From the light novels of Nishio Isin comes the beautiful novel series Monogatari. SHAFT productions received the permission to adapt this series into an anime, and boy, was it a good adaptation but newcomers might have some difficulty starting out on it with zero knowledge.
The Monogatari Series revolves around Koyomi Araragi, a third-year high school student who is an ex vampire who meets various different girls and almost forms his own “harem” but it’s not the typical cheesy harem that most of you are aware of. Each girl harbors sentiments and pasts that are linked to oddities which are entities caused by their emotions that have manifested into the real world. Along with Shinobu, the vampire who turned him into a vampire a long time ago, and Meme Oshino, an enigmatic care-free priest who holds a vast knowledge on oddities and the supernatural, Araragi gets involved with many different characters (mostly girls) and helps anyone he can in this amazing chronology of stories.
For one of the most well-known anime franchises of all time, it really makes for a complicated series with multiple intertwining timelines with some stories transporting you to the future or past. Monogatari’s complex storyline can create an erratic sense of understanding for many beginners who have heard its hype and want to give the series a taste for themselves.
This can prove difficult with minimal knowledge on what Monogatari entails and how the story should progress so I’m here to help break this whole thing down and give you two ways to watch it and I will give my own personal note on how I watched it the first time. If you are deterred by the length and the sheer number of stories/episodes, don’t fear. Monogatari is an excellent and masterpiece-worthy anime that combines comedy, supernatural events, and an enticing storyline that is coupled with a unique animation style that is Shaft Productions’ trademark style. Not to mention an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. Watching this series will 100% be worth your time and leaving a filling sense in your heart.
*Most of the stories mentioned (i.e. Hitagi Crab) consist of 4-5 episodes per story, making the series feel like an actual compilation of different stories and gives it the true feeling of the word “Monogatari” (Japanese for “story or stories”)*
Monogatari RELEASE ORDER:
This order is how the Monogatari series was broadcasted and follows a choppy and, at times, confusing manner. This is, though, the intended watch order by SHAFT because the shuffled storytelling adds to the ambiance of the show as a whole. A lot of people watch the series in this specific order to get the full authenticity and experience of watching the series as it was broadcasted.
- Bakemonogatari (2009): The first release and consists of Hitagi Crab, Mayoi Snail, Suruga Monkey, Nadeko Snake, and Tsubasa Cat
- Nisemonogatari (2012): This one focuses on the Araragi’s sisters with the stories of Karen Bee and Tsukihi Phoenix
- Nekomonogatari Kuro (2012): A prequel story about the Tsubasa family
- Monogatari Series: Second Season (2013): This season consists of a bulk of the stories and timeline that propel the plot forward. It consists of Tsubasa Tiger (also known as Nekomonogatari: Shiro), Mayoi Jiangshi, Nadeko Medusa, Shinobu Time, and Hitagi End
- Hanamonogatari (2014): Story of Suruga Devil
- Tsukimonogatari (2014): Story of Yotsugi Doll
- Owarimonogatari Season 1 (2015): Similar to the name (“owari” meaning “end”), this marks the beginning of the end of the main anime storyline. It consists of Ougi Formula, Sodachi Riddle, Sodachi Lost, and Shinobu Mail
- Koyomimonogatari (2016): These are 12 different stories about Koyomi Araragi and are treated as side stories but many of them overlap or add-on to previous stories. This can help give a bigger picture of the overall show
- Owarimonogatari Season 2 (2017): This is the last season of the main anime storyline and provides a perfect wrap-up. It consists of Mayoi Hell, Hitagi Rendezvous, and Ougi Dark.
- Zoku Owarimonogatari (2019): This is a sequel story of Araragi post-timeline. Originally intended to be a movie, it was split into 6-episodes under the name of Koyomi Reverse
Kizumonogatari Movie Trilogy — (2016-2017)
This is the movie trilogy that sets the stage for events that happen in Bakemonogatari and serves as the true prequel of the entire series.
It consists of Tekketsu-hen (Iron-Blooded), Nekketsu-hen (Hot-Blooded), and Reiketsu-hen (Cold-Blooded). These are all references to different plot points in the whole Kizumonogatari storyline associated with vampire blood. There is a lot of debate about what is the correct way to watch this but I will give you a couple of options.
- Before Bakemonogatari – this is the chronological way of watching it since Kizumonogatari comes before Bakemonogatari in the series but I would recommend AGAINST doing this if you are a beginner because the true experience of Monogatari will be lost.
