They’re the best Anime that 2018 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: Detonation, Bungou Stray Dogs: Dead Apple, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie: Take On Me, and more!
5: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: Detonation
Japanese: 魔法少女リリカルなのは Detonation
MAL Score: 7.52
The story continues directly from Reflection. As the conflict continues to escalate, Nanoha and her allies soon found out the troubled history between Iris and Yuri, which is related to the tragedy of Eltoria’s “Planet Reclamation Committee”.
(Source: Nanoha Wiki)
First, the positives. The art was amazing and so was the soundtrack. There is about as many explosions in this movie as you would expect in a Michael Bay movie, so if that’s a positive for you then you’ll definitely appreciate this one.
Now, for the negatives. Almost everything about the story did not make sense to me as well as the pacing of the whole movie. I don’t want to write any spoilers, but you do find out who is the “real” real villain (after you find out that Iris is the villain in Reflection) and you get this whole backstory as to why they became a villain…but the motivation and backstory do not make sense at all? It was quite a REACH honestly for the villain to commit those crimes and whatever plans they had. Like they really didn’t have any logical motivation to do what they did. Also, for the matter of pacing, Nanoha doesn’t get any of the spotlight in this movie (nor did she in Reflection, but in that movie it was fine since they were trying to set up the new characters and their arcs) but she randomly gets some character development at the very end of the movie for no apparent reason. It just felt so sudden and, again, unnecessary.
What I loved about this entire franchise is the way that they represented and wrote female friendships (or even gay romance if you see that). Their storytelling was always something that astounded me and moved me to tears no matter how many times I’ve watched the original three seasons. Yet, I am disappointed in this movie and how much of it fell flat. Well, I hope they continue to make more animes in this universe. I’ll certainly give them a watch. If only they stopped making ViVid…
4: Bungou Stray Dogs: Dead Apple
Japanese: 文豪ストレイドッグス DEAD APPLE
MAL Score: 7.89
A large scale catastrophe is occurring across the planet. Ability users are discovered after the appearance of a mysterious fog, apparently having committed suicide, so the Armed Detective Agency sets out to investigate these mysterious deaths. The case seems to involve an unknown ability user referred to as “Collector,” a man who could be the mastermind behind the incident.
Trust and courage are put to the test in order to save the city of Yokohama and ability users across the world from the grip of Collector where the Armed Detective Agency forms an unlikely partnership with the dangerous Port Mafia.
This is coming from someone who absolutely adores the Bungou Stray Dogs series. Needless to say, Takuya Igarashi might as well be my pallbearer so that when I die, he can let me down one last time.
I’ll start with some positives–the animation was pretty good (although that’s to be expected for a feature length anime film), the voice actors did their jobs well, the music, while not exactly noteworthy, was decent, and there were a few interesting elements and events relating to the protagonist that I found to be genuinely interesting. The film, however, puts them to waste with a confusing plot, a seizure inducing climax, and probably the dumbest and most contrived antagonist to come out of BSD.
The story is about a series of (presumed to be) suicides by ability users using their own abilities. The reality is that a fog causes their abilities to manifest into this ghost of sorts that attacks their own user. Defeating this manifestation will return the original user’s ability. This isn’t a bad plot device in it of itself, if only it were an actual plot device at all. Instead, this predicament (which is made out to be this serious and daunting problem) serves as a mere triviality as the heroes of the movie take care of it in a matter of a few minutes, save for the main protagonist, which I’ll get to later.
