Anime Review: Owarimonogatari Part 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 25.02.2017

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Owarimonogatari Part 1 (UK Rating: 15)

It's worth saying right off the bat that this is not a release for those new to the Monogatari series. It's a series that requires watching fully and in order, and it would not be wise to try to jump in here as a new viewer. Similarly, while the opening exposition explains this as a "simple story about mathematics," it is anything but that; it is also a complex and elaborate tale. Araragi Koyomi returns to help another young lady who is much more than she seems in a story entrenched in the signature unorthodox style and storytelling of the franchise. Owarimonogatari is split in two, with three story arcs in each one, and this first part coming courtesy of MVM, due out on 27th February.

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This latest supernatural story serves as Araragi's introduction to Ougi Oshino. Ougi has discovered a strange discrepancy within the walls of the school - a room that exists on no plans - and she enlists Araragi to investigate. What follows is a glimpse into Araragi's past beyond the year that the Monogatari story has so far covered, showing Araragi's first year in school. The first arc is all about mathematics, and an exam Araragi sat, with particular interest in the most beautiful and the ugliest mathematical theories in human history, Euler's Identity and Majority Rule. Don't worry, though - the series opens with an exposition on both for those who aren't familiar with them, or had forgotten the details. Obviously, this story isn't going to be as simple as a pleasant reminiscing about old times. The answers to the exam were stolen and a corrupt class trial unfolded and the appointed culprit left the school in shame, yet to return. Now, if Araragi wants to see the light of day again, he needs to solve the mystery of who stole the papers.

This first mystery introduces Sodachi Oikura, the girl blamed for the theft - a young lady who hates Araragi, for some reason, and the subsequent arcs delve into the reason for that hatred and some dark truths from the past of both her and Araragi. The real heart of the story, though, is the relationship between Araragi and the mysterious Ougi. Since her introduction, Ougi has been an enigma, with her pitch black eyes, haunting stare, and strange speech patterns, able to switch genders freely and comment on things that she should have no knowledge of. This season gives a further look into her and hints that she may be more than an occasional cameo in the series - she may have hand in everything that has been happening to Araragi. It's an interesting new dynamic on the relationships of the show to see how she toys with and intimidates Araragi with complete ease.

Those with some understanding of the Japanese language may recognise the unique part of the title here - Owari - used for "End," "Finish," or "Conclude." It may have originally been planned to be the final part of the Monogatari story but, fortunately, creator Nisio Isin has been continuing the story in its light novel form and there is still more anime, too, with a trilogy of animated movies based on Kizumonogatari hopefully reaching UK shores after Owarimonogatari Part 2. Despite being the "final" anime series, it's not the conclusion to the series, as Monogatari has always abided by its own rules when it comes to where each release falls chronologically, with each story landing somewhere within Araragi Koyomi's final year in high school. This latest is set in October, around six months after Araragi becomes a vampire, but set before before Otorimonogatari, Koimonogatari, Tsukimonogatari, and Hanamonogatari. It's worth checking out some of the series' timeline guides for a more thorough understanding of the entries and the series is made for re-watching in different viewing orders.


 
The show is beautiful not just because of the strength of Shaft, Inc.'s gorgeous art and smooth animations, but it's also thanks to the unique style of the cinematography. Those who have watched any of the previous entries in the Monogatari line will know what to expect: experimental, complex, and beautiful for every element. The series is quite unlike anything out there and something that has been considerably divisive to audiences. The nature of art is best left to viewers to interpret, and suffice it to say, this season utilises the same sharp, swift cuts between perspective, this time with repeated use of close-ups on faces and colour changes based on the mental state of Araragi, amongst others. The overall presentation is complemented by a brilliant soundtrack that manages to perfectly craft the mood.

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Owarimonogatari Part 1 again shows why the Monogatari series was such a fantastic coup for MVM. The series is absolutely amazing and completely unique. This latest instalment continues the quality, filled with deep, rich, and thought-provoking storytelling, with the same adventurous and ground-breaking presentation. Best of all, it gives a deeper look into Araragi himself, which when seen, casts a whole new light on everything that has come before.

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