Monogatari Series Titles Explained

Monogatari Series Titles Explained

Monogatari Titles

Considering my love for the Monogatari series, it’s a bit surprising that it’s taken me this long to sit down and write this post. If you’re already extremely familiar with the Monogatari series, of even if you have a fairly rudimentary understanding of Japanese, you may not need the titles of this series to be explained.

But this post is for everyone else who might not yet know the naming conventions of the series. So, with that in mind, we’re going to start off with the most basic thing you need to know about the Monogatari series titles, and that’s what the word monogatari even means.

Monogatari (物語) simply means story, or tale. The series isn’t exactly what we would refer to as an anthology because the different parts are all connected, but you can kind of view it as an anthology of stories.

Each part of the series features a story — or stories grouped together by a common theme which is then represented in the title of the part. So for example, if this blog was the theme of a part, the title would be DoubleSamaMonogatari.

Got it? Alright, let’s get into the actual series. And just so you know, there will be spoilers.

Bakemonogatari

Bakemonogatari (化物語) means Monster Story. It’s a combination of the words bakemono (化物) and monogatari (物語), with the kanji for mono (物) shared between them. The monster(s) referred to in the title are the apparitions featured throughout the series.

In this part specifically we get the crab, snail, snake, monkey, and cat apparitions.

Nisemonogatari

Nisemonogatari (偽物語) means Fake or False Story — either one works, they mean the same thing. Nise (偽) means fake, and as we already know, monogatari means story, so it’s as easy as adding those two words together. No overlap required this time.

The meaning of the title this time is a bit more deep than it was with Bakemonogatari though. The “fakes” the title refers to are the two apparitions featured in the series.

The bee is an apparition which manifests after the victim already falsely believed they had been targeted by an apparition, so in that sense it’s a fake. The phoenix apparition, on the other hand, is a fake because it’s pretending to be (or believes it is) a human rather than an apparition.

"Fire Sisters" Tsukihi and Karen Araragi from the anime series Nisemonogatari
“Fire Sisters” Tsukihi and Karen Araragi

Nekomonogatari

Nekomonogatari (猫物語) is probably the most obvious of all the Monogatari series titles, even for those who don’t know much about Japanese or the series.  It’s a combination of neko (猫), meaning cat, and monogatari — Cat Story. The title also refers to the feline apparitions featured in the part.

But what I like most about Nekomonogatari is that it can also be translated as Cat Tale, which is a pun on cat tail.

Kuro & Shiro

Nekomonogatari is also notably split into two halves, kuro (黒) and shiro (白), meaning black and white respectively. These colors (shades, actually) refer to the two halves of Tsubasa Hanekawa. However, while kuro definitely refers to “Black Hanekawa,” shiro could also be a reference to the color of Kako, the white tiger apparition.

Kabukimonogatari

Kabukimonogatari (傾物語) is where things get a bit more complicated. At first glance, it appears that it’s a combination of the words kabuki (a type of Japanese play) and monogatari. However, that’s not actually the case. It’s a combination of kabukimono (傾物) and monogatari.

Kabukimono refers to a flamboyant style of dress in the edo period, which is why the series is translated as Dandy Story (or tale) in English. However, the kabuki (傾) in kabukimono is written with the a kanji that refers to a tilt, as in something which makes you tilt your head in confusion.

So basically the title is referring to the puzzling situation Koyomi and Shinobu find themselves in after they travel back in time, rescue Mayoi, and then return to find the world they knew has been destroyed by vampire zombies.

Otorimonogatari

Otorimonogatari (囮物語) translates to Decoy Story, with otori (囮) meaning decoy. That was pretty easy to explain after Kabukimonogatari, and luckily the rest of the titles are similar in difficulty.

The decoy referred to in this title is when Hitagi calls Nadeko at the end of the arc and persuades her to hold off on killing Koyomi until after graduation. This phone call is a decoy designed to buy time so that Hitagi and Koyomi can come up with a plan.

