Kizumonogatari: Beware That, When Fighting Monsters, You Yourself do not Become a Monster…

hisui_icon_4040_round This post is four reviews for the price of one. You can’t beat value like that. Mind you this site is free but I still think the economical nature of this post is undeniable.

I decided that I would review all three Kizumonogatari movies as well as the original novel in one post. While I was given a copy of the Kizumonogatari novel right after I saw the first movie I decided that I would wait to read it until after I watched all three movies. It is a well-known phenomenon that visual adaptations tend to get much harsher reviews if the critic has read the source material first. I wanted to give both versions as fair as shake as I can so that is why I am bundling all four reviews into one review.

As this is a Nisio Isin series that focuses on vampires there is absolutely no chance of Kate participating in this review. Much like crosses and vampires, I’m fairly certain that Kizumonogatari actually acts as a ward against Kate and possibly does 2d6 damage under the right circumstances.

I also wanted to mention that these Kizumonogatari movies have been in a bit of limbo for a while. The films were originally announced all the way back in July 2010. After several delays and the release of later books as TV series, the release of Kizumonogatari became a bit of a running joke among fans of the series as it was trapped in development hell. In fact, Shaft released 2 multi-part seasons of different parts of the Monogatari series before they released these three movies. More and more points of the anime referenced the plot in Kizumonogatari with the assumption that people had read the book so anyone who only watched the anime just had to piece what happened in the third book by inference. That too became a bit of a running joke with English-speaking fans.

I don’t really know why the movies got delayed as long as they did. It is certainly not a Duke Nukem Forever train wreck despite being delayed so long. In fact, it is on par with everything else that has come before it with a bit more theatrical polish. I mostly wanted to mention that as a bit of history especially if anyone reads this post years after the movies come out it would be very easy to not ever realize how much later these movies came out then it was originally scheduled.

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The Ahoge is the Mark of the King – Fate/Complete Material Artbook 2: Character Material

hisui_icon_4040 From the perspective of a translator, the first Fate/Complete Material Artbook was easy mode. It had the most artwork and the least amount of text out of all the Type-Moon artbooks. While it was still a decent challenge for a translator it is a cake walk compared to the later books. The first book was mostly just the CG from the game with some extra material. In many ways, it works perfectly as a test of the viability of the licensing of the series for the English market. Start off with the easiest book to adapt before diving into the more complicated morass of the later books. Character Materials has interviews and long boxes of text. There is still a lot of artwork but this book has meat. Since Type-Moon fandom is such a lore based fandom it makes the book much more valuable since this is where the real insights and revelations are held. The true Dark Souls starts here.

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The Fiend with Twenty Faces: Many Masks Hiding One True Face

narutaki_icon_4040_round Reading the Boy Detectives (or the Detective Boys) by Edogawa Rampo (or Ranpo) is like picking up the American classics Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Various people might have different reactions to hearing the name Nancy Drew, but we can probably all agree it conjures the idea of a bygone era. And yet these stories endure and are still childhood classics; the same is true of the Boy Detectives. Well-worn copies of the Boy Detectives books will always be found in Japanese libraries.

The Fiend with Twenty Faces is the first of the Boy Detectives stories and became a mega hit. The story cements not only the Boy Detectives, but also phantom thief Twenty Faces, and even the already known Detective Kogoro, as characters that would remain popular for generations.

hisui_icon_4040_round “This time I have them for sure.” says the detective. This time will be different. Each time this thief has made law enforcement a laughing-stock by boldly send a letter to the victim in advance as if daring anyone to stop them. The phantom thief has gotten past the police several times but now they think they understand their criminal mind. The thief is part spy, part magician, and part strategist all blended together in a villainous package. Every precaution has been taken. The museum has been swept for surprises that may have been planted there. Every staff member and officer are known to the detective so no flimsy disguises can be used. And this time there is an unexpected trap in place to catch the thief unawares. Tonight will be different. Tonight justice will triumph.

If you have been reading manga and watching anime for more than a few years that story should be very familiar to you.  The great battle between the phantom thief and the great detective has played out many times over the years in Japan media. The Lupin Gang vs. Inspector Zenigata. Detective Conan vs. the Kaito Kid. Cat’s Eye vs. Toshio Utsumi. Saint Tail vs. Asuka Jr. The list goes on but you see a pattern there. Each of those rivalries is a little different. One might add a romantic angle while another might sprinkle in a magical girl twist. How evil or benevolent the thief is can vary from story to story. Sometimes the thief and the detective are even forced to work together. But no matter the iteration they all have a common ancestor. They all trace their conflict back to the battle of Detective Kogoro and his Boy Detectives vs. the dastardly Twenty Faces.

The Fiend with Twenty Faces has become part of the very DNA of Japanese storytelling. While the concept of the Phantom Thief is older than the book it is clearly the story that took an idea that was somewhat popular in Japan and made it a part of the cultural lexicon. Any book that influential to detective fiction in Japan seems necessary reading to us on the Reverse Thieves so with decided to give this book a long overdue look.

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