the realities of her situation. Atonement gone astray, this is the story of Nadeko’s life as both the culprit and a victim. – Hanabee

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“Otorimonogatari”; it’s the simple tale of a girl and her journey to becoming something divine. At its base, this is exactly what its about, but layered on top of that are countless other trope-breaking plot points and mystery-intensifying pieces of dialogue which work to make “Otorimonogatari” more than just about a girl and her snake. Like much of what we’ve seen in “Monogatari Series: Second Season” which, so far, has been made up of “Nekomonogatari White”, “Kabukimonogatari” and “Otorimonogatari”, our friend Koyomi Araragi isn’t featured too heavily which I’m slowly coming to believe is the sign of a good string of episodes. As mentioned above, “Otorimonogatari” puts the spotlight on the young Nadeko Sengoku for the second time in the series and deals with the themes of lying, deceitfulness, growing up and self reliance.

What makes this another fantastic addition to the “Monogatari” series is not even the supernatural elements of which I’ve grown to become quite a connoisseur, it is in fact the growth that the character of Nadeko Sengoku undertakes courtesy of some not-so-kind words from our friend Miss Shinobu. “Otorimonogatari” deals greatly with the idea that those who use others for any reason, whether or not they even know it, are just as bad as the supernatural occurrences that seem to plague this small town. Without spoiling anything; “Otorimonogatari” plays host to one of the favorite arc endings I’ve seen in quite sometime. Unfortunately, for your sake, I cannot say a word. What I can do, though, is assure you that it is borderline perfection.

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Having previously written four reviews about the long string of “Monogatari” Anime releases, I feel like a broken record when it comes to detailing the audio and visuals of this fine series. From the very first episode, Studio Shaft has shown audiences that they are unparalleled when it comes to visual and auditory delight. The series has always featured perfectly crisp and fluid animation sequences alongside a soundtrack that fits the show perfectly. Some people may see this as a negative but I happen to enjoy looking at the more positive aspects of existence: The soundtrack, bar a few tracks, hasn’t changed since the first episode of “Bakemonogatari” which aired in Japan back in 2009.

That means it has been consistent for five years and has to yet to reach a point of monotony. This is quite an amazing feat. “Otorimonogatari” does not break this long-running combo; it features all the standard tracks and, as usually, they’re timed perfectly with what’s happening on screen showing the audience that Studio Shaft still has it and that they wont be going anywhere anytime soon. “Otorimonogatari”, sticking to the same path as its predecessors, hosts some of the highest quality animation out there. It’s hard to compare this to any of the other contemporary series’ because each and every time “Monogatari” will win which makes it harder to enjoy the series that has just been beaten by it. Like the soundtrack, “Monogatari” has always shown that it is one of the best when it comes to well-animated and visually beautiful Anime series’. This has not changed at all in “Otorimonogatari”.

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Sometimes the innocent aren’t as innocent as they’d like you to believe. Victims, heroes and villains. A hero swoops in to save a victim from a villain but is blindsided by an unjustified level of trust. What happens next is something that the hero doesn’t see coming; death. Death at the hands of the victim who, under the guise of someone needing to be saved was always…a villain. Too bad the hero wasn’t smart enough to see this. Too bad the hero wasn’t smart enough to react accordingly. Too bad the hero wasn’t a villain, for if takes a liar to spot a liar.

“Otorimonogatari” took me into a state of deep thought, one that not many Anime series’ can do. It ditched the “Monogatari” standard of silly dialogue pieces and underage fanservice, instead replacing that time wasted with time utilized perfectly to get an audience thinking. At only four episodes long, it some how builds up this character of Nadeko Sengoku, breaks her down and then rebuilds her as something entirely different in a way I didn’t see coming. Coming alongside a great soundtrack, talented voice cast, and unbelievably beautiful visuals is a story that will have you glued to the screen and compel you to do some story writing of your own. There’s a reason this series is so highly revered. This is it.

Grade: A+

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