For those of you who don’t know, I love anime. Toonami and Fox Kids were an after school ritual growing up, and in college I learned kids like me never really grew out of watching cartoons. At some point I came across Bakemonogatari (Monster Tale), a ultra-dense and visually stunning adaptation of a light novel series. After watching all the seasons, I picked up the only media extension I’d yet to consume: the prequel novel, Kizumonogatari, by Japanese writer Nisio Isin. I normally steer clear of the monster-horror genre–it’s just not my thing–but this franchise is the exception. In Kizumonogatari (Wound Tale), Araragi, the story’s prototypically uninspired lead, hears from his classmate that girls after school have been spooked by a blonde vampire roaming the streets. Of course, he stumbles upon the “abberation” one night, who has been reduced to a bloody paraplegic after being assailed by hunters. Araragi finds himself a part of her thrall, and agrees to recover her limbs, in exchange for something she has taken from him.
I will say that, after having read several Haruhi Suzumiya adaptations, the Japanese light novel genre is tough for me to get into. The books I’ve read rely on the trope of a disinterested (or straight up boring) male protagonist getting roped into harems: this happens all the time in anime, and in those cases I simply separate the wheat from the chaff. But in this particular case, because I enjoyed the way the Bakemonogatari anime flipped the genre on its head, I’m surprised to have the opposite reaction to the style as I read this book. Araragi’s reservations and overthinking don’t have the same charm as they did in the show, reading as if Nisio Isin needed to fulfill his word quota via redundancy.
I think, perhaps, the reason for my conflict is one I’ve discussed for years in talks with fellow nerds: in the case of adaptations, the strengths of particular mediums creates wholly unique experiences out of the same material–and that’s okay! Because I never read Nisio Isin’s Bakemonogatari works, my expectations are different. Adaptations are done by different people, to accommodate for different media, in ways that (hopefully) further monetize the pre-existing fan base, or at least expand to new audiences. I bet that when I get around to watching the Kizumonogatari films, I’ll love them.
Kizumonogatari was written by Nisio Isin, adapted for translation by Vertical Inc.