If you’re like me, you’ve probably come across one or two of the insanely catchy OPs to this series and thought “I should check that out some time, what’s it called? The ‘Monogatari Series’? Deal!” only to find that in looking for “Monogatari” on streaming services yields only the second season. No doubt you were left tilting your head, but you’ve come to the right place for help in navigating this pile. While we won’t fix that head tilt of yours, we’ll at least get you tilting it for a different reason.
You thought Fate had a tangled web of watch order? Take a seat, son. Personally I think it’s best to watch this in the anime release order (because that’s the way I did it and the way I do things is always best nyur nyur), but I will be giving little timeline blips for each review along the way for this series.
Monogatari is a strange series in every aspect, really, but especially in how it was released. Remember in the Weebing 101 blurb how I talked about different seasons of a show having different names? That’s in spades here.
The Monogatari series is based off a series of Light Novels, each one having a different title incorporating the word “Monogatari,” usually as a portmanteau of other words. For example, “Bakemono” and “Monogatari”: Bakemono means monster, though it also can mean ghost, goblin, or really any kind of “changed” creature. Monogatari means story, tale, or legend, thus an appropriate translation of Bakemonogatari could be “Ghostory.” These Light Novels are either one single story, or a collection of smaller stories, each about some supernatural phenomena.
The number of Light Novels that get lumped into a “season” of the Monogatari anime vary wildly, so sometimes you’ll have a four-episode series, or a season that comprises four LN’s worth of stories. Most installments are named after the LN that they are based on, but the bigger “seasons” will have different names. We’ll go into more detail when we review those individual installments, but here’s my recommended watch order.
- Nekomonogatari: Kuro
- Monogatari Series: Second Season
- Owarimonogatari (1st season)
- Owarimonogatari (2nd season)
- Zoku Owarimonogatari
*Kizumonogatari was released at this point in time, though the LN actually came out before Nisemonogatari. I still recommend watching it after the first season of Owarimonogatari.
The problem with doing a straight chronological list is that the individual arcs within a few of the series take place at times different from each other, or one series will take place in the middle of a different one, one will span three others, etc. So we’ll go through the reviews in the above order, and then those reviews will have blurbs about where they fit in chronologically.
You can also jump to the end to read my Monogatari Final Thoughts which includes a chronology chart, and wrestle with the series’ uglier points in being Problematic Media.