The cause of this entire conflict is the new character that is introduced, Shibusawa Tatsuhiko. BSD’s strongest point is easily the lovable and empathy inducing characters. Kafka Asagiri lovingly crafted the entire life stories of each and every single character, and it shows without even needing a tragic flashback for most of them, even making a literal PEDOPHILE likable. The fact that no character, not even the villains, are tied to the good and evil binary is one of my favorite things about the series. That said, the new villain is absolutely dreadful. His motives are unclear–he wants to die? He wants to attain the perfect ability? What in God’s name does he want?! The movie shoves down your throat that this character is simply too complex a person to understand and that only two other people (Dazai <3333 and Fyodor) match his wit, but from a writing standpoint, it sounds like a poor excuse. If the audience is unable to fathom the sheer complexity of a character, there's no point in having him be that complex in the first place. You cannot write a complex character if you yourself are not that complex. It's simply impossible. It's not artistic or poetic or thought provoking. It's just plain stupid. By the climax, the movie had completely lost me. With all the information being thrown at your face, it's damn near impossible to piece together what the hell is going on, much less enjoy it. The movie's lack of exposition only makes the confusion worse--none of what happens is ever explained, and none of the information from the main series explains it either. The entire time, I was thinking, "Why and how is this happening? Is that even possible?" The film tries to surprise you by pulling a completely unnecessary move (for the sake of not spoiling, I won't say what) that leads to no consequence whatsoever and was so obviously only included for shock value, and it didn't even do a good job because it's a freaking anime movie, and nothing that happens in anime movies ever matter or affect the main series. The final battle against Shibusawa wasn't anything interesting either; just a generic shounen mindless punchout where Atsushi believes in himself enough to defeat him. Speaking of Atsushi, his character arc was very poorly handled in the film. The anime watchers know all too well of the tragic past he's had to endure and carefully watched him move past his insecurities. So that's it right? No more of him screeching about how he isn't good enough? Nope! The movie needlessly brings back what was already resolved in the anime by making Atsushi 90% less sweet and lovable and 200% more annoying. I cannot wrap my head around why the hell they would touch this internal conflict when it was so phenomenally handled in the manga. As a matter of fact, this was a common complaint of the original anime, that Atsushi was a whiner, so why, dear God WHY would you bring it back?? And lastly, the little to no screentime from the supporting cast. They were discarded as quickly as they were introduced. I would've liked to see more of them working together for more group dynamic material like in the manga, but they were never to be seen again after the fog settled and at the very end where they pop out of nowhere to remind the audience of their existence. All in all, disappointing. I'm honestly surprised at how many stellar reviews there are for this movie when picking apart would show how bad and rushed it really is. It's a shame, I was hoping they'd put the money towards a third season. [/collapse] [collapse title=“Reviews2:”]I went to see this movie on the day it came out. Despite it being 8:30 in the morning, the cinema was absolutely packed with fans (mostly young women) showing just how high the expectations were. I'm happy to say it didn't disappoint, and kept me hooked from beginning to end! Although the developments are not necessarily shocking, it kept my attention for the whole movie. The movie focuses mostly on Shubusawa, Atsushi, Akutagawa, Kyoko (the real MVP), Dazai and, to a lesser extent, Chuya. If your favorite character is one of the other members of the Armed Detective Agency, please understand that they may not get as much screen-time as you'd like, which is perfectly reasonable considering how much they tried to squeeze into the movie. The artwork is stunning, although not particularly a step-up from the TV series. The action is well-done and I absolutely loved Chuya's fighting scenes! One of the biggest highlights for me was the soundtrack. I was a big fan of the TV series OST, but the new tracks for the movie are just as good, if not better. (I was listening to the movie OST on repeat for a few days after seeing the movie...) Overall, I really enjoyed the movie to the extent that I went to see it twice. However, I do want to give a warning to all BSD fans before they give this a watch. This movie is going to tire you out. It's almost only serious conversation or action, and is very low on the comic relief. Although there are lots of little funny moments scattered here and there, they are pretty subtle. When the movie finished, the other people in the audience were saying the same thing to each other: 'wow, that was great but it tired me out'. In general, I recommend this for all BSD fans! It's fast-paced, action-packed and has a brilliant soundtrack. Unfortunately it is a little hard to follow if you are not familiar with the series and characters, so I don't really recommend it as a stand-alone work. [/collapse] [collapse title=“Reviews3:”](Originally posted on my blog, moetology. Includes a teeny tiny bit of spoilers) I'm not exactly your typical Bungou Stray Dogs fan; I