What They Say:
Nadeko encounters a giant snake who claims to be a deity named Kuchinawa. Kuchinawa promises Nadeko that he would grant her wish if she aids him in the search of his object of worship. Little does Nadeko know that obtaining the object of worship will cost her more than what she expected. Koyomi tries to convince Nadeko to let go of the object of worship, but it’s too late, and Nadeko swallows the object and becomes a snake apparition! To make things worse, now Nadeko wants to kill Koyomi and Shinobu Oshino!
Third arc to the Monogatari series’ second season.
Contains episodes 1-4 plus a deluxe booklet and pinup postcard set!
The audio presentation for this release is quite good for a stereo mix as it presents the original Japanese language using the PCM encoding. The dialogue here is what dominates the show to be sure as it comes hard and fast quite often with a lot of placement throughout. There’s some very minor action but the way the mix works is to handle the quick cuts, placement along the forward soundstage and to immerse you in it as best as it can. And it does it very, very well. The nature of the show is one where it has its quiet moments, but when it gets running with the fast paced dialogue and the way it shifts scenes so much, it’s impressive and comes across cleanly and beautifully here.
Originally airing in the summer of 2013, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. With four episodes to this arc of the season, it’s spread across two discs with two episodes per disc. Shows animated by Shaft really require high definition transfers in order to shine and it does just that here, keeping the bit rate steady in the high thirties throughout, the stills and the strong, vibrant colors it chooses to employ. With a range of styles to be had, the transfer brings it all home in a really strong way with no loss of detail, solid colors and very fluid looking animation that stands out all the more because of the encoding. With so many detailed and interesting backgrounds, being able to soak them up when paused or enjoying them in motion is just all the better with what’s done here.
The packaging for this single case release is pretty nicely done with a slipcase for the Blu-ray case that has a few extras inside that fans will like. The packaging has an orange hue to it across the board and including the spine. The front cover of the slipcover is nicely done with Nadeko in her Medusa mode with a lot of bright light coming from behind her that makes the orange of the doors all the more vibrant, and her light hair color all the more interesting, while the other side has her climbing over a stack of desks against a blue sky background. Inside the slipcover we get a great package of postcards with the characters from this arc that are beautifully designed and we also get great twenty page booklet that goes into the show lightly with a lot of character artwork, images from the show and the preview panels in an easier to see form with translated text. It’s not full of really detailed information, but it’s got a great feeling to it and definitely adds some value here. The Blu-ray case basically replicates the front cover artwork with a clean look to it and a white side panel instead of the orange which helps to tie it all together nicely. There aren’t any inserts in here but we do get a nice piece of background artwork on the reverse side of the school building interior that’s a part of Nadeko’s story.
The menu design for the series is pretty good overall with the character artwork along the left having a vibrant feeling, the logo along the right brings some balance. The navigation is kept along the bottom where it tiers upwards as you make selections, though they’re all just a little too small and thin. The text is white on varied color backgrounds depending on the disc and it’s easy enough to read overall but could have used a little more definition. The navigation is easy to move though and the disc defaults to the Japanese language with dialogue only subtitles. It also has the option for dialogue+signs as well as the commentary track subtitles.
The extras for this release are pretty basic as we get the clean versions of the opening and closings as well as the promotions and commercials for these episodes. We also get the latest omnibus episode, that retells in compressed form the events of series so far.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As we get to the halfway mark of the Monogatari Second Season series, I’m still finding myself conflicted about the release pattern itself. There’s something to be said for having a half season or whole season set to be able to take in the larger narrative and story structure with all its intent in meaning and blaze through it all in a day or two. But there’s also something, especially for a series like this, in breaking out the individual pieces of the arcs and allowing them to breathe on their own without the influence of the other arcs. It’s all connected to be sure, but these four episode arcs feel like there’s a greater meaning to them because of this release pattern. It’s a difficult thing when you get down to it and I’m still not sure which side I really stand on because each side has its merits .
This arc is one that’s a bit of a curious one with what it wants to do as we get to deal with Nadeko Sengoku, the young junior high student who has made her path to becoming an apparition herself after all that has happened. With her being the class president at a time when the school itself feels unusual and out of sorts, she’s a familiar character in a way because she’s not the normal class president type. While most are outgoing or pushy in order to get things done, she’s much more of an introvert that was just given the position that nobody else wanted. So she spends her time avoiding a lot of things, looking down when talked to and apologizing in order to put off anything of note so that she can go on her way. Largely, she’s a character that’s trying her best to not be noticed.
Starting the arc off with her nearly killing Shinobu and Koyomi, however, shows us a different side of her.
Naturally, that tease is pushed until the final episode of the arc and instead we see the events that lead up to it. Nadeko, friend of the Fire Sisters, has spent the last six years of her life pining over Koyomi as her one true love but never truly revealing it to him or anyone else. When asked by other guys to go out with them, she uses the excuse of being interested in someone else as a way to get out of it. It’s far more of a safety mechanism than anything else, but she’s built up an intensity with it in a way that’s problematic in a couple of ways. She’ll never be able to get what she wants because she’s labeled him unattainable. She’s cut herself off from others, which makes her even more isolated. Even worse is when she sees Koyomi with his new girlfriend that it drives a stake right through her and that crushes her more than she would have expected.
What ends up distracting her though, which makes up a good chunk of this arc, is that she ends up having visions of a giant white snake named Kushinawa, which demands help in penance for the smaller white snakes she killed recently. That penance involves her helping him to find his corpse that’s been hidden in the city, so that he can reconnect with it and exist again as an old god that once had many followers but now has none. Save her, if she follows through with it. Which she does out of a sense of guilt but also a sense of doing something to distract her from the pain in her life. The two certainly make for some interesting conversations, but it’s later in the arc that the real problems start to surface as his side starts to bleed out through her with her personality. When she goes from this quiet, timid and invisible girl to someone who shouts down teachers and students alike, putting them in their place, it’s a transformational moment that’s wonderful to behold.
There’s a lot of good smaller moments throughout this, familiar things to fans of the series to be sure, such as when she spends some time with Koyomi after all is said and done and the initial meeting with Oshino, which is a fish out of time moment that’s cute. There’s also some good honesty from Tsukihi that comes into play. But the final episode is its own beauty as the transformation occurs and we get Koyomi and Shinobu doing their best to stop her from embracing the snake and what it means. That brings us full circle to the beginning, which in turn is leading us to graduation day to come and all that entails. But the action aspect of it as she fights against the pair to have a sense of control and destiny in her life is beautifully animated and full of a sense of power. And craziness as she really isn’t who she was before and watching her go through this change, to take on what she was having visions of, is a fascinating experience.
I continue to thoroughly enjoy the entire Monogatari Second Season series, though I know part of me is going to insist that the whole run of material be watched when all is said and done – if it can be put into any kind of actual chronological order with all the other series. The key pieces are still here of course with the beautiful animation, the rich colors and all the detail, but it kind of delves into what feels like a side story. One that will come back later to be dealt with in its ramifications, but following the story of Nadeko here definitely feels very different compared to the other arcs so far. This one feels disconnected in a way. It’s just as well done as everything else and obviously it’s connected, but it feels like a side story far more than anything else because of its nearly strict focus on Nadeko. Its a good change of pace though, one that draws you in all the more for it as she becomes less and less conventionally stable.
Japanese PCM 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Digest Video,
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: October 28th, 2014
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.