All posts by Nix

Best in Gaming 2015

I know it’s pretty late for yearly reviews, but better late than never, right?!  2015 was a year that I probably played more games than watched anime.  Well, other than One Piece, which I am still in the process of catching up on.  It was a pretty turbulent year for me on a personal level:  new job, new city, new friends and lots of traveling.  I also closed out some ties last year that were weighing me down and am, so far, happier.

Gaming last year was great, though.  Last year I discovered that I enjoy story in gaming more than any other aspect.  My choices from last year reflect that – each of these had some impact on me on an emotional level.  So here’s my picks for the year.  If you are more interested in gameplay than story, these may not apply to you as much.

5.  Pillars of Eternity

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While I never got around to beating it, Pillars of Eternity seems like an easy shoe-in for my top 5.  The storytelling was consistently witty and fun.  I was entertained.  Enough said.

4.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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While there are definitely things flawed about MGSV, like, I don’t know, it not being complete, Kojima’s final Metal Gear game definitely qualifies as one of my games of the year.  As the finale in the story of Big Boss, the story ties together the Metal Gear games brilliantly.  Were things retconned?  Sure.  Was it an afterthought?  Absolutely.  But the fact that Kojima was able to construct something to tie together the Metal Gear games which honestly has a quagmire of a plotline?  Outstanding.  I’m so glad to see Kojima rid of Konami’s grasp and look forward to what he creates in the future.

3. Undertale

Credit:  http://momoppi.tumblr.com/
Credit: http://momoppi.tumblr.com/

Did I like the gameplay?  Nope.  Did I like the graphics?  Hell nope (hence why they aren’t even pictured).  But was it the best story I played on an emotional level?  100%.  Absolutely.  It’s a ten.  Definitely.  The story was outstanding.  The characters were personable, believable, and funny.  The personalities came out despite the lack of skill put into actually creating the game itself.  The only reason this game isn’t higher on the list is because it limits itself by restricting graphics and gameplay to prehistoric levels.  It’s a pet peeve of mine and I got past it.  It was well worth it.

2. Tales from the Borderlands

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So first things first, I’m not a huge fan of the Borderlands games.  They’re over-glorified FPS games with loot scavenging tendencies with very little interesting plot.  This isn’t a typical Borderlands game.  I’ve recently discovered that I’m a -huge- fan of the Telltale games and this is definitely a Telltale game before it is a Borderlands game.  Sure, there are some in-jokes that I missed since I never have finished a full Borderlands game, but overall the game was quirky, entertaining and, at times, epic.  Our heroes are of the most unbelievable sort and seeing their evolution is outstanding.

1.  Life is Strange

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While Life is Strange was definitely a journey into Hipsterville, I got attached to its characters more than any other game last year.  There were reasonable twists in the story that I didn’t expect and I was legitimately torn between several options in the game.  There was plenty of foreshadowing for the eventual spiral out of control the game presents.  So yeah – I valued the story greatly.  It could occasionally get sophomoric, but it was definitely something that kept me glued to my seat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Witcher 3:  I always get bogged down in these games by side-quests, but genuinely enjoy the plot.
  • Splatoon: Enjoyable gameplay…but that’s all there is to it.

Disappointments:

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X:  I bought a Wii U for this game.  I have not made it past the main menu screen because the text is moronically small.
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Conventional Wisdom

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This year I went to an overwhelming number of conventions.  A lot.  A total of 12 this year, with two falling on the same weekend.  Since I am wrapping up my convention season and I learned a lot from the experience,  I figured my blog would be the best avenue for discussion.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to visit as many conventions as I could.  I figured it would be a fantastic endeavor considering I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of cosplay, being surrounded by people with like minds and having the opportunity to travel.

And travel I did.  I visited Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Kansas City – along with some common stops within Arkansas to watch my local conventions grow.  On average, I was in a different city at least once a month this year, and I couldn’t have been happier with the experience.

Company, Not Quantity

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One thing I made sure to do while traveling this year was to  visit cons both large and small.  I went to the largest North American convention, Anime Expo and likely one of the smallest, Anime Con Arkansas.  I had a blast at both.

