An Overview of Monogatari Series Anime

Image source: Funimation

The Monogatari series is an impressive beast. Since Bakemonogatari first aired in 2009, there have been ten more entries in the visually stylized and wordy anime series — or twelve, if you count each film in the Kizumonogatari trilogy. The anime series’ releases aren’t as numerous as the Nisio Isin-penned light novels they’re based on (the 26th entry came out in October 2020), but it’s still pretty daunting for a newcomer to distinguish each Monogatari title. The presence of several non-related anime that also have the word “Monogatari,” or “story,” in their titles probably doesn’t help either. Thus, this Monogatari overview aims to explain the shows’ respective premises and rough chronology. 

But first, what is the Monogatari series?

If I only had one sentence at my disposal, I’d say that the Monogatari series is about a slightly vampiric high schooler who gets caught up in supernatural events that usually involve girls, but it’s also much more than that. The series has a mix of comedy, mystery, Japanese wordplay, drama, Quentin Tarantino-rivalling amounts of dialogue, gore, and fanservice (including a certain toothbrush scene), making it hard to properly define the shows. The cast includes a donut-loving vampire, a Hawaiian shirt-wearing expert on the supernatural, a gloomy con-man, and a talking corpse among many other memorable characters. 

Writer Nick Creamer astutely notes that there is a visual evolution that takes place throughout the series. However, it is also easy to remember the shows for their instantly distinguishable clean aesthetic, unpopulated locations, and visual references to anime like Astroboy, Ashita no Joe, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Attack on Titan. The shows’ interspersal of seemingly random black and red frames, as well as on-screen text that appears too briefly to be properly read between its regular scenes, is yet another defining visual trait. That’s the Monogatari series.

This article arranges the shows in release order, although the Kizumonogatari trilogy is grouped as one entry. Following the shows’ release order is, to me, is the best way to experience the series, although there’s no harm in watching all three Kizumonogatari movies one after the other. For alternative watch order suggestions, a more detailed timeline, and an explanation of the “seasons” that each adaptation/volume fits into, you can check out this Monogatari Fandom page.

As a side note, if you’re curious about what the titles mean, you can also check out the English versions of the light novels.

Bakemonogatari (Series & ONA)

Image source: Funimation

Year(s): 2009 (Series), 2010 (ONA)

Episodes: 12 (Series), 3 (ONA)

Story arc(s): Hitagi Crab, Mayoi Snail, Suruga Monkey, Nadeko Snake, Tsubasa Cat (Parts 3, 4, and 5 of Tsubasa Cat were released as an ONA)

What it’s about: Protagonist Koyomi Araragi is a teenager with slight vampire traits following a past incident. He is acquainted with an expert in supernatural Oddities called Meme Oshino and a weakened vampire who Meme names Shinobu Oshino. In each arc of the show, Koyomi gets involved with a girl and their respective supernatural problems. 

The title of each arc bears the name of its associated heroine. In Hitagi Crab, Koyomi encounters Hitagi Senjougahara, a fellow student who is weightless due to a crab Oddity. In Mayoi Snail, Koyomi and Hitagi meet and help a lost young girl called Mayoi Hachikuji. Suruga Monkey centers around Suruga Kanbaru, a younger student at Koyomi’s high school who knew Hitagi back in middle school and is cursed by a Monkey Paw. Nadeko Snake features Koyomi’s childhood acquaintance Nadeko Sengoku, who is cursed by a snake Oddity, while Tsubasa Cat revolves around Koyomi’s friend and classmate Tsubasa Hanekawa, whose body is also inhabited by a cat Oddity called the Sawarineko. 

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Nisemonogatari (Series)

Image source: Funimation

Year: 2012

Episodes: 11

Story arcs: Karen Bee, Tsukihi Phoenix

What it’s about: Nisemonogatari takes place after Bakemonogatari. Its two arcs revolve around incidents involving Koyomi’s younger sisters Karen and Tsukihi respectively. Aside from Karen and Tsukihi, aka the Fire Sisters, the show introduces three other important characters in the form of con man Deishuu Kaiki, Oddity specialist Yozuru Kagenui, and Kagenui’s familiar Yotsugi Ononoki

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Nekomonogatari (Black) (OVA)

Image source: Funimation

Year: 2012

Episodes: 4

Story arc(s): Tsubasa Family 

What it’s about: A prequel to Bakemonogatari, Nekomonogatari (Black) once again revolves around Tsubasa Hanekawa. The OVA sheds light on the events of Golden Week, where Araragi and Tsubasa cross paths with the Sawarineko for the first time.