- Between Bakemonogatari and Nisemonogatari – this is how Nishio Isin had it in his light novels and a lot of people recommend watching it in this order. After Bakemonogatari, one has a good grasp on the universe so having the prequel right after an introduction will be a nice refresher and clarification on the events that preceded the story.
- Between Owarimonogatari (Season 1)/(Season 2) and Koyomimonogatari – watching the trilogy between Koyomimonogatari and Season 1 or Season 2 is a tricky choice. Watching it right after Owarimonogatari Season 1 would be correct in the release order but it breaks up two central story arcs and could mess with the flow of the story, making the experience a little less enjoyable. Watching it after Koyomimonogatari and before Owarimonogatari Season 2 keeps the coherence of the plotline but breaks the release order so it might not sit well with some viewers.
Monogatari CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
This order is recommended for the seasoned Monogatari veterans who want to rewatch the show to experience the mesmerizing animation, beautiful soundtrack, or the captivating storyline and inner dialogues of Araragi. Keep in mind that this is not intended for newcomers as the full enjoyment of the series is largely lost when watching it chronologically. It’s the back-and-forth timelines that capture the essence of this anime.
Monogatari covers the duration of Araragi’s last year at high school so I will be dividing this up into the months of the story’s timeline.
- Kizumonogatari Trilogy
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Reverse
- Nekomonogatari: Kuro
- Bakemonogatari – Hitagi Crab
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Flower
- Bakemonogatari – Mayoi Snail
- Bakemonogatari – Suruga Monkey
- Bakemonogatari – Nadeko Snake
- Bakemonogatari – Tsubasa Cat
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Sand
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Water
- Nisemonogatari – Karen Bee
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Wind
- Nisemonogatari – Tsukihi Phoenix
- Monogatari Second Season – Mayoi Jiangshi
- Monogatari Second Season – Shinobu Time
- Owarimonogatari First Season – Shinobu Mail
- Monogatari Second Season – Tsubasa Tiger (Nekomonogatari: Shiro)
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Tree
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Tea
- Owarimonogatari First Season – Ougi Formula
- Owarimonogatari First Season – Sodachi Riddle
- Owarimonogatari First Season – Sodachi Lost
- Monogatari Second Season – Nadeko Medusa (Parts 1-2)
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Mountain
- Monogatari Second Season – Nadeko Medusa (Parts 3-4)
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Torus
- Monogatari Second Season – Hitagi End (Parts 1-4)
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Seed
- Monogatari Second Season – Hitagi End (Parts 5-6)
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Nothing
- Koyomimonogatari – Koyomi Dead
- Owarimonogatari Second Season – Mayoi Hell
- Owarimonogatari Second Season – Hitagi Rendezvous
- Owarimonogatari Second Season – Ougi Dark
- Zoku Owarimonogatari
LIGHT NOVELS WITHOUT ANIME ADAPTATION
These are the light novels that came after the release of Zoku Owarimonogatari and are a continuation of the storyline with Araragi as a first-year university student.
- Orokamonogatari – Consists of Sodachi Fiasco, Tsukihi Undo, and Suruga Bonehead
- Wazamonogatari – The first half is a story set 600 years into the past and gives more insight on Shinobu, the vampire. The second half is scattered within the timeline.
- First Half – Cruel Fairy Tale: Princess Fair and Acerola Bon Appetit
- Second Half – Karen Ogre and Tsubasa Sleeping
- Nademonogatari – A continuation story about Nadeko
- Musubimonogatari – It comprises four separate stories set in the future when Araragi is an adult. The four episodes are Zenka Mermaid, Nozomi Golem, Mitome Wolf, Tsuzura Human.
- Shinobumonogatari – a Shinobu side-story
- Yoimonogatari – A Mayoi side-story about a missing elementary-school girl consisting of Mayoi Snail (not to be confused with the one in Bakemonogatari) and Mayoi Snake
- Amarimonogatari – A mystery story with Yotsugi and Araragi consisting of Yotsugi Body and Yotsugi Shadow
- Ougimonogatari – A side-story of Ougi consisting of Ougi Light and Ougi Fright
- Shinomonogatari Vol 1 and 2 – The latest volume of the “Monster Season” consisting of Deathtopia Destiny, Deathtopia Destination, and Deathtopia Death Education.
That is all for the complete guide for the Monogatari Series. My recommended watch order would be the release order but near the end, some of the plotlines got very interesting so I switched to chronological order to finish some stories and then switched back to release order. It really is up to you because Monogatari is just about telling a bunch of elaborate stories.
A story is something that is told from person to person but each has its own interpretation and meaning behind every tale!