Hi, I’m Cryptte and you’re welcome to another episode of Lyfeblerd. It’s a podcast for fans of manga, light novels, manhwa and other types of comic books.
For every episode, I pick one title and talk about its story, my likes, dislikes and give a general opinion of the book. I also recommend a few titles for those on both sides of the fence, so if you like what you hear, keep listening.
In this episode, I cover the Japanese light novel Kizumonogatari, written by Nisio Isin (NISIOISIN) and illustrated by VOFAN. It is part of the “Monogatari Series” and serves as a prequel to the first novel, Bakemonogatari.
NISIOISIN is known for his unique storytelling style and wild narratives, which have made him a bit of a celebrity in Japan and the rest of the world. His themes usually revolve around some of my favourites, like the supernatural, mystery, and psychological horror. He’s even got romance up in there.
The novel takes readers to a world in which mythical creatures, the supernatural and more coexist with the regular world we know. The series has captivated thousands of readers and led to several anime adaptations. Kizumonogatari, in particular, was released as an anime film trilogy, beginning with Kizumonogatari Part 1: Tekketsu, in January 2016, followed by Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu in August 2016 and Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu in January 2017. These adaptations were created by Shaft Animation Studio and directed by Tatsuya Oishi.
Kizumonogatari follows the story of Koyomi Araragi, a teenage boy that is suddenly thrust into the dark and mysterious world of aberrations and various supernatural beings. Set in a contemporary Japanese town, the main protagonist of the Monogatari series stumbles upon the vampire Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, which shatters his perception of reality and turns his life upside down.
Araragi is forever transformed as he must now fight for his own survival if he is to ever go back to living a normal human life again. We see his relationship with Kiss-shot grow, but we are also introduced to other eccentric characters like the oddity specialist Meme Oshino and the overachieving class president, Tsubasa Hanekawa.
We are told not to expect a happy ending from the beginning, but neither does it say anything about a bad one. However, Kizumonogatari will leave you aghast, doubtful and excited throughout the read. It’s a weird tale that blurs the line between novel and light novel, showing us Araragi’s internal struggles and the complexities of the world he now sees in a new light.
Plus & Minus
VOFAN’s illustrations are different from the usual fare, lending itself a simplistic almost abstract look. The colours are vibrant and the use of line, tint and shade is playful and mysterious at the same time.
As for NISIOISIN, the writing is quirky but a bit repetitive. Yet, this repetitiveness helps breathe life into Araragi, our unwitting protagonist and narrator. We feel his naivety and his perverse thoughts show us he truly is at that point in life when a young boy’s hormones are raging. Hoshino sounds like that bum of an uncle every family seems to have and Hanekawa is the dream girl of every male heterosexual otaku. There are even more characters but my point is, you’ve never met people like these before and by the end of the book they will feel like close friends, enemies or frenemies.
Conversations are dripping with wit and humour, with oodles of wordplay scattered about, which I love. Take, for example, the title. Kizu is a word for wound. Kizumono, defective or damaged goods. And monogatari, story or tale. By the first few chapters, you see why it’s called Wound Tale and that is merely a taste.
The action scenes are easy to follow and NISIOISIN doesn’t try to complicate things with fancy names for abilities and skills. The fewer the words the more action-packed these scenes seem, and while there are a few battles that are a bit underwhelming, they all fit nicely into the narrative without too many plot devices getting in the way. The story even goes on to plug in plot holes after the fact, which is considerate of the author and also shows that a lot of thought went into the book.
On the flip side, readers present only for the action may feel overwhelmed by the long dialogue and the complex narrative structure. This is a thing I believe drives otaku away from the anime adaptations, as I don’t think this translates well into that medium. One needs to pay more attention to the specific things that are said here than you’d expect in most other light novels.
While the repetitiveness displayed by Araragi helps us get an image of his character, having him call Kiss-shot by her full name a lot of the time can be tiring. Especially if you’re reading, but I’m sure even those that listened to the audiobook would have had their fill before the end. Then there’s the constant reminder of how perverted he is and in my opinion, this could have been toned down a lot, but I suppose that aspect of the story is mostly what we would call “fan service.” Especially in the anime.
Kizumonogatari is an exceptionally, sometimes embarrassingly good read. The combination of NISIOISIN and VOFAN adds to the uniquely mysterious air and it’s a must-read for fans of the Bakemonogatari series and those searching for a captivating supernatural tale.
As a prequel, it sets up the following books nicely and provides a lot of insight into some of the main characters. The world-building is great, the circumstances wild and the story is thought-provoking. Fans of supernatural mystery can’t go wrong.
For fans of Kizumonogatari, I highly recommend the entire Monogatari series if you haven’t read it already. Expect more of the same while digging deeper into the lives of NISIOISIN compelling characters.
- Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale (light novel), written by NISIOISIN and illustrated by VOFAN – https://amzn.to/3OBfZnW
- Bakemonogatari: Monster Tale – part one (light novel), written by NISIOISIN and illustrated by VOFAN – https://amzn.to/3YbQjkM
If Kizumonogatari didn’t catch your fancy, but you enjoy the psychological aspects and intricate story, then try out The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. It’s the tale of a man that gets caught up in a mystery while searching for his wife’s missing cat. Another good one is the light novel Spice and Wolf, written by Isuna Hasekura which takes us on an adventure with a travelling merchant and an ancient wolf deity. It’s got a nice mix of fantasy, politics and trading.
- The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (novel), written by Haruki Murakami – https://amzn.to/3rPaHw9
- Spice and Wolf volume 1(light novel), written by Isuna Hasekura – https://amzn.to/3DxNf95
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All Wounds Heal
We come to the end of yet another episode. I really enjoyed talking about Araragi and company and whether this is your first time coming across the Bakemonogatari series or not, I do hope I’ve convinced you to give Kizumongatari a try. I also hope you enjoy my recommendations and share your opinions with me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @lyfeblerd.
The theme song is Dreams by Rewayde. Do like, share and subscribe to the podcast and keep supporting your local comic book scene. Join me next time on another awesome adventure.
Fare thee well.