The Kizumonogatari audiobook was delicious. Or should I say it IS delicious? Well I guess I’ve only consumed it once so far in its entirety, so my intial enjoyment of it is in the past now, however recent. But as I consider it currently, I’m drawing even more enjoyment from renewing my analysis of it. I guess that is what good art can do to us. But with the way things slip my mind so easily, I might have to ingest it again just to remember it properly, that with my inability to make like a vampire and reach through my neck into my brain to physically search for it. But enough of that! I must say that watching the first 10 episodes of Monogatari Series Second Season earlier this yeat and devouring the English audiobook version of the Kizumonogatari prequel novel more recently has left me with a greatly improved appreciation for author Niseoesin’s work. My experience with the Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari anime years ago had been relatively fruitless, as at the time I was unable to parse the dense dialogue and constantly changing camera perspectives, especially while trying to read subtitles. On top of that I was not nearly as familiar with the medium of anime and its tropes, trends, and overall culture. I hadn’t yet come even close to the understanding of anime otaku culture I have now. And in as much I didn’t really understand the meta commentary of the characters, or the series’ “mindful self-indulgence” as Digibro over on My Sword Is Unbelievable Dull put it. But now I relish in this type of mildly cynical wit. So when I listened to the first chapter of Kizumonogatari and the English Araragi espoused beautiful prose for minutes on end about the glory of Hanekawa’s panties, and then an English voiceacted Hanekawa asked “So you didn’t just go on for 2 pages detailing my panties?” [quote not exact, I don’t have the audiobook on hand right now to look it up] I audibly chuckled. This kind of occassional 4th wall breaking is what produces some of the best comedic moments in the franchise.
Let me get this out of the way: I highly recommend this audiobook for anyone who is considering getting it. It’s a lot of fun and if you (like me) want something you can listen to anywhere (such as while at work) you’d be hardpressed to beat the entertainment value of this audiobook. It’s 10 hours of interesting dialogue and fantastic character writing delivered by high quality actors. Did I mention this book is fully voice acted? It may have only been three actors (if I remember correctly) but they all did a great job with making their characters believable. So there is your recommendation. It is a prequel to Bakemonogatari and in the afterward Niseoesin even mentions that you could read this book before Bakemonogatari if you wanted to. From here on out in this post I will be spoiling some of the later parts in the novel for the purpose of talking about them. You have been warned.
Whereas watching Bakemonogatari was like jumping into the second episode of the third season of a TV series I’d never heard of, listening to Kizumonogatari was more akin to watching a stand alone movie with an open ending that could easily have more of a narrative added on to it. I felt so much more at home in Kizu than I had in Bake or Nise, although part of that is recency bias, since I haven’t watched the latter two shows in nearly three years, so please forgive any misremberances. Araragi runs into Hanekawa early in Kizu, and having been aroused by the sight of her panties as the wind blew up her skirt, he goes to buy porn magazines, in the process of which running into a mutilated vampire on the way. The funniest gag in the novel since the meta two page panty description happens when he runs away to throw his dirty magazines in the trash before returning to offer his blood to the dying vampire, all so that he won’t be found dead with a shopping bag of shameful goods. This very telling of his character. Araragi doesn’t mind being found dead, but he doesn’t want to be found dead with dirty magazines. He’d rather not have his name be besmirched and wind up as a headline in the newspaper that would emnarass his family. Of course, he doesn’t die, and instead winds up as a vampire, and from there Kisshot and Hanekawa get massive character developments over the course of the novel. I could write for far too long about them and the other characters, but I’m just going to focus on a few key character moments about Hanekawa so as to keep this twelve days of anime post concise.
“She was amazing. She really was. Honestly. She was so amazing that it didn’t make sense.” – Araragi says about Hanakawa in Kizumonogatari audiobook chapter 16.
If you’ve watched Monogatari Series Second Season, as I think it is safe to assume most anime fans who would be reading me blog about Kizu have, then I’m sure you know there is something deeper behind why Hanekawa acts so kind and amiable all the time. Well, Kizu pretty much does nothing but show us how wierdly kind Hanekawa can be. She constantly comes to Araragi’s aid throughout it, not only bringing him a full set of clothing at one point, but actually using her own savings to buy them for him at a store and manage to get sizes that would work for him.
She also steps up during two battles in the novel, exposing herself to powerful foes in order to give Araragi advice. In one of these fights, Araragi vs Episode, she has her body broken in half and shattered to bits by the impact of a huge cross thrown as a projectile weapon. And yet she still manages to eek out the right words to communicate to Aragi what he must do to win with her dying breath.
In another scene, Hanekawa is strangled while bbeing held captive by madman Guilotine Cutter, and she tells Araragi to not worry about her safety.
All of this characterization may seem like generic overblown movie character heroism, but if we can look through that we will see something different. A broken girl. A girl who is so broken that she doesn’t see any intrinsic value in herself. Hanekawa only sees herself as a vessel good for helping others, and in this she feels her own life is logically worth nothing. She has fantastic grades and a vast wealth of knowledge, and she acts kind to everyone she meets, but none of that matters at the end of the day when she goes home to parents who don’t care about her. And that may be why she seems to purge undesirable thoughts and accepts all of her circumstances without a gripe. This willingness to accept everything and put on this facade of a model student while not embodying the sentiment behind it disturbs a number of characters in the Monogatari franchise and downright scares Meme Oshino. Of course, all of this is just my own subjective interpretation of her character, based on my own limmited knowledge.
I find Hanekawa to be an extremely interesting character and one whose attitudes and actions I’m still trying to parse in my own mind. Thank you for reading.
This post is part of the The Twelve Days Of Anime, which is an event where over the 12 days leading to Christmas (the 14th to 25th of December), Bloggers and YouTubers share 12 impactful moments they had relating to anime during the year.
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