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Monogatari Second Season (Series)

Image source: Funimation

Year: 2013

Episodes: 23

Story arc(s): Tsubasa Tiger, Mayoi Jiangshi, Nadeko Medusa, Shinobu Time, Hitagi End 

What it’s about: It’s difficult to explain the plots of Monogatari Second Season’s arcs without spoiling them too much. Basically, Tsubasa experiences supernatural feline issues again in Tsubasa Tiger — some of the characters go on an adventure involving time-travel in Mayoi Jiangshi, Nadeko gets the spotlight in Nadeko Medusa, Koyomi encounters a strange supernatural force in Shinobu Time, and Kaiki gets hired for a job in Hitagi End.

Monogatari Second Season differs from previous Monogatari shows by featuring someone other than Koyomi as the point-of-view character in some of its arcs. In addition, the arcs are also arranged in non-chronological order, although they all take place after Nisemonogatari. New key characters introduced in the show are an Oddity specialist called Izuko Gaen, the vampire hunter Episode, and the mysterious Ougi Oshino

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Hanamonogatari (Series)

Image source: Crunchyroll

Year: 2014

Episodes: 5

Story arc(s): Suruga Devil

What it’s about: Hanamonogatari features Kanbaru as its protagonist and centers on her encounter with Rouka Numachi, a former basketball rival. The plot takes place some time after Koyomi and Hitagi have graduated from high school, putting the show ahead of all of the other Monogatari Series anime chronologically. 

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

(Note: the show is placed under Monogatari Second Season for both streaming sites.)

Tsukimonogatari (Series)

Image source: Crunchyroll

Year: 2014

Episodes: 4

Story arc(s): Yotsugi Doll 

What it’s about: In Tsukimonogatari, Koyomi finds himself facing a new problem: during a bath, he discovers that his reflection does not show up in the mirror as if he has become a vampire. The show takes place after Hitagi End, with Koyomi preparing for his college entrance exams. Another Oddity specialist called Tadatsuru Teori is introduced in Tsukimonogatari.

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Owarimonogatari (Series)

Image source: Funimation

Year: 2015

Episodes: 13

Story arc(s): Ougi Formula, Sodachi Riddle, Sodachi Lost, Shinobu Mail

What it’s about: Owarimonogatari’s first arc has Koyomi and Ougi, who is featured more prominently for the first time, trapped in a mysterious classroom. The specific plot details of the other arcs are best kept vague, but it’s safe to reveal that Sodachi Riddle and Sodachi Lost revolve around a former classmate of Koyomi’s called Sodachi Oikura, who has a bitter history with him.

Shinobu Mail overlaps with the events of Tsubasa Tiger, thus setting it before Hitagi End. The official timeline (translated by an anonymous individual) also places the first three arcs in Owarimonogatari before Hitagi End.

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Kizumonogatari Trilogy (Movies)

Image source: Amazon Prime

Year: 2016 (Kizumonogatari I: Tekketsu-hen, Kizumonogatari II: Nekketsu), 2017 (Kizumonogatari III: Reiketsu-hen)

Story arc(s): Koyomi Vamp

What it’s about: Consisting of Kizumonogatari I: Tekketsu-hen, Kizumonogatari II: Nekketsu, and Kizumonogatari III: Reiketsu-hen, the Kizumonogatari trilogy details the events of Spring Break. Koyomi meets Tsubasa, Shinobu, and Meme for the first time and has to deal with a trio of vampire hunters who are after Shinobu, who was then a powerful vampire known as Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade. 

Available on: Amazon Prime

Koyomimonogatari (Series)

Image source: Funimation

Year: 2016

Episodes: 12

What it’s about: Instead of one or more story arcs, Koyomimonogatari consists of short stories, each set in different points of the series’ timeline. While the episodes (which are shorter than usual) are largely standalone, the last two episodes tie into Owarimonogatari Second Season’s first arc. 

Available on: Funimation

Owarimonogatari Second Season (Series)

Image source: Crunchyroll

Year: 2017

Episodes: 7 (Aired as 3)

Story arc(s): Mayoi Hell, Hitagi Rendezvous 

What it’s about: As with the first season, it’s not easy to talk about Owarimonogatari Second Season’s arcs without spoiling key details. To put it simply, Mayoi Hell continues from where Koyomimonogatari ended, while Hitagi Rendezvous sheds more light on Ougi. Both arcs take place after Tsukimonogatari.         

Available on: Crunchyroll, Funimation

Zoku Owarimonogatari (Movie/Series)

Image source: Monogatari Series website

Year: 2018 (theatrical release), 2019 (as TV release)

Story arc(s): Koyomi Reverse

Episodes: 6

What it’s about: Zoku Owarimonogatari showcases a graduated Koyomi getting sucked into a mirror world where his friends and acquaintances seem to be the opposite of their real-world selves. The story is set after Owarimonogatari Second Season but before Hanamonogatari.

Melvyn began his journey at Anime Trending in early 2018 and currently contributes as news writer and occasional reviewer. Outside of watching anime, Melvyn spends his free time playing video games, painting miniatures, and learning Japanese through manga, light novels, and the internet.
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