BLU-RAY REVIEW: KABUKIMONOGATARI / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: AKIYUKI SHINBO, TOMOYUKI ITAMURA / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: HIROSHI KAMIYA, CHIWA SAITO, YUI HORIE, MAAYA SAKAMOTO, EMIRI KATO / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 22ND
Kabukimonogatari collects Mayoi Jiangshi parts one through four, based on the series of light novels by Nisio Isin, and making up part of the wider Monogatari series. Despite the lack of an English dub, it’s an anime far different to many of its contemporaries, and bridges the gap between manga and anime as if the two never existed separately.
The elegant animation needs applauding, marking the series out for those more inclined for the arty, intellectual side of the genre. Starting off with a surprisingly in-depth philosophical conversation about traffic lights, before shifting the focus to Koyomi Araragi, who has the sudden realisation he only has one day of summer vacation left. With all his homework still outstanding, he asks his companion Shinobu Oshino to travel back in time. Yes, like Bill and Ted, the reasons behind time travel are homework-related. Messing with time (as any sci-fi fan worth their salt will tell you) never works out and, predictably, Koyomi will have to deal with the consequences.
Superior animation aside, it’s a strange and often baffling series, quirky though never in the same sorts of ways that lesser titles have suffered from. Standing out with the near subliminal flashes of text cards on screen, and given English readers will struggle to take everything in, its frenetic presentation is pretty headache-inducing.
The story is largely well written, due in no small part to Isin’s light novels, and often funny at times. Though similar in many ways to The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, it’s not nearly as charming. Despite the gaudy opening theme, the soundtrack plays like Dave Brubeck and suits the stylish animation. The series’ biggest flaw, however, is a couple of uncomfortable scenes where Koyomi preys on little girls.
Kabukimonogatari is a slow burn series, made of up mostly of dialogue, reminding viewers that anime doesn’t have to be all oversized weapons and aerial combat. If you want something that stands out from the crowd, with some of the most breath-taking visuals you’re likely to see in any anime, this is definitely one to check out.
Special Features: TV Spots / Openings / Omnibus 2 / Trailer
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