Part of the Monogatari Series – Prequel to Nekomonogatari Kuro (Black)
Genre(s): Seinen, Supernatural, Action, Mystery
Age-Appropriateness: 17+ (Violence, Gore, Profanity – more than series)
Episodes: 3 One-hour movies
TheAwersome Rating: 8.9 / 10 (Very Different, Stellar)
Premise: During Koyomi Araragi’s second year at Naoetsu Private High School, he has a chance encounter with Tsubasa Hanekawa, the top honor student in his class. When they strike up a conversation, Hanekawa mentions a shocking rumor: a vampire with beautiful blonde hair and freezing cold eyes has been seen lurking around town. Araragi writes off the rumor and goes about the rest of his evening in a carefree manner. However, on his way home, he stumbles across splatters of blood leading down the stairs to the subway. His curiosity pushes him to investigate further, so he follows the gruesome pools into the depths of the station. When he arrives at the source of the blood, he is terrified by what he sees—the rumored blonde vampire herself, completely dismembered. After she calls for his help, Araragi must make a decision, one which carries the potential to change his life forever.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: This trilogy is a fantastic change of pace for the Monogatari series, and one of the best Prequel pieces to anything I’ve seen. Kizumonogatari differs from the feel of the main series in that rather than have a lot of near constant dialogue that drives the story, this takes the other extreme: silence. There is very little dialogue, but solid, consistent, and beautiful visuals and music. Like a good prequel, this plays out like a Greek Tragedy in that you know generally how things are going to end up, but relish in the character development that leads to that point. In classic Monogatari / Shaft studios style, the cast is small, and if you aren’t important to the story, you don’t exist. No extras, nothing. And I love it; it accentuates the artistry that this trilogy is.
TLDR: Different style, but the best Monogatari yet.
“Kizu” means “wound,” so you could translate this piece as “Wound Story.” Each of the individual movies have sub-names Tekketsu, Nekketsu, and Reiketsu, meaning Iron Blood, Hot Blood, and Cold Blood, after our Vampire’s full name – “Acerola Orion Heart-Under-Blade: The Hot Blooded, Iron Blooded, Cold Blooded Vampire.”
CHRONOLOGY: Kizumonogatari is the first story chronologically, taking place immediately before the events of Nekomonogatari Black (Kuro).
As if the Monogatari series didn’t already experiment all over the place and make bold choices, this trilogy does it even more. The music is distinct in being one of three styles: Sometimes it is intense, minimalist piano and strings to build intensity with occasional war drums, othres it is 70’s jazz bordering on Muzak, and then specific fights will get techno tracks like The Matrix. And all work amazingly well and take amazingly different takes on similar musical themes throughout all three movies.
The entire trilogy has an afternoon sepia color theme, character designs are slightly altered from the main series and the style of animation itself changes frequently throughout. Backgrounds are spacious, large, and rendered in extreme detail, often 3D, to the point where at times it almost feels like Roger Rabbit with the 2D stylized animated characters overlaid onto such a detailed environment.
Overall, I feel that this trilogy is a beautiful and highly artistic presentation of the Kizumonogatari story, rather than just the anime adaptation of the Light Novel. While you are still able to follow all the events and the story, they don’t have the feel of “movies” in a traditional sense; so much of the visuals are there to convey a feeling rather than realistic or accurate depiction. The trilogy is easily among my absolute favorite works of art.