In both cases, I enjoyed myself so thoroughly not because of the number of people attending (or lack thereof), but because I surrounded myself with quality people.  I went to Anime Con Arkansas with some of my best friends.  We sang karaoke; we hobbled around the convention hall after getting cut off of Fireball shots at the Flying Saucer –  we enjoyed ourselves despite having relatively nothing to do at the convention.

While the Arkansas convention scene was usual, expected and comfortable, I went to Anime Expo nearly blind of the territory and without really knowing the people I would be staying with.  I returned still blind, since I lost my glasses in the Pacific Ocean, but invigorated by having made new friends that share the same zeal as me.

Conversely, there were a few cons I visited this year that I observed mostly alone.  While I wouldn’t even begin to say I didn’t enjoy myself at these conventions, there is something to be said about having partners in crime.  Whether it’s helping a friend with his passion for art or simply contracting a solid crew for your convention, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have someone to share in the experience and make it all the more memorable.

Passion For The Community

Over the years I’ve been a cosplayer, a photographer with shaky hands, a dealer’s room enthusiast and an art salesman assisting a friend.  Next year, I plan on being a panelist.

The point being – whatever your convention passion is, live it and breathe it.  As a cosplayer, I strive to be a good representation of the character I am cosplaying as, even if it is obscure.  Especially if it is obscure.  As a photographer I took pictures of moments and not just costumes – some of my favorite photos and videos are from Nan Desu Kan, where so many random gatherings happened that I was able to enjoy despite flying solo.  At several cons this year, helping a friend sell art gave me unimaginable joy.  The short interactions with people, the enthusiastic remarks (even if some become predictable) and the knowledge that I am helping a friend while enjoying myself – I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Learn your passions and explore them.  Then find new ones and enrich your life.

The Broadening Convention Demographic

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One of the trends I’ve noticed and celebrated over the past few years, especially after having visited so many conventions this year, is the widening of the age group considered acceptable at conventions.

When I visited my first convention (A2F in 2008), I thought my group of friends was an outlier in the convention scene.  College adults who enjoyed anime and wearing costumes.  But while that still is the case to some extent at A2F – to a fault since its demographic is aging past its target audience – it is certainly not the case for the majority of conventions I attended.

Most conventions are adopting more adult activities and I’m not just talking hentai night.  Late night readings of bad fan-fiction.  Lounges to drink and talk about anime.  There’s way more (interesting) things to do as an adult at a convention these days, and most conventions are beginning to follow suit with offering the expanded content.

Onward and Outward

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I’m not sure if I will attend the same volume of conventions next year, but I’ll definitely be a serial con-goer.

My goal is a little broader for next year – both in scope and in reach.  I’d like to visit at least the top 5 largest anime conventions in the United States next year, but also revisit Japan for Comiket.

One of the things I have learned about myself over the past year  is that I love travel.  New places bring life to me like nothing else – and the experience is energizing.  I would not have discovered this if not for the pull that conventions have had on me.

So get out there and live your passion.  Anime, comics, anything.  You’ll definitely learn something about yourself in the process.

2014 Best of Anime Awards…Yet To Come

Usually at this time of the year I spend a few hours typing up a long review of the best anime of the year.  Unfortunately, this year has been taxing both on my time and on a personal level.  As such, I haven’t had the chance to watch nearly as many anime as I feel would warrant an end of the year review.

But don’t worry, I’m catching up!  I expect a wrap-up in mid to early January after I finish my shortlist.  I’m currently watching Your Lie in April – which is a fantastic series and highly recommended from me.

Even though I haven’t had the chance to watch as much anime as I usually would, I do want to end the year with something.  So instead of my usual, I’ve done a little research and put together what I believe to be the best anime openings this year.  Criteria is based on the song itself, the animation that goes along with it, and the cohesiveness of the opening.

Enjoy the songs! (some may be slightly off-key because Youtube)

15. Goya wa Machiawase – Hello Sleepwalkers (Noragami OP)

I really, really like the way this opening is colored and how well the animation goes along with the song.  Just wish the show wasn’t as mediocre (or so I’ve heard – I didn’t get through the first episode).

14. Kimi ja Nakya Dame Mitai – Masayoshi Ooishi (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun OP)

This is an incredibly fun song – I love how they’ve done the manga illustrations.  When it picks up with the tanuki explosions…well it’s just great.

13. Enigmatic Feeling – Ling Tosite Sigure (Psycho-Pass 2 OP)

I feel like this song really captures the cerebral nature of Psycho-Pass.  I’ve heard the second series is even darker than the first and it’s way up on my list for shows to watch since I enjoyed the first season.

12. Rashisa – SUPER BEAVER (Barakamon OP)

This is my first entry in the “beautiful” category (this will be a large category).  Once again, tying in the calligraphy here is great.  Another series that I definitely want to watch.

11. This Game – Konomi Suzuki (No Game, No Life OP)

So, yeah – this song is pretty much generic J-Pop.  I’m not denying that.  But its animation really goes well with it…also No Game, No Life’s animation is just great anyway.  Looking forward to the next season.

10. FLAT – livetune ft. Yuuki Ozaki (Hamatora OP)

Gawd, I love Galileo Galilei (Yuuki Ozaki is the singer in the band).  I’ve always really liked the crazy colors in this opening and would like to think that I -might- like Hamatora if I got around to watching it.

9. Unravel – TK from Ling Toshite Sigure (Tokyo Ghoul OP)

I think this is the first song that really invokes some big feels.  I didn’t get around to watching this series, but this opening is…haunting.  Also, the part where it picks up is phenomenal.

8. Trigger – Yuuki Ozaki (Zankyou no Terror OP)

Ahhhh, more Yuuki Ozaki.  This opening really captures Zankyou no Terror’s feeling so well.  I watched 3 episodes but don’t have a Funimation subscription so I keep putting it down.  I WILL be finishing this series.

7. EXiSTENCE – SiM (Shingeki no Bahamut : Genesis OP)

Don’t know how I feel about the weird CG dragon thing, but otherwise this song rocks and makes me want to watch this series.  I like the controlled chaos of its animation and when the song gets cleaner it’s just great.

6. Shiver – Lucy Rose (Mushishi Zoku Shou OP)

This kind of song is a great spiritual successor to Sore Feet Song.  The minimalism is perfect for Mushishi.

5. STAND PROUD – Jin Hashimoto (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders OP)

Not as good as Bloody Stream by Coda, but super anthemic.

4. ambiguous – GARDiNELiA (Kill la Kill OP 2)

If the blood-spray from Satsuki and Ryuko painting Kill la Kill doesn’t get you pumped, you’re wrong.

3. Let Me Hear – Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas (Parasyte OP)

I’m a little biased because Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite bands, but this opening really is done well.  The clean vocal parts correspond well to the animation as do the screamed vocals.

2. Daze – Jin ft. MARiA aka GARDiNELiA (Mekakucity Actors OP)

This song is just great.  I will admit that until about halfway the animation is a bit lacking.  But it’s good where it’s good.  I really need to watch the Bluray version of the show where they’ve done all the changes.

1. Hikarunara – Goose House (Your Lie in April OP)

This song feels nostalgic, and it’s new, so you know you’re in instant classic territory. The show is great and this opening – the song, the animation, the way it is so cohesive – really just captures a tiny fragment of the greatness.

Moe, Bro, Moe or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Watch the Show

Moe-bro shit.

I’ve said those words time and time again to dismiss a series prior to watching it because it seems to fall into the moe “genre”.  I’ve written at great length about moe and its invasion into anime norms.  And, definitively, moe has entrenched itself into anime.

But I’ve been wrong.  For one, moe is not a genre – it’s more a method of depicting characters –  and, as such, does not dictate plot, subject matter or character development.  That means that even though a show might look like mindless drivel…

chuunibyou-demo-koi-ga-shitai-1-takanashi-rikka-finger-twirl1…it might be something with much more substance.

A little over a year ago I challenged my readers to start forming constructive opinions about anime.  Today I can finally say that I’ve dissolved my own opinions about moe in anime and believe I have substantive evidence that it’s not that I have hated moe-bro shit this entire time – I’ve just hated shit, in general.

It began with Chuunibyou.  I’ve recently been interested in broadening my perspective on anime – watching mostly cerebral series can be tiring – so I picked up Chuunibyou as what I thought would be a light, guilty pleasure.  Suffice it to say, Chuunibyou was not that kind of show.  Sure, it didn’t have the intricate plot I usually look for in anime, but it did have something I’ve been missing:  a depth of character interaction that I rarely had experienced in anime, romance.  The series was covered with moe, but didn’t allow it to color its development.  I developed an attachment to the characters that I found nowhere else in anime.

And that’s what moe can do when used correctly.  Though moe has no strict definition, most would agree that it has roots in describing the affinity one has for a specific character.  Speaking from experience, it definitely can create that kind of character attachment.  Used solely for a financial grab, the utilization of moe in anime typically churns out plotless atrocities like K-On.  But what if it could be used for a more innocent purpose?

That thought in mind, I still mostly dismissed Chuunibyou as a rarity and resumed my normal watching habits.  However, a show piqued my interest:  Nisekoi.  It was produced by my favorite studio, SHAFT, and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Nisekoi-The-Best-Romantic-Comedy-Series-EverImmediately, elements of moe – but the show was presented in a way that kept me watching (and smiling constantly).  Despite the anti-climax of an ending (of which I hear we are getting another season), the show was legitimately good with an interesting plot – though Raku needs to fix his memory.  I liked the characters in the show so much that I really can’t and don’t want to decide who Raku should end up with – and I can only admit that this is probably because the show used moe aspects to make the characters seem more appealing.

All of this is to say that I made my final, probably irrevocable, step into moe and finished Toradora today – solidifying my new-found opinion that has been developing over the last several months.

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Toradora tackled so many distinct and often complex emotions and situations that I must admit that moe is no longer a problem for me.  On the one hand, the comedy in the series (otherwise known as anything Minori says) is top notch and fun to watch.  However, Toradora also explores the isolation of being separated from two divorced parents who are both physically and emotionally absent, the responsibilities associated with taking care of both a childish train-wreck of a single mother and oneself, unrequited love, the use of facades to mask ones true emotions, and so many more complex scenarios.  It made me laugh at times and then cry 10 seconds later when I realized that the comedy wasn’t always for fun, but it was sometimes to cover deep emotions that can’t always be expressed in front of others.

And all of this in spite (or probably as a result) of the moe.  The thing I claimed to hate ultimately added to the endearment of the characters in a way that I’m convinced is not possible otherwise.  All of the characters (besides Kitamura, he was relatively boring) were just so complex, so incredibly well-developed and so…moe…you just couldn’t help but love them.

Now that I’ve changed my mind about moe when used as an enhancement, not as a sole attraction, what shows have you seen that I may like?

People are People; Clothes are Clothes!

After spending all last week marathoning Kill la Kill, I think it deserves a review.  And it will surely be an eyeful of one without any restraint.  Kill la Kill will probably be one of the most viewed shows of the year, so hopefully my points aren’t completely redundant.  Also, if you haven’t finished the series, you can avoid spoilers in…

3…

2…

1…

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Admittedly, Kill la Kill’s story is a little difficult to analyze.  On the one hand, the superficial concept the show presents has not been explored (at least I’m not aware of another show where clothing is trying to take over the universe).  However, on the opposite hand, maybe (definitely) the underlying themes in the show have been done before.  That is not to say that this is a bad thing – simply that we should know that we are watching a plethora of other shows wearing different clothes.

