Owarimonogatari Chuukan - Shinobu Mail

Thursday, February 6, 2014
Owarimonogatari Chuukan - Shinobu Mail  

Owarimonogatari Chuukan is the book that is finally supposed to tell us about the event that occurred during Nekomonogatari: Shiro, explaining Araragi's and Kanbaru's absence in it.
Initially the book wasn't planned, but you can say that about almost every Monogatari book. But Nisio Isin apparently really didn't plan to write about this before, so it might have just some shenanigans attempt at first (like the teased fight in Katanagatari). However, because of how certain details have been set up very early, I doubt this was the case. Well, he might have planned out this story just to set up the details in the previous, simply for trolling reasons.

Shinobu Mail starts somewhere near the end of Nekomonogatari: Shiro, because we all saw Kanbaru getting a message from Araragi there, which was basically right after Mayoi's departure.
We also already know the reason why he messaged Kanbaru, it was because Gaen requested Kanbaru's assistance for this "job". Hence why I thought a Kanbaru spin-off might be a possibility. Even though she seemed to go back to playing basketball at the end of Hanamonogatari, a lot of the signs pointed at her getting prepared for the job of an onmyouji. Like her mother's weird teachings, Kaiki basically teaching her and also calling her Gaen's legacy, Izuko Gaen's interest in her.
To be fair, same applies for Araragi, though he mostly acted on his own, but in Meme's spirit. And Hanekawa seems to be doing this kind of thing already. There, we would have 3 new specialists, just saying.

Anyway, as we already know this as well, Araragi contacts Kanbaru and asks her to meet at the abandoned cram school in the evening.
During Nekomonogatari: Shiro, it was mentioned that Shinobu's link to Araragi had been broken which was caused by the Darkness when it attacked Araragi and Mayoi, causing them to be separated.
Araragi and Kanbaru then meet at the cram school at night and talk when suddenly some spooky japanese armor appears standing before them. Kanbaru attacks and breaks it with a Monkey's Paw attack, which reveals that the armor was empty.
While the armor attempts to reassemble itself, Kanbaru attacks again but gets energy drained by it. The armor then tries to strangle Araragi when suddenly a fire storm breaks out and "saves" Araragi. While the school is burning down, the armor speaks to Araragi and says it wants Kokorowatari back from Shinobu (it calls her Kisshot though), and then disappears.
Araragi and Kanbaru are too weakened to escape and about to get burned in the fire when suddenly Ononoki appears again and saves them.... The source of the fire was obviously Kako, the Tiger.

Araragi and Kanbaru are supposed to meet Gaen at the park, of which Araragi still doesn't know how to pronounce the name. At the park they find Shinobu instead of Gaen and Shinobu tells them that she was fighting a monkey oddity earlier together with Black Hanekawa (I would have liked to see that...) and before they finish talking, the oddity appears again. But this time it got some weird mix between monkey, crab and snake going on. The group fights and eventually defeats the monster with Kokorowatari and then find a message left by Gaen, saying that the new meeting is the Snake Shrine.
On their way to the shrine, Araragi explains to Shinobu what happened at the cram school and brings up the possibility that the armor might have been her first servant. Shinobu says it the armor couldn't possibly be her first servant considering that she witnessed his suicide with her own eyes.
Well, arriving at the shrine they meet Gaen again who tells them that the identity of the armor is indeed, Shinobu's resurrected first servant. Because of his immortality, he never died even after burning to ashes which gathered at this shrine 15 years ago. This is the shrine we learned about in Onimonogatari if I recall correctly (but I might be wrong here), and belonged to the first servant's hometown which is the reason why the ashes eventually gathered here, including Kisshot. As a servant of Kisshot, the ashes were powerful enough to attract all these other oddities they met (and more I guess) in this town in the past, on which the first servant fed on. Meme's talisman, which Araragi had stuck on the shrine door back in Bakemonogatari, prevented the first servant from completely recovering. But it stopped working when the first servant saw Shinobu and Araragi together at the shrine (Kabukimonogatari). This caused his recovery to speed up, resulting in him getting back a physical form.
Gaen then requests the groups help to eliminate Shinobu's first servant.

Gaen leaves to meet Episode-kun, who she hired for this as well. Araragi leaves to get some supplies but he meets Shinobu's first servant, the Oddity-Slayer, on his way but this time he is in the form of a child instead of an armor.
He hands Araragi some tea as sign of meaning no harm and tells him that he wants to replace Araragi with himself as Shinobu's servant, claiming that he wants to apologize to Shinobu about what he has done in the past.
Araragi doesn't believe him and tries to think about what he can say. While he's doing that he's about to take a sip from the tea. Before he can take the sip though, a giant cross flies in front of him, destroying the bottle. Episode who appeared behind Araragi explains that the tea was in fact holy water, which would have killed Araragi due to his weird mix of being half-vampire. Gaen also arrives, and the Oddity-Slayer challenges Araragi to a duel before escaping.

