The four-part OVA, Nekomonogatari Black is the much needed and anticipated prequel to Bakemonogatari. The story follows Araragi Koyomi’s attempt to help classmate Hanekawa Tsubasa, who is not only experiencing a troubled home life but has had her body possessed by an oddity known as Sawari Neko.
For fans of the series, this is a must-see, as it sheds some light on the events that happened between Araragi and Hanekawa prior to Bakemonogatari. Newcomers may feel a little overwhelmed by the style that Shaft has become famous for, but story-wise it’s not a bad starting point for those yet to be enlightened.
The story runs along quickly and remains interesting, but always gives you enough information and time to care about the characters. As usual, you get the fast-paced, head tilting, rapid-fire dialogue that we’ve come to expect from Shaft, mixed together with their unique and beautiful animation style. This does sometimes detract from the story as there is so much going on visually, an issue that isn’t helped by the show’s quick edits. Viewing can become a mini-game, where you need to be lightning-fast to pause and read the translations that accompany the on-screen kanji. However, that is part of the show’s charm and something the Monogatari series does incredibly well.
The franchise is no stranger to fan service and doesn’t hold back on delivering it in high doses, Nekomonogatari Black is no exception. We see Hanekawa, or I should say Black Hanekawa, dressed exclusively in revealing lingerie. Given that the series is only four episodes long you’ll be getting more fan service for your buck than a standard length series.
With Japanese audio and English subtitles being the only language options, some people may feel put off, but with none of the Monogatari series having received an English dub so far, it should be expected. The Japanese cast does a fantastic job with their high-speed and over the top monologues. Extras included on the disc only feature a clean version of both the opening and ending videos, plus a series of trailers.
Although only four episodes long, the story is solid from start to finish and provides some great insight into the relationship between Araragi and Hanekawa that fans have been waiting to see since Bakemonogatari. Shaft continues to impress with their animation style, head tilts and a healthy portion of fan service. This is another winner.