Zoku Owarimonogatari

Yotsugi Zoku Owarimonogatari

Yotsugi… but wrong.

Owarimonogatari was a magnificent end to the Monogatari anime adaptations, tying up pretty much all the loose ends from a large number of previous episodes. It felt like a fitting tribute to all the main characters. But what happens after the ending? Few anime series even get the luxury of a satisfactory conclusion, let alone a coda like this, so Zoku Owarimonogatari is a rare treat, six episodes that quite literally ask what happens next when the battles are all done and school is over.                 

As we already saw in Owarimonogatari, graduation from school is a time of uncertainty and fear for the future, and also a time to reflect on the past. Zoku Owarimonogatari tackles this theme head on, with Koyomi facing up to all his regrets before he can move forward. And this being Monogatari, Koyomi’s feelings are just the starting point. Everyone else’s regrets are examined as well.

The way this is done is incredibly clever. Koyomi travels into a mirror world, but this is nothing like the obvious examination of the idea you might find elsewhere. At first it seems like everything is reversed, but it soon becomes apparent that there is something much deeper going on. People are more inside out than back to front, so their inner selves become who they really are in the mirror world. As the layers of our understanding are peeled away, we move from the idea of mirroring, to the inside out idea, to the realisation that Koyomi’s friends are manifestations of regrets that were entirely beyond their control in the real world. So at the simpler end of the scale we have Karen, who is just a bit shorter, and Mayoi, who is an adult. Yotsugi goes from being emotionless to highly expressive. This is also a potentially dangerous world, because inner demons are let loose, including Suruga’s demonic form.

It’s all an enormous amount of fun, as you would expect from an idea like this, but I did find myself feeling some regrets, perhaps appropriate for the theme. Inevitably, when characters aren’t quite being themselves, we are denied the company of the familiar characters we know and love. As enjoyable as it is to see Shinobu as an adult, beautiful princess or Sodachi living with Koyomi because she escaped her abusive home life, for example, that also means we never get to see their usual selves for one final outing. They are here, but not as we know them. The exception is Yotsugi, who alters her personality to fit the Koyomi from the real world, and the change from mirror Yotsugi to Koyomi’s Yotsugi is such a moment of relief and triumph that it really highlights what we are missing in terms of the other characters. The very last season feels like an odd time for such a huge side step, magnificent though it is.

But what about Koyomi, who is obviously the focus of all this? Being in the mirror world forces him to confront all sorts of aspects of his past, and face up to the influence he has had on his friends, and areas where he has arguably failed. It’s a highly philosophical end to the series, with virtually no action but plenty of in-jokes and fourth wall breaking, but nobody will have reached this point without being well used to all that. As we get towards the end of the story, a couple of questions remain to be answered. One of them occurs to Koyomi, and one doesn’t seem to at all. Where is Ougi, and where is Senjougahara? The answer to the former gets us to the very heart of this world and Koyomi’s place there, while the latter is a question that might form in the mind of the viewers. It’s appropriate that it gets answered at the very end of the final episode: when Koyomi is facing up to his self-doubt and guilt, there’s one person who is never going to feature in that story, and she also happens to be the most important person to him. Life can be full of regrets, but sometimes things just go exactly the way they are supposed to go. At the end of over 100 episodes, we get an uneasy happily-ever-after… for now.   RP

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on junkyard.blog. Author of windowsintohistory.wordpress.com. Editor of frontiersmenhistorian.info
This entry was posted in Anime, Entertainment, Reviews, Television and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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