Around midnight, under a lonely streetlamp in a provincial town in Japan, lies a white woman, a blonde, alone, robbed of all four limbs yet undead. Indeed, a rumor's been circulating among the local girls that a vampire has come to their backwater, of all places.
Koyomi Araragi, who prefers to avoid having friends because they'd lower his "intensity as a human", is naturally skeptical. Yet it is to him that the bloodsucking demon, a concept "dated twice over", beckons on the first day of spring break as he makes his way home with a fresh loot of morally compromising periodicals.
Always disarmingly candid, often hilariously playful, and sometimes devastatingly moving, KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale is the perfect gateway into the world of author NISIOISIN, the best-selling young novelist in Japan today. The prequel to BAKEMONOGATARI ("Monster Tale"), this is where the legendary MONOGATARI series, whose anime adaptations have enjoyed international popularity and critical acclaim, begins.
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NO POINT IN CRYING OVER SPILT BLOOD
- Jim "The Impatient"
A good start, even for the most critical fans.
I would only recommend this book to some friends, as this is definitely not a story for everyone. The story can easily be bogged down if you do not resonate with the characters inner turmoil and the thought provoking moral quandaries could just sound like teenage angst if you don't buy in to stories about kids in high school. Even for many Anime fans the verbose and palindromic writing can be mind melting giving some scenes a feeling of dragging on for eternity. Monogatari has never been for everyone, but it is for those listeners or readers who have a love for ten dollar words, being wrapped up in a flurry of wit while being sucked deeper into the rabbit hole.
Koyomi Araragi is by far the stand out character, and continues to be in later novels in the Monogatari series. He is both an everyman character, but also someone with a distinct and strong personality. Between his inner monologues and exterior arguing with himself you get a deep and rich understanding of how he thinks; thus allowing the author to almost meld the minds of the character and reader together.
The standout scene in this audiobook comes almost purely from a delivery and character aspect. Hearing Christina Vee argue with herself as two separate characters was a true joy. While I wish they had used another actor to play Hanekawa it was still thrilling to hear.
There are two very strong scenes in this book which may either make or break the story for you; the first meeting of our two main characters (Araragi & Kisshot), and their stories climax towards the end. Each novel in the Monogatari series focuses heavily on a singular character and their interactions with Koyomi Araragi with the other characters coming in as strong supports to reinforce the actions of each character. For a majority of the novels, the main support or what could be argued as a tertiary main character to Koyomi is Kisshot. Both their first meeting, and the main story element which binds them together in this novel are very strong, and emotionally draining, but every step beforehand leads you to the finale which you are told from the start will not be a happy one.
The Monogatari series as a whole isn't an easy subject matter to translate into a simple written or spoken language. Most likely why it's taken so long for anyone to try and even tackle this expansive series.
With that being said, Vertical has done an excellent job with translating the Novel but keeping dialog, character specific quirks, and the themes of the Monogatari series consistent between the anime and novels. While I would say they did only a serviceable job on the audiobook, it comes from high expectations. The source material is strong in creating an emotional resonance between the reader (or viewer) and the characters in action, so when the voices of them do not line up as you expected, it can be somewhat jarring. Even if the actors did a strong job overall. I will say that compared to the Japanese actor of Hanekawa who sounded more stern, mature, and serious; this iteration is given a more high pitched, giddy, and almost bubbly voice which I wouldn't say fits well, especially with later events in the series and I hope that Vertical reconsiders casting and brings in a different actor to play her.
I would say my main criticisms lie with the direction more so than casting, delivery, or the script. This is a biased point of view, but it seems the director definitely had the actors hold back on some scenes, opting for a bit more subdued approach compared to the anime & japanese actors deliveries. This is personal preference, but I would have rather scene the actors ham up the more dramatic scenes more, as the series has always been known to be bombastic, over the top, and incredibly verbose.
I can also say there is a definite problem with the pacing in a few areas. While this isn't a major problem, it definitely feels as though the actor playing Araragi was told to pick up his reading pace during a few scenes which could have been a little lengthier and more thought provoking. On the other hand, talking a mile a minute is definitely a key attribute to our protagonist, and nothing new the near frantic levels of dialog in the animation version of him.
- Charles McGraw