Nekomonogatari: Kuro Review: The Hanekawa Backstory
Well after about a week or so I’m at last making another post. In truth I finished Nekomonogatari: Kuro a while ago, but extreme computer issues and many failed attempts to restore lost data have occupied a lot of my time for the past few days so I didn’t get around to writing about it. Luckily that’s all done with, so I can at last give my thoughts on the third installment of the Monogatari anime. Anywho, I can say that it was good for exposition and giving more insight on the details of what happened with Araragi and Hanekawa before Bakemonogatari. It does a good job of setting the stage for the beginning of Monogatari Second season, though I can’t say I enjoyed this arc nearly as much as some of the other arcs from Bake and Nise.
Nekomonogatari: Kuro is a prequel to Bakemonogatari that follows the events that surround Araragi and Hanekawa during Golden Week. Because of the stress surrounding Hanekawa with her family conflict, the Sawarineko takes over Hanekawa’s body and begins to attack people in the town. As it is in the previous (though future timewise) cases, Araragi has to try and do what he can to deal with this issue and this has interesting results. Considering the way things took place in Bake with the Sawarineko, I’m sure it’s not too difficult to imagine how things go in Neko: Kuro, especially seeing as how this is the first encounter with the Sawarineko. In short, this is the arc that gives a bit more development into Hanekawa’s backstory and explores some of the early events with her.
Those familiar with Bake are already aware of much of what takes place in this installment, as what happens in Neko: Kuro has largely been alluded to already. As a result, there aren’t too many surprises here and even though there is more information about the relationship between Araragi and Hanekawa here, a lot of what takes place feels a bit predictable because of the nature of this season. Most of the important material was already addressed in the Tsubasa Cat arc of Bake so viewers already know what to expect, and for me personally there weren’t any amazing developments that impressed me enough to make Neko: Kuro a great deal more worthwhile than the information given beforehand.
While the story itself doesn’t offer a whole lot in this season, there are at least a few interesting tidbits about the characters that show up. As I said before, the relationship between Araragi and Hanekawa is explored a bit more, and this is important as most of the cast is not present in Neko: Kuro with probably the only others having any real importance (and much less than the season’s main duo) are Shinobu, Tsukihi, and Oshino. Shinobu and Oshino are relevant for obvious reasons, though Tsukihi does get some screentime as well. That said, this is more for Araragi’s development as she has an interesting conversation with him about love, and this gives us a better idea of how Araragi views Hanekawa, especially prior to meeting Senjougahara in Bake. However, even then not everything is touched upon, as Neko: Kuro (and even Bake as well) makes it clear that Araragi is willing to die for Hanekawa, though the viewers still don’t have the full story about that. It seems that much of this (as well as the story surrounding Shinobu) will be answered in Kizu, which will most likely take a very long time to release (and even longer for subs so I can watch it myself) so many questions will have to remain unanswered for the time being.
So what does this season have to offer? Well the main thing I can say is that Neko: Kuro definitely feels a lot more like Bake than Nise did. Obviously this is in no small part due to the parallels between this story and the Tsubasa Cat arc, though it’s also true that the atmosphere itself resembles Bake’s more than Nise’s. The style of this arc follows much more closely to the “Araragi addresses a girl’s Oddity problems” format than the unusual setup of Nise’s two arcs, so those who prefer Bake over Nise might be able to appreciate this season a bit more. I should also note that as far as fanservice goes, Neko: Kuro is probably in between Bake and Nise. Not quite as subtle as the instances in Bake, but not nearly as extreme as some of the notable moments from Nise, so I suppose that makes for a good balance.
So all in all, I would say that Nekomonogatari: Kuro is not a bad installment but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the rest of the series. It was a good arc that gave more insight into the relationship between Araragi and Hanekawa (which before then was only highlighted in the Tsubasa Cat arc), though it didn’t offer a lot more than that for me personally. It was interesting to see just how much the events paralleled those of the Tsubasa Cat arc, but to be honest this element did make me feel a bit like I was watching an arc that I had already seen before, and overall I would say I prefer the Tsubasa Cat arc (my favorite of the Bake stories) to this one. Ultimately I would give Neko: Kuro a 7/10. Of course, Monogatari being the type of story it is, I have a feeling I’ll appreciate this arc more once Kizu is finally released, as that will most likely give me a few more answers that the other parts of the story still have yet to reveal. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle with keeping up with Monogatari Second Season weekly, as that and Kizu are probably what I’m most hyped for as far as this series goes. Can’t be sure if they’ll match up to my expectations but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens.