English Title: Koyomimonogatari Part 2 (Part of the Monogatari Series)
Japanese Title: 暦物語
Author: Nisio Isin — 西尾 維新
Translator: Daniel Joseph
Genre: Supernatural, Mystery, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Harem, Comedy
English Publisher: Vertical
Koyomimonogatari Part 2 was originally paired with Part 1 as a single book in Japan. Though they were originally published as one, this second English volume represents a departure from the first half in both tone and theme.
Like the volume before it, Part 2 tells six short stories, each set in a different month, with the final two occurring after Tsukimonogatari, which was the most recent volume that moved the main story forward. While the stories throughout the two volumes are enjoyable for their character moments, it is the final two stories which make this book a mandatory read before proceeding with the rest of the series.
Stories one and three are the fluffiest of this bunch, with the first involving Tsukihi wanting her brother’s reassurances about a ghost in her clubroom, and the third seeing Koyomi and Shinobu fighting over homemade donuts from Senjogahara. Both stories are light reads that don’t have much in the way of plot outside advancing character relationships or reminding us how volatile Tsukihi is and the cringe-factor of Koyomi’s sister-complex. Still, they’re fun and in a sense help lighten the emotional load of the other four tales. Not to mention I’m always in the mood for more Shinobu snark!
For the remainder of the book, we get stories much more tied into the events of the main story.
In the second tale, we have Ogi and Koyomi visiting the shrine which has been central to the series. Ogi’s discussion about the lack of balance in the town is very telling given what we know. And the epilogue of this story, where Nadeko says the shrine will be probably be fine if “Mr. Snake” er The Snake God takes up residence again. Foreshadowing!
In the fourth short, we have Koyomi helping Yotsugi look for…something? This one takes place during the events of Koimonogatari and the sense of impending doom hanging over Koyomi is palpable.
Finally, stories five and six take place as sequels to the previous complete book, Tsukimonogatari. They involve the enigmatic specialists Kagenui and Gaen. With Kagenui, Koyomi seeks her aid in surviving without his vampire powers as well as trying to understand her relationship with the aberration Yotsugi, as he knows he and Shinobu will be connected for life. By the time Gaen enters the stage for the final story, it’s clear things are not right in the Monogatari universe. And Gaen is determined to fix things, no matter how hard it might prove to be. This final story ends with a crazy cliffhanger, the likes of which we really haven’t experienced in the series to date. It also means these two stories make this book required reading.
Overall, I felt this volume focused much more on the lies people tell out of consideration for others. If Part One was about revisiting the past, Part Two seems more concerned with looking to the future. Also, since much of this book takes place during Nadeko’s death-sentence, Koyomi’s almost-vampirification, and the looming date of his entrance exam, it makes everything seem heavier and full of consequences. Seeing as how Nisioisin planned for this season to be the last, the four stories in particular in this volume truly felt like they were heading toward a definite conclusion.
Nisioisin mentions in the afterword of this one that he wanted to return to the series’ beginning before facing its end. There is a definite nostalgia factor to these stories, particularly those in Part One. While some will consider Vertical’s decision to break this book into two as nothing more than a cash-grab, I found I appreciated being able to put distance between the two halves. I think it would’ve been much harder to reach the meatier stories of Part Two if the book was an intimidating 600+ pages. Not to mention that the stories in this second half do feel like their own beast compared to those of Part One.
Overall, I enjoyed this volume more than Part One. Probably because it felt like we had returned to events which matter and seeing Koyomi during stories where he wasn’t the narrator (such as Koimonogatari) gave some insight to his emotional state during that time. While I struggled to get through the fluff of Part One, this volume left me anxious to read more of the series.
Definitely the two parts of Koyomimonogatari are for true fans. It’s arguably the weakest part of the series as it does little to move the cast forward. But, it was fun to visit them in simpler times when they could just talk nonsense and worry about how to pay off Meme Oshino. And it ended on a breathtaking note that made me glad I already have the following volumes.
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