rather disliked season one due to the stories being short and weak, but season two dived into longer arcs, and the opening backstory nailed the emotional component and turned me into a fan. And if I had to pick a favorite character, it'd be Kyouka first and Osamu second, instead of fan favorites like Chuuya. Bungou Stray Dogs: Dead Apple is the latest installment in the franchise. It's a brand new story in the Bungou Stray Dogs universe, much like the Ordinal Scale movie in the Sword Art Online world. But even though it's a brand new story, Dead Apple nevertheless is built on season two as it references characters introduced then, and one should definitely watch the TV seasons before watching Dead Apple. As far as the movie itself goes, Dead Apple offers plenty for the fans. The plot is tried and true; the Armed Detective Agency is called upon to solve another problem arising from a gifted user, much like how the stories in season one are structured. This time, the gang has to fight a villain who's able to pit gifted users against their own abilities. It plays right into the theme of characters accepting themselves for who they are, even if their abilities may have caused grief in the past. If you are like me and want to watch more of your favorite characters, don't worry; every Yokohama character gets screen time in Dead Apple, from the good guys, the Armed Detective Agency, to the frenemy, the Port Mafia folks, and even the government guy from season two. We also get teases of new characters who might show up in a sequel. Some characters, like Kyouka and the lead character Nakajima Atsushi, also receive a bit more backstory, and Atsushi in particular has a past with the villain. Dead Apple isn't without its flaws, however. The biggest issue is its lack of clarity around motivations, especially for the villain. The movie opens with a flashback story from six years ago as Dazai and Chuuya fights the villain for the first time, but exactly what this flashback had to do with the plot in Dead Apple beyond showing that Dazai knows about the villain isn't clear. Bungou Stray Dogs: Dead Apple is a movie made for the series' fans. It offers plenty of action, and the plot, while typical and safe, doesn't detract from the series. And it even manages to endear some characters to fans even more. The only question for fans now is: when is season three? [/collapse]
3: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie: Take On Me
Japanese: 映画 中二病でも恋がしたい！-Take On Me-
MAL Score: 8.14
Although already a third-year high school student, Rikka Takanashi remains a chuunibyou—a “disease” that causes people to fantasize about themselves and their surroundings. Her relationship with Yuuta Togashi has also gone unchanged for the past six months, and with entrance exams right around the corner, both of them strive to enroll at the same college. However, Tooka—Rikka’s elder sister—decides to take Rikka to Italy as she has found a stable job there. This unforeseen turn of events causes a commotion between the couple as neither of them want to be separated from each other. Desperate for ideas, they seek assistance from their friends, and after a brief conversation, they come up with a plan—to elope.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie: Take On Me is a sensational drama featuring the couple—Yuuta and Rikka—as they journey across Japan. The two attempt to prevent Rikka from being taken to Italy, but will they be able to succeed in doing so?
[collapse title=“Reviews1:”]Acting so cute all the time that weaker men puke. Doing weird klutz stuff at least once a minute. Generating a weird, untranslatable sound effect when ever anything happens. And showing any traces of personality is automatically out of character. The life of a moeblob is certainly not the easiest, but gladly we have friends, family, school club and the will to do the things we want.
This movie is practically identical to the anime series, offering new content and pushing the romance onward. Fans and haters will hold similar thoughts about this sequel for the given reason. Those who thought Tamako Love Story is the best conclusion KyoAni has ever given, will find Take On Me give them a gentle bitchslap in the face.
Our story is amazing. The daily life of Rikka and Yuuta where we run from place to another in absolutely ridiculous tempo. The movie is practically a presentation of what side-tracking means. Much like the mind of a child, the focus changes from one play to another. Our characters constantly getting interested from new things and interacting with the newly discovered, only to find something better moments later. This type of ADHD narrative holds some beauty for sure.
My favorite scene was the one where Rikka was supposed to study, but wore night goggles and ate cookies instead. If this is not how you life properly then I don’t know what is. My favorite meme was Rikka failing to enter Mordor. As a person who also has found automatic doors to be my enemies, I can totally identify. My favorite explanation was Rikka’s take on motion sickness. It’s the devil!
There are 4 core flaws here that all made me drop my score by one:
– No date at a zoo arc
– No one drinks dr. Peter
– Deko’s hair rolls didn’t K.O anyone
– They didn’t use the song ‘Take On Me’ by a-ha even once
– When Rikka brought destruction upon earth, there were no casualties
– The movie contained direct to indirect kisses in 5:1 ratio which is way too low
– The amount of Yuuta and Rikka holding hands totaled mere 16 minutes. What travesty.
I started from 11 because this thing is beyond perfect by default, and I refuse to count because math is for nerds.
