(First impressions) Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu
October 22, 2016 Leave a comment
I should probably admit: this film wasn’t initially on my “to see” list when I arrived in Japan late last month. I’ve actually fallen off the Monogatari bandwagon a little—even now, I’ve yet to watch Koyomimonogatari. I also figured that since it had arrived in Japanese theatres on August 19, and because it’s more niche than your name, it would have left Tokyo’s cinemas by the time I got there. As it turns out, I managed to catch it during the last week of screenings in Shinjuku, after hurriedly checking out Kizumonogatari: Tekketsu as well. Since then, as some of you will have noticed, I’ve been working on some of the interviews from the movie pamphlets that you can pick up in Japan.
But enough of the irrelevant background, and on to first impressions. Is Nekketsu worth seeing at the cinema? I’d say…that’s a definite ‘YES’.
I had little idea of what to expect when I sat down to watch Tekketsu before heading to the cinema. I’ve read Kizumonogatari only once, years ago, so I’d actually forgotten a lot of the detail. Furthermore, since I derive most of my enjoyment from Monogatari from the fun verbal sparring between certain characters, I knew going in that I’d have to look for something else to satisfy me. And on top of that, the trailers I’d seen had left me ambivalent about the character designs, which were quite different from how they appeared in the TV series… So watching Tekketsu left me with incredibly mixed feelings about whether I should try to find Nekketsu or just wait until I could watch all three in a row.
In the end, catching Nekketsu at the cinema was worth it. Although the way the characters stood out against the backgrounds was a little disconcerting, especially in the first fight scene in the rain, it was an absolute animation fest. There’s no way I can really talk about exactly what I was impressed by without seeing it again, but I remember just sitting there in awe of all the motion on the screen.
The overall hues of the film are also really striking. Oishi confirmed that he deliberately went for the reddish tinge in the first film, because this is a story about “blood.” As you can see from the images above, the is a lot more blue in this second film, probably representing the coldness of the night in which vampires and thus the vampiric Araragi are forced to live. It is interesting to note, however, that key scenes with Hanekawa are still infused with light, as if representing our main characters last remaining link to his humanity. The dawn breaking at the end of his fight with Dramaturgy might also symbolise that hope. These scans from the pamphlet only go as far as the first fight, and I dearly wish I’d paid more attention to the colours of the other two. There are a few shots in the pamphlet, but none of Araragi in the climax of the film. I do remember some dark shots, but not when they were or what they showed…1
To be frank, if I’d had to choose, I’d have preferred to see the first film at the cinema. It’s not so much that the animation in this second offering is not quite as impressive; rather, I would have liked my first experience with the Kizumonogatari films to have been at the cinema. Because they’re so different from what came before in the Monogatari series, I can only imagine the impact that Japanese fans would have felt. Nevertheless, Nekketsu was definitely worth the watch, and I’ll be looking forward to watching all three when Reiketsu is finally on our screens as well.
- In some ways, I envy those of you who will be able to watch Nekketsu subtitled, as it begins its limited release in the States. I’m reasonably proficient in Japanese—enough not to be fazed about seeing something like six Japanese-language films in Japan this year—but there are usually two to three lines of dialogue that escape me. And my brain’s eagerness to try to figure out what my ears just heard can distract me from paying attention to what’s on the screen. Of course, this is balanced out by the fact that there’s no text to distract my eyes in any of the scenes, so I guess I’d take that more often than not…… ↩