Nadeko Sengoku (Medusa form) from the anime series Otorimonogatari
Nadeko Sengoku (Medusa form)

Onimonogatari

Onimonogatari (鬼物語) simply means Demon Story, which probably comes as no surprise to most of you considering oni (鬼) are Japanese demons which frequent anime, manga, and light novels alike.

However, what isn’t entirely clear is who, or what, the is being referred to as the demon in the title. It could be, and probably is, referring to Shinobu. But it also could be referring to either Shinobu’s first servant or the “Darkness” which swallows up rogue apparitions.

Koimonogatari

Koimonogatari (恋物語) is another easy one, with koi (恋) meaning love — Love Story. The title refers to the love between Koyomi and Hitagi, and specifically how Hitagi is willing to confront her past if it means saving Koyomi from Nadeko’s fury.

Hanamonogatari

Hanamonogatari (花物語) is Flower Story. Hana (花) is the Japanese word for flower, and then we just add monogatari onto the end of it. While the title doesn’t refer to the flowers we see in this part of the series, it should be noted that the cherry blossom scenes in this part are referencing back to the title.

So if the flower in Flower Story isn’t referring to a literal flower, then what is it referring to? This is the part of the series in which Suruga “blossoms” into an adult and fights her own battles. This theme is also featured in the opening song for the part, “the last day of my adolescence.”

Tsukimonogatari

Tsukimonogatari (憑物語) means Possession Story. It combines tsuki (憑), which in this case means possession, with monogatari. Yotsugi is the main heroine of this part, and she’s a man-made sort of apparition which possesses a corpse, hence the title.

A fun fact about Tsukimonogatari is that if you change the writing of tsuki (月) you get the word for moon. This play on words is used throughout Tsukimonogatari by way of Sailor Moon references, such as the one pictured below of Yotsugi doing a Sailor Moon’s pose.

Yotsugi Ononoki referencing Sailor Moon from the anime series Tsukimonogatari
Yotsugi Ononoki referencing Sailor Moon

Owarimonogatari

Owarimonogatari (終物語) is a combination of the words owari (終), which means end, and monogatari to create Final Story. The title is hinting that this is either the end of the Monogatari series or the end of Koyomi’s role in it. However, neither of those turned out to be true.

Zoku

Later on in the series we also get Zoku Owarimonogatari (続・終物語) which simply adds zoku (続) onto the beginning of Owarimonogatari. Zoku means continuation, or continued, so the title basically means Final Story: Continued.

Koyomimonogatari

Koyomimonogatari (暦物語), or Calendar Story, is pretty underrated in my opinion. The title is a combination of the word koyomi (暦), meaning calendar, and monogatari. The reason it’s called Calendar Story is because each episode of this part takes place during a different point in the year.

Also, there’s obviously the double meaning to this part’s title, with Koyomi being the name of the protagonist of the series.

Kizumonogatari

Kizumonogatari (傷物語) is one of the more interesting parts of the Monogatari series title-wise, but not because of the main title. Kizumonogatari is simply a combination of kizu (傷) and monogatari to mean Wound Story. This refers to the physical and mental wounds Koyomi and Shinobu both receive.

But like I said, the main title isn’t why Kizumonogatari is interesting. In the anime, this part is broken up into a trilogy of movies, each with their own subtitle.

Koyomi and Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade (Shinobu) from the anime movie Kizumonogatari: Reiketsu
Koyomi and Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade (Shinobu)

Tekketsu, Nekketsu, and Reiketsu

Tekketsu (鉄血), Nekketsu (熱血), and Reiketsu (冷血) translate to Iron Blood, Hot Blood, and Cold Blood respectively. As Kizumonogatari is the part of the series when Koyomi first meets Shinobu, it’s only natural that the trilogy subtitles would reference her epithet as the “Iron-Blooded, Hot-Blooded, Cold-Blooded Vampire.”

Conclusion

There are more Monogatari series titles currently — I think nine of them — but since they aren’t animated, and I mainly cover anime on this blog, we’ll leave those for later. As more of the series is animated, which it probably will be, I’ll add those additional part titles to the list.

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