I recommend this movie to intellectual people as there was a symbolic artwork in the background, The Creation of Adam. There were also countless eggies from earlier KyoAni shows, such as the stuffed animal being a character (Talking Pimp-Bird-san) from Tamako Market. I have decided to release my review with a score of a 10/10 to prove that I, indeed, understood these references.
Those who don’t think this review is amazing most likely didn’t yet see the movie, or my references failed. Either way, this movie is beyond happy and I especially recommend this to people who aren’t because you will be after watching it.
The movie is a big, pretty piece of f*cking nothing. Nothing happens in the grand scheme of the Chuunibyou series. There are no themes here that aren’t tackled somewhere else in this series, but the worst part of it is it dangles genuine character growth in front of you and then it spits on it and sneers at you, “How could you? How could you genuinely expect these characters to develop and change and grow? Don’t you know you need to accept all the imperfections and bla bla bla”
Rikka’s character arc in this movie is utterly ruined, because it would rather pander to it’s base and keep everyone’s precious status quo than possibly challenge the viewer. These characters are stuck undergoing their Sisyphean task of being the same dull characters they were in the rest of the series.
The idea of Rikka finally maturing and dealing with the adult world in a healthy way is a very interesting one, but the execution is atrocious instead choosing to romanticize her unhealthy delusions because “As long as someone encourages you delusions- I mean loves you for you are, you need not grow” She has grown past the need for these eight-grade delusions, but because the audience hasn’t, she will be perpetually stuck as a mentally ill teenager.
Take On Me begins with Rikka up to her usual antics. She’s in her third year of high school now, but not only does she still have chunibyo, she and Yuta still haven’t even kissed. This alone strains credibility, but fortunately the film immediately identifies this as a problem to be fixed. Rikka and Yuta go on a journey around Japan together, knowing that they’re escaping from impending reality, but wanting to maintain their current relationship until the end. Fans who have been waiting to see progress between these two will probably come out of the film feeling satisfied.
It is starting to get tiresome, however, to see this series revolve around the same “will they or won’t they?” romance in its third instalment. Rikka and Yuta may be an official couple, but if anything, they’ve gone backwards since the first season. By this stage, Rikka has some prosaic issues that she ought to be worrying about—like whether she can pass her entrance exams—but her only moments of introspection show her worrying about whether falling more in love with Yuta will make her “lose” her powers. This is the exact same conflict that was central to the second season. This time, at least, Take On Me allows Rikka and Yuta to progress their romance, but the issues of Rikka’s grades and future are never brought up past the beginning of the film. It’s a sweet resolution, yes, but it’s frustrating to watch these kids work through the same basic issues every time.
On the other hand, it’s not the destination that matters so much as the journey. As a road trip story, Take On Me encapsulates that idea perfectly. Fans of Kyoto Animation shows will get an extra kick out this film, as the characters visit the locations shown in Tamako Market, Sound! Euphonium, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Clannad, and other familiar series. Not only do these various locations provide fodder for some amusing sight gags and referential humor, it also gives the characters a chance to breathe outside the school setting. The gags feel fresh here; it’s especially funny to see Nibutani and Dekomori take on the role of the ineffectual pursuers. Their hilarious frenemy dynamic definitely steals the show more than once.
I should note that not every character gets a chance to shine in this film. Kumin-senpai has apparently graduated but still hangs around the school anyway, but this setup is a bit of a waste since she barely contributes to the plot in any meaningful way. Shichimiya, meanwhile, is stuck playing the same role she had in the second season—the friendly antagonist who pushes Rikka to make an important choice. To be fair, the series has always had a problem with utilizing all of its characters effectively, but I do wish Kumin and Shichimiya could have more chances to show off their quirks in this film.
It’s also a bit disappointing that the production values aren’t quite as polished as they could be. The film by no means looks bad—this is a Kyoto Animation production we’re talking about—but there were some noticeable imperfections with the compositing in particular. 3D objects like vehicles stood out against the 2D backgrounds more than they usually do for a Kyoto Animation production. I also couldn’t help but notice that the crowd scenes didn’t have as many background characters drawn in them as usual. The animation itself was on par with the TV anime series, which is to say it was full of energy and stylistic flourishes, but for a cinematic feature, Take On Me was a bit of a letdown.
