Light Novel Review: BAKEMONOGATARI Part 02 by NISIOISIN (illust. Vofan) (2017)

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Year Release in English: 2017
Source: Physical Copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, blood, animal violence against children, threats of violence

Araragi figured how to get rid of a crab that takes on people’s burdens and uncovered the truth behind the strange young girl with an enormous backpack. But one of Senjogahara’s friends and one of his sisters’ classmates both have aberrations attached to them, and he sees no other option that roping in Senjogahara and Hanekawa into helping him out with it.

This volume does a lot more digging into the world of aberrations and their relationship to what everyday people see, with plenty of deliberate wordplay and theming.

The kids continue to be belligerent and annoying to each other in ways that only teens can be. They’re constantly squabbling over personal philosophies and tripping each other up on relatively minor miscommunications in a way that’s authentically annoying. I think what I also appreciate in this one is that there’s an acknowledgement that, after high school, university isn’t the only path. So much happens to expand the view of what tradition is and how natural paths unfold, especially in the context that every cast member has been haunted by the supernatural on one occasion or another.

Araragi is the best boy. He might not be the smartest (after all, he figures if vampires exist in the world, so can lesbians), but his heart is continuously in the right place. Neither human nor vampire, the teen boy is nigh-unkillable. The violence that happens to his body is unsettling, especially in the context that he’s putting himself in that harm to keep others safe, regardless the strength of the personal attachment. I’d call it a fatal flaw if he weren’t functionally immortal, but, like the girls around him, Nisoisin gives the reader plenty of cause to be worried. As Araragi moves further from his vampirism, I’m looking forward to seeing this evolution.

What I also enjoyed in this one is how Nisioisin flirts with relatively common stories, like that of The Monkey’s Paw, but then twists away from it to make the lore way more grounded in Japanese folklore rather than an homage to something more Western. It’s really well done and suggests that, as exemplified in the long exchanges, he has a command of what he’s doing on page. The fun is in the exploration of common themes with unique twists, which is something I’m appreciating about this series with each volume.

For my next entry into the series, I’m going to read the prequel, Kizumonogatari, as it is largely Hanekawa’s backstory, as a lead-up into Volume 3.


One thought on “Light Novel Review: BAKEMONOGATARI Part 02 by NISIOISIN (illust. Vofan) (2017)

  1. Pingback: April 2023 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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