Now in her last year of high school, Suruga Kanbaru preoccupies herself with basketball and track since her senpais Hitagi Senjougahara and Koyomi Araragi have graduated. When she’s out training, she catches wind of Lord Devil, a kind of urban school myth who’s said to grant any wish. Afraid that she herself might be the devil, Suruga plays detective and discovers that Rouka Numachi, one of her classmates, is in fact playing the role.
Suruga’s mother left her a fossilised monkey hand and this is one of the core mysteries pontificated on over the five episode arc. It gets to some kind of resolution in a roundabout sort of way that’s both deceptively simple yet impenetrably complex, but then neat answers and simple truths were never really the point.
Hanamonogatari is the sixth part of the Monogatari series, and the ninth book in Nisio Isin’s divisive, idiosyncratic novel series, compiling the Suruga Devil arc. It’s a story edged along by its often contradictory art styles as much as by its monologues and meandering character interactions. Miyuki Sawashiro reprises her role as Suruga and, as before, is able to effortlessly convey pain, as well as humour and a conniving, secretive quality.
The screen is rarely still other than for a moment of calm in the frenzy of lingering images, weird humour and enigmatic interactions. A touchstone of the franchise is presenting the environment as construction, and the symmetry and repeating patterns are as much a part of Hanamonogatari’s stylistic make-up as any other entry. The block colour, likewise, is almost cubist, while other sequences and inserts have a more anarchic, impressionist feel.
As well as the quintessential head tilts and hair swishes, there are the disembodied flashes on-screen which prove especially effective in the context of the narrative where Rouka is compiling parts of the devil’s body. The lingering imagery, kaleidoscopic and hallucinatory, is the visual rhythm, full of call backs and in-jokes for the dedicated fans while offering a sensory overload to newcomers.
Extras: Episode 5 alternative version; clean opening & closing animation; promotional videos & commercials