Series: Monogatari, #3; Nisemonogatari, #1
Translator: James Balzer
Pub. Date: 2008, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Comedy, Light Novel
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Araragi Koyomi wakes up and finds that he has been kidnapped by his girlfriend. In processing how he got there, he recounts the interactions with his sisters and his lifelong friends. He starts to uncover a plot that his middle-school-age “Fire” sisters are involved in. They feel a sense of justice and try to dish it out to people. In Koyomi’s opinion, something just feels fake about it all. NisiOisiN’s Nisemonogatari: Fake Tale: Part 01 is a light-hearted urban fantasy that focuses on Koyomi’s relationships and the trouble of teenagers in his community.
I was looking for books written by Japanese authors before I started taking a Japanese class to get into the spirit of the class. This one seemed like a good pick since I saw “vampire” in the synopsis, so I could give it a shot with creature that I’m used to reading. It was also my first light novel. I learned part way through the book that this takes place in the middle of a series, the Monogatari series, despite it being “Part 01.” I don’t like starting in the middle of a series because most sequels don’t give enough detail to not feel lost. I was told at that point that I should stop reading and start over, following publication order. I pushed through instead. My rating and review are based on what I was able to understand without prior knowledge of the rest of the series.
I was surprised that this book read like a manga in novel form. It was written in such a way that it was like reading a good transcription of a graphic novel. On that note, I liked the details where Koyomi referenced different manga and anime.
As far as introducing the idea of aberrations, the light novel did a decent job. First we were introduced to Koyomi’s aberration and then the aberrations of everyone he knows. Koyomi’s, for example, is his vampirism, which we worked hard to almost completely eliminate. One of his other friends keeps her arm bandaged because the aberration is visible there. It also gave the impression that there are so many more aberrations than what was mentioned, which got my imagination going.
The only character who might have developed is Koyomi. We meet him as this regular pseudo-vampire with a psycho girlfriend. Then we see more of perverted side to him, even if it’s in good fun. His major development comes in when he recognizes how similar he and his sisters are. I doubt Karen or Tsukihi, the Fire Sisters, learned anything from their actions, and they keep doing what they have been. The book was supposed to introduce them as more important characters in the series, so I am disappointed at this lack of development beyond showing their stubbornness. The girls in his “harem” were interesting, but none of them had enough time on the page to show themselves fully.
My goal at some point in the future is to follow the Monogatari series publication order, hope I like it, and re-read this book. I would like to understand everything with a given context, so I’m disappointed that I could not jump right into the world. I recommend reading Nisemonogatari after reading the Monogatari series, under the assumption that it would be better having that background.