In short, Take On Me is the quintessential Chunibyo experience: it captures the charms of the TV series but also the flaws. On a thematic level, the series has already said everything it needed to say in the first season; everything since has been an extended encore. The film functions best as fanservice, not just for Chunibyo fans, but for anyone who has ever loved a Kyoto Animation production. Take On Me is at its most fun when its jokes veer off the plot’s beaten track to revel in the countless Easter eggs aimed at KyoAni fans. I won’t spoil these, as spotting them for yourself is half the fun, but after watching the film I’ve started to think that maybe the world is ready for a Kyoto Animation extended universe saga.
Overall, I recommend Take On Me only for Kyoto Animation fans who weren’t too jaded by the second season of the Chunibyo TV series. Actually, you can probably understand the film without watching the second season. Only Shichimiya was a new development in that season, and her role is pretty much the same in the film anyway. Also, do watch this film if you’re a fan of the shipping, as it absolutely does deliver by the end. Otherwise, my general recommendation for Chunibyo is to stick to the first season of the TV series—it’s the best telling of the same story.
2: Non Non Biyori Movie: Vacation
Japanese: 劇場版 のんのんびより ばけーしょん
MAL Score: 8.25
With summer vacation coming to an end, the girls are having as much fun as they can with their remaining time. However, their daily shenanigans are cut short when Suguru Koshigaya wins the grand prize of a lottery—tickets to Okinawa! After hasty preparations, the Asahigaoka group embarks on a three-day trip for their final summer getaway.
Upon arriving in Okinawa and checking into an inn, the group comes across Aoi Niizato—the young daughter of the inn’s hostess. Despite being of similar age, her mature demeanor leaves Natsumi Koshigaya reflecting upon her own childish nature. With the sign of an unexpected friendship blooming on the horizon, the girls waste no time diving into their ambitious sightseeing plans and regional activities!
While there is really no “plot” in the movie, you shouldn’t expect that if you’ve already seen the two season of the original series. The girls and friends go on vacation to Okinawa… they eat, they kayak, they snorkle, and they swim. And that’s it. The movie is meant to be JUST as feel-good as the series was. The production was very engaging (it had to in order to keep my attention as an English speaker) and very fun for anyone who loved the original show. I also teared up a bit at the end, because Non Non Biyori has always brought a certain innocence and charm that touches my heart.
I own and have read all the mangas up until volume 12 (which is the most recently released one) at the time of writing this review.
The manga itself is super good, but this movie made the contents even better than the manga. This is not saying the manga is terrible or anything, in fact it’s one of my favorites, but the movie went in to much more depth for the vacation chapters.
It’s been probably a year and a half since I read the chapters of the contents in this movie so my memories may not be 100% correct. I think most of the activities in the movies were done as like those “time-skip”/ “fast forward” panels where they just flash a scene and move on to the next in the manga, but this movie actually shows them doing these activities.
Just a typical slice of life story. Travel to Okinawa and do things there. Nothing much to say here.
I may be bias, but I’m a huge fan of Atto sensei’s (original creator of NNB) and Silver Link’s art style. The style is just like all the previous NNB anime. Oh, background art is beautiful as always. Really captures the nature. The animation is great too, I didn’t see any bad animations watching it in the theatre.
No complaints on sounds either. Just like the previous NNB, they share similar style of music and BGM. I didn’t hear anything that wasn’t fitting. The OP is sang by nano.RIPE and still has the same chill and relaxing theme as the music they sang for NNB before. ED is sang by our 4 main girls and it’s super cute!
This is why I love this show so much! Everyone is just so lovable! For this movie specifically, I felt that they focused on Natsumi the most out of everyone else. She got more screen time than any other character but not so much that it makes all other characters irrelevant. (Her screen time is cause of her relations and interactions with the new character that is introduced in this movie) You still get your super cute Renge and Koma-chan moments and oh, I found so many parts of the movie just making me and the audience around me in the theatre giggle. Pretty much all the comedic moments hit their marks. The character interaction is great as always! I found myself smiling so much during the movie and I can feel the joy in the theatre.
Having already read the manga, I knew what I should be expecting content wise, but after watching the movie I really felt like it blew the expectations off the roof. It was so much more than I could ask for and I would definitely go rewatch it again if I have the time for it! Gonna grab the BD for sure when they announce it!
