Some random thoughts on the 4-episode Bakemonogatari prequel Nekomonogatari: Kuro. This “mini”-series covers the events of when Hanekawa transformed into Black Hanekawa for the first time due to stress from her family.
I’m not the biggest Bakemonogatari fan, but once I start following a series and it turns out to be half decent then I keep watching, and Nekomonogatari: Kuro was interesting in its portrayal of Hanekawa. Nekomonogatari: Kuro follows the same style the other *monogatari shows: distinctive background visuals and transitions, a good dose of fan service, and lots of Koyomi having witty conversations with various people (mostly the girls in his life). And of course there are very, very short bursts of glorious and extreme violence, but (unfortunately) fighting and action are not really the main focus of the show.
Since this was before the events of Bakemonogatari, the only girls Koyomi can talk to are his sisters, Hanekawa, and Shinobu who actually talks a little bit in this show. Before getting to Hanekawa’s problem, we learn that Koyomi and his sisters already have an unusual relationship. The siblings are care for each other and are close… maybe a little too close for brothers and sisters given how Koyomi had no reservations about groping Tsukihi. As for Shinobu, we see her develop her taste for donuts, and of course being the awesome vampire that she is, she’s the one who actually solves the Black Hanekawa problem when Koyomi’s plan of trying to get himself killed doesn’t quite put an end to Black Hanekawa.
The main female star for Nekomonogatari: Kuro is of course Hanekawa, and the first obvious thing is that Black Hanekawa is sexy as hell. The combination of Hanekawa’s figure, black lingerie, long silver hair and cat ears is quite formidable. Drooling over Black Hanekwawa aside, the main story of Nekomonogatari: Kuro Hanekawa gets possessed by the bakeneko after having trouble with her parents. Hanekawa’s current parents are not her biological parents and they don’t particularly care for her, and she lives in their house more or less like a stranger. The situation is somehow compounded by Hanekawa trying to maintain her appearance as the knowledgeable, friendly, role-model student. I thought the show would put Hanekawa in a sympathetic light, but interestingly the show suggests that Hanekawa herself is partly at fault because she’s too perfect. Also, Hanekawa largely directs her own actions as Black Hanekawa and even refuses to have the bakeneko removed from her. Hanekawa seems to be so fed up with her current life that she’d rather become a monster. Even in her Black Hanekawa form, Hanekawa is hard to read because she rarely if ever tell people how she really feels. Nekomonogatari: Kuro gave us some insights into Hanekawa’s personality, but she can still be enigmatic.
I thought it was funny that in order to outwit the very intelligent Black Hanekawa, Koyomi used a pretty stupid tactic of swallowing Shinobu’s anti-monster blade and letting Hanekawa cut him in half. Of course, betting that Hanekawa would come to his aid was a bold and calculated move on Koyomi’s part, but the rest of the strategy was at best questionable. It worked out well though in the end since Shinobu had enough of Koyomi’s stupidity and saved the day. Hanekawa is turned back to normal without any memories of her transgressions, although it’s hard to say if that’s for the best. As for Koyomi, he concludes that while he cares for Hanekawa deeply and is willing to die for her, he can’t bring himself to love her. That of course may still change though as the franchise rolls on.
Other random thoughts:
– Loved the OP sequence with Hanekawa wandering around with a guitar. Decent OP song too. Would have been awesome if Hanekawa actually played guitar in the series.
– Did I mention Black Hanekawa was hot?