Nekomonogatari White is the first five episodes of the Monogatari Series: Second Season, as it is known in Japan. While this may confuse some, as it did me, the Second Season is adapted from five of the Monogatari novels, each following a different character. MVM Entertainment will be releasing the series not as a whole, but in self-contained parts much like the novels they are adapted from, hopefully, this clears up some of the confusion.
Nekomonogatari White starts with us once again following Hanekawa Tsubasa, whose boring repetitive life changes instantly once she crosses paths with an oddity in the form of a giant white striped tiger, after this fated meeting Hanekawa’s personal life crumbles and she is left to fend for herself. Leading man Araragi is noticeably absent during the events of this story, resulting in Hanekawa finding an unlikely friend in Hitagi Senjogahara. It’s not only one of the best arcs the series has offered us yet, it’s fantastic a set up which also gives viewers the added pleasure of seeing both Hanekawa and Hitagi in a different light.
The story flows well and there is never a boring moment, the conversations are as quick-fire as usual and seeing the girls get along without Araragi proves that each member of the cast has enough depth to handle the spotlight. With Shaft involved in any capacity you can expect great things production-wise and in this aspect White definitely does not disappoint, while the animation quality may not be up to the level that Nekomonogatari Black was, this is due to the fact that Black was an OVA, while White is part of a larger series, so the budget would’ve been more spread out. That’s not to say that White’s animation is bad by any means, the difference is very minimal, it’s still a gorgeous series.
The Monogatari series always uses scene markers throughout each episode, which flash up for a split second and then disappear. During this tale these title cards are put to good use by working in partnership with the storyline to show when Hanekawa has become Black Hanekawa, this is a great use of one of the many unique visual aspects of the series. I could rant all day about how much love and attention has gone into almost every scene, but I’ll keep that essay for another time.
Monogatari adaptations have always had some great opening and ending songs, White is no exception, thankfully as an extra on the disc you get clean versions of both so you can enjoy the beautiful visuals without any text getting in the way. The soundtrack, while not bad, is kept very minimal, by not overwhelming the atmosphere of a scene it allows the dialogue between characters to flow with ease. When it comes to any entry in the Monogatari series you can always expect wonderful animation, but without the exceptional performances of Yui Horie and Chiwa Saito, who do a fantastic job at getting across the complexities of their emotional and unique characters Hanekawa and Hitagi, the series would not be as memorable or as enjoyable.
Extras on the disc include the previously mentioned clean opening and ending animations, TV Spots, Trailers and an Omnibus episode retelling the events of Nekomonogatari Black, a very nice and useful addition to the disc for those who have yet to watch it.
Building upon the foundation that Nekomonogatari Black laid out, White raises the bar even higher by bringing us a story that is both compelling and exciting. The new relationships which are formed and each character's growth brings a whole new freshness to the series that keeps the story flowing with the right amount of emotion and intrigue. Nekomonogatari White is the perfect blend of great storytelling and beautiful animation working together to bring us one of the best Arcs in the Monogatari series.