One thing I have gathered from watching Onimonogatari is that protagonist Koyomi Araragi has a knack for attracting two things in this world – apparitions and prepubescent girls. If lolis are your thing (you sick pedo) this penultimate story arc from Monogatari season two is sure to be right up your alley. It features the spirit of an elementary school girl, a vampire who resembles an eight year old and an equally youthful looking lady who sports turquoise coloured pigtails. Jimmy Savile would approve of this cartoon, were it not for the fact that the aforementioned trio are much older than they look. Shinobu the bloodsucker for example has been on this earth for over five hundred years!
Onimonogatari begins with Araragi, the teenage slayer of all things supernatural, returning to modern day Japan after an impromptu trip to the past. Upon arriving in his native era Araragi bumps into Mayoi Hachikuji who is missing her trademark backpack. The adorable poltergeist requests a visit to the Araragi residence, in order to retrieve the satchel she left there – at which point things begin to get interesting. A swirling vortex suddenly appears and pursues the pair with the aims of erasing them from existence. Araragi and Hachikuji flee the scene via BMX, but it soon becomes apparent that furious peddling is an ineffective means of escape. In the end the two only just evade being absorbed by the black maelstrom thanks to the timely intervention of former rival Yotsugi Ononoki.
After the “fast and furious” bike chase outlined above (I suddenly have the image of Dwayne Johnson riding a bicycle) Onimonogatari episode two slows things down with a flashback tale told by Shinobu. The cute vampire, who resides rent-free in Araragi’s shadow, discloses to the group that she has previously tangled with the sinister whirlpool that is pursuing them. Apparently centuries ago, after a pilgrimage to the Antarctic turned sour, Shinobu visited Japan where the locals mistook her for a goddess. Her life masquerading as a deity didn’t last long however, as the above-mentioned vortex manifested in the region and proceeded to spirit away all her worshippers. Shinobu reveals that she was almost consumed by the mysterious phenomena, forcing her to retreat from the nation. If even a mighty Nosferatu is powerless against the vortex how will Araragi and chums manage to vanquish it?
After the slightly disappointing Kabukimonogatari I am pleased to report that Onimonogatari heralds a return to form for this anime based on Nisio Isin’s light novels. The quartet of episodes contained in this DVD release are jam packed with the snappy dialogue and stylish visuals the series is renowned for. Viewers seeking an action packed show should look elsewhere, but if you are someone who appreciates puns and clever wordplay this collection of episodes should leave you satisfied. It’s an essential purchase for fans of the franchise as it uncovers some of Shinobu’s backstory. The touching finale also shows that the series author has no qualms about sacrificing marketable characters for the sake of developing the main cast and advancing the grander story.
One complaint I have with Onimonogatari would have to be the sequences were it dabbles in fan service. Readers may know that I am not averse to eye candy, but I do draw the line when it comes to exploiting underdeveloped girls. One creepy scene in particular had Araragi peeking up the skirt of an unconscious Hachikuji. The pair is known to partake in friendly teasing, but surely that doesn’t excuse Araragi from groping a minor during a life or death instance. Another gripe I have with the release (and season two in general) is the lack of on disc content. I personally find that Monogatari works best when you can marathon several episodes at once. Only being able to consume four episodes and then having to wait for the next instalment can be frustrating. Alas this cannot be helped, as MVM Entertainment has to follow the wishes of the show’s greedy Japanese licensor. Why can’t the dark vortex swallow up those corporate bigwigs? Maybe then I could get an affordable full season set.
FINAL RATING: FOUR STARS