Bakemonogatari Volume 2
Manga by Oh!great
Original Story by NISIOISIN
Original Character Design by VOFAN
Edited by Kristi Fernandez
Translated by Ko Ransom
Production by Grace Lu & Hiroko Mizuno
Oh!great’s manga adaptation of Bakemonogatari returns for its second volume and the series continues to ramp up. This time around, the Hitagi Crab arc reaches its conclusion and the story heads into new territory with the Mayoi Snail arc. This new take on the popular Monogatari story continues to be a captivating read that stands on equal footing with its source material.
The Hitagi Crab arc ends its story on an optimistic note. Senjogahara releases her aberration of her burden, subsequently returning her to the correct weight. Still, it’s not as though her personal problems are completely resolved. It’s unlikely that she’ll ever have the relationship that she desires with her mother, and she still has to live with the traumatic memories of her past. That said, with the support of those around her like Araragi, Senjogahara is ready to move her life forward. It’s a great development for Senjogahara’s character, and for the series, it serves as a solid closure for its introductory story arc.
The majority of this volume focuses on the Mayoi Snail arc, which introduces the character Mayoi Hachikuji. Despite her countless attempts, Hachikuji is unable to return to her home. Suspecting that it’s the work of an aberration, Araragi offers to help the young girl find her way back. Hachikuji herself is a thoroughly entertaining addition to the series’ cast, providing the series with an ample source of comedy relief. Her quirk of mispronouncing Araragi’s name is especially amusing, as she continues to find new ways to tweak with its wording. It creates a fun dynamic between the two characters that will only continue to be built upon in future volumes.
Despite Hachikuji being the titular character of this arc, the story is not focused on her personal struggle. Rather, it’s about Araragi’s perception of Hachikuji’s situation in relation to his inner turmoil. We get a look into Araragi’s complicated past and his perception of isolationism. While Araragi had once chosen to live a detached life, he felt that he did so of his own volition. That said, after his encounter with Kiss-Shot, that life decision warped in nature. It’s no longer that he chooses to isolate himself from society, but that he feels as if he lives in another world entirely. Just like his current body, his life is bound to the abnormal, and he can no longer return to a traditional life. This explains why Araragi is so eager to help those around him: to escape the troubling reality that he can’t confront. While volume ends mid-way through the story arc, it provides an ample amount of knowledge for the reader to ponder, a trait that the Monogatari series as a whole excels at.
It’s becoming obvious that Oh!great and the Monogatari series are a match made in heaven. The amount of detail that Oh!great places into every panel is astounding, to the point that it feels unreal that it’s a weekly serialized manga in Japan. In this volume, he especially excels in his depiction of the aberrations, each being showcased with intricately ominous designs. Oh!great also fills the series to the brim with gorgeous two-page spreads that amplify the manga with a dynamic tone. Even if you are already familiar with Bakemonogatari’s story, seeing how Oh!great will depict it is a brand new experience in its own right.
The Bakemonogatari manga is slowly becoming the definitive way to experience the Monogatari series. Oh!great has managed to retain the narrative substance of NISIOISIN’s original work, while also elevating it with his incredible artistic talents. It’s exciting to think about how the manga will adapt future story lines of the series, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next volume.