Oh dear, would you look at the time. It's been forever since I last made you regret following me on Twitter.

So here's an idea: why don't I post an enormous thread about the anime series I finished watching this week.

#Thread #Long #StrapInYall
Some time in July I decided I'd finally tackle the #Monogatari franchise, a supernatural drama/comedy with sprinkles of romance and action, famous for its witty dialogue. It's rather popular, which is appropriate because it's also rather good.
BUT no one reads reviews these days (who's got time for that!), so instead let's do a Buzzfeed-style top list instead. That's hip and trendy, right?

And because Monogatari throws out openings like candy (26 OPs across 100ish episodes), I'm going with those for content.
What you should know in advance: Monogatari OPs usually correspond to character arcs, so typically they prominently feature a specific cast member and are sung by their voice actor. As is tradition in anime, they're usually 90 seconds long.
There's gonna be mild spoilers, but I'll try to keep it reasonable. Nothing that would ruin the experience, but I am gonna talk about general character development themes and such in broad strokes.
I even went the extra mile and got some direct video links together for you so you can follow along, and I can justify my ranking based on music, animation and lyrics!

So here we go: my top 5 #Monogatari OPs!
5th place: "Perfect Slumbers" (from Nekomonogatari Kuro)

The tragedy of Tsubasa Hanekawa is deeply relatable. At this point in the story she is still pretty far away from finding herself, and the OP reflects that.

The travel imagery works on a surface level, because Tsubasa literally says that's what she wants to do after graduation, but also as a metaphor for her personal search. Regarding Koyomi, she's not sure if she needs closeness or distance.
The melancholic song really drives home her emotional state. The visuals are colorful, but desaturated, just like Tsubasa.

I love the last shot of her face and then the hairband.
4th place: "Kogarashi Sentiment" (from Monogatari Second Season)

I'll be honest, the song here is passable, but this OP easily slides into the top 5 based on its visuals alone.

The way it flips between the contemporary character designs (by Akio Watanabe btw) and an 80s anime look is a hell of an eyecatch, and thematically it reveals a lot about Kaiki and Hitagi see themselves and each other (or used to see, as it were).
Even without background knowledge about previous events and other characters, the animal imagery is not subtle. Still, as adversarial as their relationship can sometimes be, it's a lot more difficult to untangle than that.
3rd place: "Platinum Disco" (from Nisemonogatari)

This is one of the two very well-known Monogatari OPs and if you like anime music, there's a good chance you've heard it before. One of the reasons it's on this list is how genuinely catchy it is.

Once I play it, I can never bring myself to interrupt it, it's just that much fun.

It also features some genuinely good character animation and subtle foreshadowing for major events involving Tsukihi.

And sure, there's a moe factor to it too. Tsukihi is the cutest lil gnome.
Bonus points for later in the franchise where, in the most hilarious fourth-wall-break I've ever seen, Koyomi starts doing the Platinum Disco dance to himself while talking with Tsukihi.
2nd place: "07734" (from Zoku Owarimonogatari)

I had the full version of this song on repeat for a while after finishing Zoku. There's something about the vocal distortions that I really dig.

Thematically, its placement at the end of Koyomi's journey focuses on his what-ifs and what-could-have beens. Letting go of the things that belong in the past is his last grand task before he can move forward.
It's also one of the few Monogatari OPs to feature the Hajime Ueda character designs. Look up his stuff if you like character artwork, this OP barely does it justice, it puts more focus on the text which is easier to fit into the visual theme.
Also, those color schemes though! 💋

The cherry on top is some very imaginative subtitling work done by MTBB. My respect for that.

(How could one ever go wrong with a mirror world aesthetic, eh @BRButtons?)
Now before we get to first place, time for my two runners-up. :D These two almost made the cut, but didn't quite manage to displace any of the OPs mentioned so far.
Runner-up A: "Orange Mint" (from Tsukimonogatari)

Yotsugi is a character who I think tends to get undervalued, and I suspect that's partially due to the way she tends to undersell herself, which is a damn shame if you ask me.

The music here is fairly simple and catchy, but Yotsugi's voice actress Saori Hayami manages to imbue the longer notes with a wistful nuance.

The papercraft style is an easy homerun. Loved it when Madoka did it, love it here.
The various rotations, transformations and image slicings probably say something about how Yotsugi views herself. (Not entirely without justification, as the show explains.)

Also I happen to like orange and mint, both the flavors as well as the colors. Sue me.
Runner-up B: "Dreamy Date Drive" (from Owarimonogatari S2)

We almost had two Hitagi arc OPs in the top 5 - I understand why she's so popular with the fans. As much as she struggles with emotional intimacy, here's where we see her softest side.

This little visual retrospective on her time with Koyomi is silky and rose-colored. She knows that no matter what the future may bring, what they have at this point is something solid.

Bringing back the starry sky motive from earlier arcs is a great move.
And now finally...

🥁 🥁 🥁
1st place: "Decent Black" (from Owarimonogatari)

The decision was not easy, but in the end this is my favorite Monogatari OP, the one that brings themes, character writing, visuals and music together most coherently.

Like most, I love watching Puck-esque characters and their antics, and Ougi is indeed a fantastic pot-stirrer.

The way this song swings between "vaguely threatening" and "just playing around, relax dude" mirrors her perfectly.
I also need to point out how the OP plays with Ougi's core theme of changing perspectives and thinking outside the box. As she would insist herself, she never really brings new info to the table, all she does is prompt Koyomi to challenge his assumptions.
To Koyomi's chagrin, Ougi's revelations aren't always things he's ready to face. The scene with "If you tell him outright he won't believe you. Koyomi Araragi needs to be *guided* to the truth." is one that I won't soon forget.
Back to the OP though, I really enjoy the song, and the visuals reflect Ougi not only in the choice of perspectives but also in the colors (or their lack). The lyrics make me feel like I'm right there in the classroom with them.

Yep, "Decent Black" is my favorite Monogatari OP.
Before I step off my soapbox: You may have noticed that I didn't include the *other* popular Monogatari OP anywhere.
The reason is that even though I like Ren'ai Circulation well enough, at the end of the day I just find it too bland.

I understand that that's the point, but lampshading a trope is not the same thing as subverting it, sorry.
I will say though that if you watch Ren'ai Circulation and Mousou♡Express back to back and pay some attention to the lyrics, the two OPs offer an interesting time lapse of Nadeko's descent.

Here you go if you're curious: streamable.com/w6qj5
(Are you still a fan of yandere characters, @AwkwardBex? If so, ☝️)
Alright, here's where I'll call it for today. If you're still reading this, thanks for not unfollowing! Time for me to go back into hibernation until inspiration strikes again...
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