Owarimonogatari: End Tale, Part 02

By NISIOISIN and VOFAN. Released in Japan by Kodansha BOX. Released in North America by Vertical, Inc. Translated by Ko Ransom.

We saw Nisioisin in the last book begin to get ready to wrap the series up (which, spoiling you, he absolutely did not do) and tell the stories that he’d been skipping around and only hinting at: the first appearance of Ogi Oshino and the story of why Araragi got so broken before the start of the series, i.e. the story of Oikura Sodachi. He’s just about ready to finish up by telling us what happened after Gaen literally killed Araragi and sent him to hell at the end of Koyomimonogatari. However, there’s another story that got too big to tell – he says in the afterword it was supposed to be part of the other two “August” Araragi-narrated books, Kabukimonogatari and Onimonogatari, but there simply wasn’t room. And so we get Shinobu Mail, a story big enough to get a volume to itself. It’s ‘mail’ as in armor, and is Shinobu-focused, but also has a heaping helping of Kanbaru, who’s had very little to do since her own narrated book.

Gaen is on the cover along with Shinobu, and she’s also in this book a fair amount. Which may be surprising, given it’s also loaded with Kanbaru, but Gaen solves the problem by simply lying through her teeth about who she is, and Kanbaru, while not dumb, is straightforward enough not to question it. Gaen is here – along with Episode, who hasn’t really had much of a role in the series since Kizumonogatari – to deal with a part of Shinobu’s past that has shown up. Her first thrall, Seishiro, who we had been told (by her) had killed himself rather than be a vampire with here, has managed, after 400 years, to reconstitute himself – killing yourself when you’re Kissshot’s thrall is HARD – and wants to roam the world with Shinobu again. And if that means killing Araragi by fair means or foul, welp, those are the breaks.

This is a particularly well-written book in the series. Araragi and Kanbaru’s long, long, LONG dialogue at the start shows how much she was missed, and also how close the series gets to lowbrow humor. Things aren’t helped by Araragi, in what is meant to be the coolest line in the book, tell Gaen that he knows that both Senjogahara and Hanekawa would understand – he’ll happily leave them to save themselves to rescue a little girl. On the bright side, though she doesn’t actually appear in person, we get another terrific conversation between Araragi and Senjogahara, this one meant to parallel the thoughts that he’s been having about him and Shinobu. Senjogahara, despite admitting that if a man better than him came along she would absolutely dump him, knows exactly what he wants to hear, and it’s actually very romantic. As for the resolution, it’s very appropriate to Araragi.

The whole book is framed as a conversation Araragi has with Ogi right before he leaves for his exams – a trip we already know ends in his death. It feels like all the dots have now been connected. Is his death permanent? Well, we’ll find out next time with the last of the End Tales. Till then, this is a strong volume in the series, especially for Shinobu and Kanbaru fans.

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