Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu
Anime Studio: Shaft
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Vampire / Mystery / Supernatural
Released: August 5th, 2019
Length: 68 minutes
Extras: PV #1, Trailer, Long PV, Package CM #2 & #2
Koyomi Araragi was turned into a vampire by the legendary vampire, Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, and he needs to revive the weakened vampire back to her complete form to return to being human again. The only way for Koyomi to achieve his goal is to fight the three vampire hunters – Dramaturgy, Episode and Guillotinecutter.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kizumonogatari: Tekketsu, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of the second part of the trilogy. Having now watched it, what’s surprised me is that the film is in some ways more of the same, but in others, a complete flip of the first.
This balance is perhaps most prominent in the visuals. Overall, it’s the same stylized mix that made Tekketsu so special. The use of simplified character shading over the top of backdrops that are closer to photo-realism remains prevalent. Here, it’s aided by a lot of intentional tonal filters. Colour is used so effectively here that it really does a lot to add to the overall feel of scenes. The more brutal scenes are once again beautifully animated, with visceral imagery used at just the right time to create an impact. The same approach to using a mix of musical styles to punctuate the different scenes also remains intact; here, the OST does a great job with both the more comedic and eerie scenes.
The flip comes in the way that some things doesn’t seem to work so well. Previously, the low detail characters on top of high detail backdrops felt slightly uncomfortable but not somehow right. Here, there are moments where it moves beyond feeling like a homage to Ralph Bakshi’s 1983 animation Fire and Ice and becomes messy. This is most obvious towards the end when Koyomi and Hanekawa are running around in a field. When the characters sit on top of the backdrops, it’s fine, but when stood with the higher detail scenery covering part of their body, it highlighted the difference in style too much for me. In the same way, when Koyomi battled Episode, the choice of music was out of place for the brutal action going on on-screen. The same fight also features a repeated shot of Episode laughing that just came across as lazy given the number of times it was used.
All that being said, the thing things the film does well it does really well. The story itself is engrossing and balances three relationships for our protagonist Koyomi: Kiss-Shot, Hanekawa, and his own nature as a monster. His reactions around Hanekawa are endearing at times, and the intertwined tales with Kiss-Shot and his nature are wonderful. To top it all off, Meme Oshino’s appearance this time around really help move the individual arcs forward.
The shift towards a more action-focused approach also works well. The fights each give Koyomi an opportunity to learn more about himself and what his vampiric state entails. They each feel genuinely dangerous for the hero too, and offer plenty of striking visuals to take in.
Another shift in tone is that the film ups the fan service levels from Tekketsu. If you want more anime physics for Hanekawa, more panty shots, and her actually physically removing her panties, you’re in luck. If it’s not your sort of thing, you’ll still want to sit through it, simply because the brunt of the release is fine.
Overall, this felt a step below the quality of the first film, but not so much that it’s unenjoyable. Truth be told, Kizumonogatari: Nekketsu is another healthy dose of stylized storytelling that balances characters and violence well. This is an easy 3.75 out of 5 for me.