From the superficial perspective, Kill la Kill is pretty unique.  Initially, the series seems pretty shallow with its copious amounts of fanservice and a plot that seemingly ends with Ryuko defeating Satsuki.  By episode 3, however, we should already know that this is not the ultimate goal of the show (hint: if you see the main character fight an antagonist this early in a series, they’re either a lackey or eventually an ally).  What follows is a – sometimes convoluted – path toward defeating the entity that provides every character with their powers.

After her fight with Satsuki, the climb to the top resumes as Ryuko continues to fight her way toward a “final” battle with Satsuki.  And it really is enjoyable.  The fights are put together very well and we begin to understand the characters’ drives a little more as the series continues.  The pacing is fast, though not so much that you get whiplash from watching it like in other anime like Kyousougiga and Dead Leaves.

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Eventually we get to the climax that I know that I was expecting – Satsuki’s betrayal of her mother and the full reveal of the goals of Nudist Beach.  But just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean that it isn’t great in its own right.  The majority of the first part of the series is spent humanizing the Elite Four and their relationship with Satsuki, so anything less than the betrayal that occurs would have been squandering potential.  The betrayal and the episodes surrounding it, in my opinion, are the best part of the series.

Afterwards, there are 7 episodes left to defeat the monster that is Ragyou which is incredibly unfortunate because we don’t really get much time to view her as anything more than a monster to be destroyed.  She seems to have no ambitions other than an insane notion that the Life Fibers should be able to consume the Earth.

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So we wrap things up in a very Gunbuster 2 (I’m looking at you Nono) kind of way.  Once again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and definitely fitting in theme.  Also, I won’t ever forget the feeling I got from hearing “PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE!  CLOTHES ARE CLOTHES!” and then realizing how absolutely ridiculous and amazing what I just heard was.

The only thing Kill la Kill was missing  on its outer level was the “kill”ing.  As far as I know, nobody “dies when they are killed” in the show at all.  Ragyou commits suicide and Senketsu dies in flames while falling to the Earth.  Otherwise, no killing at all – who chose the name for the show?  Unless of course,  “キル” is really “cut”…yes…this makes a lot more sense.

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On the general theme level, Kill la Kill draws heavily from its predecessors.  Direct references, indirect references and borrowed themes abound.  Well, let’s get straight to the point.  Kill la Kill is basically a pseudo-magical girl rehashed Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann which is a rehashed Gunbuster.  It’s okay since they’re stealing from themselves, but the similarities are huge.

I’ve already mentioned the fact that the finale was very much like  Gunbuster 2 (which both series also involved ridding oneself of clothing), but the similarities to Gurren Lagann can’t be ignored.  Satsuki is basically Lordgenome, the Elite Four are Lordgenome’s Four Supreme Generals featuring Viral, Ryuko is Simon and Senketsu is Kamina, the Life Fibers are the Anti-Spirals that are laying dormant on the planet, and Ragyou is the big bad Anti-Spiral final boss.   Kill la Kill may have different tropes and plot points in places, but the basic story behind the series is simply a remake of Gurren Lagann.

Even though this is the case, it doesn’t really detract from the series too much because, honestly, you were watching this series because it’s fast, enjoyable, fun and it Aims for the Top, just like its predecessors.

In light of that, and the fact that I couldn’t put the series down, I think that it deserves the rating I’ve given it.

RATING:  9/10

While lacking in 100% unique content, Kill la Kill is 100% enjoyment, 100% fanservice, 100% action-packed and 100% worth your time.  Have I ever recommended a show with 400% the amazing?  I don’t think so.

 

(EDIT: brought to my attention by a friend that Senketsu is Kamina – Ryuko isn’t both Kamina and Simon – man I’m dumb)

A Love Story About Monogatari

Let me tell you a story.   Bakemonogatari has been and will probably always be my favorite anime of all time.  This is a story about how its second sequel lived up to and, in some cases, outperformed its predecessors.  This story is  filled with spoilers (and a lot of summary too) for an extremely pivotal point in the the Monogatari series – so readers who have not seen Monogatari Series Second Season (hereon MG2) have been warned.