This brings me back to my point in the beginning. If you are a NNB fan or a slice of life lover, you have to watch it. If you hate slice of life or has no interest in them, I really don’t recommend watching this movie.
We open with our girls, Renge, Hotaru, Natsumi & Komari, just hanging out and trying to make the most of their summer vacation before it ends. That’s when they spot Miss Candy Store, Kaede, and Renge’s oldest sister, Kazuho, driving to the department store. The four of them convince the older women to take them along due to Kaede’s soft spot for Renge, picking up Natsumi & Komari’s older brother on the way. While at the store, the older brother wins a raffle and gets four tickets to Okinawa. Naturally, they all go along with Konomi and Hikage.
The narrative is pretty simple and it’s also really well executed. The whole thing is very cute, full of funny moments and just a fantastically executed slice of life. It has strong pacing, a lot of memorable parts and a little side story about Natsumi experiencing her first love with Aoi, the girl who works at the inn.
My biggest issue with the characters is with the side character, Konomi. She just doesn’t have much personality nor does she really contribute much to the humour. I have the same issue with her in the series proper. She has that one memorable scene where she and Hotaru talk about things that go over Komari’s head and make her feel childish. Most of the scenes she’s in would be just as good without her. Aside from that, this is a great cast with strong interactions and great comedic chemistry.
The character designs are good and the animation moves smoothly. Even the ending card is super cute. But where Silver Link really kills it is with the backgrounds and nature scenes. There’s always so much detail and effort behind them. I could pretty much make any nature still from this film my background and it would look really nice. I also appreciate that when you see Renge’s drawings they look like a child’s drawings.
All the actors from the series proper do a fantastic job. There are a lot of talented ladies in this cast. The main person who joins them is Shimoji Shino as Aoi. You may also remember her as Beaver from Kemono Friends. The music is really nice too. Very pleasant and soothing.
Hotaru’s blatant crush on Komari is still going strong. In addition to that, we have Natsumi and Aoi. They have that dynamic where it very strongly comes across as attraction. Right down to them getting all flustered and blushing a lot. I will say, their dynamic could have worked a bit better if we’d gotten a few more scenes with them.
Areas of Improvement:
1. They could do something with Konomi’s character.
2. The ending credits could have shown cute vacation snapshots instead of scenes from the film. Provided a little more impact.
3. We could have stood to see a little more of Aoi.
I actually enjoyed this film a lot. It’s pretty much everything you want out of a slice of life. It’s endearing, entertaining, and very adorable. It also does feature some of the best nature scenes I’ve seen in an anime. So, I’m going to go so far as to give it a 9/10.
1: Zoku Owarimonogatari
Japanese: 続 終物語
MAL Score: 8.48
Graduation day is finally here, marking the end of Koyomi Araragi’s eccentric high school life full of peculiar relationships with otherworldly beings.
However, Araragi is unexpectedly absorbed into his own bathroom mirror and trapped inside a bizarre world where everything he knows is completely reversed—the haughty Karen Araragi is shorter than usual, poker-faced Yotsugi Ononoki is brimming with emotion, and cute ghost girl Mayoi Hachikuji is a grown woman! But not everything is as it seems.
Zoku Owarimonogatari details the story of Araragi’s endeavors in this new world as he struggles to return to his home and understand the nature of this bizarre dimension.
Note: Watched this in Japanese cinemas. Japanese is not my native language and the monogatari series is quite complex to say the least. Therefore I might not have understood everything to the fullest extent. Luckily the BD release is just around the corner! Anyhow, this is still one of the best parts of the monogatari series in my opinion though.
So how you do you make a sequel to the end? Well, Nishio Ishin managed to it again! In my opinion, Zoku Owarimonogatari was not really needed to wrap up the main story. However, it is a neat little extra storyline for those who wanted to know what happened with Araragi after his graduation.
As I hinted at before, this story is about Araragi. Even though the main story line is practically finished, Araragi’s mind and thoughts has not reached the conclusion he wants. Araragi is kind of stuck in one place, he just finished high school but has yet to start college nor got any job, he became a nobody despite all the adventures he has experienced so far. Suddenly, a little bathroom mirror incident quite literally turns his reality backwards or “inverts” it if you’d like. The story is just as bizarre as one would expect from Ishin-sensei by now. All I will say is that as for someone who has been in the same shoes as Araragi regarding regrets in life and anxiety for the future, I can really appreciate this story. I really hope you will as well!
