I: Tekketsu (Iron-blooded)
Wow! This has an astounding opening sequence. OK, so you’ve got my attention. Yep, this really is about vampires. Now, how the story unfolds is another matter…
So, schoolboy loner Araragi chances upon a legless, armless vampire and, weirdly agrees to give up his blood to her to save her life. However he gets turned instead of just being food. This sequence in the subway station is just superb. The bright red of the blood against the white tiles and above all of that, the animation work in the editing give it a real edge.
Now, Kizumonogatari doesn’t mess around too much but gets right down to it. Vampire lady (or to give her her full name: Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade. Vampire Lady for short) needs Araragi to recover her lost limbs (cos, y’know, we all lose our limbs every now and again). This isn’t as straight forward as it sounds as they are being kept by three professional vampire hunters and they will need to be defeated in order to recover them. Now, how professional they are to leave an ‘armless vampire lady still alive (or undead. Whichever!), is beyond me.
We have a good blend of CG animation and hand-drawn and at times they don’t quite mesh and the obvious CG work stands out. But for the most part it is of high quality and it doesn’t distract too much. What I will say though is that there is a really good mix of animation styles that appear throughout, which plays nicely into the vein of humour that seems to run through it, but also takes the time to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings.
What becomes more apparent as we go is that this is a mix of the disturbing and unsettling with more kitsch and romantic. It’s weird but also strangely interesting.
So, overall that was a pretty great first film in this trilogy. But, I don’t know why there is a need to over sexualise schoolgirls and the one here, so early on, is ridiculously placed and ludicrously done. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was pertinent to the film and proceedings but this isn’t. It’s titillation and the kind of schoolboy, immature sexual fantasy that idolises large breasts and panties. It isn’t needed at all.
II: Nekketsu (Hot-blooded)
So, onwards and upwards we go! Kizumonogatari film 2. Finally, after hinting at it in film 1, we’re starting to see the fight back. The battle for Vampire Lady’s lost limbs. So much build up to this. Exciting! But before we do get stuck in, we see Araragi playing nasty to get rid of the one person he actually cares for, but I don’t think that Hanekawa is the kind of person to just disappear.
So: Fight One – Dramaturgy. Weird name but I’ll go with it. A huge beast of a man, and the one holding Heart-under-blade’s right leg. That’s a weird sentence to write! Oh, he’s not a man? OK, that makes things a little bit more interesting. But anyway, here we go….
Man, at times this is super brutal! It’s an exceptional fight sequence taking place in the rain, giving it perfect atmosphere. And the way the animation again swings from basic manga style through to finely detailed and then to comedic is amazing. The animators certainly got to have some fun here. But not only does it look great, it manages to keep things fresh and interesting, keeping your attention on what is happening.
Yey! Hanekawa is back. I knew she wouldn’t be gone for good. Some playful flirting and, oh, look! More panties talk. Moving swiftly on….
The score so far has been drifting between action, romance and soft jazz. Just like the animation style choices, these are pretty unique and certainly add to events.
On to Fight Two: Episode. OK…. Another weird name but let’s go with it again. What’s the stick going to be this time? Oh. He’s a half vampire, half human. Uhuh, OK. And he carries a huge crucifix for some reason. OK, let’s see where this goes. And he hates vampires and resents his vampire half but cannot integrate with the other humans as he’s half-vampire. Oh, the agony!
The score to this fight feels quite out of place and makes it feel more like a caper than a battle. And it’s over before much has even begun. Shame, as it had promise. These are going by pretty quickly. Far more so than would have been expected after they all destroyed the all-powerful Vampire Lady, nearly. Hmmm….
Last up, Fight Three: Guillotine Cutter. Oh, now THAT is a name. Guillotine Cutter. Bam! Conjures all kinds of violent and visceral imagery! What? He’s a human? Wholly human? No vampire blood at all? And he’s a priest. And he says he has no powers! Surely in the battle against the spawn of Dracula being a priest IS a super power! And he’s smarter than the other two. Well, he says so, so it must be true. He is a priest after all.
Once again, a great film, continuing the good work done by the first film. A bit more action this time and no quarter given in showing the violence or gore on the screen. Great! Once again, though, the need to sexualise and expose the young girls is disappointing. It actually really reduces my enjoyment of watching when there is something so blatant like this. There is no need for super-voluptuous women in this instance, apart from just playing to the basest male desire. It just seems such a weak decision when everything else in this is so strong. The combination of innocence and leery behaviour is grossing me out. I mean, who worships panties? And normalises the whole thing?
III: Reiketsu (Cold-blooded)
Kizumonogatari!!!!!!!! Film 3!!!!!!!!
Well alright! Araragi comes through with the money. Well, not the money but Vampire Lady gets her payday at least. But has it all been the right thing to do and will young Araragi get his wish to be made human again? Let’s find out!
Whilst we do get the actual climactic final battle in this film, the rest of it falls a little bit flat compared to the others. More talking and less action. Boo! And, to make things worse, it isn’t really very interesting talking either.
Strange stranger Oshino Meme always felt a little too strange to me and he finally reveals more about himself here (about time. How you gonna trust this fool?), but he also manages to maintain at least a bit of his mystery. What has become clear is that Kiss-Shot is big time. The Prime V. Queen Blood. A Blood Goddess amongst other little vampires. And our little lost schoolboy has just given her back all her powers. Oh shit. What has he done? He’s created a monster!
But before we get to the good stuff, we’ve got the obligatory troublesome sexualisation and fantasy sequence. And, as if the fetishisation of schoolgirl panties and big boobs wasn’t enough previously we get a good 10 minutes of what can only be described as a boob-familiarisation training montage. W. T. A. F? This is the crowning glory of immature fantasy right there and brought on not a small amount of eye-rolling.
Anyway. Moving on……
Which leads us to *ding, ding, ding* THE MAIN EVENT!! Newly minted vampire and up-and-coming underdog challenger Araragi going head to head with his maker and master, Kiss-Shot! Acerola-Orioooon! HEARTTTT! UUUUUNDER! BLAAAAAAADDE!
What a mental head to head fight this one is! An empty stadium (which we’re all used to seeing by now in Covid-19 times) and a fight between two, quickly-regenerating, immortal vampires. Yeah, good luck ending this one!
To sum things up nicely: I didn’t think that it would end well, and it didn’t. What has been a really great sequence of films feels slightly let down by the ending not quite living up to previous events. That being said, it does try to tie everything up, but sometimes that isn’t the best thing to do.
As the modern-day sage Oshino Meme says: No one ends up happy.