DVD Review: Nekomonogatari Black – The Complete Series

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We once again venture off into the strange world of monogatari but what can we expect this time? Well pretty much the same but with a different apparation; either way you can find out in our DVD Review of Nekomonogatari Black – The Complete Series.

Synopsis:

On his way to the bookstore, Koyomi Araragi encounters Tsubasa Hanekawa whose face is covered with a bandage. The incident allows Koyomi to learn what has been happening in the Hanekawa household, but Tsubasa begs him not to tell anyone about it, saying she’ll do anything to keep him quiet.

Without revealing her family’s circumstances, Koyomi tells of the day’s incident – he and Tsubasa buried a “cat” that had been hit by a car – to Meme Oshino. Meme tells Koyomi that he must immediately go to confirm Hanekawa’s safety. He heads to her house, only to find…So begins the nightmarish nine days of Golden Week.

Our View:

This is a story about a rather disappointing story….and it goes like this; Nekomonogatari Black is a 4-part OVA Series that showcases the events prior to the main storyline of Bakemonogatari; whereby it opts to focus on the unique tale between Koyomi Araragi and class president Tsubasa Hanekawa and the cat apparition that they faced together. Basically this mini-series attempts to fill-in-the-blanks left open from within the main bakemonogatari storyline while at the same time showcasing an untold story to the viewer – a story which has plagued the Bakemonogatari franchise ever since the moment it started.

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For starters Bakemonogatari had plenty of subliminal reminders to past events, such as when Koyomi first met the little vampire girl or when he managed to exorcise his first apparition; all of these topics were never fully covered in the main series but luckily they are covered in this OVA series, or at least partially. Of course if you are not interested in these “fill-me-in” segments of the monogatari franchise then there is the OVA Storyline to be a told, although it is just as confusing and tedious as the rest of the franchise – if not worse.

The story of this OVA series revolves entirely around Tsubasa Hanekawa; as after Tsubasa buries a cat she becomes possessed by its apparition and ends up running rampant around town causing destruction and hurting people. The reason for this ‘destructive’ nature is due to her unbalanced emotion and lifestyle and as such both Koyomi Araragi and Meme Oshino attempt to find a way to exorcise the apparition before it permanently merges with Tsubasa.

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If you’ve seen the previous instalments to Monogatari then it is pretty much the same but with a different topic, as all of the usual series trademarks, such as large amounts of text on screen, variety of animation and suggestive sexual themes are all here. Amusingly for me it wasn’t the series “usual quirks” that left me disappointed, instead it was the unusual way of presenting or progressing the story.

For starters the entire first episode is meant to be a build-up to the appearance of Neko-Tsubasa, however nothing happens – instead the “thing” that should have happened takes place as a conversation in the second episode, but we never actually get to see it take place. This thing, which is the cat with no tail being buried by Tsubasa, is what drives Meme into thinking that a Cat apparition is taking control of Tsubasa. Basically we never get to see this take place and it instead just moves along with the story which sees Kyomoi confronting this Neko-Tsubasa.

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Despite my complaints with the overall presentation (or progression) of the story there are some positives to be had; namely with the rather brutal fight scenes and comical outbursts between characters. I’ve mentioned it before but I’m not a fan of the ‘random cut-out to text’ or ‘random-animation-styles-thrown-in-for-a-joke’ but at times they can be quite funny especially to a series that is as depressing and dull as this one – oh and did I mention its pretty creepy as well?

Extras:

Unlike previous instalments, such as Bakemonogatari or Nisemonogatari, this Nekomonogatari: Black sets only contains the opening and closing animations as well as a selection of trailers for its bonus content – so those wishing for more character commentaries or promotional materials will be disappointed.

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The trailers contained within this set are Medaka Box, Familiar of Zero, Girls Und Panzer, From The New World and Campione; all of which, with the exception for Medaka Box, have been released into the UK by MVM Entertainment.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:43:37
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Nekomonogatari: Black is a four part series that sees Koyomi Araragi and Meme Oshino join forces in an attempt to return Tsubasa Hanekawa to normal while at the sametime exorcising the cat apparition that is sealed insider of her. It sounds easy but a long ‘narrative-driven’ experience with some sexual innuendos and brutal scenes await; basically it’s the same as previous monogatari titles but with Tsubasa (or Neko-Tsubasa) being the topic of choice.

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There is more to this OVA series than just cats mind you; as elements left open from the main tv series (Bakemonogatari) are further explored and offer some ‘peace of mind’ to the people who are still watching.

In terms of this DVD release then not a lot can really be said; the visual quality is on par with previous releases although compared to the Blu-rays it looks rather blurred. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a ‘sub-only’ release and as such plenty of reading will be done and while watching I did notice that some subtitles did not appear at the correct time (or disappeared rather adruptly), most of which happened on the second episode; basically the characters were speaking but no subtitles were displayed. Interestingly this is the least of your worries, especially when it comes to the insane amount of subtitle text appearing on screen at a moments notice (and not for very long either).

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All-in-All Nekomonogatari: Black is another instalment into the monogatari franchise; it has the same quirks as the entire franchise, its subbed and it has the unusual amount of mature content – take from this what you will but for me Nekomonogatari Black was a rather tediously boring experience with the only highlights being the brutality scenes such as when Kyomoi gets his arm ripped off. That being said those who enjoy the Monogatari francnhise will no doubt enjoy this latest instalment.

Score: review-stars-2

Nekomonogatari Black – The Complete Series will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 25th August 2014 within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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