The Tale of Kissshot Acerolaorion Heartunderblade: Nisioisin’s ‘Kizumonogatari’

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I don’t know what it is about these characters and their story that I found so immediately engaging, but once I started Nisioisin’s Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale I kept wanting more. Not only did I finish the book over a long weekend, but also I sought out other incarnations of this vampiric world, which resulted in my discovery of the Monogatari Series, which is available on Hulu. As for the book under review, it was a recommendation—the kind that’s commonplace nowadays as our “likes” and purchases are constantly tracked—which I responded to proactively for two simple reasons. One, I really liked the vibe that the cover illustration and design gave off. Vofan’s rendering of the polysyllabically named blonde vampire was especially enticing. Second, I had read Nisioisin’s 2008 Del Rey light novel edition of xxxHolic, which I enjoyed as a worthy addition to the anime and manga series. Nisioisin, of course, also did a light novel of the Death Note series, also in 2008, which VIZ Media published. In light of these two factors, plus knowing that Kizumonogatari was being released in January 2016 as a feature-length anime movie, I couldn’t wait to dive in.

What I read more than satisfied my need for a brisk and entertaining story about awkward teens confronted with the extraordinary situation of having to reluctantly aide a vampire named Kissshot Acerolaorion Heartunderblade, who’s dealing with an existential crisis and the threat of three formidable vampire hunters. Koyomi Araragi, a geeky teen on spring break, unexpectedly finds himself working as Kissshot’s “thrall” after finding her limbless and helpless. Allowing himself to be bitten, Araragi becomes a “half-vampire” with unusual powers, which he needs when battling Dramaturgy, Episode, and Guillotine Cutter. At stake are the reclamation of Heartunderblade’s missing extremeties and the restoration of Araragi’s humanity. Complicating Araragi’s quests is Mèmè Oshino, a middle-aged man of mysterious origins who lives in an abandoned cram school, and who periodically avails himself to Araragi with help and information, in addition to having something of a history with Heartunderblade. Less mysterious but no less threatening to Araragi’s self-esteem is Tsubasa Hanekawa, his buxom classmate, who’s described as a “model student among model students, a class president among class presidents.” She’s also Araragi’s only friend, both intelligent and charming in equal measures, who will later play a critical role in enabling her reticently heroic friend at fulfilling his destiny. In the end, as long as you’re a fan of light novels based on anime and manga characters—which are the equivalent of the tie-in novels featuring Marvel and DC Comics characters—and aren’t expecting some kind of Haruki Murakami-Anne Rice hybridization, then you’ll more than likely enjoy Kizumonogatari: Wound Tale. It’s perfect for when you get some time-off or need something to titillate your imagination.

Photo credit: David Martínez

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