ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:00 - 12th May 2015, by David West

Onimongatari

Koyomi Araragi specialises in coming to the aid of girls who have been cursed by apparitions or who have become entangled with the supernatural. In this instalment Araragi and Mayoi Hachikuji, the ghost of a schoolgirl who was killed in a traffic accident, are pursued by a strange force that manifests as a swirling mass of darkness. Even with the help of the immortal vampire Shinobu and the shikigami Ononoki, Araragi struggles to escape the encroaching, hungry darkness.

In just four episodes, Onimonogatari covers a lot of ground in style, art and tone. The opening episode features Araragi and Hachikuji fleeing from the darkness on a bicycle, a sequence that is full to bursting with movement, colour and energy. Episode two shifts gears completely, using a lot of static images to recount the tale of how Shinobu first came to Japan and was worshipped as a goddess. The third episode is almost non-stop wordplay, before the final instalment aims to pluck the heartstrings with a hefty dose of sentimentality. The dip in the pacing after the kinetic bike chase is considerable as the show reverts to its pattern of beautifully drawn dialogue exchanges packed with puns. There are plenty of lolicon jokes – even in dire peril, Araragi still tries to peek up Hachikuji’s skirt – but the ending is played unexpectedly straight, proving that the Monogatari series still has the potential and power to surprise.

Verbose and obtuse but exquisitely designed, Onimonogatari may baffle newcomers even as it delights seasoned fans.
SCORE: 4/5
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