I won’t say more story-wise for those who are really looking forward to watch this, but I really want to talk a little about how Shaft’s anime adaptation of the novel is so splendid. Apart from the excellent story and the great characters we have come to love from the monogatari series (albeit a bit different this time), I really must talk about the animation and the effects in this movie. The animation and effects happen to be one of the best parts of this film, since they are in a sense so well adapted from the novel (Which makes no sense because novels do not have animation and effects). But hear me out! For those who has read the novel know the setting of this story, and the way shaft uses reflections to enhance the visuals and make the setting more trustworthy really blew my mind because it is something, I have never personally seen myself before in an anime. The amount of detail shaft has put into the “inverted/mirrored” reality, environment and characters really makes you further respect the love and effort Shaft has put into the monogatari series. I can’t wait to inspect the environment when I watch the film again.
The only thing that I think could have been slightly better is the background music, it is a slight step-down from earlier entries. It is worth to note that the music is still very good, but I expected much more depth from something like monogatari.
Overall, I really love this film, it is definitely one of the best monogatari entries but it’s kind of sad that the main story has come to an end. The monogatari series will remain one of the best series I have ever watched, and I am glad it has gone on for this long. Now, we just have to wait and see which monogatari novel is the next to get an anime adaptation.
¡ᴉɹɐʇɐƃouoɯᴉɹɐʍO-nʞoZ ʎoɾuǝ ǝsɐǝld
PS: Sodachi is great freaking waifu material in this one.
Every good thing must come to an end, or at least that’s how the saying goes. Not that it’s too good to continue on forever, but because it should end while it’s still doing well. If not, however, it is doomed to milk its already-explored ideas until it drenches all the quality from its previous work. Thus is the fate of the once beloved Monogatari series.
Promise of the Premise:
Zoku Owarimonogatari, captures the events that took place after the Second Season of Owarimonogatari, and before the epilogue to the series, Hanamonogatari. We are, yet again, tossed into another strange story that begins with a seemingly unfortunate series of supernatural events; Arraragi Koyomi, who is dealing with an identity crisis upon graduating high school, and is now having problems with moving on with his life, somehow finds himself trapped inside what he refers to as “the mirror world.” In this inside-out version of reality, he encounters all the people important to him, who are now fundamentally changed. We soon learn that the nature of the characters in “the mirror world” is to serve as the polar opposites of the ones in the “our” reality; they reflect all the characteristics that the characters in our reality tried to shut in.
For the most part of the show, we are left to explore the mirrored reality through Araragi’s lenses, as he spends most of the runtime interacting with altered characters as he tries to figure out the nature of the world he is stuck in. He quickly realizes that not only are the characters changed, but their very position in the world is off. And as the story moves on, there seems to be a bigger mystery hiding behind the scenes.
The setting seems to offer a lot of insight, both regarding the characters and regarding the story of the franchise looking from the grand scheme of things, now that the franchise has reached its conclusion in the previous entry. However, the show does none of that.
Toll of Redundancy:
The main problem of every milked continuation is its inability to cohesively add new ideas without contradicting itself in the process. Zoku Owarimonogatari, however, dodges this problem by having no new ideas whatsoever.
To observe the characters from the inside-out perspective would generally be a great move, and a useful tool when it comes to character development. The problem is, however, that every information about the characters that this introspection gained us was something we already knew and were aware of. Throughout the franchise we followed the characters as they all went through a similar path of development: they were introduced along with their demonic apparition, representing their negative sides and the parts of themselves they want to reject and deny, and then we see them as they overcome their flaws, or simply accept them and move along. Having that transformation inverted inside-out is nothing more but going back to the stage of development the characters were in when they were first introduced. Nothing new was gained in the process.
So to cover-up for such lack of progression, the show goes for a solution that I like to refer to as “madlibs storytelling.” Instead of actually providing progress in character dynamics, the characters are given a bunch of random traits that are supposed to fit in with the setting, but add nothing of substance aside from gimmick. And instead of using that to explore characters on any deeper level, now that we are given the opportunity to see the mutual interactions of their inverted personas, we are provided with nothing but a charade of randomized Monogatari characters, self-referencing series’ previous works. It’s filled to the brim with beating-‘round-the-bush philosophy, horribly timed comedy and general lack of direction.