Araragi heads back to the shrine while Episode and Gaen try to hunt down the Oddity-Slayer. At the shrine, he meets an eavesdropping Ononoki who spies on Shinobu's and Kanbaru's conversation.
They seem to have a little fight arguing about whether Shinobu should go and talk to her first servant, but refuses to do so and says it would be too late, while Kanbaru calls her out on being too afraid with dealing with her past. Shinobu might choose her first servant over Araragi and Kanbaru says that Shinobu can't just run away from this problem. Araragi concludes that Kanbaru understands the Oddity-Slayer's feelings because this is a similar situation between her and Senjougahara from back in Bakemonogatari. Shinobu locks herself in the shrine because the loli is upset.

Gaen arrives back at the shrine together with Episode and explains the set rules for the upcoming duel.
Episode mentions that he and Gaen will defeat the Oddity-Slayer if Araragi doesn't manage to do it, but Araragi has to make sure not to die, since that would bring back Shinobu's powers. The duel is set to take place where Araragi previously fought Episode and the other Hunters, Naoetsu High School.
The group arrives at the school at night, except for Shinobu who still locked herself away in the shrine and refused to come out, which results in Araragi having to fight without powering up his vampire abilities.
The Oddity-Slayer arrives in full armor and Gaen explains the rules of the duel, which the Oddity-Slayer accepts, because he was once a specialist just like Gaen.
The duel is stupid; Gaen sticks a kendo practice sword (made out of bamboo I think, to minimize Araragi's chance of dying) to the ground and and both participants walk 10 steps away from it. Whoever reaches the sword first and strikes the opponent with it wins.
Araragi suddenly receives a message from Hanekawa and finds out that she is in danger because she is about to face Kako, Gaen adds that Senjougahara is about to die from Kako's assault on her home as well.
The duel is about to start when suddenly Kokorowatari falls down from the sky, splitting the bamboo sword in half and Araragi realizes that this had to be Shinobu's doing, however she didn't show herself.
Gaen has no choice but to start the duel with Kokorowatari now in play and the Oddity-Slayer is confused by Shinobu not wanting to meet him.
After taking their 10 steps and turning around, Araragi realizes that the Oddity-Slayer has taken off his armor to run faster, which resulted in him getting to the sword faster and  is about to strike Araragi with it. Araragi evades and hits the Oddity-Slayer with Meme's talisman. The talisman disintegrates the Oddity-Slayer's body, releasing all the oddities he had been absorbing, screaming out Kisshot's name. Araragi realizes at this point that the Oddity-Slayer must have been truly caring about Shinobu.
After losing his ability to speak, Shinobu appears before the Oddity-Slayer and she calls out his name, apologizing to him. His name is revealed to be Seishirou, and she starts crying right before devouring him and all the kaii that made up his body (yum).
Araragi presumably heads to Senjougahara's place now, to help Hanekawa dealing with Kako.

Some time passes and we get another scene with Araragi and Ougi discussing the recent events. It is then when Ougi asks whether Shinobu devoured Seishirou's armor as well, but Araragi couldn't remember. Ougi mentions that the armor could be used to reforge Kokorowatari (the "original") and even Yumewatari, the sword that resurrect oddities.
Ougi leaves, and Araragi heads to school, this is the day the college exams take place... (rip)

Technically this book wasn't really needed, as in the Oddity-Slayer has been presumed to be dead the entire time. So basically this was a story to get some closure to Shinobu's backstory, and giving a face to this famed first servant.
And of course it fills the gap between Neko: Shiro and Otorimonogatari, as well as setting up the late events of Koyomimonogatari and the third Owarimonogatari volume. There is some tension here, with the fire outbreak at the school, Kanbaru smashing the armor, the chimera kaii thing and the duel, after the stakes had been set higher with Kokorowatari.
Would have been refreshing if Kisshot would have appeared, just blowing everything away, but oh well.
In the end, this was slightly more action focused with barely any mystery elements attached to it. And it's fine because it was much needed in my opinion and also works as a fine contrast to the first Owarimonogatari volume.
Requesting Kanbaru's help just because she had the Monkey's Paw strength seems a bit redundant though, so where is that Kanbaru spin-off?

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