In Nekomonogatari White, everybodies favourite cat-girl returns in an adventure that see’s a small portion of the cast of the Bakemonogatari series taking on an investigation into some mysterious fires surrounding the class president, Hanezawa. Nekomonogatari White is the next release in line in the Bakemonogatari series, animated by SHAFT and released by Hanabee here in Australia. The series is known for its quirky direction and mysterious plot lines across multiple series’.
The story starts with Hanekawa bumping into an acquaintence of hers, Mayoi, the girl that was infected by the Snail spirit in the first season, that is looking for Araragi. It seems that in this series, Arararagi is nowhere to be found. This seems like a bit of an issue for most of the series as both Hanekawa and Senjyogahara are left to work out what this new Striped Tiger spirit is and where it comes from. To make matters worse, it seems like Black Hanekawa has returned to haunt Hanekawa.
What makes the story in Nekomonogatari White standout from the rest of the Monogatari series’ is that it is a much ore introspective series than its predecessors. The majority of the five episodes are focused entirely on Hanekawa and her internal dilemmas in dealing with her own personality issues, her own image of whiteness, and/or purity within herself, as well as her relationships with the people around her. These issues are brought into the foray when she has bunk with Senjyogahara early on after her house burns down and are looked into in a bit more depth when Hanekawa later bunks with Araragi’s sisters a few episodes later.
One of the most interesting parts about this series is that the main character of the Monogatari franchise, Araragi, is nowhere to be seen for nearly the entirety of the run. This gives the viewers the opportunity to get a more closer feel for some of the characters in the series, where we can see their personalities come out without the influence of Araragi. Of course, he does still get referenced from time-to-time with characters constantly trying to find out where he is and what he is doing, but these are minor once off lines and serve as a way of getting characters that barely know each other to interact seamlessly. An example of this is the girl with the monkey arm and Hanekawa herself. This scene also acts as a hint of sorts as to what Araragi is up to without actually showing him off on screen.
Being a much more personal story, this particular volume of the Monogatari series doesn’t have as much action as previous stories. This isn’t a downfall to the series, as the action has always accompanied the mystery as a part of the mystery and as a resolution to it in previous volumes, and that is pretty much the way it is handled here. The only real exception is that the action is on the last episode and is handled as part of the resolution only. This works in tandem with the introspection of Hanekawas character that we mentioned earlier, with most of the excitement coming from when she transforms into her Black Hanekawa form.
One of the different things you’ll find with this season on Monogatari is that the character designs are a little different to how you’d remember them. It could be that the characters are getting older, but it looks like not quite as much care was taken with the character art as could have been. Each of the characters faces seem a little off, in particular Hanekawa, she no longer wears glasses, and Senjyogahara, who seems weirder with her short hair. Hanekawa also has shorter hair, but it makes Black Hanekawa look all that more attractive. The only character that we’d say looks the same is Mayoi, but she’s missing her huge backpack, for story reasons, so even she is a little different.
A lot of the Monogatari franchises more defining aspects, like rapid and repeating quick-cuts have returned to Nekomonogatari White. It seems like there are actually a lot more of these than in previous volumes, which make sense given the more introspective feel of this series. Quite often, there will also be cuts and edits where characters are talking where their thoughts will quick-cut into the screen and be shown as text. This can sometimes be a bit rough, especially given that there is no English option for the series so you have to read subtitles, and having them flash by so quickly can become a reading nightmare. However, it is creative, and it definitely adds to the unique feel of the series.
Nekomonogatari White comes in only one language, Japanese, and, as such, is a subtitled only release. It’s a good thing that this series doesn’t come with an English dub, as we doubt that an English adaptation could carry the Japanese jokes and nuances in the series accurately. This is because the series is very Japanese in nature, and adapting it with English jokes could make the series seem very strange.
The Hanabee release of Nekomonogatari White comes packaged in a sleek collectors box with a couple of thin covers for both the DVD and Blu-Ray disc versions of the series. This is a massive alue-add for collectors and shows that Hanabee continue to care about Anime fans here in the AUNZ region. Apropos! Alongside this is a bonus episode in the Extras as part of an Omnibus of somekind. It is essentially a recap of Nekomonogatari Black, but it’s still pretty interesting and a good way to catch-up those that may not have picked up the previous series yet.
Overall Nekomonogatari White is a pretty good series that continues on the Monogatari lineages heritage of providing quirky animation with interesting plotlines and characters. While the quality in character design is a little different to previous seasons, the much more introspective plot-line makes it intriguing watch. We definitely recommend this for Monogatari fans, as well as Anime viewers everywhere.
Rating: Black Hanekawa’s Panties/10
Nekomonogatari White is released by Hanabee here in Australia. It comes in a package containing both the DVD and BD versions of the series. This was reviewed on Blu-Ray. You can buy it at the Hanabee store for ~$50. Image pilfered from Random Curiosity.