The main thing that MG2 does unquestionably better than Bakemonogatari is character development.  That is not to say that Bakemonogatari is lacking in development, but the paradigm Bakemonogatari focused on was introducing a character, resolving their issues and using them in a supporting role for the remainder of the series (notably not as a supporting role for Senjougahara or Araragi for the series).  While MG2 takes a similar approach in that it deals with characters in mini-arcs for each character, it does a fantastic job diversifying all of the characters the series previously introduced.

Tsubasa Tiger

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Our first arc begins with Hanekawa becoming a vagrant because her house burns down and having some…we will say “interesting dialogue” with Senjougahara.  We also spend the first 4 episodes without Koyomi.  Admittedly, I was worried these first few episodes.  I didn’t want MG2 to have a fate anything like Nisemonogatari – owner of the weirdest scene in anything, ever:

28864-nisemonogatari-episode-8But I was fortunately pleasantly surprised that after the series got the “oddities” out of the way, it had quite a bit of depth and went beyond my expectations.

Hanekawa’s character improves significantly in this arc.  Frankly, she spends the majority of Bakemonogatari as a pretentious fool and I always had a hard time liking her as anything other than Black Hanekawa.

The flaw in Hanekawa’s character is in the fact that she allows herself to repress her negative emotions and for people to trample her.  It is quickly revealed that Kako, the tiger that burns down Hanekawa’s house is actually Hanekawa’s repressed jealousy.  She eventually realizes that her negative emotions must be dealt with and that she can’t simply isolate herself from negativity.

monogatari-5-34-hanekawa-tsubasaThis really allows Hanekawa to develop some strength because she finally learns to draw on negative emotions like jealousy and anger to be jealous and angry when it is warranted.  Her jealousy allows her to finally admit her love for Araragi (followed by his rejection, which humbles her) and her anger finally allows her to stand up to her family and ask for her own room.  All in all, this season greatly influences Hanekawa’s character and makes her far less commonplace.  And she gets spiffy new black and white hair to symbolize her acceptance of Black Hanekawa and Kako the Tiger!

Mayoi Jiangshi

Monogatari Second Season - 10 - Large 04While the second arc of MG2 is entitled “Mayoi Jiangshi,” the arc is much more about the deepening of Shinobu and Araragi’s relationship (one of the things Nisemonogatari did well) than it is about Hachikuji.

The entire arc is about time travel when Araragi, on a whim, wishes to return to the past to complete his summer work.  Shinobu grants this wish, but they end up going into the past to the day before Hachikuji dies (which it is revealed that Araragi had as a secondary intention).  They end up saving Hachikuji, but with extremely negative impacts for the timeline.

We find that Hachikuji positively impacted Araragi by being a ghost and that Shinobu was not so willing to accept Araragi without Hachikuji’s advice.  This resulted in the entire world becoming partial vampires – consumed by Shinobu who has nearly destroyed the world in this alternate universe.

For me, this was one of the best arcs in the MG2.  It reveals that Araragi’s relationship with Shinobu is incredibly important and that even the slightest change in events could have negatively impacted the outcome of things in the series.

Fortunately, we get a little fan-service of an adult Hachikuji who brings Araragi a message from Oshino about saving his timeline.  The menacing Shinobu of this alternate universe is defeated through Araragi’s presence and they return to their own timeline.

The great thing here is that Araragi proves, again, that he can handle these situations through his words and through his relationships.  While I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to keep the adult Hachikuji, it was worthwhile to see that our timeline’s Araragi had made the right choices in his relationship with Shinobu.  It is also fantastic to see that Shinobu and Araragi’s friendship is real and not fabricated by Araragi’s dominion over Shinobu.

Nadeko Medusa

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Without a doubt, the Nadeko arc contains the most development for a character, who was previously unlikable.  Throughout the arc we realize that Nadeko views herself as a victim and deludes herself into believing that she has become possessed by a snake apparition looking for its corpse.

What results is a little shocking.  Tsukihi cuts off Nadeko’s bangs (haircuts in this series and others often signify a personality change) and she finally snaps and lashes out in anger at her teacher and class because she can no longer hide her face and emotions.