What we are left with is a thin idea that tries to present itself as a gigantic one by hopelessly connecting to everything that the series previously built. A story that pays more attention to browsing its own catalogue of characters than it does trying to write or develop itself.
Through-out the runtime of 6 episodes, or a 2-hour long movie depending on which version you’ve seen, Zoku Owarimonogatari has constant trouble keeping up the pace, and balancing out it’s weak story and its unspeakable urge to fill in with as many redundant characters that were most likely put into the story for a mere self-reference. However, the worst part about this redundancy, as I said, is the fact that after those 6 episodes (or one movie) we are at the exact same place as we were before watching the show. Not only is all the information provided one we already know, but all the progress done in the mean time turns out to be inconsequential, if there ever was one. Zoku Owarimonogatari feels more like an alternative spin-off of a sort, with value of an average Christmas special: it serves no purpose except for you to indulge yourself in the known universe once again. And the worst part about it is that it doesn’t use said universe as a platform for exploring ideas, but rather as a playground for already-explored ones.
I won’t dive too deep into the spoiler section on this one, even though I don’t think this is an entry that deserves to be watched. However, I have to mention that the “explanation” of the story-wise elements might be the most disappointing thing that the franchise ever did. It all boils down to “everything that pointed to a bigger story underneath was a cover-up by a mastermind X,” which itself isn’t too far from the madlibs storytelling I mentioned before. The problem with this Aizen-like ass-pull is that it not only makes a fool out of you, the audience, for trying to figure out the answers, but it also makes all the build-up up until this point just a bunch of cool tension-building ideas that were put for the sake of it. The show forcefully asks of you to follow its plot, and then punishes you for doing so.
It doesn’t happen very often that a continuation shows no understanding of its predecessors aside from the surface-level analysis. Zoku Owarimonogatari is not only failing to understand the main motif of the series, “people save themselves. No one could ever save anyone else,” but it straight-up contradicts it. What was once a self-centered story about overcoming your own flaws and accepting yourself, is now a one-man Messiah story. And this severe contradiction is not only subtly implied throughout the show, but is presented as the very conclusion, slapped across our screens through an overly-sentimental closing montage.
There seems to be an ongoing misconception where people think adding another ending to the ending is what makes the conclusion stronger. However, not only is that not the case, but doing so actually takes value away from the ending. After all, if the ending isn’t complete, it’s not an ending at all. If a character needs five “moving on” stages to actually move on, it makes all the previous 4 stages completely redundant and stripped off of value. This matter is discussed in the final sequence of the show, where Araragi states that he is always unsure whether he should step onto the road with his left or right foot, and is advised by Senjougahara to instead carelessly jump ahead instead of thinking about the next move. Not only a very flawed idea with barely any thematic weight, but also a hilariously cheesy, out-of-place symbol. A fitting conclusion for the messy, incoherent story that this apparition of a show rightfully deserved.
Nothing much to say here, as the audio and visual style remained the same as the rest of the franchise, which is ironically enough, the only coherent part about it. However, I do have a few complaints.
While the animation quality sure is great, the visual narrative was oddly off. Framing is rather more concerned about looking goofy and looking somewhat visually appealing than it does trying to actually say something, which is not common for a Monogatari show. What bothered me the most about it is the downright awkward use of certain visual tools, such as using the frame dividers to capture character’s breasts in the main plan of the shot. It is vaguely pointed out that the shot may be constructed like that for a reason, since that would exactly be the thing that would occupy Araragi’s attention, but it’s still a very dull way of using it.
The audio was hardly even noticeable, and featured no iconic tracks of the franchise, not even the character themes which would be the most fitting considering the direction of the story.
Zoku Owarimonogatari is a painful exercise in redundancy, that serves as a great example of “stop while you’re still worth something.” It tries its hardest to keep the series alive by cramping as much memory of it as possible, but with little to no idea what is to be done with them.
From a long-loving fan, a somber goodbye to the franchise.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Zoku Owarimonogatari
2. Non Non Biyori Movie: Vacation
3. Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie: Take On Me
4. Bungou Stray Dogs: Dead Apple
5. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha: Detonation