The torrent of displeasure at the Nisemonogatari ending on Twitter was on a scale that I’d hesitate to label anything less than biblical, if I were out to be hyperbolic. Going in after reading several of these comments, frothing fanboy rage mixed in with some of the more reasonable responses of displeasure, I expected something horrible, like a meteor striking Koyomi down while on his way to the confrontation with Yozuru and Yotsugi. But nothing could have braced me for what lay in wait, ready to bludgeon me and drag me to its dank, vaguely musky hiding place to slowly be gnawed apart by hateful teeth. That’s right, I actually thought it a decent ending to a fantastic series that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.
However, I won’t say that it’s all that conclusive; the lack of closure will definitely infuriate some and only serve to titillate others, though the fight sequence was surprisingly entertaining. If expectations were for this to have anything but a Shaft-y ending, especially with the bevy of potential sequels practically clamoring for adaptation, they shouldn’t have been had in the first place. But of course I know that many out there are familiar with Shaft’s wily tricks, so hopefully this wasn’t the case and there were other reasons for being displeased with what was on display here.
The saving grace of Nisemonogatari was the fact that it had Koyomi develop more than he ever did in the prequel—it was nice seeing our hapless protagonist slowly etch out a personality for himself in a fairly realistic manner (Not-so-implied incest and Hachikuji harassment aside), while coming to terms with his past and how it could possibly affect his family and his relationship with Gahara. It was decisively resolved in the finale, during which Koyomi finally settled his feelings for his sisters, ultimately shoving any potential attraction he might have had toward them aside for the purpose of a safe and happy relationship. It was something that made up for the slightly lacking plot, though the focus was greater than it was in Bakemono.
Something unexpected came of this ending, however. The slightly outlandish theory I brought forward in my thoughts on Episode 8, the one regarding possible unease about just having Gahara in his life, was left hanging in the air. Of course that’s not to say that he’ll run into any sort of profound trouble with her anytime soon; it’s clear that his romantic interest in her surpasses that of the rest of his harem, and only negative tension could lead to a divide between them. On the flipside I doubt Koyomi will give up his lecherous ways, this ultimately being an ecchi series, but it’s always fun seeing him squirm around others so I can let that slide.
If I have one complaint with Nisemonogatari, it’s the weakness in character of Yozuru and Yotsugi compared to the commanding yet subtle presence of Kaiki. While the first two-thirds were nearly perfect in how they presented the characters, from my point of view, the replacement of Kaiki by these two lost some of the focus that it had before. While quirky characters in their own right, neither was exactly memorable compared to our favorite conman, leading to what was a weaker finale than it might have been were Kaiki still around being his scummy self. Of course that’s not to say it was bad, but I was hoping for more time spent getting in his head.
In the end, more than anything, Nisemonogatari is a tale of growth for Ararararagi that happens to be a vehicle for fanservice with some truly breathtaking animation. It has less to do with bringing more colorful characters into his life and more to do with the strengthening of bonds with those already in it. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it leaves an indelible impact that won’t be forgotten no matter how many years pass. I consider it a better package than its prequel, and one that deserves all the praise I can lavish on it.