I for one wasn’t sure if I expected a yandere snap out of Nadeko, but she definitely fully realized the trope.  Quickly, she becomes a god (not just an apparition) and uses her new Medusa hair to  stab Araragi and Shinobu repeatedly.  Senjougahara delays their death until graduation, but the character of Nadeko is forever changed.

This arc was incredibly surprising.  It begins with the Nadeko we all hate, the quiet and victimized pushover and we end up with one of the best yandere snaps I have seen.  It was extremely intelligent to push Nadeko’s character in this direction and one of the best decisions they made in this season.

Shinobu Time

monogatari-series-second-season-shinobu-oshino-kissshot-acerolaorion-heartunderblade-vampire-god-sleepingThe following Shinobu arc ends up dealing more with Hachikuji than it does with Shinobu.  We learn some extremely interesting things about Shinobu’s backstory – her time as a god and of her first minion, but all to explain that Hachikuji is being chased by a dark being because she was not performing as a proper apparition just as Shinobu was not performing as a proper apparition by pretending to be a god.

Hachikuji’s fault is that she no longer leads people astray as a ghost because she simply wants to spend time with Araragi.  It’s great to see that the relationship between Hachikuji and Araragi has developed to this point, but this happiness is quickly met with a bittersweet end to one of everyone’s favorite characters as she tells Araragi that she loves him and kisses him goodbye.

LGdasmCEven though we want to be happy that Hachikuji has been able to move on, this scene is incredibly depressing.  It is excellent, however, that the show realizes that Hachikuji is not a character that can exist indefinitely and gives her a fitting ending with Hachikuji “biting Araragi’s tongue”.

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Also, I guess we’re okay with the loli kiss here because she’s technically 20-something.

Hitagi End

koimo1The final arc of the series ends with my personal favorite, Senjougahara, and Kaiki (one of my new favorites) figuring out how to deceive Nadeko into not killing Senjougahara, Araragi and Shinobu.  This is another arc that lacks Koyomi but the change is perfectly fine when we find that Kaiki is just as charismatic and entertaining to follow.

We find out that Kaiki is not as bad as we were led to believe and also that, almost definitely, he and Senjougahara were once a thing.  As much as I don’t want to imagine Senjougahara with anyone other than Araragi, he is clearly not that bad of a guy.  Well, at least Ononoki thinks so.  Yay Peace Peace.

Despite the hard work that Senjougahara and Kaiki put forth, Kaiki is technically unable to “deceive” Nadeko resulting into her going full yandere crazy on him.

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Kaiki instead draws upon a part of his character we see develop throughout the final arc – his wisdom and experience.  He convinces Nadeko that she should pursue her ambitions rather than be pushed into others’ views of her and that she should also stop pretending to love Araragi to escape having to reject other people properly.

While Kaiki speaks to the snake apparition, it is clear who the real snake in the conversation is and that Kaiki is better at speaking honeyed words than any other character in the series.

Anime doesn’t do chaotic neutral characters very well usually, but they nailed it with Kaiki, who quickly became one of my favorite characters.

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We’re left with a huge cliffhanger that makes me want to pick up and read the light novels.  Kaiki is wounded (and probably dies) at the final scene and we find out that it is probably Ougi Oshino that is behind all of the oddities in the Monogatari series.  Looking back, we realize the connections that Ougi has had with all the characters in the series so far and the negative impact she has on each of those situations.  Now we wait to figure out who exactly Ougi is, if Kaiki lives and what will become of the rest of our characters in this intrigue.

While I don’t like the open-endedness here, it definitely makes me wanting more to the point that I absolutely cannot wait for the next season.  MG2 was definitely what I had hoped to see out of the Monogatari series again and rekindled my passion for the series.  Despite some early flaws and the Monogatari series’s love of fanservice, I can honestly say I enjoyed MG2 as much as Bakemonogatari.  I’m not sure how the characters will be developed in future installments, but we now have a clear enemy and a lot of characters who finally have more than just one face.

For me, this series gets another 10/10.