Kizumonogatari Part 3: Reiketsu ★★★★½

At long last, this prequel saga is now complete.

For an entire year now, Kizumonogatari has been my most anticipated and satisfying moviegoing experience. In no small part because I love the Monogatari Series with all of my heart, but because what SHAFT has constructed here is a cinematic feast for the senses which takes the strengths and weaknesses that make Monogatari and NisioIsin's writing what it is and translates them to the silver screen. And of course, nothing is perfect, but as they say in the film "It's impossible to make everyone happy, but there is a way to make everyone miserable." Those words could not fit the Kizumonogatari film trilogy any better both literally and figuratively.

I personally believe that the Monogatari Series as a whole is a story about life itself. All of the trials and tribulations we go through leave us with scars and wounds that will never heal, but from them we meet new people who we'll cherish in our hearts forever and have new experiences that will ultimately change us for the better. That is the WoundTale/ScarStory, and it is one that all of us have to tell. And we'll tell it to no one, but the world will still learn of it anyway. We know that this only makes our suffering greater but not all hope is lost...because its eternal proof that life is still worth living.

As an adaptation of the final third of the light novel, Reiketsu-hen excels at fostering that much needed emotional catharsis by bringing NisioIsin's retroactive origin story event climax to life. You will be guaranteed to cry and have your heartstrings tugged at, but these will not be tears of sorrow or misery. These characters do not want you to feel bad for them in any sort of way.

If I have one gripe about Tatsuya Oishi's direction with this final installment, its that I felt certain particularly serious and emotionally detached moments were, unfortunately, victim to tonal disparity by intercutting amusing sound effects and imagery among them, which felt a tad too frivolous for my tastes. Now to be fair, the novel had similar scenes and sequences as well, but its tone was more consistent. I'm not certain as to how many people will experience the same amount of whiplash, especially those who have read the source material, but for me, it is not so egregious that it ultimately dragged down the film entirely overall.

Once again being immersed in the experience as if I was living it with them, I laughed, I cried, I felt embarrassed and turned on by the lechery and smugness of Koyomi Araragi, Kiss-Shot Acerola Orion Heart-under-Blade, Tsubasa Hanekawa, and Meme Oshino. I felt their wounds, and how rather than handicap them, it empowered them to become the characters that I've grown to know and love so much about as I've been watching this series.

And that is all I could ever truly ask for.

The entire iron-blooded, hot-blooded and cold-blooded trilogy may not be a perfect adaptation, but collectively it is, just like the TV series, a 10/10 experience. Everything I want from anime and cinema is here. And my love for SHAFT and this series only grows stronger every day.

Thank you for bringing this six years in the making masterpiece to life, Tatsuya Oishi and Akiyuki Shinbo. Congratulations.

With that, there's nothing left to do except wait until Owarimonogatari Season 2 and the Bluray release of Reiketsu-hen in July. And get volume 3 of the Bakemonogatari light novel later this month.