At this point, I’ve written two reviews on Kizumonogatari (part 1 & 2), and so I must say: I don’t feel like writing a third. It’s really just more of the same–because it’s the same movie–cut up into three parts. That being said, there are some things I wish to touch upon. Specifically, the way the film portrays Araragi’s state of disarray.
THIS POST IS ABOUT A PIVOTAL SCENE IN THE FILM, I ADVISE YOU NOT TO READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG POST UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN/READ THE FILM/BOOK.
While I can’t recall every detail of this scene (thanks to SHAFT’s frantic editing style), I’m going to go into the effect seemingly chaotic cuts have during Araragi’s shocking revelation–That part where he walks in on Kissshot Acerolaorion Heartunderblade eating Guillotine Cutter. In this moment we see Araragi go from blissful excitement to witnessing-cannibalism-type dread. “Cannibalism-type” because it’s technically not cannibalism, rather, just plain vampirism. I wish I had a clip to show you, but for now just imagine a freeze in animation. Araragi’s face. A jokingly hideous CG rendering of Guillotine Cutter’s severed head swinging from the point where Kissshot’s holding his hair. Araragi’s face, changing through the colors of the rainbow. A bunch of other strange imagery. All in rapid succession.
Judging from the bare plot, this was supposed to be a moment of pure, horrific tension, but the editing and imagery in this scene might have you to believe otherwise. As if to pierce a legendary katana through the tension, and subsequently through the viewer’s immersion, Kizumonogatari plays with its editing in a fascinatingly bizarre way to unexpectedly deliver the audience to a similar conclusion.
From my understanding, the film is very “in-your-face” and immersion-breaking for a reason. In this particular scene, the editing style seems antithetical to the mood, like using cheeky slide transitions in an intense psychological thriller. It seems like the film might have been edited this way simply for the humor, but to me it appears there might be a play on film form here, and a somewhat ironic one at that.
The scene drops any sense of realism to convey Araragi’s emotional/psychological state, in a crazy, roundabout way. Absurdity is key here, as a whole swell of random imagery appears in quick flashes, disturbing the expectations of a normal film audience. It’s confusing and weird, thereby taking the viewer out of it for a moment. Though not unsettling in the same way Araragi is feeling at the point in time, the audience is meant to be made oddly unnerved by this disruption in typical film form (where films aren’t supposed to draw attention to itself), which in turn tells us the emotional state he is in. If you’ve ever heard of “show not tell”, this is more like “show to tell”.
So that’s my explanation for the editing style Kizumonogatari utilizes in high tension scenes. Of course, this also all be easily explained by the creators simply undermining tension with absurdity to create humor, but I like my version better.