Koyomimonogatari: Calendar Tale, Part 02

By NISIOISIN and VOFAN. Released in Japan by Kodansha. Released in North America by Vertical, Inc. Translated by Daniel Joseph.

There are spoilers towards the end of the review for the end of the book, which is hard to talk about without spoiling.

The second half of Koyomimonogatari feels like it’s sliding slowly towards a darkness that you really don’t want to see. The first half of the collection (i.e. the first book, as Vertical split it in two) was fairly lighthearted and bantery, with only Nadeko’s story coming across as ominous. But as we get into the events of the 2nd half of Araragi’s school year, and things take a darker turn, it’s no surprise that the short stories do as well. The exception to this, oddly enough, involves Shinobu, whose donut-filled discussion with Araragi ends in a punchline so sweet that I’m glad it was delivered by the matter-of-fact Hanekawa. (Hanekawa is away almost the entire book, but the magic of cell phones means she can still be there to provide Araragi with the right answer. Honestly, these two need to see less of each other, it’s not good for them.) But even Tsukihi’s story involves a presumed extra person in the tea ceremony ghost story, and the last two stories almost end up defining everything that goes before them.

NISIOISIN said in the afterword that he wanted to have a look back at the series as he wrote this, and, as with the first book, there’s a lot of foreshadowing and backshadowing going on here. This is particularly true of Nadeko, who isn’t actually in these stories (she had hers already) but of course ends up lurking in the background as her main story took place from late October to early January – almost a three-month chunk. We saw that in the original stories through the point of view of Kaiki and Nadeko herself, but here we see Araragi’s own perspective on things, which is rather fatalistic, something that is no longer surprising with someone like hm. Araragi would be perfectly fine sacrificing everything he has to help someone who needed help, and I wonder how he and Shirou Emiya would get along. (Oh God, the idea of Araragi as Archer is horrific and hilarious.)

The last two stories in the book focus on two of the heroines that aren’t in the “harem” per se. Kagenui is there to try to help Araragi solve his “I’m turning into a real vampire” problem, but there are other forces getting in the way here, mysterious and unknown though they may yet be. (That said, it’s Ogi. Come on, of course it’s Ogi.) As such, the ending of her story has her removed from the plot – it’s called Koyomi Nothing, which fits as there’s a blank space where an ending should be. As for Koyomi Dead, well, the story spoils you as to what’s going to happen from the start. Gaen is the final heroine, in more ways than one, and her pragmatic disposal of Koyomi is both in character and also mind-boggling. (I like how she says that Shinobu won’t go on a rampage after his death because she’s seen the bad future where she does. Um, correct, but she can still kill YOU, Gaen.) It does solve Koyomi’s problem, though!

This is a pretty big cliffhanger, ending with Koyomi seemingly in the afterlife (Mayoi’s presence implies that). Unfortunately, folks are going to have to wait a while to see how it’s resolved, as we’re once again going back in time to fill in gaps. Owarimonogatari 1 will show us how Araragi first met Ogi, and also delve into why he became such a misanthrope before the series began. In the meantime, enjoy these short stories that shed light on why he is who he is now. (No, not dead. You know what I mean.)

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