Review for Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu Collector's Edition
If there is one thing that you can be certain about when it comes to anime release schedules, it’s uncertainty. Nary has a day gone by without some title being pushed back, or being cancelled altogether. It’s especially galling when you are in the middle of a TV or feature film series. You have Part 1 and you’re looking forward to Part 2, only for it to be pushed back by five months. The Evangelion Rebuild movies should have come with a health warning when it comes to simply waiting for Hideaki Anno to make the final one. So you can imagine my relief when it seems that MVM’s monthly release schedule for the Kizumonogatari movies has been adhered to thus far.
When Koyomi Araragi discovers the vampire Heart-under-blade in a pool of her own blood on a subway platform with her limbs missing, he agrees to let her drink his blood to save her life, even though it means losing his.
Losing his normal life it turns out, as he’s now a vampire himself, ill advised to get a suntan. Heart-under-blade has managed to restore her limbs, but only has enough power to manifest as a little girl; Araragi has most of her strength now, and she needs him to find the three vampire hunters who took her limbs, and to get them back. If he can do that, she’ll restore his humanity.
Defeating these vampire hunters however will entail sacrifices that Araragi is unprepared to make, including the hope that Heart-under-blade can indeed make him human again.
The Monogatari anime series had a conceit where the aspect ratio would switch to scope for a flashback sequence. As Kizumonogatari is essentially all a flashback, the transfer on this disc is a consistent 2.35:1 widescreen 1080p transfer. It may be a single layer disc, but this film is a little over an hour long, and the bit-rate hovers around the 30Mb mark throughout. It’s an excellent transfer, bringing across the familiar characters and world with a fair bit more depth and detail, while the colour palette is limited, or rather tuned to give each scene a certain theme or mood. There might be a hint of banding in an odd frame or two, but it is decidedly minimal.
You have the choice between a very throaty DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Japanese track, and a comparatively weedy DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo track (the latter seems fixed at 0.4Mb per second and might just be a mislabelled DD 2.0 track instead). You also get optional English subtitles. The surround track is excellent, immersive and effective, while the subtitles are accurately timed and free of typos. There’s not as much screen text to translate as in the TV series but you might need to press pause once or twice during the film.
The disc presents its content with an animated menu, but on insertion will instead autoplay the film. The extra features on disc amount to 5 varieties of trailer and similar promotional material.
I haven’t seen the physical extras that come with the collector’s edition to comment.
If you take all of Kizumonogatari as a single feature, then each of the movies in the trilogy is one act, and quite obviously we get the second act in Nekketsu. Tekketsu introduced the characters and set in motion the story, defined the problem. Nekketsu is where the problem is faced, but it concludes with the reversal, the defeat that leaves the protagonist at a low point, facing the real problem which will have to be resolved in the final part of the trilogy, Reiketsu. That means that we hit the ground running with the second film, it’s wall to wall action, and it’s fast paced and entertaining, even better than the first film.
Araragi’s mission in this film is to defeat the three vampire hunters, retrieve Heart-under-blade’s limbs and hopefully get his humanity restored. His foes are interesting characters, and in Monogatari style typically unexpected. He’s up against the pure vampire Dramaturgy, the half vampire Episode, and the human Guillotinecutter. You might expect him to face the human first, but it’s the other way around. The vampire’s just in it for the money, is rational and can be dealt with, but Episode hates vampires to an irrational degree, while the cunning of the human gives Araragi the hardest challenge of the three.
Interleaving the battles is a romantic arc with Tsubasa Hanekawa (remember this is set prior to Bakemonogatari and Araragi’s encounter with Senjyogahara). In the first film, Tsubasa befriended the loner Araragi, which was a positive before he became a vampire. But as this film begins, he realises that being around him will expose Tsubasa to danger, so he tries to push her away. She sees through him, and instead redoubles her efforts to be his friend, learning the truth about him in the process. And as Araragi fears, it brings Tsubasa into danger. With the Monogatari series penchant for dialogue and witticism, the romantic arc in the film is mostly played lightly and with humour, and is the perfect contrast to the action sequences, which can get bloody and graphic at times, as Araragi learns the capabilities of having an immortal vampire body.
Kizumonogatari just gets better and better, and if you’ve been following the series this far, you’ll love the movie. The quality of the presentation from MVM can’t be faulted, and I can’t wait for Part 3. Knowing my luck, and given how I started this review, it’ll probably be delayed now!